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Self-esteem spending and debt

The other day I was chatting with a woman at work. We always talk about her daughters, whom I have never met. The elder daughter is a year younger than I, and had a great job working for the government. But it was the younger daughter that my work-friend used to talk about the most, and I noticed long ago that this particular mom had a favourite, and maybe wasn't aware of it.

She mentioned that the younger daughter, only two years out of school, had already paid off her student loan, and was currently help her older sister pay off hers. The elder daughter, after ten years in the workforce, still owed over $30 000 in student loans. My friend said that younger daughter would "work ten jobs pumping gas if she had to" in order to get out of debt, while her older sister made over $60 000 a year and had hardly paid a cent towards her own debt.

What struck me the most is a comment she made about two girls, coming from the same family, raised the same way, and turning out so differently.

As I walked away to my car I thought about this comment. I noticed years ago that the way my friend talked about her younger daughter, you would think the sun rose and set on her. She never had much to say about the older daughter, who in my opinion had done well for herself by finishing her degree and getting a job with the government.

It made me think again about the psychological aspects of debt. Maybe the elder daughter is really lost, because she grew up watching her mother favouring her younger sister. Maybe she has accumulated other debts with shopping, vacationing and partying, in order to ease the pain of the lack of support from her mother.

I don't know any of this for sure, I'm only guessing. It's always been apparent to me that my friend talks highly of her younger daughter. I don't think it's fair to say that the two girls were raised the same way. My friend practically sneered when she told me her elder daughter owes as much now as she did ten years ago.

I'm not trying to blame the girl's mom for her high debt. I think it's important for both parents and children to understand the real reasons for self-esteem spending. Once we have this self-awareness, it becomes a little easier to deal with the problem.



  1. I personally don't believe any two children are parented the same way - even by the same parents.

    When I was about 12 I asked my mother why she treated my sister and I differently with some issues (not special treatment, differential treatment) and my mother's response was: you are different people - I have to deal with you differently.

    Now that I am a parent, I get what she meant. I love my kids equally, and they are individuals and I try to respect that.


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