They say that how we handle our money is inherited from our parents and from the different memories we absorbed of all the experiences we had as children. Those experiences are what created our subconscious feelings towards money, which is a subject for another day.
But what our parents told us (or didn’t tell us) about money, and its role in our lives, is what created our conscious attitudes.
Little boys at some point were taken aside by their fathers and told about the mysteries of money. They were told, directly or indirectly, what their role and responsibility would be for the rest of their lives: providers, protectors, and financial decision-makers.
But our fathers rarely pulled any of us aside. After all, why bother our pretty little heads with something our handsome princes would handle anyway?
Fast forward 30 or 40 years, and many more of us are on our own than our parents ever expected. Some of us tried the Prince-Charming family route and succeeded, and some of us failed. Others didn’t try at all. And a growing number of us are in business.
For us entrepreneurs, we tend to think our fathers had the greatest influence over how we conceive and operate our businesses today.
After all, that’s who our role model was. That’s who was “in charge” of the money in post-War families: they made it, they brought home the bacon, and they gave our mothers a budget to spend on the household and the children. At least that’s the Norman Rockwell version …
The truth is that, if we look more closely, it’s actually our mothers who had the greatest impact on our conscious attitudes towards money. Sure, daddy made the money, but he did that in some elusive place called “work.”
Our most intimate memories are with mommy in the supermarket … mommy in the toy store … mommy buying school supplies. We watched as she scrimped and calculated to get us what we needed, but not without sacrifice. We learned that there were tradeoffs: if you got one thing, you didn’t get another. Money was something finite. And we learned to value what we received, because “things” were linked to the effort behind the money that purchased them.
Or maybe we watched as seemingly unlimited amounts of money flowed, buying us whatever our hearts desired. The sky was the limit. Ask and you shall receive. There’s always more money; it comes from an unending supply. And buying has no consequences.
Or maybe what we lived fell somewhere in between.
Stop and think for a moment. Whatever the case, what we were witnessing was not the reality of how much money was available. We were witnessing how our mothers felt about money and how they chose to live it.
So, as we approach Mother’s Day, reflect on what lessons you learned from your mother … or taught your daughter. Think about how that affects the way you manage your household finances, and those of your business. Then either get ready to thank someone, forgive someone, or ask for forgiveness.
What’s the most valuable Mother’s Day gift (click!) to give or receive this year? An open dialog about money to reinforce or repair the past. Remember, it’s never too late to change course, if need be.
Happy Mama’s Day!
[Sharon’s article appeared in the May edition of Living Better at 50+, in the “You and Money” section where she has contributed over the years.]
Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations and individuals … yes, she was the secret ‘weapon,’ if you will, behind many individuals in high places. But somehow she did! Since then, Sharon has interviewed countless women and done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance. She finally figured it out.
Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to reach financial security for the long term. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve.