Who is the “Alpha Child”?
The Allianz Life Insurance Company conducted a study they defined as “The American Legacies Study”. They gathered information by conducting over 2000 interviews with Baby Boomers and their parents. One of the findings their study revealed was the existence of the “Alpha Child.” This is the child that keeps the family connected, who is always the first to make sure that family gatherings occur on a consistent basis, and communicates often with his siblings and parents. He or she is the child who the parents are most comfortable discussing money issues with. This is the person we want to organize and co-facilitate the Family Meeting.
The Alpha Child in your family may be you. Examine your relationship with your parents. If the above listed characteristics describe you, then it is most likely that you are that person. But don’t let your ego get in the way. Be objective in your evaluation of your relationship with your parents and your siblings’ relationship with them. If you are married, discuss it with your spouse and ask for his or her feedback.
Obviously if you are the only child, you may think that you don’t have a choice. But in some cases if you are the only child, your spouse may act in the capacity as the Alpha Child. Your parents may have more confidence in talking over issues with him or her than they do with you. After all you are their child and they may never give your opinions the same weight as your spouse or another person outside the family. Your husband/wife might be brilliant in your parents’ eyes. There is no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of this situation.
I am an only child and I have acted as my mom’s financial advisor since my dad passed away almost 10 years ago. But every time I give her an investment recommendation and it works out, she seems to remember that it was an idea my wife came up with. So whenever we need to discuss an important financial issue with her I discuss it with my wife first and she will often propose it to Mom. It has a much better chance of getting adopted than if I brought it up.