In Lost and Found, the author, Geneen Roth, gives a full account of how she lived with her head in the sand when it came to money. What made her pull her head up, shake the grit off and face reality was a devastating financial loss at the hands of Bernie Madoff. The book is a self-deprecating, but honest, look at her life-long relationship, or lack thereof, with money.
In her honesty, it's easy to find some truths that fit all too well. This really surprised me. As I read the first couple of chapters, I was having a hard time relating to the author. We have nothing in common.
She grew up in a privileged home. I grew up below the poverty line.
She talks of day-long shopping trips with her mom where comfort and love were bought at a department store. She mentions her father's preference for silk, monogrammed boxers. She shares how, even as a young adult, there was always plenty of money. She could buy pretty much whatever she wanted and did.
My childhood, in contrast, was with a mom who taught us the difference between needs and wants. There was no frivolous buying. My sister and I both worked as soon as we could. We had a paper route, we babysat and we got part-time jobs as soon as we were 16. The idea of someone in our house wearing silk, monogrammed boxers is beyond laughable. Did we even know they existed? As young adults, my husband and I ate a lot of Ramen Noodles.
I'll take my lessons over hers, any day.
But, I realize I have more in common with her than I think. I'm a coward when it comes to money. I don't like to think about it any more than she does. I stash my savings away in very low-interest accounts because I'm not brave enough to look into doing anything else with it.
The book is a reminder that parents teach their kids many lessons about money, even when they're not aware of it.
It makes a stark case for us all to re-evaluate how we think about parenting vs. how we think about money. Are we chasing the dollar and the frills it can buy at the expense of our children? Are we missing moments with our kids so we can give them things? Where do we want our children to look for comfort and love?
I'd like my children to look at their family and not the mall, thank you very much.
Join the Lost and Found conversation at BlogHer. I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting one!