You may have heard the old proverb, “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” In Japan, the expression goes, “Rice paddies to rice paddies in three generations.” The Scottish say “The father buys, the son builds, the grandchild sells, and his son begs.” In China, “Wealth never survives three generations.”
Around the world there are many variations on this theme, all used to describe the tendency of third generation to squander the wealth obtained by the first and second generations.
The Three Generations Cycle
The First Generation, born into a life of hardship, is determined to make a better future for themselves. They are willing to work hard and make the sacrifices necessary in order to achieve their dream. In time, their efforts pay off and they are able to enjoy the “fruits” of their labor, often with assets to pass on.
Their children, the Second Generation, grow up a witness to their parents’ struggle and understand the importance of hard work. Although they live a more comfortable lifestyle, they may still remember a childhood filled with frugality. Because of this awareness, they make financial and education choices to help them build upon the foundation their parents worked so hard to create. By their later years, the second generation has acquired even greater wealth.
The Third Generation, however, has no memory of want or struggle. They only know a life of plenty and often lack an understanding of and appreciation for the work that went into building the lifestyle they now enjoy. It is this third generation that is known to squander the wealth their parents and grandparents worked so hard to build.
Avoiding the Three Generations Cycle
By keeping family stories and history alive, younger generations are better able to understand their parents’ and grandparents’ contributions well as the work needed to build and maintain family wealth. For families facing the Three Generations cycle, awareness of the past will benefit any strategy for the future.
Capture your parent or grandparent’s life story and family history for your family to know.
Here at Family Tree Video, we produce Legacy Videos, modern-day memoirs that weave a filmed (or Zoom) interview together with family photos, documents, maps and other memorabilia. The result is a beautiful “moving portrait” capturing your loved one as they recount their life story and memories – a gift your family will treasure for generations to come.
To learn more about capturing your parent or grandparent’s life story in a Legacy Video, visit FamilyTreeVideo.com.
Family Tree Video, LLC
Legacy Video Production
Capturing Life Stories and Family History
for Future Generations
Family Tree Video
Video Biographies ~ Family History Videos ~ Video Memoirs
Anniversary Videos ~ Family Documentaries
Video Tributes ~ Heirloom Videos
~ Three Generations ~