Back to those personal differences

When I raised the question in one discussion circle, ”Do men’s perceptions about money differ from women’s?” one participant remarked that everything shifts dramatically if you become a single parent. She explained that much of our money outlook depends on the roles we’re expected to fill.

We had already touched on ways that boys and girls have differed in their upbringing when it comes to money skills and identities. That’s another good topic to bring up in your discussions, if you haven’t touched on it already.

For example, I was taught that the man is supposed to provide — and then shown how my father and grandfather had fallen short. Do we need to go on?

Or does anyone else remember when National Public Radio’s popular “Car Talk” program got much mileage out of an observation that men tend to pay store cashiers with folding currency, while women generally use exact change — making everyone else wait in line a little longer? For months, callers offered zany theories about the causes. I’ve often thought when I’m in a checkout line, except these days many folks are paying with plastic.

Seriously, there are serious arguments about sexual differences on the money frontier. Consider our working assumptions. We live in a culture where men have been trained to be dominant and women subordinate. This has meant that men assume authority over money matters, perpetuate the misconception that money matters are a mystery only men can understand, and undervalue women’s work at home and in the workplace. We really do need to transmute this model into one of equality, mutuality, partnership, and cooperation. For women and for men.

What roles do you see yourself filling? How do money expectations shape them, even limit them?

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