There are trends in everything from fashion, topics of interest, medicine, parenting and education (Education is HUGE on trends, sometimes to a fault, think “New Math,” no grading and “inventive spelling” to name a just a few).  Throughout history, children, early on boys, as men were the main breadwinners, very often, followed in their father’s footsteps when it came to a career. If your dad was a silversmith, who better to train you than someone who had made a living at it.  Same with other professions. Really, this made sense. A young boy would spend time with his father, learning how to be a man and seeing first hand horseshoeing, carpentry, building, plumbing, and so on, how one makes a living.  These were the early trade schools and when a child was of age to be an adult, they left home, hopefully with a good sense of right and wrong and a way to support themselves and eventually a family if they got married.  For girls early on, they too learned a skill to help them through life, homemaking, how to cook, take care of household duties and how to care for children, especially if there were younger siblings or cousins living close by, which usually happened with families not venturing far from the fold. With little outside influence and most coming from the home church, synagogue and maybe school, it wasn’t all bad and kids grew into adulthood, prepared for the real world. 

     In about the late sixties,  early seventies, they was a trend for kids to get as far away from the family business as possible.  Think of the kids who grew up on farms, few continued the family tradition with many farms being sold to big corporations. None of my mom’s siblings took over the family farm in North Carolina.  Many other family businesses were sold or liquidated because kids decided to go in a different direction.  If a child has no interest, this is probably a good choice. Having grown up with my dad and uncle having a restaurant, and my brother going into the restaurant business (not buying my dad’s, but purchasing his own) and my husband following his father into dentistry, our son as well, I know a thing or two about this topic.  

     In my opinion, there are numerous benefits and I can think of only one negative. The positives first.  You have a family member who is a mentor to show you the ropes. You get to learn from their years of experience and that puts you at a higher starting position.  My brother and my husband learned early on what mistakes NOT to make. My dad and father-in-law knew what equipment, supplies and techniques worked and what didn’t.  They knew which headaches were worth addressing and which were left alone.  They knew that sharing the overhead meant that they could purchase the good and new equipment, the value of having a partner to share in the responsibility (my father didn’t have a partner, so he knew how much fell directly on him so for his sons to work  together was a perk he did not have).  Having a partner also meant having an equal to discuss problems in the business with, you weren’t going it along.  In dentistry, having a partner means that you have another professional to consult on the difficult cases. An extra set of eyes can be insightful and beneficial to the patient.  Lastly, when working with your family, know your family is not going to take advantage of you.  You have a trusted interest you can lean on. In other words, you know what kind of a partner you getting because you have a life history to date. If a family member becomes ill and time off is necessary, your family gets that like no other.  

     Interestingly, family can be a negative too.  In my mind, the only negative, if the parties do not get along.  We have been fortunate to see family on both sides ‘make it work.’  Sure things will come up that partners don’t see eye to eye on, people are human and that you don’t see eye to eye can be a positive because each partner brings a different outlook.  What one may notice the other may not. We all have most likely seen family partnerships that are a disaster.  That’s sad.  Family partners in a business are much like children arguing and the parents saying (or at least like we would), “you can disagree and argue, but this is your brother or sister and you need to get it out, apologize and move on, putting this behind you.”  If you can’t do that, then it’s best that you not work with family or follow a parent in business, if there is not trust and respect. 

     Sometime, we think of the kids as not respecting the parent(s) in a business situation, but I have seen family partnerships where the parent’s took advantage of the younger generation with a parent financially being unfair.  Either way it’s wrong. For a child to expect a parent to “GIVE” them the business is inappropriate.  That parent or parents worked hard to build a business and make it work. Even though they may have a retirement saved for, they deserve to get paid, fairly, not taking advantage of the child buying in, but selling at a fair market price, if they were selling to someone else, the same would be expected.  If there are advantages in selling the business by transferring the business to a family member than for a family to take advantage of that option why not, if both parties are benefitting.  First hand, I have seen family respect one another and it’s a good feeling to see that, both in my life growing up and my experience to witness as an adult. Like I often write, respect goes a long way in any relationship. 

     Lastly, sometimes a child just has no interest in taking over the family business and should not be expected to if they just are not interested.  It is important as a parent to guide and steer your child into their ares of strength and interest, but within reason.  For example, if you had a child who wanted to go into an area that they merely had an interest in, but no strength in skills to get there and no connections or no plan as to how to get there, then you have every right as a parent of a teenager to have a frank conversation on how they will support themself. Of course as an adult, they are free to do what they wish, but as a parent, it is your job to help them find something they can do to make a living. Maybe they would like to be an actress, but you have no connections, you as the parent knows just how competitive it is and they will need to do something to support themself while they are trying to pursue their dream.  If you do decide to help them pursue their dream as an actor, athlete or any other profession with few positions available, consider putting a limit on how long you will invest in this venture.  Set guidelines such as, we will help you with a professional sports career AFTER your education and you have a skill to fall back on to support yourself if you don’t make the Olympic Team or make it as a professional actor or musician.  Stress or make it mandatory that your child take a class on finances such as a Dave Ramsey course, so that they know how to handle and manage their money.  Consider that not long after your kids launch into their adult life, you’ll be close to retirement age or there about and you want to make sure that your future is secure as well. There are assessments available to help you and your child find their areas of interest and what skills they are strong in, out in the working world.  When I was in the eighth grade, I won a scholarship for Johnson-O’Connor testing.  The results were that my strengths lied in the areas of writing, speaking, performing, visual arts and teaching.  Those qualities I had along with my parents  requirement for me to have a marketable skill, resulted in pursuing an education degree with a teaching certificate. 

Speaking of the word, “MARKETABLE SKILL.” Some look at this as a bad word. NADA. For your child to go out into adulthood with a skill that can adequately support themself will allow for them to provide for themselves, make adult decisions such as getting married and it will give them choices in life. Launching into the next chapter of their life with the ability to have choices and doors open to them. To have a skill such as accounting, coding, teaching, cosmetology, nursing, phelboetologist, plumbing, mechanic, paralegal, medical technologist, most likely gives someone the ability to be employed and enter the working world  To be employed will give a young person confidence to take on their adult life. These skills combined with a good work ethic and some financial knowledge from a parent and a good class on managing money, like the class mentioned above, will place your adult child in a good spot and ready to take on the world.

     As a parent, YOU know your child better than anyone else.  YOU know what is best for them.  A guidance counselor can give you ideas, make suggestions from an educational standpoint.  However, any consequences of the choices will affect you in one way or another.  You are your child’s first teacher and mentor for life and you have their best interest in mind like NO ONE else.  Make sure your child knows that.  It comes from logging years as the parent and giver of love and guidance to them.  Building that trust and relationship along the way, will pay dividends when it comes to the big decisions in life as you prepare them for their life in the adult world.  Decisions like what career path they will choose, where they will receive their education and who they will end up, regardless of it being a family business or not, leading to Great Days for you all as a Family.