Is It Your Money: Should Wealthy Parents Pass On Their Wealth To Their Kids?

Someone once told me, “most women want me for my money, so I have to be careful of whom I associate with; especially intimately so that they won’t target my inheritance by accusing me of getting them pregnant”. The first thing that came to my mind when I heard this was: is your dad going…


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Someone once told me, “most women want me for my money, so I have to be careful of whom I associate with; especially intimately so that they won’t target my inheritance by accusing me of getting them pregnant”. The first thing that came to my mind when I heard this was: is your dad going to die soon? Or is there a timetable somewhere that nobody knows about? What about the fact that you’re objectifying yourself with your “father’s” wealth that you don’t know if it’ll get handed to you during your lifetime just as girls objectify themselves by saying that every guy wants them (just) for sex. Also, don’t you think the fact you’re so careful to preserve the wealth says more about your own belief in your ability to be wealthier than your father is and could ever hope to be if you try something on your own, even if you set out on your own path as a penniless homeboy.

That wasn’t the first I had heard someone make such statements and it made me wonder about our attitude to wealth. How we believe in generational wealth, building organisations and making crazy money that’ll be handed down from one generation to another because no parent wants his/her child plus the grandchildren that are to come to suffer and parents want to leave a lasting “legacy” that will outlive them. But when parents do this, groom their kids to take over the family business, prepare their kids to grow and sustain the family wealth, I wonder if that’s a good thing in itself. Because what we have are young men and women who aren’t tapping into their natural abilities to create their own world but are sent off to business schools and trained in fields that most times they wouldn’t choose for themselves had they been given the choice. I say this because I’ve asked a few people I know who come from wealthy homes what they would rather do instead of working in the family company or being prepped to take over from daddy and they mentioned things like: being a fashion designer, a basketball player, a professor, working in the media, etc. There’s no guarantee that they would have been a success in these fields but the fact still remains that that’s where their heart is.

Have you ever wondered why the second and third generation of a wealthy family hardly builds on what the first toiled to build? Why they hardly sustain the wealth? Why the family businesses hardly flourish when the younger generation take over? I really don’t have an answer to this which is why I’m writing about it but I want to bring in something else to this post. Who has heard of the giving pledge? In 1993, Bill and Melinda Gates took a walk on the beach and made a big decision: to give their Microsoft wealth back to the society, this was while they were engaged to be married and we all know or maybe have heard of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the tremendous impact that the foundation is making in trying but not limited to alleviate poverty and find innovative ways to improve healthcare and also make it affordable to the poor. While the project and vision is an on-going one, Warren Buffet who is also super rich decided to give a huge part of his wealth to the Gates Foundation because he could see the impact and he trusted them, and this led to the birth of a campaign to get the wealthy all over the world to pledge to give 50% or more of their wealth to support a cause or charity of their choice in the cause of their lifetime or at the point of their death. About 128 billionaires have pledged to give away their money and the campaign hasn’t ended, people like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna, etc are signatories to this pledge. These billionaires come from 14 countries across the world but amongst the 14 countries there is only about 1 or 2 that are African.

I’m not saying that these people won’t leave something for their children to inherit but what is obvious is that, that is not the primary focus of their wealth. But also what is profound about the wealth of these people is the fact that giving money away hasn’t taken them from their previously held position of being the world’s richest. This makes me wonder about the difference in attitude to wealth that we have here in Nigeria and probably Africa as a whole and that of the Westerners. Does the fact that what made them wealthy in the first place wasn’t the need to escape poverty like it is for a lot of billionaires in our country, but instead the fact that they allowed their creative minds fiddle with what fascinated them from a young age which got translated to what the world truly needs for development thereby making them a success constitute the huge gap in the way they relate to their wealth? In this our time of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, is it possible that our generation will ever prioritise the society and the needy as it relates to their wealth instead of coveting and acquiring the bling that sparkles the most, the latest cars, biggest houses, yachts and private jets just so the world will know how much we’ve made it and are balling?

Isn’t it possible that making the decision that whoever we are or will become, whatever we have and will have should transcend our very existence and personal pleasure would in turn take away undue mental pressure, lack of contentment and loss of peace from our professions and daily activities? And then the children, is the need to preserve, sustain and grow the family wealth up to the 100th generation if possible causing parents to raise kids who stifle their natural gifts, talents and abilities just so they’ll become mini dad and mum, and live out the rest of their parents dreams not by choice but out of a sense of duty?

Yes we all have to be careful of who we let into our lives, but does being careful really help us sieve the wrong people or does it make us limit ourselves to experiencing only a handful of people who we believe albeit rather wrongly are with and for us for the right reasons? If we aren’t objectifying ourselves for these reasons, why is it then that what we show are the very things we don’t want to be loved and accepted for instead of portraying who we really are, allowing ourselves to be truly seen and known?

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  1. Larz
    I believe there are too many topical issues here. Concerns of women wanting to trap rich men, Bill Gates and co giving away their money, parents stifling their childrens growth etc. This write up could have benefits on more details on fewer issues to give it more focus.
    About Nigerian (and most African) giving… I dont think we tend to favour arms length giving. We like to give those that will always be avaiable to be indebted to us or grateful to us. It is the hero complex in us. I think, we need to move to give more out of highest priority need even if it means giving to ppl who will never get to thank us/ even know of our generosity. Is it worth keep being charitable to that sibling that squanders their money and always risk eviction from their landlord? Have we considered the fact that it might be better for them to get evicted once so they learn their lesson?
    1. Priscilla Joy
      You’re so right Larz, in Nigeria, with a few people that I know they give more to people who are available to be indebted to them. your suggestion about giving out of highest priority is actually the method of giving that Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna adopted, that way they aren’t just giving money or supporting a cause for giving sake, they investigated and chose causes they believe is most important for different reasons.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      1. Ojuolape
        Like Larz said. A lot of points to be discussed in this post.
        I think we(Nigerians) think too much on the individual/family level. The concept of giving or sharing isn’t really our thing. When we do give, it’s not without motive.

