Silver Linings From a Hundred-Dollar Heartbreak

silver linings

My daughter lost a hundred bucks the other day and it might be the best thing that ever happened to her.

She’s been saving money for a while now.  I admit with embarrassment that she’s a much better saver than I am. When her grandparents recently gifted her two fifty dollar bills, she responsibly decided to deposit them into her growing bank account, rather than spend them on a vat of white glue to feed her insatiable slime addiction.  (I’m not entirely sure she’s actually my daughter.)

On our way into the bank from the car, I watched her roll the bills into a small wad and shove them into her jeans’ pocket. A flash of insight whispered to me from the wiser part of my consciousness:“You should take that money from her and put it in your wallet…”

I didn’t listen. I let her be in charge of her own money.

As we joined the queue for the bank teller, she realized that the bills were gone. Completely vanished. Somewhere between the parking lot and the bank, that money made its great escape into the hands of some anonymous treasure finder.

She was distraught and for a brief moment, I felt like a negligent mother. I should have listened to my impulse. I should have kept that money safe for her. She’s only ten after all!

Or should I?

That money certainly would have given her a great feeling of satisfaction as she deposited into her growing account. It may have inspired her to continue saving and find new ways of earning even more money. Maybe.

But the despair she felt from losing it was worth more, in terms of life lessons, than a couple of fifties. I could tell her a million times to take better care of her money (do as I say…). But empty words mean nothing- just more unsolicited and overprotective advice from a mother whose wisdom seems irrelevant when you’re ten and you already know everything.

That feeling of utter disappointment and anger with herself will never be forgotten. That’s not a bad thing. Because the only lessons that stick with us are the ones that felt most potent as they were happening. Point in case: no kid whose ever had the impulse to place his juicy tongue on frozen monkey bars in the winter has ever done it twice.

So yeah, I felt bad for her, but not for long. That hundred dollar loss just may save her thousands one day, silver linings at a cheap rate. I can’t say for sure. But who among us haven’t learned costly lessons that paid for themselves eventually?  Next time you’re kicking your own ass for a huge mistake – stop. Instead, congratulate yourself on learning a hard lesson that will make your life easier in the long run.

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6 comments on “Silver Linings From a Hundred-Dollar Heartbreak

  1. Nope. I cannot see how this is a reasonable risk to let your daughter take when you know better. I completely agree as a parent and a teacher with the principle of letting your daughter mess up in ways that she will learn from. This, to me, is something that could really scar a kid. I learned lots of things the hard way, and I agree that those lessons stick. Did you tell your daughter that you made that choice? I bet if you did, that her anger at herself might get shared around a little more fairly.

    There’s a middle ground between letting her cavalierly shove a large amount in her pants pocket and taking responsibility for the money yourself; like a warning or a reminder. I think that you undermined her hard work saving that money. A lot of people (especially folks w/ ADD) would learn the wrong lesson from this traumatic experience; don’t trust mom to have your back, or don’t bother saving money… eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we [might lose our money randomly].

    To me, this sounds like you thought you had a 50/50 parenting decision, went one way which blew up in your face and now you’re trying to make lemonade from your child’s pain. I’m not buying it and I hope that other parents don’t learn that this kind of misguided “tough love” for a kid trying to do the right thing is a great idea.

    1. I admire your passion on the subject and thank you for your thoughts! I respectfully disagree that losing a $100 is tantamount to a trauma – an annoyance, yes. Trauma – probably not. At any given point there are a multitude of lessons that we (and our children) can take from our experiences, positive and negative. My choice was that she learns how to make mistakes and not let them keep her down. We all lose money sometimes (and some much worse than that) – the point is to bounce back up from our losses. But your words have encouraged me to check in with her how she feels now about the whole incident, and she assures me that she has moved on! Thanks again for sharing 🙂

    2. I have to say I completely disagree with you. After reading this post, I kind of wish that had happened to ME when I was a kid. Sure, I would be mad for probably about…. let’s say 3 months. But I have a HUGE spending problem, and I think I would probably value money a lot more if I had such a “traumatic,” as you put it, experience.

      This is my first read on your blog! Looking forward to learning more from you, Andrea! But at the same time… *dreading* the act of reading. I HATE reading. Do you have any posts on that topic? Of course, I’ll have to read it! 😂

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