Equal Distribution

I want to share with you the history of a family whom I know and through that to bring up a sensitive and painful issue. It was and still is a main source of conflicts in many families where ever you look around you. I’m referring to “financial assistance to our children”, and you can call it bequests, aid while parents are still alive, or whatever you like…

Here is the brief history of one small family:

Two broken families were built anew. A young widower with kids was introduced to a young widow with kids, both of them in their thirties.  They fell in love and after a while they remarried and brought birth to a girl of their own. “The Family Glue” they nicknamed her in her babyhood. All the kids, with no exception, were raised and educated in their new and restored home. From the two tragedies, fortunately, a new entity emerged…

Naturally, due to the fact that it was “chapter B”, not all the kids inherited the same assets and money, and the young couple decided after few years to reshuffle all the assets and they both agreed that each and every child will be entitled equally, for the same amount of money, to support his/her future (higher education, financial aid upon his adulthood, etc.). And when the kids grew up they shared with them this concept of equality, so all was clear and transparent. The couple also took into account that the grandparents (and there were many) may act differently. They respected it but wisely and quietly they were balancing cash gifts so the equality will not be broken.

But one day something happened where they couldn’t help or change. One of the grandfathers passed away and he bequeathed money to one, and only one, of the couple’s kids. The son, now in his thirties, but not yet financially independent, yet when he received the news he called all his “siblings” (practically partial siblings) and announced: “I inherited this amount of money and I will share it equally between all of us.”

The parents, well aware of his financial situation, were deeply moved by his action but tried to prevent him from doing it. Their son insisted: “You did the same during all the years that you have raised us. It is my choice and I’ll do the same. No further talks.”

When the parents told me, I was moved as well. I wasn’t the only one. The lawyer that was handling the will and the distribution of the money was also impressed by the novel gesture. He called the son and informed him that he will give up his legal fees.

 

This true story opens up a window to a very complicated subject, emotionally, principally and culturally loaded, that intrigues many families, sometimes for more than one generation. I wondered why?

Is it because parents, even if legitimately the money is theirs, cannot be subjective free? Is it OK to bring subjective reasons, like the kids who are less successful need more financial support? Like who is luckier and who is unlucky? Like who married to well established spouse and therefore he/she is OK?

And what happens (and it happens) if the kids see it differently? The unsuccessful one might be perceived by his siblings as lazy and therefore any support is being regarded as unfair. The fairly well married may feel that he wants his parents support and not being dependent on his spouse’s parents only? Why the successful one should be punished? In general, kids bring sensitivities from the past and carry attention or lack of attention from their parents for years. Sometimes it is buried for years and it comes up one day like a volcano.

I know that it is culturally different in many places around the globe and in many cultures there is even a difference between boys and girls, but yet… I wanted to bring this story of this noble son and the way he treated his siblings.

May it serve as food for thought for equality between children and I strongly believe that objectivity is a good option to avoid family conflicts.

Fireworks (67)
Shuka, Thursday, November 4, 2010

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