Author Topic: Parental financial favoritism. Unfairness or jealousy of help you don't need?  (Read 66537 times)

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."

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?

Yeah it would.  It would create a large feeling of resentment.  Read the posts here.  There's a whole lot of people pretending like they aren't upset about their siblings getting more from their parents, but most of them have a big "BUT" on the end of it.

Here's some samples of what I'm talking about.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

So the engineer will inevitably feel resentment against the teacher.  If Kid A is making more than Kid B then they worked harder to get there.  Between two siblings, this country very much is a meritocracy, so having the parents even it up will just serve to reward the person who didn't work as hard.

Fuzzy Buttons

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So the engineer will inevitably feel resentment against the teacher.  If Kid A is making more than Kid B then they worked harder to get there.  Between two siblings, this country very much is a meritocracy, so having the parents even it up will just serve to reward the person who didn't work as hard.

Sometimes you make less because what you do isn't a lucrative career, despite how hard you work at it.  My gf is a teacher and I'm an engineer - I promise she works harder than me.  I wouldn't do that job in a million years.  More examples would be charity, non-profit, or other such work.  I can totally see a parent being proud of a child who chose to a live a simpler life doing work they felt would be worthwhile, and deciding to reward that. 

But it's always touchy.  Good communication is the key.  My parents were always clear to my sister and I that they would get us through state college with no debts, but that we should not count on any inheritance.  Seemed like a great deal to me, and I was never disappointed because I was never let down by an unreasonable expectation.  Now, my sister did more graduate school than I did - and she and her husband have kids, one of whom has Ausbergers and has required special schooling.  Mom gives her financial help from time to time and tells me she's keeping count and it will all be reflected in the will.  I just remind her that there's not supposed to be anything left, and shouldn't she be out spending money on herself right now? 

Because honestly, I can't think of anything I could buy that would give me more pleasure than seeing my mom happy.  That's the real reward of being financially responsible - the ability to just let it go.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 02:35:59 PM by Fuzzy Buttons »

K-ice

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^^^^

I would be scared to say engineers work harder than teachers.

The resentment would come if either of them spend beyond their means then expect a parent subsidy to make up for that.

Grandkids also factor in. Should a family with 4 kids get more presents & help then a DINK couple?



Candace

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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%.

This is definitely true. My sister is four years younger than I am. When I was a junior in college and needed a car to commute to a co-op job, they shopped with me for a modest used car, gave me half the cost and lent me the other half. I worked nights after my co-op job to have enough to pay them back and still have enough money to last the school year.

When my sister got out of college (no co-op job, so no need for a car till then), my parents GAVE her a NEW car. I definitely resented the difference at the time. Again, I didn't need the money, I just felt with the little teeny part of my brain that it meant she was more important to them than I was. I KNOW that's not the case though. My parents and I have a great relationship and they love all of their kids. It was just that in the interim, my mom's earnings increased by a lot, so they felt flush when she graduated.

EricP

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^^^^

I would be scared to say engineers work harder than teachers.

The resentment would come if either of them spend beyond their means then expect a parent subsidy to make up for that.

Grandkids also factor in. Should a family with 4 kids get more presents & help then a DINK couple?

Presents are a different story.  You want to give some toys to the grandkids, I don't think a sibling would get upset about it.  But you give a new van to the family with 4 kids and nothing to the DINK, then the DINK family would get upset.

"Fairing it up" between two siblings will lead to resentment, I don't think that's hard to see and I've shown throughout the thread that there are plenty of people here who show some levels of resentment.  Keeping it even regardless of circumstances (in regards to big money purchases) is an easy one shoe foots all approach that gets past all of this himming and hawing about circumstances and how hard someone works and other nonsense.

@Fuzzy Buttons, rewarding a child for their charity work while not giving the kids who does a job that pays well seems like a surefire way to resentment.  "Well your sister just does such great work helping out those puppies so we wanted to give her a down payment to her house."  That's sure to piss off the brother who is making more.  And that's the point I'm getting after, unless you give the same amount to both people then there will be feelings of resentment even if the goal is just to "fair it up."

mm1970

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More interesting stuff!

My spouse's family has a seasonal vacation cabin.  Bought cheap long ago.  It's now worth, oh, $150,000 to $200,000 would be my guess, and it's in FIL, SIL, and spouse's names.

I just assume that when FIL goes, we gift the other half to SIL.  I mean, the only reason we have it now is that the in-laws divorced, and MIL wanted to make sure the kids had "access" to it.  I mentioned that casually on vacation recently and got the death stare from MIL.  She most certainly does NOT want that to happen, she considers it to be equally my spouse's.

But we are a continent away and my SIL and her husband have been the ones to do ALL the work, and upgrades, and upkeep on it.  Well, in-laws did some, but all of the recent work.  We only visit every other year anyway.

It's interesting because my MIL is REALLY into fairness.  But as far as I'm concerned, it's theirs.  As long as we can stay when we visit!

Jakejake

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My sister (in her 50s) is a chronic recipient of economic outpatient care. My parents have bailed her out with mortgage payments multiple times. If she had been in a low paying full time job all this time I wouldn't have minded as much, but what actually happened was I enlisted, then worked full time plus did reserve duty as a single mom and made it work, while she just had herself to support but wouldn't get a full time job because it would "interfere with her hobbies."

We all get along fine, but it definitely bothers me that my parents made sure she never had to deal with the consequences of her decisions.  I am not concerned about how much inheritance I get; I'll be fine living off my own savings. What concerns me is that I know she will blow all of her inheritance within a few years, and then I will have to decide if I am going to support her when we're both in our 70's to keep her from living in extreme poverty - vs. keeping my own savings safe for my daughter to inherit. I resent that I'm going to have to make that decision with my money when the time comes, because of how my parents have enabled her through the years.

Potterquilter

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Each birthday and Christmas we put money into the 529's of our grandkids. We give the other married son nice presents but invariably give more to the one with three kids when it comes down to it. Should we try to even it out?  Everyone makes a good salary in both families. There are no crazy extenuating circumstances. We don't do cars or large cash stuff, except for the college funds.

We tried to give them the approx. same amount for college, they each got a used car to drive when they were seniors in college to help them get started but they have made it on their own.  Should we even bring it up? 

Ozapftis

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Each birthday and Christmas we put money into the 529's of our grandkids. We give the other married son nice presents but invariably give more to the one with three kids when it comes down to it. Should we try to even it out?  Everyone makes a good salary in both families. There are no crazy extenuating circumstances. We don't do cars or large cash stuff, except for the college funds.

We tried to give them the approx. same amount for college, they each got a used car to drive when they were seniors in college to help them get started but they have made it on their own.  Should we even bring it up?

I don't see much of a problem here, if any. The extra money you give is really given for and to the grandkids, not your son himself. If he acts financially responsible on top then it cannot be misinterpreted as subsidizing negative behavior either.

