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The Money Mom: Can’t We All Just Get Along

This week, I invited Naomi Panzer, creator of mymommymanners.com, to help us deal with some of the awkward moments that pop up between moms every now and then. I hope you enjoy – and let us both know what you think in the comments.

Photo on 2010-05-19 at 14.49 #4Making friends with other moms can be downright daunting (and keeping them, just as exhausting). The constant, swirling mass of mom-on-mom judgment, criticism and competitiveness makes connecting with our parenting peers an endless cycle of frustration—from the mom at preschool who’s always one-upping you, to your old friend who thought it was fun to give your sugar-free daughter a frosted doughnut.

It’s no surprise that one of the touchiest topics among moms is money. Having too much, not having enough, where you spend it and how you handle it wiggles its way into motherhood and can sabotage even the closest of friendships.

Too Much, Too Little
Caroline and Lauren are part of rotating playgroup. Caroline is ashamed to host at her tiny townhouse, and resents spending money on snacks for kids and moms. Meanwhile, Lauren dreads playgroup at her grand home, self-conscious that the other moms will be jealous of her “having it all” when she just wants to be accepted like everyone else. Both moms keep their embarrassment to themselves.

Check, Please
After hitting it off at an outdoor children’s concert, Susan asked Mindy to have lunch with the kids at a nearby deli. When the bill came, Mindy didn’t offer to pay her share. Susan didn’t want to bring it up, for fear she would offend Mindy and sabotage their potential friendship. Susan paid the total check and went home seething but confused: was Mindy cheap, or oblivious?

Keeping Up With The Joneses
Best friends from college, Kim and Michelle clash over their financial statuses. Kim is a SAHM of two boys with a housekeeper and a hands-on husband. Michelle is a working mom of three with a traveling husband. When Kim complains about the way her laundry is folded, or about having to schlep her kids to their overload of activities when Michelle can barely afford daycare, Michelle wants to throttle her but remains silent, worried their friendship might be stuck in a frat party from years ago.

Why Do We Suffer Silently?
Betsy Brown Braun, parenting expert and best-selling author of You’re Not the Boss of Me, explains that today’s moms attack parenting like a career. We are “so used to clawing our way to the top, being successful and constantly achieving, that parenting is a goal rather than an experience.”

Tips to try:
• Focus on doing your best, rather than being the best. Parenting is not a competition!
• When you feel stuck, follow the advice you would give to your child in a similar situation.
• Always let the person on the tighter budget pick the activity or restaurant.
• Be upfront about your expectations to avoid misunderstandings and the silent treatment.
• Remember that no one is immune to difficulties. Your friend might seem to live in a materialistic wonderland, but her life is far from perfect, just like yours. When we let our guard down honestly and authentically, we can learn from one other, and everyone feels richer.

Naomi Panzer is the co-creator of Mommy Manners, an online community where moms share, vent and solve each other’s conflicts and clashes with other moms. Naomi lives in Connecticut with her husband and two kids.

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