Mothers AND Fathers Need to Discuss Money

August 14, 2018

Photo by Brittany Simuangco on Unsplash


The recent Wisdom of Experience investor survey administered by Capital Group has this little nugget:


Mothers talk more about money and financial topics with their children than fathers, and that includes everything from having good credit to starting to save early in life for retirement. They are in a statistical dead heat with dads when it comes to talking to their children about investing or buying a car. Interestingly, fathers are much more likely than mothers to answer that they are the primary investment decision-makers in their household (79% of fathers versus 51% mother surveyed).


Let's unpack this information. First, I'd like to focus on the fact that mothers are more likely to talk with their children about financial topics than fathers.


There could be any number of reason for this particular response. If we stipulate that more women than men are staying at home with their children, then it would make sense that they are also more likely to engage in financial conversations than fathers. It may be that fathers are out working while children are observing the day-to-day financial decision-making of their mothers while shopping, paying bills, etc. The survey outcome should come as no surprise then.


In some cases, I recognize that this is not so easily the case. I know plenty of working women and even grew up in a household in which my mother was the breadwinner and my father stayed at home. There are also plenty of divorced parents who divide time with their children. There are kids who don't have mothers or fathers for any number of reasons. Where one parent may not have a clear explanation for how things work, the other may connect. It's a matter of increasing the odds of a meaningful financial education.


That being said, children whose parents are not both engaged in the process of financial education are missing out. Whether a child's parents are divided into breadwinner and nonearner or they both work, it only makes sense that the child will benefit from both parents' perspectives.


I'm confident that many mothers out there are great at finding ways to teach their kids about money. If at least one of a child's parents is engaged in preparing him or her for the future, that child is not in the most horrible spot.


But, dads, c'mon. Whether you're the breadwinner, the homemaker, divorced, or a combination of any of the previous, you have lots to offer your children in terms of perspective. You may feel distant from your children, or busy, or inadequate, or exhausted. None of that excuses you from stepping it up. If fatherhood doesn't mean helping prepare your children for the future, I'm not sure what it means. It certainly shouldn't mean brushing the task off on your wife.


Which brings me to my second point. The fact that fathers are more likely to manage a family's finances is not a shocker. I've encountered plenty of other surveys that say as much. Still, this finding is sad; if children miss out on a good financial education without a father's perspective, then fathers are really missing out on wise money management without a mothers perspective. Families work as economic systems and are likely happier when they are in agreement about some of the most important aspects of that system.


So, fathers, accept the challenge to talk with both your children and your spouses about money. All concerned will be pleased that you did.

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