The Privilege of Generational Wealth

Published on
July 4, 2023
Time to read: 
Chantal leans in towards her laptop, to grab a screen shot of the stitches along her left cheekbone. She's grinning, and the closed captioning reads "It's all good."
Check out the neat stitches on my left cheek! For those who pay attention to my bookshelves, you'll notice that the stack behind my left shoulder is much shorter than normal. I've lent several of the books from that shelf to my eldest.

Lately, I’ve found myself reflecting about what generational wealth means.

I’m not writing about extremely wealthy people, who live in mansions, own several vehicles, and regularly jet set around the globe.

I’m talking about families like mine.

When I first moved into my own place, a rental row house I shared with another junior officer, I showed up with second hand furniture donated by my parents. Because my house mate already had a fully outfitted kitchen, I was able to buy things for my kitchen over time, instead of rushing to buy it all at once.

When I bought my first home, family members donated additional furniture, so that I wouldn’t have empty rooms. A family friend even gave me a lawnmower. Happily, the neighbours who regularly borrowed my lawnmower, would cut my front lawn before returning it to my garage.

When my husband and I moved into our first home, we bought it despite the extremely loud floral wall paper in the front hall, because we knew that could be changed. However, neither of us was particularly handy with wallpaper and paint. Happily, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are fabulous at home decorating, and removed the wall paper and painted the entry way, and the very bright pink living room and dining room a lovely neutral shade of sand.

These gifts from family saved me a lot of money and time. The generosity of our family helped set me and my husband up for success.

As the next generation in our family ventures forth to outfit their first homes away from their parents, each of them received gifts of second-hand furniture, kitchen wares, linens, and more.

This is generational wealth. We pull together to help our youth get started in their lives as adults.

Living secure in the knowledge that I can feed myself and my family, allows me the privilege of time to think about and do other things. Activities that many people take for granted, like going to the dentist for regular check ups and time to visit our family doctor.

I feel privileged and grateful to receive exceptional dental and health care. Last year, during a routine check-up and cleaning at my dentist’s office, the hygienist said “you should get these two spots checked out by your doctor.”

I followed her advice, and met with my family doctor. She referred me to a dermatologist, who did a couple of biopsies. The dermatologist and her nurse were both upbeat, and basically told me “It looks like you may have skin cancer, but don’t worry, if you do, you’ve got the best kind you can possibly get, because it doesn’t spread like some of the others.”

I took their advice and chose not to worry. Fast forward a couple of months, and the results were in, spot one was cancer, spot two was not.

Then I was referred to a plastic surgeon at the Cancer Centre of South Eastern Ontario. My appointment was on Wednesday June 28, 2023. By 1 pm, the time of my appointment, I was seated in a special chair which brought back memories of sitting in a high chair a long, long time ago. By 2 pm, I was on my way out of the clinic, the cancer removed, with a lovely dressing, firmly in place.

Everyone I spoke to, from the folks at the reception desks (there were two), to the nurses, doctor, and resident, were up beat, friendly, and happy to chat, putting me at ease.

The resident and I spent the most time together. He prepared the area in question, mapping it with purple marker (my favourite colour), injected the local anesthetic, and then stitched me up after the surgery. We had a great chat about his journey to becoming a surgeon. He’s leaning into his gifts and interests, which is the best way to find your ideal job!

When he mentioned that his wife is in Human Resources, I immediately went into recruiting mode, and asked if she was a member of the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA). Turns out the answer was “not yet, she just moved here from Pakistan.” Here’s hoping she reaches out (I gave him one of my business cards)so that I can welcome her to Canada and tell her all about the benefits of joining HRPA.

This blog is being posted 6 days after the surgery, and I feel like I'm well on my way to a full recovery. The stitches should fall out on their own in the next few days. The scar is along one of my laugh lines, so I expect that it will be barely visible, once I'm done healing.

Which brings me back to privilege. Because I enjoy income security, and am my own boss, I can choose to take time off work to visit dentists and doctors, and then lighten my work load, so I can catch up on sleep as I heal.

Having less work, gave me more time for reflection, which inspired me to finally write about generational wealth, which includes sharing intangible lessons with the next generation. And often, learning from the insights that youth are willing to share, if we pause to listen.

We can help set people we know up for success by sharing the lessons we’ve learned, by encouraging them to lean into their gifts, and by supporting their decisions to take career paths that didn’t even exist five years ago.

For example, a lesson I learned from my mother, that I’ve shared with my mentees, offspring, and coaching clients, is to ask for what you want. What you really want, not what others think you should want.

To learn more about these intangible lessons (which often produce very tangible results) check out the Navigating Your Career Route Map Course here. You can also follow my posts on LinkedIn, as I share social proof and testimonials this summer.

And if you really want to keep up on the latest scoop, sign up for my newsletter! There is a link on every page of my website.