Am I Too Late?

Author: Thayer Willis

We just became empty nesters. We dropped off our youngest at college and in doing so created a milestone in the life of any family. Predictably, a certain reflection sets in. How did that go by so fast? At any point in our family journey, we had little sense of time passing so quickly. In fact, it was quite the opposite most of the time. The responsibilities weighed heavily at times and there seemed to be so much that needed attention. Yet we love our precious children and take pride and delight in their successes. Wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. 

One advantage of being an older mom of younger children has been the wisdom of my peers. 

Most of my friends’ children are long since grown and most of my age - peers are grandparents. I have benefitted by what they have learned along the way and have shared with me. Very often, I have thought about how fortunate I have been to be a parent at all. I almost waited so long that I completely missed it. Many times I have reflected on how all of this waiting affected my parenting attitudes. We have all experienced the value of waiting long and hard for something. How when we finally get to have or do that thing, we appreciate it so much more. I doubt that anyone has appreciated becoming a parent more than I did, some as much, but no one more. In fact, I have often thought, if everyone had to wait as long as I did to become a parent, what a far more appreciative and thankful world we would live in.  I even got to see an example of this in our son, our baby, who is just starting college. We are a family of skiers, and treasured our weekends on snowy mountains, especially during the years when the kids were racing. At about age eight our son started asking to snowboard instead of ski. We were reluctant to let him defect to the “dark side” so we stalled by saying “well...when you outgrow your skis....” Then, after replacing his skis with longer ones two or three more times, he began to lose patience, “C’mon, you said.....” And it’s true, we did 

say. So, at long last, we let him trade in his skis for a snowboard. The amazing result and the point of this little story, is that snowboarding, to this day, is his passion. I have no doubt that we contributed to his passion by making him wait so long for it.  I have done everything late. Marriage, family, work, you name it, I have done it all late. Little did I know, this is typical for inheritors. I didn’t even know I was an inheritor in my young adulthood, wouldn’t have thought to apply that word to myself, but nevertheless, I did the attending behaviours. With tremendous gratitude to many who have intentionally and unintentionally helped me, I have, in fact, been able to grow up, late though it was.

It is a well-known fact in my professional world that many inheritors are able to delay the maturing that others their age cannot avoid. It is easy to understand that growing up in a cushioned world where consequences can be avoided, where parents allow kids to take the easy way, or sometimes pave their kids’ way with strategic gifts of money to arrange circumstances to what they think is their kids’ advantage, where gratitude is not exemplified, taught and required – that this can lead to the young family member remaining childlike in a body that is physically maturing. It’s easy to appear grown up, but behaving in a grown-up manner is much more difficult. 

Some inheritors spend a lot of time being polite, feeling defensive while being polite. This behaviour doesn’t mature anyone. Others spend their time acting entitled, which benefits no one, most of all not them. Still others drift from one thing to another, skimming the surface of life. For when there are no financial consequences to quitting when the going gets tough, it’s just plain easier to quit. And the lessons of maturity don’t get learned.  “One element of maturity is the realization that we don’t get away with anything. 

Any advantage gained or convenience taken, any private procrastination or insincerity, no matter how subtle or quick in passing, is paid for.”  – Hugh Prather, Clergyman and writer

Any work a young, privileged family member can do on maturing is tremendously valuable. One great way to take important steps toward maturity is to work through Beyond Gold: True Wealth for Inheritors, which is available for purchase on my website or at Amazon.com. Go through it as a workbook and do every exercise and activity in it. When you finish, you will have acquired worthwhile insights regarding maturity in an intentional and purposeful way. These insights will serve you well, and you will appreciate so very much the fact that it’s always “better late than never.”