Author Topic: Parental financial favoritism. Unfairness or jealousy of help you don't need?  (Read 66521 times)

sirdoug007

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/plain-old-greed-is-the-root-of-the-financial-favoritism-debate/2015/08/14/3689c7ba-4212-11e5-846d-02792f854297_story.html

This is an interesting article for two reasons:

1. How to spend through $150k/year after-tax while claiming you "don't have a lot to just go crazy."  (and how 10% retirement savings is seen as doing well)

2. The debate over whether parents helping siblings with money trouble and not giving much or anything to those with financial stability is unfair or a perverted jealousy on the part of those who have their ducks in a row.

The person writing in lists all their crazy spending and then states The point I am trying to make is life is expensive even for the top 5 percent. And when a sibling gets an extra $30,000 or car bought for them from a sympathetic parent, it is frustrating to the kid that is being responsible and that saved five years for the $30,000 car.

What do you mustachians think?  I tend to agree with Ms. Singletary that this is sour grapes from someone that has it made.

Potterquilter

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I like Michelle Singletary. i think she did well not being too critical. I would have been much less kind.

I know many families where one sibling takes ( often through guilting the parents) way more. To me that is sad, and only adds more stress and discontent to your life. Illness, having a disabled child, losing a job seem reasons you might need help, but just to have more stuff or because you can't live within your means?   You will never have enough or know the satisfaction of self earned financial independence.

forummm

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Just how does someone spend $12k on utilities and phones? Insanity.

I generally think that once you're 18, your parents don't owe you anything. Ideally they will continue to provide love and advice, etc. But you're an adult at that point and need to make your own way in the world. If your parents have money, it isn't your money--it's theirs. If they want to spend it or donate it, that's not your business really. The only exception I can see is where the parents are being profligate and there's a legitimate concern that they will run out of cash or are making bad decisions because of declining cognitive ability and you're legitimately trying to take care of them and their wellbeing. But again, that's a situation where the child is caring for the parent.

We don't have enough info to say whether it's "fair" or not to spend on the siblings. But it's their money and they can do what they want with it. The complainer's mistake is thinking that the money was his.

bsmith

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Agreed. I'd tell the jealous sibling that it's not your damn money. Parents can spend their money how ever they like. Where do people get this idea that their parents are just caretakers for the kids' inheritance until they die? Sometimes when I call my mom and ask what she's doing, she says, "spending your inheritance", and we both laugh. Good for her!

I have a very irresponsible sibling, and my parents' solution was to co-sign a mortgage on a small house for her. I don't begrudge them at all for seeing to it that she has a place to live after they're gone. They don't owe me anything, and in fact, they've be quite generous with me and all my siblings throughout their lives. I guess it's a matter of perspective. Some people just feel entitled and therefore aren't satisfied. It makes me want to throw a book about Stoicism at them.

Lyssa

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Guess I'm in the minority but absent any special needs (grand)children or circumstanses when e.g. One kid almost single-handedly takes care of the parent(s) in their old age I think anything that parents do not spend on themselves or donate (each a valid choice) should be divided up about equally. There are several studies documenting that anything else creates resentments and estranges siblings. The one getting less or nothing feels punished for his or her success or even starts to remember that mommy did not make it to his but to his sisters school play. And suddenly the money issue is 'proof' of a lack of love or a longstanding unfairness. In some cases this really is the case.

There is a book how to leave money in the way least likely to create conflict. I don't remember the title but they made this point repeatedly and backed it up with data and lots of experiences.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 03:50:48 AM by Lyssa »

Doubleh

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I'm also with Lyssa here - I don't think anyone should feel entitled to anything by way of an inheritance, but o do believe that to provide very unequal support to children is a recipe for resentment and family unrest.

Millionaire Next Door comes down pretty firmly on this too, highlighting many problems caused in families where children are supported unequally. Importantly they point out that many of the negative impacts are actually on the sibling who is supported by what they call "financial outpatient care" as much or more than the sibling, usually the more successful, who gets less support

Ozapftis

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I also have to agree with Lyssa.

An estate/inheritance should never be distributed based on 'need', except maybe for a few cases where need arose for reasons clearly beyond an individual's control (certain health related issues, etc.). Neither should it function as some sort of equalizer to level out different net worths among siblings. Such an 'equal outcome' approach will automatically reward heirs with a history of irresponsible financial behavior while disadvantaging all others.

To make things worse, if the parents' estate is distributed this way during their lifetime, not only do financially responsible heirs get it the worst, but once elder care or similarly expensive topics enter the stage, the disinherited get shafted yet another time: They will be left with all the bills. The wasteful heir, on the other hand, will have likely blown all the money by then, unable to make a contribution.

Furthermore, being cut out of an inheritance also represents a serious social stigma to outsiders. After all, when does that ever happen? Only in cases where a potential heir has grossly violated some of society's most fundamental ethical principles. So, cutting out an heir simply because "he is frugal and thus doesn't need anything" is certain to cause permanent resentment.

justajane

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Over the past decade, my MIL has doled out about 50K my husband's sibling, because he's completely foolish when it comes to money. She's said that she is going to indicate that he should get X amount less in her will, but I don't want her to do that. I don't want our relationship with him to disintegrate after her death over money. I just try to let it slide.

crispy

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I have two siblings who are takers, and I am the kid who never asked for or received anything.  There are two sides of it for me. First, I am thankful in a lot of ways for never receiving help. I have been able to walk away from a lot of the dysfunction in my family because I can take care of myself and don't need anything from them.  It is very empowering.  On the other hand, I watched my parents (my father is now deceased) take care of my sisters financially in big and small ways for years (like giving one sister land for a home and allowing my other sister to live with them rent-free for years when I got kicked out at 18 because I could take care of myself).  Frankly, it is hurtful.  There were days when all the money I had was the change in my wallet, and I had no one who I could ask for help. Even worse, when things are bad (like my dad being diagnosed with terminal cancer), my sisters walked away (literally didn't bother to come to his funeral) while I had to handle everything. Then they were threatening to sue my mom for their share of his non-existent estate.

