Wealth & Family Dynamics: How Money Changes Our Relationships

Few, if any, people see themselves as the kind of person who is changed by money. But, time and time again, it happens. Money—or the lack thereof—can shift interpersonal dynamics in a major way. The fallout can be particularly hard to process when those dynamics are between family members.

If you are in such a scenario or expect to be so soon, it is helpful to plan ahead. Factor in the possible changes and surprises as you move forward. Sure, money can bring out the worst in some people, but it’s not carved in stone. With some preparation, you recognize the steps that need to be taken. With that in mind, let’s explore more about money and family dynamics.

How Money Changes People

It’s far more than just a cliché to say people with money display less empathy and compassion. Study after study demonstrates this to be accurate. This doesn’t mean all wealthy people are like this. Simply put, there is enough of a trend that it should make anyone wary. A few points to factor into your choices:


Earning money can become addicting. This is especially true for people who have previously gone without any form of wealth. It’s not an addiction like, say, alcohol. Rather, the person addicted to money is hooked on the process of gaining it rather than the wealth itself.


Most people with wealth are less self-aware of how dependent they are. They tend not to see themselves as the beneficiary of luck, genes, or social dynamics. From such a perspective, it can become normal to be quite judgmental of those without money.

Ethics and Entitlement

You may feel entitled to special treatment if you feel entitled to wealth. This adds to feeling less compassion for others and being comfortable cutting corners whenever you see fit. There’s more, but the above examples should be enough to provoke some serious thought. Ask yourself: Am I maintaining a grounded, realistic perception of my wealth and family dynamics?

How to Stop Money From Changing Your Family Dynamics

Communicate Openly With Everyone Involved

It is a virtual guarantee that not everyone sees things the same way. Never take for granted that you’re all on the same page. Hold family meetings and encourage honest exchanges. The sooner you know where others stand, the sooner you can make the wisest possible decisions.

Educate Yourself and Share What You Learn

This is very important in cases of wealth transfer. Don’t assume that family members are taking this as seriously as you are. Do your homework. Learn the ins and outs of this new situation. Then, at your next family meetings, share what you’ve learned. Bring resources and strongly request that others join you in the realm of self-education.

Don’t Volunteer to Be “In Charge”

In fact, no family member can realistically be your financial advisor if the decisions impact them. In other words, it’s time for more homework. Learn what a financial advisor can offer. From there, compile a list of potential candidates. Bring that information and list to the next family meeting and get this process started. Without outside help, you’re setting yourself up for drama.

Speaking of Outside Help…

Money is a sensitive topic. Everyone views it differently, and, in some cases, it can be quite stressful. A financial advisor is essential, but what about an emotional advisor? Talking with a therapist can be hugely helpful in this kind of scenario. A skilled and experienced therapist is uniquely positioned to offer the guidance you need.

If any of this discussion resonates with you, I invite you to reach out for a free and confidential consultation.

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