        It could also be because we as a people feel entitled. So we learn to shield and protect our selves before family members help us share our wealth.

  2. Nosa
    While giving is nice, does anybody question their motivation for giving? Some billionaires give just so they can improve or enhance public perception or focus, but the public doesnt care so long as they give. Zuckerberg gave $100m a week before “The Social Network” was released. Warren Buffet didn’t carr for charities until his 70s. Sam Walton also didnt care until he was 69.

    You don’t owe anybody anything. And if you give, okay. If you don’t, okay. The billionaires in Nigeria choose not to give and i don’t see how it is anybody’s business (as long as they don’t do illegal stuffs). If they want to acquire more wealth, let them. Is it your money? Go and get your own and then you can give to charity if you want to.

    Personally, i see giving as more than just “money”, ehat some of these people have done/created is actually much more valuable than the amount of money they give. Peope like Gates, Elon, Musk, Walton, Bezos, Ma, Thiel, Ford. Their innovations or creations have in some way improved the lifes of billions of people around the world.

    1. Priscilla Joy
      Nosa, I think you’re wrong about “some billionaires giving just so they can improve or enhance public perception or focus”, because we aren’t talking some few change here. for example, Bill and Melinda gates are giving away 95% of their wealth, Warren Buffet will donate (and has already started giving) 80% of his wealth to the Gates foundation, likewise a handful of other billionaires. and it doesn’t matter when they started, the fact they decided to do it alone is enough to believe in humanity. can you imagine what difference all that money will make in the life of the poor and in the society if put to good use?

      We all know that the government can’t do it all, so if a handful of people who have the means decides to sponsor some poor kids to get an education, help build houses for those affected by natural disasters, donate to research institutes that could find a cure for cancer or some other disease, help with electricity, etc, it really shouldn’t be discouraged or trivialized at all.

      Yes what they created is very much valuable but in creating that, they made all this money and they feel the best thing to do now is find a way to balance the scale between the wealthy and the poor, have you noticed how wide the gap is? I don’t know about you but I believe that we should adopt the giving mentality in Nigeria and it shouldn’t just stop in the lives of our relatives or in our community where we’ll be given chieftaincy titles.

      1. Nosa
        Like I said; “the public doesnt care so long as they give”

        We don’t need to adopt a giving mentality. We need to change our mentality on what counts as giving. From your post, it seems like the only thing that counts as giving to society is when you donate “money”. While I applaud the Gates family for having given over $40bn so far. There are people who actually impact more lives without giving-money.

        Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that this people choose to give their wealth, what I don’t like is that money is the only type of giving we choose acknowledge.

  3. D.K
    Nosa, I agree with you. Giving should be a personal thing. You can do whatever you please with your money, provided you worked diligently and honestly for it.

    Growing up, we would rant to my mum how my dad hardly took us on vacations and spent quite little of the surplus he has on us. My mom would say ‘my dear, it is not your money. It is your dad’s. You wanna go on vacations? Then work very hard and sponsor yourself because nobody owes you a dime’. It stuck.

    Yes, it is good to give to the society but the truth is, it is not compulsory. Some people actually give a lot but because they don’t announce it, nobody knows (except the recipients of course).

    1. 11
      If you can’t spend your surplus cash to take your kids on vacation, then I wonder what you’re keeping the cash for. Like your mum said though, it’s papa’s money.
  4. Funk
    About wealthy people giving, another point is, how much of that money actually reaches and touches the lives of those who need it/are being given to? There are numerous reports of staff of these charity organisations taking large percentages of donations as salaries and leaving measly portions for the intended purpose.
  5. elam
    A child was asked what he wanted to be in future and he answered “the son of a rich man”. I think what bill gates et al are doing is truly remarkable. personally i dont really care who gets the wealth in as much as every person is treated similarly without preference or prejudice or artificial barrier. I am just trying to say the society should be like sports where the superior athlete wins regardless of his family fortune.
  6. A
    I’d like to add that the children of wealthy people are allowed to expect their parents’ wealth to be transferred to them. Also, it doesn’t stop them from pursuing their dreams. Manage the company for a short time and handover to a competent and trusted person to do day-to-day management while you go do whatever it is you love. Simple.
  7. Seyi
    I know of kids of wealthy parents that go ahead to do what they want and hatch their own living. Ex Emily Nkanga, Gogo Majin, Denola Grey, Kecide Anosike to mention but a few. And this case is not peculiar to Nigerians, we have kids of wealthy families from other countries who don’t follow their dreams but worked in the family business and some the family business is what their dream.
    Granted the ratio of giving of Nigerians compared to the oyinbo counterparts is small, I believe this is because most of us are still trying to manage and sort ourselves out before we have time to think of others. There are those that have numerous family members that they are taking care off and no one is hearing about it. With us here we live in ‘groups’ extended families are depended on us but there it’s you and your immediate family. I’ll donate half my wealth to a charity when my extended family are still poor?
    Asides that, some give as a form of tax evasion, deductible tax, corporate social responsibility and sometimes as bribe.

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