K-ice

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Is this a crazy idea? Open a joint account to balance.

My mom gives a lot to my sis & it is stressful for her. Most of the stress is that Sis needs never ending help, year after year, for bad spending choices. Part of the stress is she wants to be fair. She says she will balance it later somehow.

I thought of suggesting she open a joint account for her and I. Every time she gives to Sis she puts the same in the joint account with me.

If mom needs the money in the future it is hers.
She can spend gifts for me from that account. (She is generous to me too and I often refuse because I don't need consumer stuff.)
If I need some of the money I will ask but then take from that pool.
If she passes the joint account goes directly to me. No probate.
If I pass the money goes back to her to decide if it is for her son or my children.

One of my reasons is that I think she is being taken advantage of and has hardly any idea what the total she has spent is.

Am I just being nosy & greedy, or is this a good way to help her make things fair?

Jakejake

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I wouldn't try suggesting that my parents open a joint account with me. That's sort of implying I feel entitled to their money. What my parents have told me is that they're keeping a running tally of debts my sister owes, because each time they bail her out it's technically a loan, even though she never pays it back. And that amount is to be deducted from her portion of the inheritance.

I have no idea how that will actually play out. They put me as executor of their will even though I'm the younger sibling, and I haven't got a clue where I'd find that information (or how I'd find their will or their lawyer) when the time comes; I don't know if they've been reporting that info to the lawyer or what. I'm not really worried about it, but anyway, that seems like a better option than the joint account to me.

I'd answer differently if your mom was the one who suggested it. But for you to suggest it seems weird.

music lover

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I'm executor for my parents. My mother (she handles all the finances) has told me that us 3 kids will be getting the same amount. They have already made some adjustments to balance out the help she has provided over the years. I got a bit to help buy out the ex's share of the house during a divorce and pay off a credit card she racked up, my brother got some help with a down payment on a house, and my sis got a lump sum just to even things up.

mm1970

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Each birthday and Christmas we put money into the 529's of our grandkids. We give the other married son nice presents but invariably give more to the one with three kids when it comes down to it. Should we try to even it out?  Everyone makes a good salary in both families. There are no crazy extenuating circumstances. We don't do cars or large cash stuff, except for the college funds.

We tried to give them the approx. same amount for college, they each got a used car to drive when they were seniors in college to help them get started but they have made it on their own.  Should we even bring it up?
Well, if the other married son has children, then put money into college funds then?

Making Cookies

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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.

Amazing thread. SO glad we're not alone out there. I too got a version of "the girl child is more important than the boy child" treatment.

Funny how much of how our family functioned and why didn't become clearer until my wife and I had kids. My mother felt short changed b/c in her family the boys got the freedoms and attention. Then again it was the 50s in a small southern town where the conservative religious folks ruled the place. Of course Mom was going to get short changed. So did most of the other women. When my sister and I came along, Mom made up for it or so it seems. 

Don't know how much the money equation has been slanted in the girl child's favor but she did get a 100% free college education including apartment and living expenses. I had to pay for 99.9% of my education and living expenses and did so working multiple jobs and giving the US military six years of my life. I think the parents bought my books one semester. I did rent a house from my parents at full market value for a while until they started getting intrusive on several topics in my new (and only, and current) marriage...

There were matching funds when my sister bought cars while I got access to my father's tools to fix up my junker that I both paid for and insured. I did get a rebuilt engine for my HS grad gift b/c my ancient rusting junker was falling apart. There a few $ gifts along the way - but they supposedly kept the gifts equal. Maybe they did. I want to believe they did. Sort of continued a period when I was little. I'd mow the grass or wash a car and my grandfather would give me $15 for the effort and then give my sister who did nothing the same $15. -eye rolling- For her there was help, for me it was opportunities to earn my way in life. Maybe they raised me to support a family and her to be a good wife. I don't know.

The parents have given her hours and hours of childcare, child taxi duty, and home renovation assistance including many long trips across town to the home improvement store. I think they would help me if I asked but they mostly never offer. LOTS of assumptions at work here. We are pretty frugal, they assume that we are poor b/c we aren't Type -A personalities and we certainly aren't poor. They assume we spend wildly but we don't - we just don't spend our money on the same things everyone else - car payments, cable TV and expensive commutes for three examples. So if we choose to go to the pub for a dark beer - we're not spending frivolously.

All in all it hasn't been a bad time with my parents - just strained at times. I only called them out on all this once and it broke things for a long, long time. I can't fix it. I decided to do what a favorite Admiral said to us once - "lead by example". I've adapted it to say "lead quietly by example". Let the people around us figure us out. I'm not explaining our choices nor am I seeking opportunity to openly preach at anyone. It has taken a long time but my parents see now (I think) that our choices were different from theirs' but still quite valid. We found success despite "doing it all wrong". All it took was for my peers to return home bankrupt and divorced with multiple children in tow, or a few DUIs or folks my age that can't seem to settle down.

I was once frequently compared to my do-nothing uncle with whom I shared NO similarities. That always hurts. A lifetime of marital and career mistakes for him, I've taken a longer path than my sibling but never got into the trouble that uncle did.

I never wanted my parents' money but a little bit of the ease that they've provided my sibling with might have been nice at different times. These days I don't even want that. I'm proud of the hard work we've done to get where we are now.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 07:30:37 AM by Joe Average »

Travis

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I'm with the poster earlier who said it was a major point of pride that they had no financial connection to their parents.  I've never needed financial help and I don't fault my sister for getting it.  There's 6 years between my older sister and I.  I have a graduate degree with a successful career since I stepped out of college while my sister took well into her 30s to finish college and get into a stable financial situation.  She started a family much earlier than me and had a number of financial hardships (young adult bad money decisions and a major medical situation).  My parents helped out with childcare and groceries, but it created a huge rift between them.  Mom would constantly remind my sister of the help whenever they had disagreements, and my mom's substance abuse issues made those arguments frequent.  When my BIL was well again and working his way up in his career and my sister finished school and went back to full time it was a major shift in the whole family that they were no longer financially attached to my parents.  The whole dynamic fed the growing rift between my sister and I because I never needed financial help (though parents paid for half of my undergrad) and I didn't have to be around for the drama with mom.  She thought I was the favored child and my lack of ever needing help created animosity.  I'm glad I was never in my sister's position, but she was jealous of me for never being in hers.

Making Cookies

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Strangely though, I really do believe that our 2 sets of parents prefer the kids who need the money. It makes parents feel needed and they have an "in" to be involved in adult kids' lives.

Whoa! Never thought of it that way...

LeRainDrop

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My sister (in her 50s) is a chronic recipient of economic outpatient care. My parents have bailed her out with mortgage payments multiple times. If she had been in a low paying full time job all this time I wouldn't have minded as much, but what actually happened was I enlisted, then worked full time plus did reserve duty as a single mom and made it work, while she just had herself to support but wouldn't get a full time job because it would "interfere with her hobbies."

