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A Better Partnership

Legacy Matters

July 09, 2019

When Is It Time For Your Children To Attend Family Meetings?

Part 5 in our Family Meeting Series

You might be wondering, when is the “right” time to invite your children (or grandchildren) to family meetings? As you might expect, there is no one answer to this question, and the “right” time depends on several factors.
STEP ONE: What is the topic of the meeting?
  • Some topics require more maturity, emotional development and intellectual capacity than others.
  • For instance, selecting recipients of charitable giving may be fun and less challenging than comprehending trusts or principles of money management.
STEP TWO: Who else will be at the meeting?
  • Will the meeting be family members only, or also include third parties or professionals? Meetings with many people, or with professionals, can be imposing and intimidating. If you would like your children to actively participate in the meeting, they will need the confidence and maturity to speak up.  
  • Have your children previously met all the third parties or professionals who will be in attendance? Some prior knowledge of meeting attendees can help make children more comfortable participating in meeting sessions.
STEP THREE: Evaluate whether your child is developmentally ready for the meeting topic. 
  • Consider their emotional development as well as their maturity and intellectual development. Many topics require a great deal of emotional development to avoid unintended or negative consequences. For example, discussions about your estate plan necessarily involve thinking about your mortality or incapacity. Conversations about money also can trigger emotional responses. Will your children be able to overcome their emotions to effectively participate in the meeting without negative consequences? 
  • Do your children have sufficient self-control and maturity to maintain confidentiality about the content of the meeting?
  • Have your children been introduced previously to the topic of the meeting? For instance, if the topic is money management and you have had open dialogue with your children about saving and spending, then they may be ready as early as high school to attend. Conversely, if you have not had much dialogue about this topic and have concerns with their financial discipline, they might not yet be sufficiently prepared to attend.
STEP FOUR: What are the potential benefits to your children participating?
  • Participation in discussions of philanthropy has been shown to motivate children to set personal wealth building goals in order to be able to help others, according to a recent survey1.
  • Experiencing the family working together to make decisions about how money will be managed, whether in support of family, business or community, more effectively conveys family values about wealth.
  • Topics requiring children to think beyond themselves and about others can help them develop a healthier relationship with wealth. 
  • Participating in educational programs about wealth management can convey that stewardship of wealth involves responsibility, as well as benefits.
  • Experiencing your wealth values in action may discourage a sense of entitlement and result in your children being less likely to live an extravagant lifestyle.

The Bottom Line

A recent University of Michigan study showed that children already have distinct tendencies toward spending or saving as early as age 5.2 Another recent study shows that children adapt their attitudes towards money from their observations of those around them, and that family is a major influence on children as they develop their money values.3

While there is no magic age at which children should begin to attend family meetings, if done properly, inviting children to family meetings in their formative years can assist children to develop good money management skills and behaviors that are consistent with your values. Further, inviting them to family meetings conveys to them the significance of their contribution to the family’s legacy and the importance of family cohesiveness. These are all important lessons best learned at an earlier, rather than a later, age. 
If you have questions about inviting or incorporating children into your family meetings, please contact Susan Meyers (616.752.2184 or or Mark Harder (616.396.3225 or
12018 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth. Retrieved from
2 Rick, S. (2018, January 10). New research shows children form attitudes about money at young age. Retrieved from

3Manchanda, R. (2015). Impact of Socialization on Attitude towards Money: A Review. Pragyaan: Journal of Management, 13 (1), 19-23.

See our other Legacy Matters posts in the family meetings series here.

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