About four years ago, I just stopped talking to them and have limited contact with my mom. She and my sisters are thick as thieves again, and I am the heartless one who leaves them to their own devices.  Obviously, the financial aspect is a symptom of deeper issues, but I imagine it's that way for a lot of people. 

Like I said, in the end, I am probably a lot healthier and happier because it allowed me to walk away, but the hurt is still there.  It's not really about the money (for me anyway), but it's like being to told repeatedly that you aren't good enough or loved enough unless you need something from them.  My mom told me that she made me the executor of her will, but I flat out told her not to do and to not leave me anything.  It will be a huge mess when she passes, and I want no part of it.


« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 07:12:53 AM by crispy »

pachnik

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Over the past decade, my MIL has doled out about 50K my husband's sibling, because he's completely foolish when it comes to money. She's said that she is going to indicate that he should get X amount less in her will, but I don't want her to do that. I don't want our relationship with him to disintegrate after her death over money. I just try to let it slide.

I have one sibling and a similar situation going on. My brother isn't foolish with money but has made different choices with what he has.  He also has kids and I don't have any.   Parents also said about equalizing things in the will. 
I've really thought about it and came to the conclusion that I would treat my parents the same way if they had money or if they didn't.  Things aren't perfect, but I love them and enjoy their company.  Their money is for them to use however they wish.  So I too let it slide.

nobody123

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I am a firm believer that you never tell other people how to raise their kids or spend their money.  After you've turned 18, what your parents do with their money is frankly none of your business.  Would the person in this article be upset if their parents spend the $30K for the siblings car on an expensive trip around the world instead?  Either way, they didn't get the benefit of the money.  It would frustrate me if my parents were subsidizing my sibling's poor life choices and letting them live in fantasy land when they really needed to hit rock bottom, but again, its not my money.

When my MIL re-did her will a few years ago, she asked me to come to the lawyer with her since I was the most financially savvy of her children or son-in-laws.  I told her I'd help her, but only if one of her daughters that wasn't my wife was there too, because I didn't want to be accused of any shenanigans.  It was an eye-opening afternoon.  My MIL pretty much slammed one of her spendthrift daughters and explained how she would be a PITA when the time came, how she had constantly begged for money over the years, and she and the lawyer walked through all of the options to have the money pass over that daughter and her husband and go directly to their kids.  My SIL and myself begged her not to do that, since we'd be left to deal with the consequences of some daughters getting something and one not, one set of grandkids getting something and the others nothing, etc.  She ended up just dividing equally among her kids.  My SIL and I were very relieved.

bsmith

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There are two different issues here: what other people did with their money, and what you should do with yours.

You should split it up fairly between children, but "fairly" does not necessarily mean "equitably". Any deviation from an even split should have some kind of logic to it, and it's best to explain that before you die.

What other people do with their own money is their own business, as nobody123 said, and there would be less conflict among siblings after a death if everyone just accepted that. It's not like a will can be changed after the person is dead, anyway.


nobody123

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Any deviation from an even split should have some kind of logic to it, and it's best to explain that before you die.

Actually, the MIL's lawyer told her that too.  He basically said if she did anything other than split it equally, the daughter who got passed over would probably challenge the will and it'd be worse for everyone except him, since he'd get paid to defend the will.  Once my MIL realized she'd have to tell the daughter to her face why the will was the way it was, she figured that said daughter would pretty much estrange themselves from the rest of the family, and she didn't want to destroy her other kids' relationship with that sister.

gillstone

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I watched this in my family, and the expectation of money from relatives is a guaranteed way to make kids lazy, bitter or both.  My father and three of his brothers assumed that a tidy sum was due each of them so they never put real effort into making their own way.  Now as my grandparents use the expected fortune to cover their medical care as they age, their children look on and gripe about how its not fair. 

Actual quote: "They're spending 250,000 a year on their health care and that's money I could be using!"
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 02:07:30 PM by gillstone »

Avidconsumer

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This is a great thread

I was told that my brother had to be subsidized to meet my standard of living because I was making more money than him and working harder. I don't know how I'm meant to feel about that, but I didn't feel great about it at the time. Now that I see how that worked out, I have no feelings of resentment, more of annoyance that my brother has become useless from constantly being enabled.

One thing that I can be thankful for is that this disproportionate giving has driven me to save so that my hard work gets greater reward than my brothers enabled lifestyle. I actually feel a bit of sympathy towards my brother for how he turned out.

Cpa Cat

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I disagree with the author that sibling jealousy about financial favoritism is about the rich wanting to get more and equating it to a distaste for welfare or other government aid. There are many fiscally liberal people who experience sibling jealousy in situations of financial favoritism.

I think the jealousy is born of the fact that generally, families raise their kids in one of two ways:

1. They raise them believing that everyone is equal. You don't grow up getting "extras" - everyone gets the same. Parents generally try quite hard not to show favoritism between their kids while the kids are at home. It can be hard to undo this and let it go as adults - no matter how successful one sibling may be. After all, for a successful sibling who was raised in a "everyone is equal" home, it can be very difficult to have empathy for the sibling who is failing and leeching of their parents - since everyone is equal, all siblings had an equal chance at success.