We all get along fine, but it definitely bothers me that my parents made sure she never had to deal with the consequences of her decisions.  I am not concerned about how much inheritance I get; I'll be fine living off my own savings. What concerns me is that I know she will blow all of her inheritance within a few years, and then I will have to decide if I am going to support her when we're both in our 70's to keep her from living in extreme poverty - vs. keeping my own savings safe for my daughter to inherit. I resent that I'm going to have to make that decision with my money when the time comes, because of how my parents have enabled her through the years.

Yes!  This is the same issue that I have with the uneven parental spending on children.  Youngest Brother and I were backed into a corner to loan some SERIOUS money to our parents a few years ago (still being repaid as agreed), as well as a good amount to our Middle Brother (surprisingly, repayment is happening).  My parents also divorced in that timeframe and I let my mom live with me "for a few months" (ahem, a year) so she could relocate and get on her feet.  While mom is living with me, both she and my dad continue to "loan" a ton of money to Middle Brother due to his poor decision-making and lack of planning.  So, Youngest Brother and I are giving financial support to the whole family YET simultaneously, each of my parents continue loaning money to Middle Brother.  In this way, parents are kinda NOT loaning their OWN money to Middle Brother, but rather using the terms of the loans Youngest Brother and I made to parents in order to have enough cash to loan Middle Brother.  I think I wouldn't be upset if parents were really giving Middle Brother their own money -- I don't care if I inherit any money from the parents whatsoever -- but the way I see it now, they are literally giving him my money and Youngest Brother's money AND my parents are going to run out of money!  The end result is that Youngest Brother and I will be called upon (again) to support our parents when they run out, and Middle Brother will not know what to do without Bank of Mom and Dad (middlemen to Bank of Older Sister and Youngest Brother).

Potterquilter

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Each birthday and Christmas we put money into the 529's of our grandkids. We give the other married son nice presents but invariably give more to the one with three kids when it comes down to it. Should we try to even it out?  Everyone makes a good salary in both families. There are no crazy extenuating circumstances. We don't do cars or large cash stuff, except for the college funds.

We tried to give them the approx. same amount for college, they each got a used car to drive when they were seniors in college to help them get started but they have made it on their own.  Should we even bring it up?
Well, if the other married son has children, then put money into college funds then?

No kids planned, definite on that one.

Potterquilter

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Strangely though, I really do believe that our 2 sets of parents prefer the kids who need the money. It makes parents feel needed and they have an "in" to be involved in adult kids' lives.

Whoa! Never thought of it that way...

Oh yes, some of this behavior is certainly deliberate. Satisfies the needs of the giver and recipient. And it can add more stress for those who thrive on chaos and uncertainty, unlike those who pay their bills, are ready for emergencies and plan for life and retirement.

gimp

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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.

Quoted for motherfucking truth, man.

SunshineAZ

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I want to be clear, I don't want money from my parents, I don't care that money is given unequally, what bothers me is when siblings are bad at money management and poor planning and stupidity is subsidized by the parents. Yes, we make more money and save more than our sibs, and most of the sibs have kids, so I have absolutely no problem with giving to grandkids. But what we saw and see still is a lot of bailouts for stupid stuff. Thinking about it more and reading the comments, I'd just like the parents to say to us, "We appreciate that you are independent and never needed anything." Strangely though, I really do believe that our 2 sets of parents prefer the kids who need the money. It makes parents feel needed and they have an "in" to be involved in adult kids' lives.

This!!  It is just me and my brother, who is 7 years younger than me.  Because my parents worked long hours, I ended up being a mother to my brother, but was unable to punish him, and as such, he was held to a completely different standard.  "Boys will be boys." (ugh)  I moved out at 19 and have been self-supporting ever since.  My brother was 12 at that time and, with me being gone had even less oversight, and basically did whatever he wanted.  (I, unfortunately, did not realize my parents would let him do this, they certainly didn't let me do whatever I wanted.)  As a consequence, my brother has only lived apart from my parents less than 3 years since adulthood.  And he just recently moved back in after spending the longest time away, just over a year, he is 42.  My mom continually bails him out of stupid things like unpaid parking tickets, driving on a suspended license, buying him cars when he trashes his current one etc.  He has probably worked less than 6 years total in his life.  (And yes, until a few years ago drugs were an issue, but he appears to be staying clean finally.)  Sadly, he is so crippled by being constantly bailed out by my mother that I don't know if he will ever be self-supporting. 

My family has a history of codependence, my grandfather was a huge alcoholic and my grandmother was a total enabler.  My mom has told me more than once that she hates the fact that I am self-sufficient and don't come running to her all the time to save me.  I have no idea what he is going to do when my parents die because I will probably be RE by then and certainly won't be in a position to support him, and even if I was, I wouldn't.  Even if they left him everything, in a few years he will be in exactly the same position.

My parents don't have a lot, but they do ok.  A few years back mom told me she wanted me to be the executor of her will, since I am the responsible child, and I told her flat out that she better put what she wants him to have because, as far as I am concerned, he has gotten far more than his share.   I have a lot of anger towards my parents because of this situation.  I try not to let it get to me, but it is something that really bothers me.  I live away from my family to distance myself from the drama. 

Oh and my mom's sister and my cousin, her daughter, are another similar mess, stemming from the same codependence cycle.  Her daughter is a lot like my brother and will be in a similar predicament, probably even sooner than my brother since her mother is in poor health.  At which time I am sure my mom will end up supporting her as well.  *sigh*

Anyway, sorry for the long rant.  This is something that I worry about a lot. 

College Stash

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Threads like these make me so glad I'm an only child. I personally think that, regardless of circumstances, the children should be treated equally.

Example: 2 Kids each given an arbitrary 25k for college.

Kid 1: Uses the entire amount.

Kid 2: Earns a full ride.

Kid 2 should still receive the same amount. They worked hard and earned it and as a result they'll have a great nest egg to start their young adult life.

Trouble

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My husband was pretty stupid with money (and kinda continues to be to this day, thank goodness I control the money!) before he met me, and had to be bailed out many times by his parents. I have no idea of the $ figure but tens of thousands sounds probably right (maybe even $100k or more?)
His brother loved it because anytime husband got a bailout the brother would get the same amount. Free money yay! I like that idea, and hope to implement it should I ever need to bailout the kids.

My sister is bailed out a fair bit by our divorced parents, and she's the screwup of the 4 siblings. They pay for things like car insurance, health insurance, medication... But really she's just choosing to spend her money on concerts and trips interstate and not prioritising her bills. It makes me sad as my mum has a big mortgage due to her own bad life choices, and shouldn't be supporting my almost 30 year old sister. I see my sister continue to live beyond her means and my parents just enabling her. But I am so thankful I'm not in her position as her life is not one I would want to live. And our dad lords it over you if he's given you money... Yuck.

frugalecon

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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.

Amazing thread. SO glad I'm not alone out there. I too got a version of "the girl child is more important than the boy child" treatment.

