Ballentine Partners, LLC Partner and Chief Wealth Advisory Officer, Coventry Edwards-Pitt, hones in on positive outcomes to show parents how they can raise their children to reflect family values in affluent circumstances.
By Amanda Kelly
How to teach our children to be responsible and self-sufficient adults is a thought lurking in the minds of many, if not all, parents. Yet the challenge of raising children is often complicated in unique ways for wealthy families who wish to raise children to be grounded and independent despite the affluent environment in which such children are being raised. Coventry Edwards-Pitt, who goes more simply by Covie, is an industry expert in wealth planning and helping her clients to align their wealth impact with their family values and goals. She champions stories of positive parenting outcomes for wealthy families in her book Raised Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.
“I hope my book shows a path for what works, focusing on how raising children in wealthy families can go right,” Covie says. “I’m a positive person, so I wanted to talk about the exception to what is seemingly typical for wealthy families.”
A More “Hands-Off” Approach
It’s not easy for parents to take a step back and allow children to succeed or fail on their own. In fact, this might seem counterintuitive in an era when helicopter parenting is the norm rather than the exception.
Parents want their children to be successful. However, part of this success is latent in a child’s exposure to a world beyond their personal experiences. Covie suggests that as much as possible, parents should strive to transfer a sense of accountability and independence to their children.
When a child receives the space to make decisions, it cultivates a sense of personal responsibility. What this might look like in terms of day-to-day parenting can begin with something as straightforward as letting kids chose how to spend their own allowance —transferring simple decision-making from the parent to the child.
“All kinds of behavior changes come from giving children ownership in their decisions, including how to earn their own money. A healthy and wise child develops the ability to overcome setbacks on his or her own without relying on parents’ resources.”
Is it Ever Too Little, Too Late?
For parents who believe their child has moved beyond reproach, Covie offers an alternative perspective. “Parents who are able to reflect on their own behavior can change any situation,” she says. “For a variety of reasons, behind every child living in some financially dependent way is a parent who is the source of those funds making that situation possible.”
So, what can parents of financially dependent adult children do? Covie outlines three stages parents can adopt to change a situation in which an adult child is financially dependent:
Stage One: Recognition
In this stage, parents recognize that they are not satisfied with the skills their child has developed. For example, a parent might accept an adult child cannot stand on his own two feet.
Stage Two: Ask the question – Why is this happening?
Parents of dependent adult children must be willing to look at themselves and determine the root cause of the problem. Covie says at this point most parents need to be willing to accept culpability for their child’s behavior. Ask — what behaviors I am enabling in my child?
Stage Three: Commit to Making Changes
At this point, parents initiate a conversation with their child and convey the intention to change a situation over a period of time. “It’s challenging, A, to have the conversation,” says Covie, “and B, to stick to the plan you put in place. Weening is the best metaphor. The change should be spread out over a year or so.”
Nurturing an Optimistic Legacy
Covie has worked in the financial advising industry for 14 years, but looking back on her life, she finds it funny how everything came full circle. It was early in Covie’s career at Goldman Sachs when a colleague’s sudden passing prompted her to question whether or not she had found her true calling.
“It was kind of a wakeup call,” she says. “I started consulting and through that process, realized I could still have a meaningful impact on my clients’ lives through a very consultative humanistic objective.” The relationships Covie developed with her clients ultimately inspired her to write her book.
“When you write things, your words live on. In writing a book, my positive messages move beyond my clients and can reach people all over. I hope that it will continue to reach as many people as possible.”
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Coventry Edwards-Pitt (Covie) is a Partner and the Chief Wealth Advisory Officer at Ballentine Partners, LLC. In 2015 and 2016, Private Asset Management recognized Covie as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Private Wealth.” Covie’s book Raised Healthy, Wealthy & Wise highlights the positive experiences of inheritors who go on to lead grounded and productive lives. She has been a featured speaker at over 70 events for wealth-owning families and their advisors. Covie has been quoted widely in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Investment News. Covie is also a trained opera singer and pianist. She is a member of the Women’s Presidents’ Organization and the Collaboration for Family Flourishing.