Identify Your Unique Family Culture

To keep your family wealth and your family member’s well being intact for multiple generations requires more than just making the money. Without a shared and consciously agreed upon family culture, today’s generations may be pulling in different directions, either on purpose or unconsciously.

Working together as a family to discuss and decide on what the culture is and should be will build a new family interaction dynamic which will help you tackle more difficult subjects together as you move forward with a long range plan for the family’s wealth and well being.

Defining a desired shared culture will allow the family to extend and teach that culture to future generations, who can then re-define it based on their life times – but with the grounding that your current family puts in place now.

How can families define their unique culture?

Sometimes talking about things with multiple generations and family members present is difficult.

In today’s world, it is also sometimes difficult to get multiple members together for face to face discussions. However, we believe it is essential to make sure you include all current generations and members in your final, conscious definition of your family culture.

Try it alone first.

Take a stab at defining your cultures (the culture of their birth family and the culture of their current immediate family). This solitary exercise will give that person an idea of how to proceed with the other family members.

To do this, think about what your family does on a day to day basis. What are the things you stress as important (both in words and by actions) to your children? What traditions have you carried forward from your parents or grandparents. What new traditions have you started? How does your religious orientation influence your family? Are there certain key things your family strives for (such as a good work ethic, sending children through college, making sure each child has skills in at least one trade, teaching kids how to start a business, giving time or money to certain causes?

Note down any goals you were given or have given/developed in your immediate family. Note how you spend your spare time – what do you enjoy doing.

Think about developing a survey for the remaining family members to use.

Include the family via a survey.

Based on your exercise, identify questions or categories for your folks to think through and make notes on. Be sure to include an indication of whether this culture item is one they think should be perpetuated

If you are a high tech family, your survey could be online, via email or a web site, otherwise paper and pencil work quite well.

Have someone compile the results of family members returned surveys or notes.

Make the responses anonymous and put them into groupings that can be discussed and perhaps voted on.

Send the compiled responses out to all current family membership.

Ask them to review the document to prepare for a discussion and definition session.

Meet to discuss.

This can be face to face or using a web conference – with a tool that allows everyone to see and hear the same stuff at the same time. Skype is an internet site that allows you to download free software to make free conference calls. If you only have tow Skype numbers on the call, you can share a desktop so that both parties can see everything being discussed.

Decide what to keep as a shared multiple generation family to carry forward to new generations.

What Should You Do After Defining Your Family Culture?

Document these items where all members can reach them. Teach them to your children, with the understanding that they are dynamic and each new generation should review and adapt them before adopting them to carry forward into the future.

Sources include:

Center for effective collaboration and practice.



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