2. They raise them with inequality throughout their childhood, causing sibling jealousy all the way along that simply continues into adulthood. With one child reaping rewards for seemingly nothing (or bad behavior), and the other working hard and never being "good enough."

Most people feel the same emotions about financial favoritism as if they were 12 years old and their mom came home from work and gave their sibling a bag of candy, then looked at them and said, "Oh. I didn't have enough to get you anything. Besides, Johnny ate all his candy from last time, and you still have some left, so you don't really deserve anything."

Even siblings who are able to overcome this jealousy cite "family peace" as the overwhelming reason for equality. It's not that they believe that sibling should get the favoritism, or deserves an equal share - it's just that they believe the sibling is going to make a fuss or be unpleasant if they don't get it. Their desire to avoid the trouble overcomes any desire for the money or for equality.

zephyr911

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This thread almost makes me glad my sibs and I won't get anything xD

Then again, it's kind of a shame because we'd all be happy with what we got, and no arguments would ensue.

EricP

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It seems the prevailing opinion is that absent special circumstances (disabilities, etc.) that parents should provide financial gifts to their children evenly and I would agree with that.

Buying a car for the kid who is "struggling," but giving nothing to the frugal child is moronic and could create bad blood even with the most level-headed people.  No, my parents aren't babysitting my inheritance until they die, it's their money, but when they are giving money to a "struggling child," it's not a rational decision.  It's a guilt-based desire to help them that is less their choosing and more them being pressured into it.

And that's why it is acceptable for the other siblings to get upset about it. 

This isn't always as cut and dry, though.  Take college, for instance, if Kid 1 gets college totally paid for by the parents and then Kid 2 is promised the same, but gets a full ride, should Kid 2 be entitled to that money?  I would say no, as the deal was for college to be paid for.

As for my own personal situation, my parents have done the exact opposite and rewarded kids who are doing financially well.  I bought a house two years back and my parents gave me 3 grand gift. They'll likely do the same once my siblings get around to purchasing a house.

Kaspian

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2. The debate over whether parents helping siblings with money trouble and not giving much or anything to those with financial stability is unfair or a perverted jealousy on the part of those who have their ducks in a row.

My parents "subsidize" my two brothers who are fairly inept with money (one lives high on the hog) while my sister and I get nothing because they know we're responsible.  My sis and me aren't jealous and don't need the money but we'd like our two brothers to get their shit together and stop leeching.  (Kidults.)

Bill76

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My brother got a good bit of financial assistance from my parents over the years (well into 5 figures), despite making salary similar to my own and living in a LCOL area.  He and his wife had some seriously messed up spending habits for a while (they still might, but I gave up caring a long time ago), and I'm pretty sure my SIL's parents also provided cash to help get them out of debt.  Last time I heard about them asking for a large cash gift, my parents refused, but I'm pretty sure my SIL's parents handed them $20k+ with no questions asked.  My brother's kids also got contributions to their 529 accounts for several years.

I never got much financial assistance after my first year of college, except for a small gift to help with the down payment on my first house.  And my kids haven't gotten a dime for their college funds.  We haven't really needed the help, because my wife and I both mastered basic adulting at a relatively early age.  Based on my mother's crazy spending since Dad's death and her refusal to speak to me for the last couple of years, I'm guessing there won't be any inheritance, fairly divided or otherwise.

Am I bitter about it occasionally?  Sure, but more for my kids than for myself.  Do we actually NEED the money?  Not really.  I'd rather my children have a meaningful relationship with my parents, but unfortunately, that's never going to happen.

Ashyukun

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It can definite lead to some annoyance, but at least in the case of SWMBO and I and our respective siblings, it's more head-shaking and eye-rolling from us than outright jealousy. Both of us have siblings who have gotten a LOT more help from parents and extended family, largely due to very poor decisions in life whereas we've both held our own- and interestingly we're solidly better off in most all respects than any of them.

My mom's parents had a similar issue with her brother- they've supported him in one way or another for most of his adult life while she was pretty much on her own from when she finished college and married my dad. My grandfather however worked in finance and was VERY meticulous about finances- and he apparently kept track of all of what they spent on my uncle and had it built into their will that my uncle's portion of any inheritance would be knocked down by that amount relative to what my mom will get, and made this quite clear to the uncle. Hasn't really come into play yet since though he's passed my grandmother is (thankfully) still around. To his credit though he has largely gotten his life together now (albeit because he was able to get on full disability from the VA...) and I don't believe is getting any support from my grandmother any more so it likely won't be an issue when she passes. I can only hope my brother gets his ass in order similarly and much sooner than my uncle did- my parents aren't in as good of a position to float him indefinitely like their parents were...

irishbear99

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My situation is the opposite: I receive no economic outpatient care by choice. I cut myself off in my very early 20s as I watched my parents' "help" turn my siblings into dependents whose lives and every decision were inter-meshed with my parents. It was my first lesson of adulthood: nothing is free. Sure, there are times when I feel sad for the loss of that safety net, but what I've gained is priceless. There are no strings on me.

Candace

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I am definitely the one sibling out of three who has not gotten any cash infusions over the years, either due to my parents doing things for my one sibling with money problems or helping out with kid expenses such as college, cars etc. to help my siblings out (I don't have kids).

