The importance of female role models

There is no doubt about it, I am my mother’s son.   What would you expect? My father died when I was eight years old.  During my formative years, I was brought up solely by my mother.  I believe this is a unique lens in which to see both life and financial independence.  As the years pass, I feel lucky.  The importance of female role models cannot be underestimated.  Especially for little boys.

Most everything I have become today bears my mother’s influence.  Most people, when asked about their financial upbringing, tell some story or another about what their dad taught them.

For me, these vital lessons came from my mother.

Do what needs to be done

The day after my father died, my uncle had to teach my mom how to write a check.  Although luckily she was just months away from finishing business school, she had none of the practical knowledge about how to run the household finances.

Overwhelmed by grief and thrown into a whirlwind of new responsibilities, it wouldn’t have been surprising for her to have let things slide.

But she didn’t.  She took over the financial reins of the family.  She entered the field of public accounting which at the time was overwhelmingly male, single, and right out of college.

And she did what needed to be done.  The importance of female role models for me was to be in awe of my mother’s stamina.  There were so many times when the journey became grueling, and the road appeared long and hard.

Yet she just kept going.

Sacrifice is not a four letter word

She had three boys to take care.  Three college educations looming distantly in the future.  There was no question that it was going to be a stretch on her one professional salary.

She was prepared to sacrifice.

Before she went into business for herself and got remarried, she was planning to sell our house to fund her children’s educational needs.   She had planned to live in a little apartment by herself and save up money.

My mother often withheld luxury from herself so that we could go on nice vacations and own nice things.  She never wanted us to realize how precarious our economic situation could have become, nor did she want us to feel like we were missing out on anything.

The importance of female role models in my life was to learn that sacrificing for those you love is meaningful and important.

Women of power

My mother is one of the most powerful people I know.  I learned this during childhood.  So it was no surprise that I not only expected similar behavior but sought out women of the same caliber throughout my life.  I never grew up with the boyhood belief that somehow girls were less than, weaker, or less capable.

The importance of female role models is that, unlike some men of my generation, I feel completely comfortable with women in leadership roles.

I have sought out strong women both personally and professionally over the years, and feel that it has greatly enhanced my life.

Final thoughts

I feel utterly lucky to grow up realizing the importance of female role models.  When my father died, my mother showed us kids that she could do whatever was necessary.  She expertly maneuvered her way through career and life not only providing for but also protecting her children.  She ingrained in me this belief that women are powerful mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I am my mother’s son.

And I’m damn proud of that.

“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.

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