I recently asked my mother, “Do you have any regrets about the money decisions that you made with me?”
Her response: “Too many to name now. ‘Real Housewives’ is about to come on. I’ll email you later.”
She never did. And I suspect that she avoided following up with me because she didn’t want to be bothered with the weight of regret. But if she had taken the time to list a few things, she probably would have said something about how she spoiled me too much—that she shouldn’t have bought me so many Barbies or that new Dodge Shadow when I turned 16. I believe that my mom thinks that all of those purchases somehow added up to my penchant for spending rather than saving.
She may be right. But I’m sure that a nurture-nature combination was at play. Besides, I’ve long since let my mother off the hook for whatever bad money habits that she might have passed along to me … now if only I could get her to let herself off the hook too.
But that’s the thing about parents: Their wouldas, couldas and shouldas can haunt them for a lifetime. In fact, I’ve yet to meet a parent who isn’t somehow saddled with the things they wish they’d done differently with their kids.
When I asked other parents of grown kids the same question that I asked my mother, their responses were thoughtful and surprising. What wasn’t surprising, however, is the fact that not a single one of them said, “Regrets? I have none.”