In the Mid-Autumn Festival month, mooncakes show up often on my social feed. Year after year, no matter how different and innovative the flavors would be, the mooncakes would be consistently round to signify the full moon in the night sky. For the Asians celebrating the festival, the full moon represents harmonious family reunions and prosperity. This representation is too important to be trifled with.
The linkage between family harmony and wealth features strongly in the Asian culture. A traditional Chinese saying even describes that the family harmony is the basis of prosperity. Family harmony cannot be sustained on conflict avoidance. Unspoken resentment has its way of rearing its ugly head. Instead the harmony must be built on the conscious and collective effort to approach and align on difficult topics such as money and life goals. Considering how a family is an unit of individuals with own motivations, interests and concerns, attaining the harmonious state is a family journey.
The journey may well start with creating a shared understanding of experiences. While it may be easy and pleasant to create shared memories, it is understanding each other’s unique experiences that brings family members closer together. Life events are valuable triggers. Every family member creates his or her life milestones. A child’s first test experience is as important as a teenager’s receiving his first paycheck from a holiday job. Understanding each other’s experience is not an intuitive process. The human tendency to judge and dismiss, especially if communication styles are authoritarian or parenting styles over-protective, kills conversations and even trust. However if done right, the family conversations to support each other’s milestones are opportunities for the members to reflect, guide and learn together. A shared identity forms.
Family members’ roles must be fluid to create the family’s shared identity. Allowing their child to create own experiences with an arm’s length guidance would require the parents to evolve their role gradually from being caregivers to peers over the child’s life stages. Traits and habits that are associated with financial success, such as resisting impulsive behavior and having savings discipline, stick for a lifetime if learnt with guidance from own experiences.
Material topics like money and life goals are ideal areas to operationalize. In 360F, we once had an undergraduate intern whose parents entrusted him with the family’s investment portfolio, mainly to let him learn while maintaining financial prudence. The current flagship product, Multi-Generation Investment Genie, facilitates a shared financial experience within the family by enabling a Netflix-inspired platform of investment and protection planning.
If the wish-granting Genie does appear, it would be wiser to ask for the means to cultivate family harmony for future prosperity than a winning lottery ticket.