There were matching funds when my sister bought cars while I got access to my father's tools to fix up my junker that I both paid for and insured. I did get a rebuilt engine for my HS grad gift b/c my ancient rusting junker was falling apart. There a few $ gifts along the way - but they supposedly kept the gifts equal. Maybe they did. i want to believe they did. Sort of continued a period when I was little. I'd mow the grass or wash a car and my grandfather would give me $15 for the effort and then give my sister who did nothing the same $15. -eye rolling- For her there was help, for me it was opportunities to earn my way in life. Maybe they raised me to support a family and her to be a good wife. I don't know.


The car stuff was weird in my family, as well. Dad forbade me to buy my own car in high school, telling me that I could use the family cars, which gave him a leash to control me with. Not unusual when I wanted to borrow a car that he would say, "I'll just drop you off and pick you up." Not exactly cool for a 17-year old. Never had a car in college, cuz I couldn't afford it, but then when my sister turned 16 (she's 4 years younger), he decided to buy her an MG convertible. I told him that the repairs would eat him alive, but he didn't listen, and he stuck with it for 18 months before he bought her a Honda CRX to replace it. Ultimately he would buy her a second Honda CRX as well. Meanwhile, he did buy me a car for graduation from college. Toyota Tercel, no AC, no stereo, not even any carpeting (it had vinyl floors). Not really the car of my dreams, but I drove it for 7 years before I sprang for a brand-new, very nice Toyota 4Runner (2wd, though, I realized that 4wd was unnecessary.) The funny thing was that Dad criticized me to no end for buying such an extravagant vehicle, even though I paid for it myself!

What I have realized in retrospect is that parents sometimes live out their own emotional issues with their children, and that leads to different behavior with respect to them b/c they are processing different issues with the different children. With my sister, Dad loved to live vicariously through her wildness, so he was happy to spring for all of the toys. With me, Dad wanted to undermine my independence in the same way my grandfather had tried to do with him. The best thing for me was to establish my autonomy from him, so that he couldn't control me. And I think we actually got beyond all of those issues in a good way, and we became quite close.

Making Cookies

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Strangely though, I really do believe that our 2 sets of parents prefer the kids who need the money. It makes parents feel needed and they have an "in" to be involved in adult kids' lives.

Whoa! Never thought of it that way...

Oh yes, some of this behavior is certainly deliberate. Satisfies the needs of the giver and recipient. And it can add more stress for those who thrive on chaos and uncertainty, unlike those who pay their bills, are ready for emergencies and plan for life and retirement.

Oh these little epiphanies are so much fun... ;)

Deliberate stress, projection of fault, setting up one child to breeze into adulthood while the other struggles so. Growing up is so much fun... LOL!

Always good to put a few hundred miles between yourself and dysfunctional family.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 07:35:27 AM by Joe Average »

Making Cookies

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What I have realized in retrospect is that parents sometimes live out their own emotional issues with their children, and that leads to different behavior with respect to them b/c they are processing different issues with the different children. With my sister, Dad loved to live vicariously through her wildness, so he was happy to spring for all of the toys. With me, Dad wanted to undermine my independence in the same way my grandfather had tried to do with him. The best thing for me was to establish my autonomy from him, so that he couldn't control me. And I think we actually got beyond all of those issues in a good way, and we became quite close.

DANG! What a great thread. Where were you people 30 years ago when I was a frustrated teen and needed a sounding board to swap ideas with? ;)

Frugalecon - yeah. You nailed it.

Personally still waiting for the closeness. Every time I experiment getting any closer than phone calls or a three hour visit - things start to get complicated. ;)

I DO see them trying to exert some control over us any time they have a chance. The chances are fewer these days b/c we are very independent. Part of the reason I'd NEVER ask them for money or a place to live again. Hell, we don't even stay with them when we go to that city anymore.

Once upon a time they seemed to look for opportunities to fuss over petty stuff like when we were 15 min late to a picnic / three hour visit (was years ago). Never mind we had to stop for diapers for the baby. And no, a diaper stop wasn't a good enough reason to be late.

We're going to be much better empty nesters someday than my parents have been.

Apples

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I'm just chiming in to follow this thread...I'm watching some of these dynamics in my extended family and in my parent's generation, and as a twenty something am fascinated.  I think a lot is based on the relationships of the people involved and personal responsibility of all than actual financial differences.  I wouldn't mind a disabled sibling/cousin or person who is working hard based on their situation in life but not getting ahead inheriting most of the money or getting substantial gifts throughout life while I didn't get any.  Like a single mom working a low-wage day job and freelancing on the side to cover daycare and necessities for her kids and a splurge every now and then, getting a van from her parents as a gift.  But I have a cousin who doesn't do much to improve her situation and has mooched off of relatives for the last year.  Now I would mind her getting a large financial gift from relatives.

My parents were going to pay for college for all of us...I got a full ride scholarship.  They renovated a house I moved into that was owned by the business, and will do a bit of renovation to my brother's future house.  But he and I both know he's getting probably $50k to $100k more from my parents than I did.  But I'm at peace with that b/c they gave both of us substantial help. He's an engineer; I don't expect my parents to "fair it up" through the years as he makes more.

And there's been interesting conversation on gifts.  I would expect people to spend the same amount of money per adult/kid than per family.  So DINKS vs. a family of 4...the family of 4 would get more gifts at Christmas because of the kids, but both adult couples would approximately the same amount of gifts.  That's how I perceive that my family has always done it, and to me that makes sense.  And my grandparents contributed to the 529 per grandchild, not per family, so people with 3 kids got more money than people with 2, though of course they were also going to have greater expenses.  I has never occurred to me to do it any other way.

Finally, my DH and I quickly strove to be financially independent from his parents when we moved in together because it always comes with guilt tripping strings.  We were paying back a $2450 debt from when they helped him with some medical bills (with a 401k loan, mind you).  They called saying they needed $350 for an emergency so an inspector could see the water damage in their walls and the insurance company would pay to fix it all.  They were wondering if we would make our $800 payment early to them so they could have some cash.  We had some savings, so we just wrote them a check for the balance.  I didn't want the strings attached to the money.  And then we had to do the dance of not acting like that totally wiped us out because it didn't, while also acting like we didn't have a whole pile of savings that then could be leaned on "for emergencies".  So that wasn't fun.  Now we just nod and say mmmhmmm when they tell us why they haven't  had the money to fix their air conditioning for two years.  Oy.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 08:59:06 AM by Apples »

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Strangely though, I really do believe that our 2 sets of parents prefer the kids who need the money. It makes parents feel needed and they have an "in" to be involved in adult kids' lives.

Whoa! Never thought of it that way...

Oh yes, some of this behavior is certainly deliberate. Satisfies the needs of the giver and recipient. And it can add more stress for those who thrive on chaos and uncertainty, unlike those who pay their bills, are ready for emergencies and plan for life and retirement.

