You will notice that most of my writing focuses on my son. Which made me start to think, am I treating my son differently with regards to money than my daughter?
Let me back up a little bit. I’ve always wanted a daughter when I was starting to think about my family; I envisioned raising a little girl. I think,(and by “I think” I mean I’m embarrassed to it admit this happened) I mentioned I wanted a little girl to my now wife, on our first night out, even before we were officially dating. The idea of helping to shape a young lady to be strong and empowered might come from growing up with powerful and empowered women role models. My mom was a very accomplished, no-nonsense executive for a not for profit. And my older sister, who I still idolize, was always a fantastic student who was also popular and a well-rounded person who has done amazing things both personally and professionally. Both my mother and sister helped me to see that women are equal in every measure to men. And my lived experience has shown me that, while that is true in every regard, in both the personal and professional realms, it is not always the cultural belief.
So the idea of helping to raise the next generation of successful women in my lineage, while helping to tear down the gender stereotypes was something that I was excited to take on. When my son was born, we did our best not to introduce stereotypes to him. We never encouraged him to play with these toys vs those or to wear these colours, not those. But even though we did not consciously try to impose those stereotypes, I know we did to an extent. He was dressed in mostly blues and greens for his first few years. Is that because of the stores, or us; in the end, it doesn’t matter. And when he got to school, those stereotypes were there in full force. On Pink Shirt Day, a day children are encouraged to wear pink to combat bullying he refused because, ironically enough, he was worried about being made fun of. Adding more irony, it was his female friend that was the one that he was most concerned about ridiculing him.
So the stereotypes that I am hoping to tear down are in full effect, for sure, but back to money and my daughter. How have they affected the way I teach her about money. I would like to believe they haven’t. My daughter is a very different person than my son. So it would only be natural that my style of teaching would be modified to reflect the different personalities. While my son has been interested in money for a long time, that interest has not manifested in my daughter to the same degree. And because of that lack of interest, the conversations that I have about earning, spending and saving have primarily been focused on the audience that cares the most about the topic. My daughter is also younger. She is now at the age when I first attempted an allowance with my son the first time around. I also have more realistic expectations. I still include her in the conversations I have with my son.
At the same time, I know most of the lessons I am teaching now will need to be repeated at a later date to make sure she has a full understating of what I’ve said. I also believe there are lessons I will want to hammer home a little harder with her; than I do with my son because she is a girl (negotiating and advocation comes to mind). So I guess if I am looking honestly at myself, I do treat my children differently, and part of that difference is because of gender. And I don’t think that is a bad thing here.
I’m dedicated to teaching both my children finance. I am looking forward to giving my daughter opportunities to practice money management. But I do have to acknowledge that the stereotypes are still out there, and she may need to know a little bit about them to become that strong, empowered woman that I dreamed of so many years ago.
What do you think? Do you find that you treat the topic of money differently between your children? Is it based on age, or do you find that gender plays a role at all? Let me know, I would be fascinated to hear what, if any, difference you have noticed between siblings.