“I love you… but I love him more!” What to do when parents have clear favorites.
Twenty years ago, George and Eva started a very successful manufacturing company, and now their oldest son, Carl, is preparing to take over from his father. Carl is hardworking, sincere, intelligent and strategic. He is also analytical, focused and serious in his demeanor. However, his younger brother, James, is the apple of his mother’s eye.
James is charming, funny, warm, outgoing and beloved. He is also manipulative, impulsive, low in energy when it comes to work and high in energy when it comes to fun.
George can see Carl working hard, day in and day out to improve the business. Eve experiences James as loving, fun and needing her protection.
George loves both of his sons, but feels that Carl is the best option for running the business – with James in a minor role, if any role at all. While Eva will say that she adores both of her boys, she is critical of Carl and feels that James can do no wrong. She believes that both boys should have a completely equal role – equal pay, titles, ownership and recognition.
As Family Business Advisors, this is one of the most difficult situations that we encounter.
For a first-hand view of the tension this can create – check out the video of this conversation between George and Eva.
So, how do we begin to enter this conversation and make sense of the dynamics? How do we begin to make progress so that the business will be in the best possible position to survive?
Here is a list of tips, gathered from working with experienced advisors across the country: