How can families raise resilient and engaged children?

How can families raise resilient and engaged children? Nurturing character, competencies, and calling — especially during uncertain times

Authored by the Merrill Center for Family WealthTM


As we traverse an unprecedented period in which families are gathered more closely than ever, an increasing number of families are eager to use this time as a learning opportunity for their children. For example, the importance of building emotional intelligence and understanding core financial concepts has never been clearer.

We at The Merrill Center for Family Wealth® see this as part of the broader desire of families to foster resilience, engagement and motivation in the rising generation, particularly amidst the backdrop of wealth. We see three key areas that enable families to help achieve this goal and to help enable the rising generation to optimize their potential: fostering the growth of important character traits, building core competencies, and encouraging the development and pursuit of passions. The below framework anchors us in these three key ideas.


  • Gratitude
  • Social and emotional intelligence
  • Curiosity
  • Self-control and regulation
  • Growth mindset


  • Financial
  • Wealth
  • Governance
  • Business
  • Philanthropic


  • Development and pursuit of passion
  • Optimizing individual strengths, traits and personalities

Below are resources and ideas for parents, elementary aged children, teens, and young adults.



  • Financial Education Handbook: Practical Ideas to Engage the Rising Generation: Handbook providing interactive activities and resources (segmented by ages 5-25) to help teach core financial competencies1
  • How Can We Harness the Power of the Rising Generation?: Whitepaper discussing research insights on how sustaining wealth and developing an empowered rising generation go hand in hand2
  • Raised Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Lessons from Successful and Grounded Inheritors on How They Got That Way by Coventry Edwards-Pitt
  • Kids, Wealth, and Consequences: Ensuring a Responsible Financial Future for the Next Generation by Richard Morris and Jayne Pearl
  • Before We Say “Goodnight”: How to Tell Bedtime Stories about Your Life and Family by Hank Frazee


  • Visit Kiva ( and engage in philanthropic conversations with younger children. Pair this exercise with the book One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway
  • Watch and discuss TED Talks related to grit and growth mindset:
    • The Key to Success? Grit by Angela Duckworth
    • The Power of Believing You Can Improve by Carol Dweck

Elementary aged children


  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera B Williams
  • Arthur’s Pet Business by Marc Brown
  • The Babe and I by David A Adler
  • Let’s Chat About Economics: Basic Principles Through Everyday Scenarios by Michelle Balconi, Arthur Laffer and Mary Kinsora
  • Mrs. Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  • If The World Was a Village: A Book about the World’s People by David Smith
  • One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway
  • The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella
  • Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids by Gail Karlitz and Debbie Honig
  • The Dog Poop Initiative by Kirk Weisler
  • Money Farm Activity Book & DVD (available for purchase via the Money Savvy Generation website;


  • Parents and children can use the discussion questions (please see Appendix) to accompany the above listed elementary aged children’s books to help teach core principles.
  • Watch the animated series, Secret Millionaires Club (, featuring Warren Buffett as a mentor to a group of entrepreneurial children whose adventures lead them to encounter financial and business problems to solve. The program teaches the basics of financial decision-making and some foundational lessons of starting a business. The animated series has 26 online short webisodes.



  • A Teen Guide to Investing Series by various authors. This series provides teens with a beginning guide to saving and investing for economic stability and growth. The books focus on the needs of young adults and discusses their changing investments as they enter the work world, purchase homes, start families, and begin retirement planning.
  • The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. A bestselling financial book, Clason’s financial and motivational book relays core lessons of finance through legendary tales set in ancient Babylon. It addresses ways to acquire money, keep it, and strategically put it to work.


  • Engage teens in learning with the I’m a Shareholder Kit: The Basics about Stocks for Kids/Teens by Rick and Erin Roman. Awarded the NAPPA Honors in the Parent Resource category, it serves as one of the most user friendly stock market resources for children, guiding the reader in an entertaining and interactive way.
  • Visit the Better Money Habits Website, in partnership with the Khan Academy, to explore insights organized by topic, including credit, taxes income, home ownership, privacy and security, and more.
    • Visit for the full range of interactive videos organized by topic and age/grade.

Young adults


  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing by Burton Malkiel. Malkiel covers the full range of investment opportunities and includes new material on the Great Recession and the global credit crisis, and features an increased focus on the long-term potential of emerging markets. Malkiel also has a new supplement that tackles derivatives.
  • The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A ‘black swan’ is an event, positive or negative, which is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences. In this groundbreaking book, Taleb shows in a playful way that black swan events explain almost everything about our world, and yet we—especially the experts—are blind to them.


