My husband Michael and I first came into wealth back in 2000 — the moment he signed his NBA contract to play for the Milwaukee Bucks. The transition literally happened overnight, and as the years increased, he began to make even more.
Even though Michael and I consider ourselves first-generation wealth, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very upper-middle-class family. My father was a self-made motivational speaker, so as he gained more success, we climbed the ladder; we went from middle class to upper-middle class, and then to lower-upper class.
You see, when you're Black and privileged, you're not that privileged. You may have riches, you may have a name, but the best thing that might happen to you in a desperate situation is that you might get bail if you make it out alive or you're lucky enough to afford a good lawyer.
However, being raised upper class felt vastly different from what my family has today. The way I see it, the words wealthy and rich are two totally different things. Rich is when you have money to spend — it's neither an object nor an issue. Wealth, on the other hand, is when you have enough of that money (along with land and other assets) to leave to your children and your children's children. From that perspective, I did not grow up in a wealthy family, and neither did Michael.
As a young girl, I thought wealthy people were pretty lucky. But I've always considered myself lucky that I was never motivated by money, nor driven to make a lot of it. While I'm fully aware that money is necessary to get things done, I've always been driven by purpose. Not to mention, I was raised as a Christian, where the poorer you are, the more meek you are, and the more you suffer for Christ's sake.
Surprisingly, I never thought wealth was reserved for white people only, either. Luckily, I was raised to believe that wealth was thrust upon those who worked really hard, went to college, landed jobs that paid well, then saved their money to buy whatever they wanted. Sure, I went to school with a few wealthy people, but many of them were very down to earth and never stuck up. However, there existed an undeniable stigma that the "rich" kids could get anything they wanted. They were spoiled, maybe even lazy. They would never know how to appreciate the value of hard work because many things were simply given to them.
In this situation, you're the "acceptable Black person."
So, you can only imagine the intense fear in our hearts the moment Michael and I laid eyes on that first paycheck.
Even if you grow up upper class, you have no idea what it's like to see the size of these checks being deposited in the bank. At first, I didn't even know what to do with it. I never wanted to be the type of woman who always had to have the latest designer this or that. I didn't want to have a relationship with my bank account more than I had a relationship with my husband. So, it scared me to death and rocked my faith to the core. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." What would become of me?
What would become of my children?
Eventually, I came to the realization that God allowed me to walk into this situation because He knew that I wouldn't change as a person — that He could trust that my heart was pure and right when it came to money and how I was going to raise my children.
As a parent, there are a lot of fears raising your children in a privileged home — let alone, being a Black parent raising Black children in a privileged home. You see, when you're Black and privileged, you're not that privileged. You may have riches, you may have a name, but the best thing that might happen to you in a desperate situation is that you might get bail if you make it out alive or you're lucky enough to afford a good lawyer. Being famous or wealthy doesn't necessarily stop you from experiencing injustices. At the end of the day, you're a Black person with money. Not a person with money who happens to be Black — no, you are a Black person first, who just happens to have money. I can't tell you how many times people have stopped dead in their tracks by a Black person who's famous and wealthy. In this situation, you're the "acceptable Black person."
As a parent, there are a lot of fears raising your children in a privileged home — let alone, being a Black parent raising Black children in a privileged home.
On the other hand, sometimes you're not even considered "acceptable" at all, even if you do have money. My 13-year-old son, Michael Jr., realized this unfortunate stigma early on with many of the kids in his grade. When he was only ten, he was often taunted, with many of his schoolmates saying that the only reason people liked him was because of his parents. Because of his wealth. Even though the children made fun of him and treated him poorly, they were the same ones showing up at our house for his birthday party, just to see how we lived.
This was a huge blow to his self-esteem, but ultimately, Michael Jr. learned how to question his true friendships. He learned that you can't earn people's love and affection with money. You have to work harder than that and truly be yourself.
At the end of the day, that's all you ever want for your children. You want them to be kind, gracious, and grateful, and you always want to provide a sense of balance. Balance for the things you, the parent, didn't have, yet teaching your child the value of hard work and appreciating what they've truly earned, whether a paycheck or a best friend.
As parents raising children born into privilege — whether Black or white — one of the biggest questions to consider is this: Will your children understand how to actually receive the generational wealth? How do you ensure they won't go and spend their inheritance on a $500,000 car?
At the end of the day, that's all you ever want for your children. You want them to be kind, gracious, and grateful, and you always want to provide a sense of balance.
Because of this, Michael and I have always insisted on leading by example through our philanthropic work. Once my daughter Ardyn becomes a little older, we're excited to involve both our children in a monthly opportunity to give back to the community as a family. Although they've been blessed with an abundance of opportunities and experiences, my hope is that they won't grow up feeling entitled or that the world owes them something. Instead, I hope they give back to the world and their community, and I believe this starts by exposing your children to families who don't have the same privileges as they do.
If God has blessed you with wealth, it is your responsibility to raise your children in his image. Generosity, kindness, humility, and authenticity are their keys to success. They may stumble and fall through the journey. They may even get a chip on their shoulder now and again. But when you lead by positive example, your kids will grow up to be everything you dreamed of and more.
More importantly, we love our kids more than anything in the world. We give our kids the love they so desperately deserve, regardless of money. Money will never replace the affection and emotional support of a parent — and for that, I don't think they lack anything at all.
- I taught my black kids that their elite upbringing would protect them ... ›
- How New York's wealthy parents try to raise 'unentitled' kids — Quartz ›
- How Wealthy Parents Can Raise Responsible, Grounded Kids ... ›
- How rich people should raise kids who aren't spoiled - Business ... ›
- Raising Wealthy Kids to Be Socially Responsible | Kiplinger ›
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist