My ‘poor’ mom believed that by working and giving me things she was doing the best she could for me, even though it meant I was raised largely by daycare and babysitters first, then after-school programs later. She loved me as deeply as any mother loves her child, but she made her career a priority, spending 50+ hours a week away from me. She did this thinking that was the best way to provide for her family.
My ‘rich’ mom stayed at home with me, participated in my life and gave me the best care she was able. My rich mom couldn’t always buy me things. Other kids had DVDs and Wiis and iPods. We had board games and the radio. My rich mom was just as smart and educated as any working mother, but she made her children a priority, knowing that nothing else would matter more than them in the end. She did this thinking that was the best way to provide for her family.
Robert Kiyosaki, in his famous (infamous?) book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, laid out the idea of having had “two fathers” who taught him different lessons about life. One (his biological father) taught him that hard work, a good job and lots of education were the keys to success. The other (his best friend’s father) taught him that hard work, investing your money in assets and frugal living were critical. The former, the “poor dad”, was wrong, and the latter, the “rich dad”, was right – according to Kiyosaki. Interestingly enough, Kiyosaki focuses solely on the money lessons of his fathers. So let’s be sexist for a minute and say that the father represents the “outside” world – money, work, achievement. Let’s imagine that we could frame the same rich vs. poor argument for moms – but in terms of the family and its emotional life.
Quick disclaimer: in this article I use the term ‘mom,’ but it’s not meant to be sexist. The ‘mom’ below could just as easily be the man in the family, and I always want to point this out. I plan to be a stay-at-home dad sometime in the next ten years, once we are financially independent. So substitute “parent” for mom and you’ll get the idea. Rich parent, poor parent just didn’t have the same ring to it.
Rich Mom, Poor Mom
The rich dad taught Kiyosaki that frugal living was key. The rich mom agrees with this thinking. Making sacrifices so she can stay home is at the core of the rich mom’s philosophy. Her “investment” of time in her children now will pay off later. The poor dad thought that you made money to spend money on liabilities, like cars and expensive gadgets and money-sucking homes. The poor mom thinks that her children need more money – more than they need her.
The poor dad believes that education is a requirement. The poor mom thinks that the school system is the most important part of a child’s development. She chooses to overlook the fact that schools are only responsible for teaching subjects. American schools long ago learned that values, character, financial intelligence, morals and even physical fitness were toxic areas that caused lawsuits. Teachers are too overwhelmed by bureaucracy and huge class sizes to spend time with individual students. The rich mom knows that the schools are an important part of a child’s development, but having a good character starts with lessons at home… and a good character will take the child farther than 8th-grade botany.
The rich dad believed in investing money in assets and letting those assets earn money for you. The poor dad believed you should work to enrich your employers and hope they would provide for you when you could no longer work for them. The poor mom hopes that others will raise her family (the husband and children!) while she works. She hopes that after she’s worked through her children’s formative years that they’ll come out OK. The rich mom knows that there is only one sure way to do a job right – to do it yourself. The rich mom knows that when she is 90 years old, struggling with health and money issues, that her children will come to her aid, but that company she gave 75% of her waking hours to will have long forgotten she existed.
I think in Kiyosaki’s book, one of the best lessons is his concept of the true definition of an asset. An asset makes money for its owner. A liability loses money for its owner. A house is, by that definition, not an asset if you live there. Everyone needs a place to live, for sure, but it IS costing you money. An asset is a house you rent to someone else at a profit.
In the same way, the rich mom understands that children are an asset, not a liability. If you think of what having children will mean in terms of loss (losing free time, losing independence, losing a career, losing your own youth) then they will be liabilities to you and you’ll be a poor mom. If you think having children will be a GAIN (the joy of watching them grow and learn, adventures that give you a chance at a second childhood, the knowledge of leaving the world a better place with these new people in it) then you will be a rich mom. With the rich dad and the poor dad, there is no physical or mental or any other sort of difference between the two men. They make choices. In the same way, every parent – male or female – has the ability to be a rich mom or a poor mom.