Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Ten Elements of Care by Peter White

Peter White has spent more than 20 years counseling wealthy parents and privileged children about how to better understand the adverse effects of wealth and to search for more meaningful lives. Over time he created a list of the 10 things parents should provide for their children, which he called “The 10 Elements of Care.” It seems like a good list regardless of the amount of wealth in a family. In fact, #3-#7 are general principles we share with our clients and they with us, and in doing so, we often arrive at #2.

1. Necessaries — food, clothing, shelter, medical attention, basic education.

2. Affection — This involves “the great big person who takes care of me opening him or herself to me, making him or herself vulnerable and human in a way, connecting with me physically and in spirit, and thus affirms my significance as a person.”

3. Affirmation and Support — This is basically about expressing sincere belief in the child: “You want to be a cheerleader – or a doctor or an astronaut – and you can do it!”

4. Boundaries — Peter says that “we are living in an age where the lack of boundaries for children is epidemic. Boundaries, of course, reflect a closing value – that certain, reasonably well-defined behaviors are unacceptable, and that when these behaviors occur, unpleasant consequences will result.”

5. Guidance — “Telling and showing children how to cope, how to deal, how to create, how to succeed. Guidance involves how-to techniques such as how to do the dishes or drive a car but at essence guidance is about beliefs — belief in the sense of action motivated and circumscribed by values held by the parents. In the wealth context, guidance on budgeting is essential, and guidance on philanthropy, which may come from participating in family philanthropy together as a group, are good examples. Parents of wealthy kids are worried about passing their values to their children, but they needn’t worry about that if they are present to them, in quality and non-quality times.”

6. Respect — “This is really about listening. It is respectful to listen seriously to what the other person is saying seriously and to empathize with what the other is feeling genuinely.”

7. Trust — This means “relying on the other to act responsibly,” and to allow someone the opportunity to do the wrong thing.

8. Forgiveness — This is not about the glib “I forgive you.” “Forgiveness does not erase the hurt; by definition, it feels the hurt but decides to carry on the relationship despite the hurt.”

9. Religion or Spirituality — “My experience over the last 20 years tells me that children raised in an environment of religion tend to be more in touch with themselves than those who are not. When I use the word religion, I am not referring only to the organized religions — though I am not excluding them either — but I am speaking about an aspiration to higher and enduring truth.”

10. Letting Go — This is the most difficult and along with Necessaries and Affection, the most important. We must say to our kids, ‘I’ve done the lion’s share of the motherly or fatherly work, and I’m here and will be here for you as long as I can be; but the responsibility for you is now yours.’ ”

1 comment:

Brent said...

Jewel, what a great blog! I e-mailed the URL to all my kids and relatives. A great foundational list. I hope your clients realize how much you care about them.