Picture this: You are the child of one of the richest parents in the world. For most people this would mean never having to work a day in their lives. However, this will not be the case for Bill and Melinda Gates’ children.
At the TED ideas confab which took place yesterday in Vancouver, the billionaire couple revealed that in order for their children to learn the value of using money in constructive ways, they will not shower their children with money indiscriminately.
In an interview with Chris Anderson, the organizer of the TED Ideas confab, the Gates’ expounded on this philosophy:
“You’ve easily got enough money despite your vast contributions to the foundation to make them all billionaires,” Anderson said of the Gates offspring. “Is that your plan for them?”
“Nope, they won’t have anything like that,” Bill Gates said. “They need to have a sense that their own work is meaningful and important.”
Gates said he and his wife came to this point of view about child-rearing before they were even married after reading an article by Warren Buffett, who had taken a similar approach to raising his own children. They came to believe that bestowing massive sums on their heirs wasn’t doing a favor for society or the kids.
The Gates parents’ attitude toward their kids and money — call it the anti-Paris Hilton approach — resonates with an attitude toward wealth that runs as a subtext through TED itself. As an event, TED manages to gather some of the world’s richest people into one room. Once there, they’re bombarded with the message that money is not for having but for doing. As the world’s richest people, the Gates family could spend lifetimes doing nothing at all. But for the TED set, at least, the only points you get are for making something happen.
Gates said that as parents, they have been very clear with their children about their philosophy that most of their money would go to the family’s charitable foundation. “We want to strike a balance so they have the freedom to do anything,” Gates said, “but not sort of a lot of money showered on them so that they can go out and do nothing.”
What do you think? If you had billions of dollars, would you shower your kids with money and everything they’ve ever wanted? Or would you take the Bill and Melinda Gates’ approach? Let’s talk about it.
www.wired.com was first to report this story.
Photo credit: bbc.co.uk