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As I was titling this blog, I was first in a quandary to use the term children or adult children. My boys, or should I say young men, or men, are 28 and 24.

They surprised me at our annual family meeting this year. We are in the fourth year of having this event as a formal, sit down affair. At these meetings, we go over our family mission statement, our estate planning, our net worth, the asset allocation & the return on our investments, our insurance policies, where the User IDs and passwords can be found in the event of our deaths, what they should do with the furniture (my wife Molly’s favorite topic) and all other important details.

But they surprised us this year, they focused on our family mission statement, where in the past I think they felt the document was corny or uncool. I am sure Millennials have a much better adjective then those two, but I am dating myself.

Part of our family mission statement is to be spiritual. Our thought was that when a major life event happens in our family (and we have experienced multiple events) that the church and faith is a good place to fall back in times of crisis vs the alternatives of alcohol or drugs. Our oldest son told us he wanted to change the spiritual aspect because he took the statement to mean a traditional church (we are Episcopalians). He told us he was studying Buddhism as an alternative religion and thought we needed to broaden this language. His Mother and I told them we were not concerned about what God they chose to worship, but wanted them to have an organized religion to fall back on when the next major family event comes along which may be a situation where they feel very much alone. We are now clarifying this part of our mission statement to acknowledge all major religions.

My youngest son, who probably has the highest IQ of all of us, spent 10 minutes wordsmithing the Family Mission Statement adding stronger sentence structure and different words. He was a straight A student in high school and graduated magna cum laude in college. He wanted his touch on this document and we were glad to have it.

Nitpicking you may say, but we now know they have interest in our family values and what our goals are. I can see where this meeting is going to get more challenging to run in the future, but look forward to the day when their interest is in debating our strategies to achieve our family goals and the tools we are using to accomplish them.

If you need help with your family meeting process, do not hesitate reach out.

Peter B. Smith is a Family Wealth Advisor at the Planning Solutions Group in Fulton, MD ( and is an Annapolis resident. He can be reached at 301-543-6008 or by email at