Oh these little epiphanies are so much fun... ;)

Deliberate stress, projection of fault, setting up one child to breeze into adulthood while the other struggles so. Growing up is so much fun... LOL!

Always good to put a few hundred miles between yourself and dysfunctional family.
Ha!  This is a typical functional family!

nobody123

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Yeah it would.  It would create a large feeling of resentment.  Read the posts here.  There's a whole lot of people pretending like they aren't upset about their siblings getting more from their parents, but most of them have a big "BUT" on the end of it.

Here's some samples of what I'm talking about.

Quote
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.

My point is that I have no right to care about the money after I was 18, as my parents no longer had a legal obligation to provide me with food / clothing / shelter.  It's their money and they can do what they want with it.  I would care that they were enabling my sibling to continue messing up their life instead of being a parent and teaching them how to get their life straightened out.  I would be frustrated by their lack of parenting, not that my sibling was getting more cash than me.

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?

Yeah it would.  It would create a large feeling of resentment.  Read the posts here.  There's a whole lot of people pretending like they aren't upset about their siblings getting more from their parents, but most of them have a big "BUT" on the end of it.

Here's some samples of what I'm talking about.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.)

So the engineer will inevitably feel resentment against the teacher.  If Kid A is making more than Kid B then they worked harder to get there.  Between two siblings, this country very much is a meritocracy, so having the parents even it up will just serve to reward the person who didn't work as hard.

I know what you're saying but you haven't read exactly what I wrote. I said if they both worked hard to get where they are and continue to work hard at their jobs. If the engineer makes 80k a year and the teacher makes 40k a year and they both work hard. I would not necessarily feel resentment if I was the engineer and my sibling was given a bit extra.

Blonde Lawyer

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Threads like these make me so glad I'm an only child. I personally think that, regardless of circumstances, the children should be treated equally.

Example: 2 Kids each given an arbitrary 25k for college.

Kid 1: Uses the entire amount.

Kid 2: Earns a full ride.

Kid 2 should still receive the same amount. They worked hard and earned it and as a result they'll have a great nest egg to start their young adult life.

I think this is so interesting.  My instincts sway the other way.  The parents may want to live a nice retirement but are willing to scrimp so they can make sure their kids can go to college.  Kid gets a scholarship, woo hoo, parents have a little more breathing room in retirement.  I can see both sides though.

Avidconsumer

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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.

Amazing thread. SO glad I'm not alone out there. I too got a version of "the girl child is more important than the boy child" treatment.

There were matching funds when my sister bought cars while I got access to my father's tools to fix up my junker that I both paid for and insured. I did get a rebuilt engine for my HS grad gift b/c my ancient rusting junker was falling apart. There a few $ gifts along the way - but they supposedly kept the gifts equal. Maybe they did. i want to believe they did. Sort of continued a period when I was little. I'd mow the grass or wash a car and my grandfather would give me $15 for the effort and then give my sister who did nothing the same $15. -eye rolling- For her there was help, for me it was opportunities to earn my way in life. Maybe they raised me to support a family and her to be a good wife. I don't know.


The car stuff was weird in my family, as well. Dad forbade me to buy my own car in high school, telling me that I could use the family cars, which gave him a leash to control me with. Not unusual when I wanted to borrow a car that he would say, "I'll just drop you off and pick you up." Not exactly cool for a 17-year old. Never had a car in college, cuz I couldn't afford it, but then when my sister turned 16 (she's 4 years younger), he decided to buy her an MG convertible. I told him that the repairs would eat him alive, but he didn't listen, and he stuck with it for 18 months before he bought her a Honda CRX to replace it. Ultimately he would buy her a second Honda CRX as well. Meanwhile, he did buy me a car for graduation from college. Toyota Tercel, no AC, no stereo, not even any carpeting (it had vinyl floors). Not really the car of my dreams, but I drove it for 7 years before I sprang for a brand-new, very nice Toyota 4Runner (2wd, though, I realized that 4wd was unnecessary.) The funny thing was that Dad criticized me to no end for buying such an extravagant vehicle, even though I paid for it myself!

What I have realized in retrospect is that parents sometimes live out their own emotional issues with their children, and that leads to different behavior with respect to them b/c they are processing different issues with the different children. With my sister, Dad loved to live vicariously through her wildness, so he was happy to spring for all of the toys. With me, Dad wanted to undermine my independence in the same way my grandfather had tried to do with him. The best thing for me was to establish my autonomy from him, so that he couldn't control me. And I think we actually got beyond all of those issues in a good way, and we became quite close.

I've noticed this too. They sometimes want you to rely on them for help. They want to have control on you somehow. Maybe it's so you don't run away with their grandkid and never speak to them again, or to undermine you, so they can always hold it against you. I've had threats before and it's hurtful. I'm not sure I can get over it, but in a way it's a good thing as it's given even more reason to never rely on them.

nobody123

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Threads like these make me so glad I'm an only child. I personally think that, regardless of circumstances, the children should be treated equally.

Example: 2 Kids each given an arbitrary 25k for college.

Kid 1: Uses the entire amount.

Kid 2: Earns a full ride.

Kid 2 should still receive the same amount. They worked hard and earned it and as a result they'll have a great nest egg to start their young adult life.

I think this is so interesting.  My instincts sway the other way.  The parents may want to live a nice retirement but are willing to scrimp so they can make sure their kids can go to college.  Kid gets a scholarship, woo hoo, parents have a little more breathing room in retirement.  I can see both sides though.

It depends on how you look at it.  When I was in high school, it was my responsibility to the family to get good grades, try hard in school, etc.  That effort resulted in a substantial amount of scholarships.  My sister tried as hard, but didn't achieve the level of scholarships that I was able to get.  Since my parents didn't have 2X college money to keep it equal, she received assistance that I didn't want or need.  I did my part as a member of the family to make sure we both got to attend college, and I was proud of my accomplishment.  I have zero expectation that they would ever try to make it even between us and sacrifice any of their modest retirement income to try to even it up now.

Now, barring some unforeseen crisis, my wife and I should be able to save enough to pay for both of our kids to go to college at a reasonably-priced state university.  Since we will theoretically have a big enough pile of money for both, I can't imagine not offering each the same amount of money.  Maybe one will go to a community college, maybe one will want a super-expensive private university, maybe one will go into the military.  Either way, I'll make the same pile of money available to both of them.  How do you say that one kid was "worthy" of Harvard and you spent all of the money for them to go there, then tell the other one that all they can have is community college.

mm1970

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Strangely though, I really do believe that our 2 sets of parents prefer the kids who need the money. It makes parents feel needed and they have an "in" to be involved in adult kids' lives.

Whoa! Never thought of it that way...
Definitely a 2 way street. It's an invitation to meddle.  When we go home, often we get pulled aside by the parents and the siblings so they can complain about each other.

