Suze Orman provides a lot of great resources for women and money, including her book by that name, just out in paperback, which I recommend. Even though Suze does not have kids herself, she is usually right on target when it comes to the psychology of women, money, and parenting.
Last Saturday’s show, January 23 2010, has one of the most striking examples I’ve ever seen of what happens to helicopter parents and their overindulged kids in the long run. I dare say it makes the case for both of my books, Courageous Parenting and Mojo Mom, in stark terms.
The Suze Orman Show is now available as a free, full-episode podcast, so you can check it our for yourself. Here’s a link to the show’s podcast list, and it is also available free through the iTunes podcast directory.
Suze’s first segment on her show with the theme, “People First, Then Money, Then Things,” clarifies that when Suze says “People First,” she means taking care of yourself first, not taking care of everybody else, as some people misinterpret it. Suze’s first guest is a woman named Donna, who is 43 years old and in conflict with her 24-year-old son. Her son is taking complete advantage of her, and as the details come out, the story just keeps getting worse. Her son is living in Donna’s home, rent-free. He got into credit card debt, and made a “settlement” with the credit card company, but guess who paid off the settlement? Mom and Dad. And now her son has stopped paying Donna back, and is telling HER that “he doesn’t like her attitude” when she ask him to pay her.
And there’s more… Donna earns $1600 a month. Her son makes $3500 a month. He’s just asked his girlfriend to marry him. He bought her a $5000 engagement ring…paying with a credit card.
Suze tells Donna that she has to kick her disrespectful son out of house to make it on his own. Donna has given her whole life away to her son, she’s subsidizing her high-earning yet irresponsible adult son to the point where has no savings and no retirement account for herself. Suze believes that the rest of Donna’s life cannot turn around until Donna stands up for herself and gains back some power, self-respect, and respect from others.
Donna admits that she’s spoiled her three kids rotten all their lives. She stayed home with her kids and she’s struggling to learn how to “take care of Mama now.” I intuit that she is not sure who she is anymore without her mothering role. She seems unable to make the switch between a mother’s role to care for her child, to an adult-adult relationship, holding her adult son accountable for himself, and holding herself accountable for her own well-being.
Suze says, “It’s not about saying yes. It’s not about giving always. It’s about taking care of yourself first….You, like every woman out there, you really think the definition of a good mother is to make sure that the kids have everything…even if that means it renders you powerless. They’re not bad kids. You weren’t a bad mother. You just didn’t think you mattered.”
That’s a powerful statement. Let’s remember that we matter, and build the structure of our lives around that fact. I had already been thinking a lot about the fact that self-care is not indulgence, it looks a lot more like discipline. If taking a candle-lit bubble bath once in a while would solve our problems, they would have been solved a long time ago. I’ll be writing more about this in my next blog post so stay tuned.