  • Subscribe to MasterClass ( to learn from the world’s top instructors in various fields
  • Select a few TED talks related to developing a calling and finding fulfillment:
    • Why 30 is Not the New Twenty by Meg Jay
    • Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett
    • Plug into your Hardwired Happiness by Dr. Srikuman Rao
  • Review The Designing Your Life Workbook: A Framework for Building a Life You Can Thrive In ( Based on the popular Stanford course that started the life design movement, this notebook allows readers to dig deeper into their curiosities, motivations, and skills, define goals; and track progress. Work through innovative option-generating tools and exercises, including:
    • A Health/Work/Play/Love Dashboard tool to reflect on your work/life balance
    • Questions to help articulate Lifeview and Workview and define your Life Design Compass
    • Good Time Journal pages to log energy and engagement throughout the day
    • Worksheets to help ideate alternate Odyssey Plans for different versions of the future you
    • Charts for tracking your Life Design Interviews

Appendix: Children’s book list and accompanying discussion questions

Arthur’s Pet Business

  • Why do you think Arthur panicked when he lost Perky?
  • What was Arthur’s responsibility? What responsibilities do you have at home or in school?
  • Why do you think Mrs. Woods gave Arthur ten dollars? Do you think he deserved it?
  • What is a business? What makes a business successful?

Mrs. Rumphius

  • Why do you think Mrs. Rumphius’s grandfather wanted her to make the world more beautiful?
  • In your view, do you have any responsibilities to your community?
  • Why do you think Mrs. Rumphius continued to spread seeds despite being called names?
  • What is something that you have done to make the world a better place?

If The World Were a Village

  • Why do you think it is important to stay open minded?
  • Why do you think some children are working instead of going to school?
  • How do you feel knowing that very few people are breathing clean air? What are some ways people canhelp others to have more clean air?

The Babe & I

  • Why do you think the narrator’s father didn’t want his family to know he was selling apples?
  • Why do you think Babe Ruth gave the narrator $5 for the newspaper?
  • Why did the narrator sell newspapers to help his family?
  • Should the narrator have told his mother that his father was unemployed? Why or why not?

One Hen

  • What were the characteristics that Kojo had that helped him to be successful?
  • In your own words, what is a microloan?
  • What would you do with a microloan if you lived in Kojo’s village?
  • Why do you think Kojo’s mother wanted him to go back to school?

A Chair for My Mother

  • Why do you think the neighbors gave the narrator and her mother free things?
  • What was the importance of saving to the narrator and her mother?
  • Why did the grandmother buy groceries for the narrator and her mother when they were on sale?
  • How did saving money help the family achieve their goal?

The Red Bicycle

  • After having read the book, can you describe the power of donations?
  • Why do you think Leo wanted to donate Big Red instead of just keeping it unused?
  • Why do you think so many people decided to donate their bicycles?
  • Is there anything you no longer use that you think would make a great impact if donated?

Let’s Chat About Economics

  • Why did the father think it was important to receive his deposit for the cans?
  • What other situations can you think of that show ‘diminishing returns’?
  • What does the concept of ‘quid pro quo’ mean to you?
  • Why was Allie wrong in assuming that her parents would pay half of her bill?

Growing Money

  • Why do you think people invest their money?
  • Why do people save?
  • What are the risks involved with each?
  • What is a Ponzi scheme and why did it fail?

The Dog Poop Initiative

  • What does it mean to be a ‘pointer’?
  • Why was it important for someone to take initiative?
  • Is it easier to be a ‘pointer’ or a leader?
  • What does it mean to be a leader? What are some of the responsibilities involved?

Money Farm

  • Explore the concepts within Money Farm, reviewing the questions and completing the exercisesthroughout the workbook and accompanying DVD.

A private wealth advisor can help you get started.

Our advisors can help you follow your passions, build a legacy and have a positive impact on others.

1 Financial Education Handbook:  Source:  Merrill Center for Family Wealth ™,  July 2021.

2 How can we harness the power of rising generation: Source: Merrill Center for Family Wealth™, July 2021.

Merrill is providing this list of resources only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any resource does not imply any endorsement, approval, investigation, verification or monitoring by Merrill or any of its affiliates of any content or information contained within. Merrill  and its affiliates do not control the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or appropriateness of the content or information contained in these resources. In no event will Merrill or any of its affiliates be responsible for any information or content within these resources.

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