My dad likes to tell this funny story from my childhood. It goes a little something like this:
I had really, REALLY wanted the latest and greatest thing-a-ma-bob that all my friends had, and I begged my dad mercilessly to get it for me. Exasperated, he finally gave it to me straight. “Candace,” he said, “I don’t have the money for that right now. I can’t afford it!” Without missing a beat, I responded with: “That’s OK. Just write a cheque.”
That’s a funny story now (it even garnered a few chuckles at my wedding), but it wasn’t so funny when I was a young adult.
When I entered college, I suddenly had a world of credit opened up to me and absolutely no understanding about how it all worked. Um, why couldn’t I have textbooks AND a great wardrobe? Surely, I can afford to go to school AND party every weekend with my friends. Hello?! This credit card with 25% interest says I can!
I am a living breathing testament to the fact that just because you are smart enough to attend post-secondary school, it does not necessarily mean you’re smart enough to manage money. I could be the poster child for financial idiocy.
I learned about finances the hard way, not the smart way. That’s something I don’t want my kids to go through, but yet, as we enter the teen years, I am beginning to see that I may be missing the mark teaching them about financial literacy. As it turns out, just because you’ve attended the school of financial hard knocks, it doesn’t qualify you as a teacher.
It’s time for me to find someone that has the answers because research shows that a lack of financial knowledge and poor management are significant issues that impact Canadians. How about that? I guess, I’m not alone.
Financial Literacy Month each November is a great time for all of us to get educated, but particularly the next generation. RBC wants to help by empowering our youth with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to make smart financial decisions. They know it’s not easy to teach financial literacy, so they’ve partnered with Free The Children. One of the key reasons for the partnership was because Free The Children was already actively inspiring and engaging youth to make a positive social impact. Collaborating is the opportunity to help our kids increase their impact with relevant and practical financial literacy lessons.
Together, they have have created free resources to teach personal finance and financial literacy (you can download everything here).
These resources are available for FREE to educators and parents. I’ve already downloaded them at home and it’s helping to create excellent dinner conversations. There are four key themes to focus on: Earn, Save, Give and Spend. Under each theme there are a number of conversation starters and lesson plans to help guide our young students towards financial competence.
To date, RBC and Free The Children have made the It All Adds Up curriculum available to over 1.4 million young Canadians in over 6,500 schools across the country. That's 1.4 million kids out there ready to make smarter decisions when it comes to money! I’m sad that my kids haven’t had the benefit of this programming yet, which is why I’ll be sharing this information with their school.
My financial dunce cap is one thing I don’t want to pass on to my kids, so I’m going to do everything I can to ensure they learn everything they need to know about finances while they are living under the safety of my roof.
Growing up, I looked for girls like me in the media. But there were none. The only thing staring back at me from the pages of magazines were “supermodels.”
Supermodel is a term that was coined in the 1980s—at the height of my teen confidence issues. These seemingly perfect women were everywhere I looked. The message the media was pushing back on me was that I would never measure up. I never would be six-feet tall, have thick flowing hair, or have sculpted cheeks and flawless skin. In other words: I would never be beautiful.
I’ve gained confidence in my beauty over the years through wisdom, practice, and self-reflection. It doesn’t mean I’m immune to the voices in my head that occasionally remind me I’m still short, big-chested, and a little pudgy. Through the miracle of aging, I can now also add wrinkly into the mix, but thankfully, what is staring back at me in the media today is different—and it heartens me—especially when it comes to my daughters.
My daughters have what I didn’t have when growing up—a true reflection of themselves in the media. There’s still the classic supermodel, and even worse nowadays, “photoshopped” beauty. Thankfully, more and more businesses, publications and celebrities are taking a stand against the unattainable, thanks in large part to the decade long Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. I believe we’ve reached a beauty tipping point in the media and it’s up to us to keep the pressure on. Even though we've come a long way from where we were when I was growing up, sadly there is still much work to be done.
Consider these sobering statistics:
It’s up to us to teach our children how to be media savvy and Dove has excellent resources available to guide them through the barrage of images our children are subjected to daily.
However, media education is only one part of the puzzle. Ultimately, the biggest influence to kids when it comes to beauty is not what’s staring at them from a magazine but who’s living in the house with them. You.
I work hard to inspire confidence in my daughters for all that they are, not just what they look like. Part of that comes from modeling what true confidence means to me.
When I was first asked to appear on television a few years ago, I was a bundle of nerves. This was a great time to open up a conversation with my daughters. In this situation, my nervousness did not mean I lacked confidence, on the contrary, my willingness to try, despite my nerves, showed them what true confidence is.
As an entrepreneur who has created my own job, on my own terms, there have been many times over the years where my nerves battled with my confidence. I left my very secure job when my daughters were born because that job no longer made me happy. This was scary, but I was confident that the next phase of my life would be good too. When I opened up my business seven years ago, I was terrified of failure, but I had the confidence to try.
Often, when we speak of beauty we are speaking only of what we see on the outside, but it's much more complex than that. A person's beauty is tied to their actions, to their sense of self-worth and to their relationships with others. The Dove Self-Esteem project provides tools to parents, mentors and educators to address all the things our girls struggle with—not just if a hair is out of place. Look to the Dove website for resources on bullying, body image and media literacy. You can also find activity books available for download. When my brain reverts to old wiring about aging, beauty and self-worth, I even find words of wisdom in these resources for myself.
I don’t want my daughters to think that confidence is found in make-up or clothing, in their height, weight or hair colour and I don't want them tying their self-worth to how they compare to the image of beauty as portrayed by the media. I'm striving to inspire confidence in them through the things they do.
I’ve tried and failed at things more often than I’ve succeeded and I’m proud to share all of these experiences with my daughters.
Image credit: CL Buchanan Photography