Although there’s no handbook for parenting, there are necessary things we teach our kids. Potty training, how to speak, how to tie their shoelaces, some of us teach good manners but not all, and whatever religious doctrines we observe are usually passed along. But neither in school nor at home do we usually teach about the success mindset or financial independence, often because we don’t know about them ourselves, especially coming from developing countries as all of us islanders do.
I’ve been observing the college application process my friend’s child is going through. It seems that typically among our people, kids write applications and pray for the best. Among the affluent however, futures are determined by who knows who, the connections their parents have built throughout their lives.These kids are groomed from early on in how to speak and how to carry themselves to leave the best impression with the folks that matter.
When it comes to our spending habits and relationships with money, we teach our kids that driving the nicer car, living in the nicer home, taking the least risk for low reward are all good practice. The affluent teach calculated risk for greater reward and the value of smart work above hard work. They teach their kids long term planning for wealth building and how to keep and grow their money, while we teach our kids the basics of low-interest saving and reckless spending.
I’m learning that there is a tremendous number of affluent people of Caribbean descent in the US. But even those among us who have found some success often don’t teach the principles they have learned about success and wealth building to their children. Just the part about going to school and working hard equaling success, a theory which is becoming less reliable daily.
I believe we need to change the paradigm. No longer does hard work necessarily equal success. As such, there’s smart work and long term planning that has to be done for our children’s futures if we want to claim that we’re truly and strategically preparing them for a prosperous life.
Calibe Thompson, a television producer, author, public speaker and a board member for the Jamaica Diaspora Legacy Foundation. Learn more about the foundation at www.jamaicalegacyfoundation.com.