In my last post I wrote about the mama and papa bear urge we parents of young children feel to protect our young children from all the possible harms that could befall them. It is an exhausting part of the rewarding parenting job! But since my firstborn was a baby I’ve been told, “the bigger the children, the bigger the problems.” I remember well how hard it was just to get a shower and get out the door to anywhere back then, but now that she’s a toothless, almost 7 year-old little person, I reluctantly agree with that foreboding advice as I pine for the days when my “baby” was still a totally portable, adorable little newborn.
The more experienced parents tell me all the time that this instinctive urge to protect and provide for our children doesn’t mysteriously vanish once our babies turn 18! We might not worry so much about keeping their fingers out of electrical sockets and preventing them from accidentally falling down stairs anymore, but we may just worry a lot that they could be involved in a car accident that injures another person. We think we’ll sleep when our little ones are older but apparently we’ll lie awake waiting for them to come driving home on their own (this terrifies me). We might worry about the people they choose to marry. We might worry that they’ll develop bad habits that could hurt them or others.
When those are the kinds of things worrying us, we might want to ensure that everything we’ve worked so hard to provide for them isn’t gone in the blink of a lawsuit, divorce, or gambling spree. There is an easy solution to that though. It’s a kind of babyproofing for our grown babies. Rather than leave whatever assets we may have for them outright, directly into their individual bank accounts, we can set our children up for the best possible start to their adult lives by protecting those assets and leaving them in trust for our children’s benefit. And no, having a trust is not just for the very wealthy.
Having a trust won’t make our children spoiled, rotten “trust fund babies” of the reality show, tabloid news ilk, especially if we provide clear guidance about how the money we leave our children should be used. Of course our first job is to teach our children directly the financial lessons that will help them in life. We have to demonstrate the positive lessons things we were taught or explain how we learned the hard way.
But if we’re not around when our children are old enough to really understand? What if we’re not here when our kids are most receptive to learning those lessons in their own early adulthood? Well then it’s our job to leave those lessons for them, in our own words, to help provide security for them while they’re figuring it all out for themselves. Setting up a continuing trust for our children is just another selfless act of love that we parents can do now to help ensure our babies’ futures are as bright as can be.