From that perspective, my quarrel with the article is that it's not simply greed that fosters the slight resentment I do feel. It's that I still have a childish desire to be treated equally by our parents. Yes, there is a little greed there, I admit it. But truthfully, I can recognize in myself that when my brother or sister get big gifts to use for their kids or get bailed out of hardship caused by bad judgement, that I feel sort of like they are getting attention and care from our parents that I'm not getting. The irrational part of my brain sees that and starts to wonder whether Mommy and Daddy love me as much as them. Of course it doesn't make any sense, and I know they love me just as much.

Second, it's their money. They can do what they want with it.


Avidconsumer

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I pose this question to you guys of this forum. Is each sibling born equal? Maybe if each sibling works hard, but there is a massive disparity in income and the less compensated sibling receives money from their parents. Is this fair? Maybe it's not always fair to distribute the wealth equally among siblings. I think this is rarely the case however.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 10:38:21 AM by Avidconsumer »

Blonde Lawyer

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I like to quote our local divorce law.  Equitable does not always mean equal.  There are always a variety of facts and circumstances in play.  I think luck also plays a big role.  My brother was always smarter than me and a higher achiever.  Yet, I graduated law school and landed a good job.  My brother dropped out of law school when he wasn't cutting it (very smart choice for him) and struggled to find work in a down economy besides his very best efforts.  I would have expected some assistance from my parents getting on my feet but I landed very quickly.  He is taking longer and I have no resentment that my parents are helping him - so long as he doesn't become a lazy bum.  He didn't, found a new path, and should be really successful in a few years.  I also married young and he didn't.  Dual income meant I needed less assistance if any.  It's not his fault he hasn't yet found "the one." I'm not sure how this should all play out in the inheritance scenario but I don't think we are all equal and as long as things are distributed fairly (which does not necessarily mean equal) then I am happy.

frugalecon

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My parents have definitely showered $$ on my sisters in a way they never did for me (though they did help me out in college). A lot of it has subsidized bad behavior (one sis has been married three times, divorced twice, had to be bailed out of legal trouble a couple of times, tax problems, and she and current hubby make about $300k a year and still have had to "borrow" from my parents who have about $60k/year in income).

I really don't want more for me, I just wish that my parents had expected more of my sisters. It will be hard for them when the parents are gone and there is no backstop. And, of course, if mom and dad run out of $$, it will be up to me to help them out.

For me, this issue was hard for a long time b/c it continued a pattern from childhood. As a kid, the grandparents and aunts and uncles showered gifts and special treatment on the sisters, as did the parents. Looking back it is a little comical how lopsided the gifts were at Xmas and at visits. Sister got piano lessons, I was told there was no $$ for violin lessons. At age 9 I started a door-to-door vegetable business with surplus from the garden (where I had daily chores), and the parents taxed me to redistribute to the sisters so it would be "fair," even though they didn't help. At least I got to keep the $$ when I started mowing lawns.

I was bitter for a long time, mostly b/c none of them seemed to think about how that would affect a small kid, to constantly get the message "We prefer your sisters over you." Dad eventually figured it out, and years later, in my 30s, he said "I know it has all been unequal, and I'm going to do something big for you someday." He never did, but at least he wanted to.

But the upshot is that I have a wonderful life, a great spouse, very ample financial resources, and no cause for complaint. And now I am the steward of my parents' finances as they age, since they granted me POA status and put me on their accounts. They certainly made a lot of bad decisions, but they got that one right.

EricP

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I pose this question to you guys of this forum. Is each sibling born equal? Maybe if each sibling works hard, but there is a massive disparity in income and the less compensated sibling receives money from their parents. Is this fair? Maybe it's not always fair to distribute the wealth equally among siblings. I think this is rarely the case however.

In all these stories, it's not that the parents are trying to make it fair between the siblings.  IE: Kid 1 can afford a $20k car, Kid 2 can afford a $30k car, they give Kid 1 $10k to get him up to Kid 2's level.  This is not what's happening.  Kid 1 is living outside their means and is "struggling" and the parents give them money to "help them out" meanwhile Kid 2 has their shit together and may or may not be making more money than Kid 1 and gets nothing.

But generally, siblings will start from the same-ish position, where they go from there is up to them and if one kid is making $80k/yr as an engineer and another is making $40k/yr as a teacher, then that's the kids choices in life and not that something the parent's should be "fairing up."

Cookie78

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I'm glad my mother helped my brothers out so much when they needed it. I have no idea what the numbers are, I just know it was "A LOT". I'm also glad I was never in a situation where I needed her help (though she did contribute a bunch towards my student loans when I graduated). It's her money to decide what she wants to do with it, and my brothers are very hard working people with jobs and families. They didn't abuse her help, and as far as I know it's not an ongoing thing.

My mom, however, recently expressed to me that she felt guilty that I didn't get as much. I told her I neither need it nor particularly want it, though it would certainly be appreciated if she chose to help fund my early retirement. She's also retiring this month, so perhaps she wants to fund her own retirement instead. Anything I get from her would be a bonus, I certainly have zero expectations. I just want her to go out and enjoy her well deserved retirement as much as she can.

If my brothers were deadbeats and abused her help I may feel a lot differently, but only because she would be taken advantage of, not because I wasn't getting my share.

CheapskateWife

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My parents provide financial life support for my younger sister, and it pisses me off, but I never really understood why.  Yes, it is completely unreasonable for me to feel jealous, as they never HAD to help me like that; but its how I feel.  There is no sign of the support ending any time soon.  The thing is that my relationship with my parents is very different than my sister's.  They still have to parent her; we have the luxury of something deeper.

I don't act on my feelings, but they are there; I resent her being a burden to them, and I resent her raising her daughters to count on Grandma and Grandpa for support.  When my parents pass and I am asked to handle their estate, I will have to turn a blind eye to all the previous support given to younger sis and split whatever is left over 50/50.