Whether it be financial help or child care help, it's an invitation to have an opinion.

ash7962

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Think I'm in the minority here, but my parents have helped my brother out with money more than they have with me and I don't really care.  Brother got a car, new big screen tv, and there has been talk of him getting my parent's older car once they buy a new one.  Also I've been helping my parents pay back a loan they took for my college education while my brother got the full free ride.  I think there are other examples, but I have forgotten them.  I would not be surprised if they allocate a larger amount of their money to my brother when they pass.  I used to have a bit of jealousy, but it was hard to stay that way while I made double my brother's salary right after I graduated college (he graduated two years before me).  It also doesn't bother me because I'm pretty sure I'll be FIRE within 10 years without any parental help.  Other than for FIRE, money doesn't really mean anything to me, so I don't care if he receives, spends, or has more of it.  As far as parental favoritism, I think their motivation is more likely trying to help him become as successful as I was.  They have helped me in non-monetary ways too, so I see it as more they are helping with what each of us specifically needs at the time.

crispy

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My sister (in her 50s) is a chronic recipient of economic outpatient care. My parents have bailed her out with mortgage payments multiple times. If she had been in a low paying full time job all this time I wouldn't have minded as much, but what actually happened was I enlisted, then worked full time plus did reserve duty as a single mom and made it work, while she just had herself to support but wouldn't get a full time job because it would "interfere with her hobbies."

We all get along fine, but it definitely bothers me that my parents made sure she never had to deal with the consequences of her decisions.  I am not concerned about how much inheritance I get; I'll be fine living off my own savings. What concerns me is that I know she will blow all of her inheritance within a few years, and then I will have to decide if I am going to support her when we're both in our 70's to keep her from living in extreme poverty - vs. keeping my own savings safe for my daughter to inherit. I resent that I'm going to have to make that decision with my money when the time comes, because of how my parents have enabled her through the years.

Yes!  This is the same issue that I have with the uneven parental spending on children.  Youngest Brother and I were backed into a corner to loan some SERIOUS money to our parents a few years ago (still being repaid as agreed), as well as a good amount to our Middle Brother (surprisingly, repayment is happening).  My parents also divorced in that timeframe and I let my mom live with me "for a few months" (ahem, a year) so she could relocate and get on her feet.  While mom is living with me, both she and my dad continue to "loan" a ton of money to Middle Brother due to his poor decision-making and lack of planning.  So, Youngest Brother and I are giving financial support to the whole family YET simultaneously, each of my parents continue loaning money to Middle Brother.  In this way, parents are kinda NOT loaning their OWN money to Middle Brother, but rather using the terms of the loans Youngest Brother and I made to parents in order to have enough cash to loan Middle Brother.  I think I wouldn't be upset if parents were really giving Middle Brother their own money -- I don't care if I inherit any money from the parents whatsoever -- but the way I see it now, they are literally giving him my money and Youngest Brother's money AND my parents are going to run out of money!  The end result is that Youngest Brother and I will be called upon (again) to support our parents when they run out, and Middle Brother will not know what to do without Bank of Mom and Dad (middlemen to Bank of Older Sister and Youngest Brother).

DH and I both have siblings who are pretty much mooches and supporting them in the future is not our responsibility.  Just because our parents enabled doesn't mean we will. DH's sister asked to move in with us at one point (and trust me when I say she would still be living with us if we said yes), and we flat out told her no and gave her a copy of Dave Ramsey's book instead.  She hasn't asked us for anything since then.

DTaggart

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I have two older brothers who have, over the years, received a decent amount of financial help from my parents for various things. My brothers both have kids whereas I am happily childfree, so if you count money given to or spent on grandkids the disparity is even greater. Years ago when my dad was retiring and re-doing a lot of financial things, my parents let me know that since his new life insurance didn't allow distributions in even thirds, I'd be the one getting the 34% allocation because they had helped my brothers out so much more than me. I don't know how much the policy is for and I really don't think the extra 1% is really going to be that much money, but I guess its a nice gesture.

To be honest, I am fiercely proud of the fact that I've never had to rely on my parents for money since reaching adulthood. My brothers are both fairly older (6 and 8 years), and I'm the only girl, so growing up I constantly felt the need to prove myself as capable of doing things and not being babied. I also got married and left home much earlier than my brothers did (I was 19, my oldest brother was 27 at the time and still living at home!) and everyone acted like I was making a horrible mistake. So, to me, being the successful one is kind of a big FU and makes up for all the years that I was left out of activities because I was "too little" or a girl.

The bottom line though is its my parents money, they can do whatever they want with it (I've actually told them on more than 1 occasion that I think they should leave all their money to the cat). They've got enough that it isn't endangering their own financial security so its none of my business. I wish my brothers were better at adulting and could take care of themselves because I know they feel bad about being dependent, and I don't think my parents should have to feel responsible for their 40+ year old children, but these are things completely beyond my control.

No, its not fair that my brothers get free money and I don't, but I really think I'm a better person for having done things on my own.

ETA: As far as how this affects my relationship with my brothers.... Honestly we've never been all that close due to the age difference and just not really having much in common, so money hasn't made things any worse. They're not really people I would choose to spend time with if not for familial obligations. Once my parents are gone I'll probably never interact with them outside of Facebook and Christmas cards.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 12:44:52 PM by DTaggart »

Blonde Lawyer

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Threads like these make me so glad I'm an only child. I personally think that, regardless of circumstances, the children should be treated equally.

Example: 2 Kids each given an arbitrary 25k for college.

Kid 1: Uses the entire amount.

Kid 2: Earns a full ride.

Kid 2 should still receive the same amount. They worked hard and earned it and as a result they'll have a great nest egg to start their young adult life.

I think this is so interesting.  My instincts sway the other way.  The parents may want to live a nice retirement but are willing to scrimp so they can make sure their kids can go to college.  Kid gets a scholarship, woo hoo, parents have a little more breathing room in retirement.  I can see both sides though.

It depends on how you look at it.  When I was in high school, it was my responsibility to the family to get good grades, try hard in school, etc.  That effort resulted in a substantial amount of scholarships.  My sister tried as hard, but didn't achieve the level of scholarships that I was able to get.  Since my parents didn't have 2X college money to keep it equal, she received assistance that I didn't want or need.  I did my part as a member of the family to make sure we both got to attend college, and I was proud of my accomplishment.  I have zero expectation that they would ever try to make it even between us and sacrifice any of their modest retirement income to try to even it up now.

Now, barring some unforeseen crisis, my wife and I should be able to save enough to pay for both of our kids to go to college at a reasonably-priced state university.  Since we will theoretically have a big enough pile of money for both, I can't imagine not offering each the same amount of money.  Maybe one will go to a community college, maybe one will want a super-expensive private university, maybe one will go into the military.  Either way, I'll make the same pile of money available to both of them.  How do you say that one kid was "worthy" of Harvard and you spent all of the money for them to go there, then tell the other one that all they can have is community college.

