To Skip a Generation

One afternoon, while driving, I was listening to a local radio talk-show led by a therapist. A man was on the line seeking advice. He had just decided to bequeath all of his assets to his grandkids since his relationships with his kids were not so good. This reminded me of a very cute experience of mine. Listen to this:

My sister and I were raised by well-educated and modern parents and we had always been treated in a good, values-driven and equal way. No complaints.

My mother died first and my dad had remained by himself, quite busy with being a civil servant, yet knowing how to maintain close contact with us and when we were married and had children, also with his grandkids. He was very proud of us, of our careers, of our families and of our financial independence.

One day when I visited him he had a serious expression on his face and told me that he would like to talk with me.  “Look Shuka,” he started. “I’m not a young person anymore and it is now difficult for me to keep this big house. I thought it would be wise to sell my house, and in return to buy a small condo. The price difference I would like to divide among all my grandkids, equally. Fortunately enough your sister has 4 kids, you have 4 kids, everything is equal, and everyone will be happy.”

On the face of it was a very noble gesture, nevertheless, inside of me something was protesting – “why my father choses to skip a generation? (I mean my sister and myself)”

I didn’t say anything, but later on I spoke with my sister and found out that she felt the same way about it.

The following week I visited my dad again and very openly I shared with him how we both felt: “Look dad,” I said. “You are my father and I won’t tell you what to do with your money. I appreciate your generosity with our children, but yet why do you ignore your children? Don’t you trust us that we will take good care of our children? You can spoil your grandkids with birthday and holiday gifts, but to bequeath to them your main property, seems a bit unfair to us.”

My father listened, kept silent for a moment and then, with greatness of someone that knows to retract, he said: “I’m not sure you are right, but … you are my kids and I’ll respect your opinion. Just ignore what I proposed before”

On my way home I didn’t feel at ease. I knew that my father, a veteran of battles, will certainly find a way to share the plan, which just now was cancelled, with his grandkids. In the eyes of my kids I will be doomed forever as the one that took away from them a significant gift!

At that moment an idea came to me.

I came back home, shared my thoughts with my wife, she liked my concept and we called our kids (grown-ups already) for a ‘family conversation’.

It is important to mention that when our kids matured we shared with them how we are going to financially assist them in their future. I mean, in their college education, some help for their first housing, etc. It was equal and fully transparent.

So we were all sitting around the table and with a serious expression on my face, like my father did with me, I said: “Your mom and I, we were rethinking about our financial aid to you when you become adults and we see some obstacles. Problems like: ‘will you make the right use of the money?’ or: ‘what happens if your spouses will be in a different financial situation than you are?’ Therefore, we reached a conclusion that we will transfer the money to your kids, when you will have kids, and only they will be able to use the money. We know that this is not the optimal solution but it is the best we can think of.”

And our beloved kids, like they were coordinated in advance, came up with jumbo-mumbo protests: “What kind of thinking is it?” “Are we transparent to you?” “What do I care about my future kids, I need to build my own future first!” “why do you skip a generation?”

And as the flood of complaints became bigger the smiles on my wife’s face and mine became wider. I raised my hand trying to silence them: “OK, OK. I like the way you think. We just wanted to let you know that your grandfather wanted to do the same thing with me, just a few days ago, and I told him exactly what you just told me – why do you skip a generation?  We just wanted you to know…”  

When they realized that they fell into a trap they still tried to mumble a few sentences like: “well, it’s unfair… you are in a different stage in your life… it’s not the same…” but I just nodded and said with a smile: “we love you guys and we loved what you said just now – don’t skip a generation. Don’t worry, we won’t.“                            


Fireworks (76)
Shuka, Thursday, March 10, 2011

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Brilliant, witty and very clever! Brings the point home in a beautiful and compassionate way. Thank you for sharing. I am sharing it on my Facebook page!

Warmest regards,

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