In the end though, my life is pretty damn good, and hers is pretty damn hard.  I need to focus on the part that reminds me that my life is pretty damn good. 

Gin1984

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It seems the prevailing opinion is that absent special circumstances (disabilities, etc.) that parents should provide financial gifts to their children evenly and I would agree with that.

Buying a car for the kid who is "struggling," but giving nothing to the frugal child is moronic and could create bad blood even with the most level-headed people.  No, my parents aren't babysitting my inheritance until they die, it's their money, but when they are giving money to a "struggling child," it's not a rational decision.  It's a guilt-based desire to help them that is less their choosing and more them being pressured into it.

And that's why it is acceptable for the other siblings to get upset about it. 

This isn't always as cut and dry, though.  Take college, for instance, if Kid 1 gets college totally paid for by the parents and then Kid 2 is promised the same, but gets a full ride, should Kid 2 be entitled to that money?  I would say no, as the deal was for college to be paid for.

As for my own personal situation, my parents have done the exact opposite and rewarded kids who are doing financially well.  I bought a house two years back and my parents gave me 3 grand gift. They'll likely do the same once my siblings get around to purchasing a house.
I plan to reward my kids, fiscally, for any scholarships they get.  And high will have the chance for them.

EricP

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It seems the prevailing opinion is that absent special circumstances (disabilities, etc.) that parents should provide financial gifts to their children evenly and I would agree with that.

Buying a car for the kid who is "struggling," but giving nothing to the frugal child is moronic and could create bad blood even with the most level-headed people.  No, my parents aren't babysitting my inheritance until they die, it's their money, but when they are giving money to a "struggling child," it's not a rational decision.  It's a guilt-based desire to help them that is less their choosing and more them being pressured into it.

And that's why it is acceptable for the other siblings to get upset about it. 

This isn't always as cut and dry, though.  Take college, for instance, if Kid 1 gets college totally paid for by the parents and then Kid 2 is promised the same, but gets a full ride, should Kid 2 be entitled to that money?  I would say no, as the deal was for college to be paid for.

As for my own personal situation, my parents have done the exact opposite and rewarded kids who are doing financially well.  I bought a house two years back and my parents gave me 3 grand gift. They'll likely do the same once my siblings get around to purchasing a house.
I plan to reward my kids, fiscally, for any scholarships they get.  And high will have the chance for them.

I'd just be sure to make this very clear up front or you could still end up with resentment between your children.

zephyr911

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I plan to reward my kids, fiscally, for any scholarships they get.  And high will have the chance for them.
I honestly can't figure out what that second sentence means.

jenniecountspennies

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First, I am thankful in a lot of ways for never receiving help. I have been able to walk away from a lot of the dysfunction in my family because I can take care of myself and don't need anything from them.  It is very empowering. 

+1000

I think this is so critical - sometimes the money isn't about parental guilt or a desire to help, but distributed out of an attempt to control (openly or passively). Being out of that loop has certainly changed my life dynamic, and while I'm sad by how it plays out in my sisters' lives, I'm grateful to have the freedom to have a non-dependent relationship with my parents.

EricP

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I plan to reward my kids, fiscally, for any scholarships they get.  And high will have the chance for them.
I honestly can't figure out what that second sentence means.

Yeah, I looked at it for awhile and settled with something along the lines of "And the chances of them getting scholarships is high."

nobody123

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This isn't always as cut and dry, though.  Take college, for instance, if Kid 1 gets college totally paid for by the parents and then Kid 2 is promised the same, but gets a full ride, should Kid 2 be entitled to that money?  I would say no, as the deal was for college to be paid for.
I plan to reward my kids, fiscally, for any scholarships they get.  And high will have the chance for them.

Me too.  My wife and I have decided that we will give each child the same $ amount for college.  If they choose to go to a cheaper school or they get scholarships, etc., they can keep whatever of my money they don't have to spend.  I'm not going to give one kid more cash than the other just because they happened to choose a more expensive school, or because the other one received some scholarships.  I just think it's a parent's responsibility to offer all of their children the same opportunities if at all possible.

We've also decided that any significant financial gift (money towards a wedding, house, etc.) will have an equal amount given to the other child at the appropriate time.  I don't want either of them to worry about 'keeping score' to figure out who mommy and daddy love more.  If there is money left over when my wife and I are dead, it will be split 50/50 between them.  The only way I could see that changing would be in the case where one becomes disabled and truly needs more than the other one, or in the case where one ruins the family name due to criminal activity.

mm1970

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It seems the prevailing opinion is that absent special circumstances (disabilities, etc.) that parents should provide financial gifts to their children evenly and I would agree with that.

Buying a car for the kid who is "struggling," but giving nothing to the frugal child is moronic and could create bad blood even with the most level-headed people.  No, my parents aren't babysitting my inheritance until they die, it's their money, but when they are giving money to a "struggling child," it's not a rational decision.  It's a guilt-based desire to help them that is less their choosing and more them being pressured into it.

And that's why it is acceptable for the other siblings to get upset about it. 

This isn't always as cut and dry, though.  Take college, for instance, if Kid 1 gets college totally paid for by the parents and then Kid 2 is promised the same, but gets a full ride, should Kid 2 be entitled to that money?  I would say no, as the deal was for college to be paid for.

As for my own personal situation, my parents have done the exact opposite and rewarded kids who are doing financially well.  I bought a house two years back and my parents gave me 3 grand gift. They'll likely do the same once my siblings get around to purchasing a house.
I plan to reward my kids, fiscally, for any scholarships they get.  And high will have the chance for them.
This is an interesting point.