I guess I would see it as funding their children's education and the children decide where they go.  If you wanted to offer the extra money so the child could start learning the value of money and decide private vs. public that way, sure.  But if your kid decides he wants to do a blue collar trade and forego college all together I don't think you have any obligation to give them the saved money.

The more I think about it, this actually has a lot to do with my age I think.  I grew up before 529 plans.  Now I totally see why parents view that savings as their kid's money.  My dad planned to pay for college out his 401k because he would be old enough to withdraw it tax free.  I think that is partly why I view it as my dad's money.  It was in his name, not in an account set aside for me.

partgypsy

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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.

It's not about being greedy, it's about destroying healthy family dynamics. When one sibling to the exclusion of everyone else is getting financial help and not others, it is hard not to feel slighted or hurt. Also since the overwhelming attention they need means they missed important milestones in my life. And it does personally affect me. It affects my parent's quality of life in that they are financially hardly able to take care of themselves let alone this person, so I have worries about what will happen to them. There is also is unspoken expectation once my mother blows it and spends her resources on my sibling, I will be her fallback which is stressful.  There is also requests for expensive gifts for this sibling (which I ignore) and also finding out money or giftcards I give to my mother, end up being spent by him than on the intended recipient. I'll call my father and he will immediately start on the topic of the sibling (his worries, what should we do, etc) so I can't even have a normal father daughter connection without this intruding. So I feel robbed of having a normal parent child relationship with them. BTW my sibling is not handicapped or in a situation not of their own controlling but is an alcoholic and has had a lifetime of manipulating my parents.

It really burns my sister's boat. My father was away for 6 weeks so my sister took care of his apartment, getting his mail, paying a few bills, watering his plants. A letter came from my Dad towards the end of his time away. Was it $50 thank you for watching his place? No it was $100 to be given to Sibling.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 01:33:18 PM by partgypsy »

crispy

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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.

It's not about being greedy, it's about destroying healthy family dynamics. When one sibling to the exclusion of everyone else is getting financial help and not others, it is hard not to feel slighted or hurt. Also since the overwhelming attention they need means they missed important milestones in my life. And it does personally affect me. It affects my parent's quality of life in that they are financially hardly able to take care of themselves let alone this person, so I have worries about what will happen to them. There is also is unspoken expectation once my mother blows it and spends her resources on my sibling, I will be her fallback which is stressful.  There is also requests for expensive gifts for this sibling (which I ignore) and also finding out money or giftcards I give to my mother, end up being spent by him than on the intended recipient. I'll call my father and he will immediately start on the topic of the sibling (his worries, what should we do, etc) so I can't even have a normal father daughter connection without this intruding. So I feel robbed of having a normal parent child relationship with them. BTW my sibling is not handicapped or in a situation not of their own controlling but is an alcoholic and has had a lifetime of manipulating my parents.

It really burns my sister's boat. My father was away for 6 weeks so my sister took care of his apartment, getting his mail, paying a few bills, watering his plants. A letter came from my Dad towards the end of his time away. Was it $50 thank you for watching his place? No it was $100 to be given to Sibling.

This sounds a lot like my situation.  All attention was focused on my oldest sister and the rest of us were kind of left to our own devices.  Sister did stupid things and made bad decisions so all time, energy, and resources were spent getting sister out of those things. I would be a little more understanding if she were a drug abuser (as stupid as that sounds), but her choices were more along the lines of marrying or living with some dude she barely knew, realizing he was horrible and abusive (her MO - most of the time I suspect she was the abuser), leaving everything she had to "escape," mooching off my parents for a few years, and then starting the cycle over again.  I have seen this same scenario play out multiple times in the last 30 years.  No matter what I did right, their minds were always on sister and how she was screwing up her life this week. My solution was to drop the rope and walk away.  It has been very freeing.  My other sister decided to spend her life being bitter and angry about it and in turn, started manipulating herself.  Now there is double the angst. 

The thing that I realized that my sisters are the way they are because my parents (mom especially) are the way they are (or were, my father is now deceased).  My mom and sisters thrive on the drama while my dad was controlling.  The financial dependence allowed my dad to continue to control them and allows my mom to be the martyr when something goes wrong ("After all I've done for you...").  No thanks! I am the youngest by quite a bit, but my dad treated me like an adult in ways that my sisters never experienced.  He knew I didn't need him and wouldn't put up with his controlling, and he respected me for it.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 02:24:02 PM by crispy »

nobody123

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The more I think about it, this actually has a lot to do with my age I think.  I grew up before 529 plans.  Now I totally see why parents view that savings as their kid's money.  My dad planned to pay for college out his 401k because he would be old enough to withdraw it tax free.  I think that is partly why I view it as my dad's money.  It was in his name, not in an account set aside for me.

No, it is definitely MY money, and in my name.  There will be strings attached, namely it must be used to educate themselves via college / reputable trade school.  If either of my kids gets a full-ride and finishes their degree, I will happily fork over the money for them to use however they want.  If we've done our jobs as parents, they won't blow it on something stupid.  If one of them chooses to work retail or whatever because college just isn't for them right away, that money will sit there in case they ever decide to go to school or until I die, whichever comes first.

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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.

It's not about being greedy, it's about destroying healthy family dynamics. When one sibling to the exclusion of everyone else is getting financial help and not others, it is hard not to feel slighted or hurt. Also since the overwhelming attention they need means they missed important milestones in my life. And it does personally affect me. It affects my parent's quality of life in that they are financially hardly able to take care of themselves let alone this person, so I have worries about what will happen to them. There is also is unspoken expectation once my mother blows it and spends her resources on my sibling, I will be her fallback which is stressful.  There is also requests for expensive gifts for this sibling (which I ignore) and also finding out money or giftcards I give to my mother, end up being spent by him than on the intended recipient. I'll call my father and he will immediately start on the topic of the sibling (his worries, what should we do, etc) so I can't even have a normal father daughter connection without this intruding. So I feel robbed of having a normal parent child relationship with them. BTW my sibling is not handicapped or in a situation not of their own controlling but is an alcoholic and has had a lifetime of manipulating my parents.

It really burns my sister's boat. My father was away for 6 weeks so my sister took care of his apartment, getting his mail, paying a few bills, watering his plants. A letter came from my Dad towards the end of his time away. Was it $50 thank you for watching his place? No it was $100 to be given to Sibling.

I agree with this!  It is very rarely about the "money".  The money is just the quantifiable aspect of the relationship (since other aspects such as quality time, meaningful relationships, open and intellectual conversations, and emotions cannot be as easily counted and added up).  We can only really talk about money because it can be spoken of as an actual number representing something.  Money in and of itself has no meaning other than as a measure; no, I see symptoms of deeper relationship issues.  The money just puts a quantity to the degradation of those relationships.

