Imagine you live with mother. Pretend she becomes intrigued and excited by your Bitcoin use, but you feel like she is too old-fashioned and electronically illiterate to grasp it, or that she would compromise her wallet because she handles computer applications carelessly, and she will just break her computer or phone. You also already know she would not know what encryption, a hash, or a distributed consensus is anyway, much less ever learn about them. Trusting her with this technology would be disastrous, and a waste of your time.
You still want to help and feel obligated though; but if you start a mobile wallet, you think she would not be able to keep track of any vital information, like private keys and passwords, or she would lose her phone or break it.
Your mind races for solutions.
You hate yourself for the first idea you think of, but decide it is best. She needs to use a middleman, and she probably won’t ever graduate from it. You decide that a Coinbase account would suit her needs. You know this might a good option because your mom already has some facility with online banking and PayPal. If she can figure out those platforms, using Coinbase should be a cakewalk.
However, she seems interested in investing Bitcoin, rather than using it to buy that new handbag she has been eyeballing. She does not realize that Bitcoin is primarily meant to be a medium of exchange.
This compounds the problem, because you know that middlemen and services have questionable, and sometimes unscrupulous reputations, and that storing Bitcoin with them is risky. You think about giving up. You are frustrated.
What to do?
You obviously want to get your mom into Bitcoin, but the problem is not mom’s lack of technological acumen. She is interested in the cryptocurrency. She just needs a little guidance and proper demystification of the concepts. There is no need to be a Bitcoin snob or act like some technological guru—even if we all do it from time to time.
Baby step her. Walk her through it. Everyone always has to start somewhere, and it should be fun teaching Bitcoin. Think algebra. You do not just jump into quadratic equations. You learn addition, fractions, square roots and order of operations first. Bitcoin can be the same way. Have fun with it. If you are reveling in your expertise, you are missing teachable moments for your mom, as well as anyone else who discovers Bitcoin.
Even if you do believe that she is inept and can never learn anything, or that she just destroys every computer in her path, this judgment deprives you of the ability to spread useful knowledge and give her the chance to take care of her hardware.
Your first inclination is correct, though. Businesses like Coinbase were meant to introduce beginners to the world of crypto-money, and since your mom already has experience with banking, this could be a fun way to enjoy the practical elements of Bitcoin. It may even open her up to the more technical aspects. Never give up on a person’s propensity to grow and learn…especially if the kindling for the crypto-fire has already been stoked.
You just have to explain to your mom what the purpose is, and you have to trust in her to make her own decisions and handle her own money. When you stress about her self-responsibility, it causes you to lose patience and trust.
Once you get your mom on board with the basics of Coinbase and other service providers, you can provide her information about hardware wallets, paper wallets, mobile wallets, and more. Just remember that she is interested, so don’t squander this opportunity to provide the information; if she happens to lose a wallet when the time comes, you would have already given her advice on how to store her recovery phrase or seed.
You can also explain the worries and woes about potentially investing in Bitcoin. You can humbly and gently educate her on the reality that Bitcoin is money, it is not a stock or bond, but you can sympathize with her desire to save it. Some good might even come out of saving it. It might instill in her a new-found passion to take better care of her electronics. People are dynamic like that.
Do not worry about her abilities. Let her take matters into her own hands. Not only have you created a new Bitcoin enthusiast, but you have showed your mom the love you believe she deserves. You have mastered a very important element of Bitcoin: spreading the technology to all people, and instilling in them an incentive to do the same with others.
How would you help a family member enter the world of digital currency? Let us know in the comments below!