When my spouse went to college, his parents told him that they couldn't really afford the Ivy school he got into, unless he went ROTC.  Which he didn't really want to do.  But he did it anyway, and they were able to afford room and board.

His sister is a few years younger.  She went to a similarly expensive private school, that they paid for, with a 2nd mortgage.  Hmmm...

My husband wasn't bothered by that at all.  Funny thing though.  He got his first apartment, and his parents bought him a sofa bed so they could stay with him when they visited (as opposed to a regular couch).  Well, they paid for half of it (he lied to them about the cost, and told them it was half the total cost).  When his sister finished college, got married, and bought her first house, she asked her parents to buy her a sofabed like they had done for my husband.  They said "nope".  Why not, she asked?  Because you live 1/2 mile from our house.  It's not like we are going to sleep on it!

My sister and brother got a lot of aid from my mom and step dad.  I didn't.  It never bothered me, but it did bother my sister.  My mom set up college funds for her 3 grandchildren, but didn't when my son was born (and she died before I had my second kid).  We have college funds already, I'm not bothered.

My brother was getting constant help, but the fact of the matter is - he and his wife are SPENDERS.  "We cannot afford braces." etc etc.  They put their foot down when he asked for $5k for central AC.  My mom said "if I had $5k for central AC, I'd put it in my own house!"  (They had the money and chose not to spend it.)

I understand the desire for fairness, but I guess I'm over that.  My mom used to talk about how she paid the same amount towards my wedding as my sister's.  In reality, she bought my invitations ($100), and then she paid for my sister's and my brother's hotel rooms at my wedding.  Not quite the same, and I didn't care, but she wanted to FEEL like she was being fair.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 02:36:36 PM by mm1970 »

MayDay

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Re. the college example, my sister and I each got a new car upon graduation since we had full rides.  My brother was given my dad's old beater and got some help with tuition.  I think we all felt that was 100% fair. 

My SIL is on semi-permanent economic life support, and probably will be until MIL dies.  I don't care about that.  You couldn't pay me enough to live with my MIL and have no rent/mortgage, lol.  I would much rather be able to pay for my own dental care than have to beg my MIL.  And I feel sorry for SIL that this is what her life is.  But if the inheritances were uneven, that would hurt, not going to lie.  Not because of the money itself (it won't be a ton, and whatever it is will be a nice bonus but not life changing) but because of the FEELINGS.  Sibling equality and all that. 

I think the hard part is drawing the line between favoritism because of a truly disabled sibling, and that grey area.  If SIL had Down Syndrome or a cognitive disability or something where she was going to need ongoing care her entire life, she should absolutely get 100% of MIL's estate.  Hands down.  And if it ran out, we would be happy to support her.  But when it is mostly poor life choices and/or laziness and/or just not being the brightest bulb, then it comes off as unfair.  And maybe that is more jealousy of the high earning sibling, but it feels more like "we love her more".

MgoSam

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All I can say is that the world isn't fair, and I became much happier once I realized that was the case.

Yeah, it absolutely sucks when one sibling is given more support than another, but shit happens. Our parents aren't perfect, and neither are we.

There are so many other ways to think about this. Is it "fair" that I"m born in the US where I have so much freedom, while many others are born in places in North Korea? We can play this game for a long time, but I instead prefer to spend such time on things that I can change.


Avidconsumer

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I pose this question to you guys of this forum. Is each sibling born equal? Maybe if each sibling works hard, but there is a massive disparity in income and the less compensated sibling receives money from their parents. Is this fair? Maybe it's not always fair to distribute the wealth equally among siblings. I think this is rarely the case however.

In all these stories, it's not that the parents are trying to make it fair between the siblings.  IE: Kid 1 can afford a $20k car, Kid 2 can afford a $30k car, they give Kid 1 $10k to get him up to Kid 2's level.  This is not what's happening.  Kid 1 is living outside their means and is "struggling" and the parents give them money to "help them out" meanwhile Kid 2 has their shit together and may or may not be making more money than Kid 1 and gets nothing.

But generally, siblings will start from the same-ish position, where they go from there is up to them and if one kid is making $80k/yr as an engineer and another is making $40k/yr as a teacher, then that's the kids choices in life and not that something the parent's should be "fairing up."

This is where I disagree somewhat. Given that both siblings work hard, the engineer and teacher. Would it be so bad that the parents "faired up" a little bit?

K-ice

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A one time emergency for job loss or health bills would be perfectly fine with me. Or agreeing to support a disabled grandchild.

But constant, year after year, enabling one sibling to live beyond their means, send their kids to private school, paying off thousands in Cc debt etc. get Grand Parents help or threaten bankruptcy is very frustrating.

It also depends if the parent is very financially stable or if they have been spending & postponing their retirement for the spendthrift child.

Saying it will get balanced later in the will is a recipie for disaster if the money was not given as a formal loan callable upon death.

It is better to just write it off and be happy you do not spend yourself into such a financially desperate situation.

Abe

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I have no idea how much money my parents give my sister, other than it's probably more than they give me (currently $0 because I don't cash their checks!), mostly because she only recently got her act together. How did you all find out about your siblings' financial aid. Did your parents tell you? If so, why do you think that is?

My sister is significantly less financially (and otherwise) successful than I am for various reasons that are not all her fault. I used to be upset at my parents for giving her support after multiple poor decisions on principle (even though it was probably chump change for them). With age and my own financial success, I've come to realize it's their decision to make. Though I can advise them with a more objective viewpoint, I can't judge their decisions as a parent-child relationship is so different from a sibling relationship.