You see, parents are not a nameless, faceless, bank whose only purpose is to dole out money to their children.  They are living breathing human beings that only have so much time, emotions, brainpower, energy, etc in life to offer.  When they are constantly having to bail out, enable or give handouts to specific children, the others will feel slighted.  It is never "JUST" the money that is given to the other siblings, it is the parents' entire life that contributes to them.  An example from my life: when I still spoke to my parents, they would only bring up the other children's lives; how the "other" kids are struggling and invariably (but not really as I look back and realize they were deliberately doing so) guilt me into feeling like I needed to *also* contribute to my siblings' lives since I chose a different path and learned how to manage my money for myself.  They pretty much never cared what I was learning and going through as all of their cares were spent on others.  I spent all of my life feeling like I didn't exist and definitely did not feel very important to them at all other than to be their supposed therapist, but a therapist that is supposed to deal with the monetary problems that stem from enabling my siblings???  I'm not your damn therapist or here to solve your parenting issues, I'm your son!

If a parent's entire life is spent dealing with the irresponsible child while the more responsible one doesn't get any moment (or much) of that parent's actual life, you better believe it the responsible child will feel cheated.  The big issues for me are the emotions that remained largely ignored when my parents  "gave" to my siblings.  I know other people have different experiences due to having better relationships and communication with their parents, but I think there are some groups of people that have similar feelings as I do where they are just supposed to settle for "less" when it comes to the relationship because they are able to deal with themselves financially and usually also responsibly.  In my experience what my parents are really saying to me are: "You know how to take care of yourself, don't expect anything from us (even a relationship)."  And, with my understanding of this and for other reasons, I don't talk to them anymore.  I feel about 10x better since I stepped away.

TL;DR: For me, it's not about the money.  Money's just easier to point the finger to since it's quantifiable.  To me, it's about the aspects of the relationship with parents that aren't touched on or healed and the lack of honest, trusting, conversation about it.

Basenji

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^ are you me? Wow, yes, I've had a breakthrough on this thread. Seriously.

Spork

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TL;DR: For me, it's not about the money.  Money's just easier to point the finger to since it's quantifiable.  To me, it's about the aspects of the relationship with parents that aren't touched on or healed and the lack of honest, trusting, conversation about it.

Agreed.

In my case, the "indulged" child had a reasonable job and just overspent herself on clothes and booze.  For years, there was never a time she talked to my dad where she didn't ask "for a little loan."  What ended up happening is my parents subsidized her alcohol addiction.  She would literally spend herself broke where she could not feed her kids and then ask for help -- and always get it.

For me it wasn't about the money "I didn't get".  I didn't need it.  It was about the money that was used to enable her. 

kite

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« Last Edit: March 17, 2017, 04:47:20 PM by kite »

partgypsy

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I do agree, it does feel good to be needed. She could have felt needed by her grandkids, but she pretty much chose childrearing her adult child instead. And she gets things out of the relationship (he cooks for her, as he often repeats she is the only one who "understands him" no one cares about him etc, his current crisis deflects attention from dealing with her own problems, etc).
Other than 3 times she visited, she has essentially been absent as grandmother to my kids. I visited recently with the family, and ahead of time she said not to come to the house (she was ashamed how messy etc it is), and then opted out a couple times for other group meetings. 2nd to last day we are having a meal with her at a restaurant, and she is so delighted to see her grandchildren. We are in the parking lot saying our goodbyes and she almost breaks into tears and says "I've changed my mind! You can come over, I want to spend more time with you!" Unfortunately we had made other plans we couldn't break at that point, so had to decline.
I think retrospectively my parents do feel kind of bad about lack of attention to me. And they have made more of an effort to do things with me and my kids in the past few years. But if they try to draw me into the drama, I cut the conversation short.   

Fuzzy Buttons

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When his eyesight failed and I had to take over his books, I was surprised to see a balance owed by one of my very successful siblings.  She told me, "he likes having someone come by with $50  each week, so I borrow money I don't actually need, just to go through the motions."  And she was exactly right.  People like to feel needed.

That is awesome.  :)

2nd to last day we are having a meal with her at a restaurant, and she is so delighted to see her grandchildren. We are in the parking lot saying our goodbyes and she almost breaks into tears and says "I've changed my mind! You can come over, I want to spend more time with you!" Unfortunately we had made other plans we couldn't break at that point, so had to decline.

That is sad.  :(

This thread has been an emotional roller coaster.

mrmiyagi

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This has been a really interesting thread. It makes me appreciate how great my own mother is. Growing up she was always incredibly careful to make everything even between me and my sister, down to the exact same number of gifts at Christmas, every year. We both grew into self-sufficient adults who don't need much help (even if my sister likes to shop a bit too much). When my parents pass, I assume they'll split any inheritance evenly between us, but we've never really talked about it. It's their money, they can do whatever the hell they want with it.

I didn't realize this kind of family money drama was so widespread. I'm impressed by all of you who have overcome that kind of nonsense to grow into responsible adults.

Dollar Slice

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This has been a really interesting thread. It makes me appreciate how great my own mother is. Growing up she was always incredibly careful to make everything even between me and my sister, down to the exact same number of gifts at Christmas, every year.

Funny. My mom actually still does this (us "kids" are now 38 and 41). We'll be chatting about holiday preparations and she'll make comments like "I still need two more gifts for your brother" or "is there anything else you can think of that you need? I'm short one present for you"...

BBub

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I am thankful to have no money drama with my family.  I think no good can come from jealousy of a sibling receiving money & I'd be totally fine if my parents decided to help out one or more siblings.  Of the four grown siblings, I earn & have the most money by far.  Easily more than the other 3 combined.  Honestly, we all knew that would be the case early on.  I won Monopoly every time as a child ;).  And I was always working up some little hustle to sell something to the other siblings, neighborhood kids, etc.  One time when I was about ten I had to bail out my older sister who got caught in the 100 CD's for a penny scam.  Haha, she thought her life was over when they called demanding money.

My parents now help out the siblings w/ cash gifts at Christmas, contributions into college funds for the grandkids, etc.  I have been privately refusing that assistance for years, insisting to my parents that they divide my share between the others.  I don't say it to the siblings because I don't want it to even be a thing.  But my mom always figures out a sly way to get money my way - like buying DW a piece of furniture, or giving us a home depot gift card & insisting we use it on the house.  She is just so generous & really gets joy out of giving.  My parents are quite wealthy these days, but that wasn't the case growing up.  Dad was working 80-90 hrs building the business & mom worked nights as a nurse.  They were always relatively frugal, and they are now reaping the rewards.  I've considered, when the time comes, foregoing my inheritance and giving it to my siblings.  I'd imagine they'll have more use for the money than me.  Although my little brother seems to be on a promising path towards figuring out how to make good money, my sisters have no desire.. artsy types.  But they are supporting themselves and doing really well in life.

But if my parents wanted to make a larger financial contribution to one or several siblings I'd be totally fine with it.  But everyone is responsible, no drug problems, runaway debt, etc.  I can easily see how those factors could really complicate matters.