On vacation with my family last week in Los Angeles, we couldn’t help but get caught up in the Oscar mania that surrounded us. As we drove through the streets of Beverley Hills, and walked the famed Rodeo Drive, we were struck by the irony and the contrasts: California, the near bankrupt state, bloated with debt, yet opulence everywhere you turn. Every car seems new and everyone is in a hurry to get to where they can be seen wearing the latest fashions.
As a parent, it was refreshing to hear my 25 year-old daughter say, “this all seems so pretentious.” I couldn’t help but smile and feel relieved that ‘she gets it.’ See my blog – We’ve failed our kids, shame on us.
On our flight home, we all watched The Descendants; the George Clooney flick that garnered so much attention at the Oscars. Clooney plays the role of Matt King, a wealthy lawyer who is the sole trustee and one of many beneficiaries of a $100 million+ family property that is to be sold.
The parallel story line deals with Matt’s new found responsibility for his two daughters as a result of his wife’s comatose condition after an accident. Matt and his family have lived quite modestly and he shielded his daughters from their massive wealth.
My favourite line in the movie: Matt says, “I don’t want my daughters growing up entitled and spoiled. And I agree with my father: you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing.”
This is actually a paraphrase from one of the world’s wealthiest and best investors, Warren Buffett (maybe why the line resonated with me). When asked how much money he would bequeath to his children, Buffett replied, “I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.”
Regardless of source, this is a great summation of the balancing act parents face in providing for the needs and wants of their children. How ironic given the opulence in the city the movie was featured.