My wife and I will probably be tougher on any future children who are screw-ups, because of our similar experiences with sibling bail-outs, but one can only know once put in that position. 

Evgenia

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I generally think that once you're 18, your parents don't owe you anything. Ideally they will continue to provide love and advice, etc. But you're an adult at that point and need to make your own way in the world. If your parents have money, it isn't your money--it's theirs. If they want to spend it or donate it, that's not your business really.

This is how my mind worked at 18. I never once expected that my parents would pay for my college education (not that they could have afforded it, even if they'd wanted to) or anything else. They raised me with the expectation that, come 18 years of age, you were out in the world on your own, and I was, and have been ever since (even if it meant living with four other people in a truly ghetto house in Detroit for $160/month, with abandoned houses all around). I was STUNNED -- stunned -- when I met people at college whose parents were paying for tuition and/or everything else: books, whatever they put on their credit cards. I feel stupid for saying so, but it had literally never occurred to me that this was possible.
 
Which is why I was so surprised to see how different my younger brother's experience was. He'd always had a "thing" for wanting more. When he was seven or eight, for instance, he stole cash out of my father's dresser drawer and blamed it on me, until my father caught my brother handing out baseball cards and candy to other kids and knew my brother had taken it. And, later, he got all kinds of assistance I never had: help with tuition, my parents paid for his car insurance when they wouldn't pay mine, and he'd ask my grandparents for money too. (I don't even know how destitute I'd have to be to ask my grandparents for anything.)

But it didn't help my brother any. Despite having all of this help and working during college, he still lived way beyond his means, charging up his credit card on stupid wheel stuff for his Camaro, travel to Australia, other ridiculousness. He is 36, his credit is wrecked, and has only started to get his s**t together in the past few years by making more frugal decisions.

Pooperman

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I've had help, but I also don't have siblings*. Mother and step-father paid for school and gave me a car. SO's mother took us in after I lost my job almost 2 years ago while we got back on our feet (4 months). SO's brother has had a lot of help, but that's coming to an end as her mother is retiring soon and will stop helping when she does. We don't ask for help or monetary gifts or any of that. I know it comes with riders and I like my independence. I still get occasional gifts from my parents for big life events (big birthday, graduation, marriage, etc), but that all just gets invested and they know this.

At some point I will be the recipient of a stupid amount of money from my parents when they pass. I won't need it, but I'll invest it for future generations.

*I do actually have two, but they're half-siblings and I don't speak with my father... plus they're still kids

shelivesthedream

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I think it's important to distinguish between whether what your parents have done for you and your siblings is fair, and what you will/would do for your own children. In my family there is an understanding that fair means equal. If my parents bought my brother a car, I would expect something equivalent. This is the way they brought us up, so if I were 'short changed' I would feel jealous, but in a petty, childish way, so I would most likely take a big adult breath a and let it go.

As for my own (future) children... The thing that disgusts me about so many of these stories is that the parents are supporting one child WAY beyond what is reasonable. If I, god forbid, ended up with a deadbeat child, then I would probably buy a cheap bedsit and let them live in it rent free and give them food (either dinner at ours or send them a basic grocery delivery). They can't afford a winter coat? Charity shop time! You don't like the colour? Tough! I would unequally give one child enough to keep them alive, not to artificially boost their lifestyle up to the level of their siblings because it's "not fair" that they don't have an iPad and their responsible sibling does.

I would also give equal gifts for life events. E.g. X when they matriculate,  no matter how much it cost. X for their wedding,  no matter what percentage is. You can't reward people for stupid choices.

ETA. I think a hugely important thing is how parents set expectations and therefore how children perceive it. I they know from day one that any lifestyle differences are going to be 'evened up', they can't cry unfair when their sibling gets more, because they know it could have been them. It's not associated with the parents loving one child more. I think it's bloody unfair, but if the parent sets the rules that way no one can be upset when they follow through.

Also, I have wrangle before about the horrific possibility that I might be the 'favourite'. Trust me, it ain't no bed of roses for anyone with a conscience. http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/my-grandmother-keeps-sending-me-large-cheques-can-i-do-anything-about-it/
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 01:07:41 PM by shelivesthedream »

Goldielocks

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I understand the desire for fairness, but I guess I'm over that.  My mom used to talk about how she paid the same amount towards my wedding as my sister's.  In reality, she bought my invitations ($100), and then she paid for my sister's and my brother's hotel rooms at my wedding.  Not quite the same, and I didn't care, but she wanted to FEEL like she was being fair.
[/b]

This!

Yes, I will admit to a small portion of jealously, especially when we were younger and did not have much money to spend on the things I felt were important for my kids (like lessons AND braces, instead of just braces...)

But what gets  / used to get / to me was how the parent will convince herself that she is being fair / equal... and then state that.  I finally had to tell her to stop bringing up money and finances as it made me feel bad after those discussions, and I did not really care how she spent her money, as long as sister never asked ME for money.

e.g., of what is "equal" in her mind:  (This is MIL who we are pretty close to, so most of my angst is on behalf of my husband)

1.  In highschool, DH received the (used) family stereo when his dad upgraded, as his Christmas / Birthday present.   Sister received a brand new stereo at the same age, because it was "fair".

2.  DH sold the family car and was allowed to keep the $$ above dealership trade in offer.  It was a lot of work, and then used that $$ plus savings from jobs / allowance / etc to buy a used Acura (very nice in those days).   SIL received a NEW Acura (same model / different year) purchased by dad because "it was fair".

