Transferring Family Values for Intergenerational Success

Establishing what matters to you and your family

For families of significant wealth, establishing a strong set of values is crucial for helping guide decision-making and navigating the complex dynamics that arise within the intersection of wealth, emotions, and familial relationships. However, while laying down these principles is essential, passing them on to future generations presents a formidable challenge—particularly as wealth is dispersed across successive generations. To sustain both wealth and the family legacy across generations, effective communication of these values is paramount. Ensuring that all family members contribute to a shared understanding and embrace these collective values is the foundation for helping ensure continuity and the preservation of the family’s heritage.


Establishing collective values within a family serves as a crucial foundation for navigating disagreements and maintaining unity during periods of dysfunction and conflict. It’s essential to recognize that conflicts are inevitable in most families, but how a family equips itself beforehand can significantly influence the outcomes. Rather than avoiding conflicts in the hope that they will resolve themselves, proactive empowerment is key. Ignoring simmering tensions only leads to a buildup of instability, which may erupt at the most vulnerable times for the family. By establishing perspectives and fostering empathy, families can effectively navigate tough situations and remain united in the face of adversity. Conversely, a lack of common values complicates the determination of key principles such as trust, empowerment, and empathy, which are essential for a family’s flourishing.

Practically speaking, our lifestyle choices often mirror our values. Put simply, if a family consistently emphasizes the utility of wealth, that perspective is likely to be passed down through generations. When wealth is used primarily for outward displays of extravagance—such as luxury cars, lavish vacations, and ostentatious purchases—it may become intertwined with the family’s identity. Unfortunately, children raised in this environment may come to equate their self-worth solely with material possessions, leading to issues not only for themselves but also for future generations. This is particularly concerning when their sense of worth hinges solely on their ability to project wealth, rather than on their individual accomplishments or character. Such a mindset can set them up for failure or entitlement, especially if they fail to become wealth creators in their own right. Thus, defining values beyond mere wealth projection becomes imperative to avoid such detrimental outcomes.



Establishing values within a family becomes less challenging when they are passed down from the first generation (the creators of wealth) to the second. However, complexities arise as subsequent generations become involved. Initially, the first generation typically consists of a single married couple, sharing relatively aligned values regarding wealth, money, and child-rearing within a singular household. These values are absorbed organically by the second generation, growing up in this household without the need for explicit articulation.

However, as children from the second generation grow, marry, and form their own households, the situation becomes more intricate. Now, the new household is influenced by two different sets of values, each originating from distinct perspectives and principles. The resulting generation is more diverse in their value set and perhaps less aligned compared to when it was just parents and siblings. Moreover, the addition of in-laws, cousins, and significant others further complicates matters, deepening the pool of principles and values. In such situations, the focus shifts from aligning core values to finding common ground. Without this common bind, the family’s cohesion becomes more fragile as subsequent generations progress.



Establishing family values is not a rigid process but rather an organic journey toward shared understandings and principles. It’s not about following a prescribed questionnaire but rather encouraging open dialogue and equal participation among family members. The exercise involves identifying what truly matters to the family, listening to various viewpoints, and distilling these diverse perspectives to find common ground. Whether it’s a nuclear family or a multi-generational enterprise, imposing values on others without considering their input undermines the agency of family members and weakens the value focus. It’s crucial to foster an environment where everyone has an equal voice and feels heard to prevent tensions and foster unity.

Religion, faith, traditions, and cultural customs often influence family values, but other experiences like family vacations, reunions, and relationship development also contribute to shaping values. The goal is to create perspective, fostering a common understanding that allows family members to appreciate each other’s viewpoints, even if they don’t always agree. This understanding is vital for building resilience within the family.

In complex family ecosystems and enterprises, a more formal internal governance structure may be necessary to nurture core values effectively. Formal meetings, family councils, and family constitutions provide a framework for understanding roles, addressing conflicts constructively, and managing financial ties within the family. Such structures are particularly beneficial for multi-stakeholder families, as they establish clear expectations and guidelines for family members, facilitating smoother transitions and reducing turmoil.

Transferring Family Values for Intergenerational Success

  1. Discover your family’s values organically: Recognize that determining family values is a dynamic and evolving process.
  2. Encourage Individual Input: Start a conversation with your family members about their values.
  3. Foster a Safe Space for Discussion: Create an open and trusting environment for sharing thoughts and ideas.
  4. Ensure Everyone Has an Equal Voice: Make sure all family members are heard and respected.
  5. Find Common Ground: Identify shared values to establish your family’s


It’s inevitable that perspectives and values will evolve over time within a family. When this occurs, it’s vital for families to establish mechanisms for revisiting these discussions regularly. Ownership counsels or family meetings can dedicate time specifically for such discussions. Creating a proper forum for wider family involvement in revisiting core principles helps ensure that values remain intact and well-understood. Since this subject matter can sometimes lead to conflict, constructive navigation is crucial. In such instances, a professional, objective third-party advisor can provide valuable assistance. This trusted facilitator ensures that the process is inclusive and respectful, allowing all family members to feel that they have had meaningful input and agency over the process. It’s essential for everyone to participate actively and have an equal and fair voice in these discussions. Strong governance structures and a defined family forum are instrumental in facilitating this process.

Ultimately, whether established formally through structured family forums or informally through shared experiences like family trips, dinners, or religious beliefs, family values are paramount for the continued success of a family managing significant wealth. Establishing a common understanding among generations and family members ensures that everyone is ‘rowing in the same direction’ for the benefit of the family, its wealth, and its legacy. While it’s crucial not to over-structure the family unit, such practices cultivate resilience and help define appropriate roles and responsibilities, ensuring the family’s continued prosperity for generations to come.