3.  Our wedding was $12k including honeymoon.  They gifted us $5k for it, spread across alcohol and other expenses (the other parents gave us about $7k too).   SIL's wedding was ( I guess) $25k was fully paid for because it was the "equivalent" of our wedding and she had no personal savings or other in-laws to help pay for it.

4.  They gave SIL $150k or more towards her home purchase, and put us in their current will so that we will get $150k in oh, say, 40 years after, because that is fair.   (I really won't need more money then, but I could have used it previously, that's for sure)

5.  Fully paying for my neices' multiple ballet classes, because SIL can't afford them and we have our kids in classes (um,,, we had swimming classes, and only $80 per month cost at the time, I would have LOVED to afford other lessons for my kids).

Of course at some point, the pretense disappeared and they ended up paying for SIL utilities, car insurance, property taxes, and being the full time care provided for my nieces for several years...  all because SIL earned less than we do.   By this time, they had stopped discussing money "fairness" with us (at my request), and it was SOOO much better.   

This left the "normal" jealousy that grandma favors my nieces over my kids..  in terms of time and attention anyway, but as they all grow older it is less important.

But you know what?  DH is so amazing, he doesn't even notice or mind.  He just, like, never thinks about it and if I point it out, is very happy that his sis gets help, and grateful for whatever time or money/gifts he receives.

Here's a funny tidbit -- at one time I was struggling to get our grocery bill down (like many of you at one point), so that we could pay for those braces and other life events, and get back on track with retirement savings...and I mentioned it to SIL.  She was confused at why our bill was so high, as hers was only $150/mo for a family of 4 (in BC). A very tight budget would be closer to $600 at that time.   LOL  it was pretty clear to me then that all the packaged food, meat, yogurt, bread and fruit was bought by grandma who needed food in the house when she babysat all week!  SIL had no idea.


I must say that although jealousy is there (I am human), just writing to a forum thread, or to a author in an email is all most of us need to have it disappear for a year.  What those people wrote is likely not how they act most times.  Just venting.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 01:36:48 PM by goldielocks »

Blonde Lawyer

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I think it is also important to keep in mind that our parents financial situations change over time.  My brother and I are 7 years apart.  He got fancier name brand clothes in high school than I did because my parents could afford it then and they couldn't when I was a kid.  I don't resent that.  Just because they were cash strapped w/ me doesn't mean they have to impose the same standard of living on him when their situation improved.

They paid for all of my undergrad that wasn't covered by scholarships.  They couldn't do that for my brother because the price of an undergrad education had really sky rocketed and dad got laid off that year.  They still contributed a lot; just not 100%.

Cassie

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My parents helped the 3 of us when we needed it & not for doing stupid stuff. When 1 was helped the other 2 were not handed the same amount because we all knew if we needed it -it would be there. I am talking in small ways/amounts -not a lot because they couldn't afford it.   This happened when we were young & we were all grateful. I have done the same with my 3 & it has worked out fine. I am following my parents example also & would not reward bad behavior. People never learn if you do.

justajane

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I'm pretty sure at least one of my siblings holds a grudge because I went to a fancy-pants private university, while they both went to a state school (in state). I am the youngest. On the one hand, I can see their point. I'm sure because I was the youngest, what was communicated to me in high school was different than what was subtly (or not so subtly) communicated to them. But my parents swear that private school would have been in the cards for them as well, but they didn't ask or pursue it. But they would say that they didn't feel like they could pursue it.

I know another family of three that went the other direction. The first two kids went to a semi-expensive private school for high school, while the youngest had to "settle" for public school.

I should keep these struggles in mind with my three kids as well.

Dollar Slice

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Interesting to think about. I've seen both sides of the coin in my family. My mom and her sisters - two are very successful and two are very unsuccessful (one has a chronic illness, the other has drug issues and probably some undiagnosed psych/mental something-or-other going on). Fairness is great, but it would be ludicrous for my grandmother to give money to the two successful daughters, who both have far more money than her. I think what happens is that the successful daughters give her money (often in the form of very generous gifts, like $3k hearing aids) and then she helps out the other two daughters because it makes her happy to feel that she can take care of her kids when they need help. I think she is leaving everything to the disabled daughter in her will, including the house which is paid off. Makes sense to me.

My immediate family, OTOH... my brother got college paid for; I did too, but I earned a large scholarship and I think they shelled out about 25% of what they did for him. They bought him a car, and I didn't want a car. They gave him a down payment for a home, I haven't purchased a home. He and his wife both make more money than I do (and her parents are wealthy and also gave them a down payment for the house, etc. so they have had a TON of help). So it's kind of outrageously unfair if you look at it a certain way. They've helped me in other ways but probably a tenth or less of what they gave him. But if you look at it in a vacuum they've still been incredibly generous with me. It never really bothered me. There were a lot of other things that bothered me because I thought they treated him like their favorite for a long time. But the money wasn't one of those things.

choppingwood

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My father told me how his will would divide things up. He was leaving more to my sister, because she had lived with and done a considerable amount to help my mother and father through my mother's dementia and my father's old age. She was there because she had been fired and run out of money. She lived with them with free room and board for many years. She took his car when he couldn't drive anymore and got the balance of a large joint bank account without it having to go through probate. She stayed rent-free in the house for two years after both parents died, getting it ready for sale.

What I told my dad is what I believe:  it was his money, and he should do exactly what he thought he should do with it. He said thank you.

My sister, on the other hand, objected to him leaving any money to the daughters of my late sister, since they would get money from other people.

Eight years later, none of us has tons of money, but all of have enough. Which is what my father wanted for us.