I’m not sure if this is an etiquette issue or not, but it is tying me up in knots, and I need advice. My in-laws have 4 grandchildren, my 2 girls and my DH’s brother has a boy and a girl. My nephew is the youngest at 17. Ever since my nephew was born, they have shown him preferential treatment to the point of ignoring the three girls. He has stayed with them every summer for the past 10 years, and sometimes, during the last week before school they might begrudgingly ask to take the girls, but where they would take the boy to amusement parks and other assorted fun places, they have never taken the girls anywhere. It isn’t a behavior issue, as the girls are all quiet and well behaved while my nephew is getting a little wild.
My niece was living with her dad, who, honestly, is an unemployed bum who can never get his stuff together, but he has a good heart. I see my niece fairly regularly, but I hadn’t been to their house, but my MIL had been there several times. Two years ago, my niece, who works full time at McDonalds and pays most of the bills, was 18 and we went for a visit about a week before Christmas. I almost started crying… My niece’s room consisted of a ripped mattress on the floor with no sheets and an old blanket for a curtain. My MIL knew she was living this way and didn’t do a thing to help her. I spent $100 and bought a nice headboard/foot board and frame off the internet and bought sheets, a comforter set, mattress cover, curtains and a rod. I would have liked to replace that mattress, but I ran out of money. My DH picked her up from work just to see her face when she opened her bedroom door. She was very happy! When My DH asked his mom if she knew about the state her granddaughter was living in, and why didn’t they do something about it, my MIL said, “I thought she wanted it like that.”
My nephew, whom I love to bits, it’s not his fault he is “the golden child” in his grandparents’ eyes, has money/gifts poured on him, and he has noticed the inconsistencies between him and his sister/cousins. Last Christmas the girls got socks, underwear and p.js, and he got a $300 BMX racing bike. He has brought it up to the GPs but it just gets brushed aside. He has started to realize that he can have anything he wants if he whines long enough to the GPs. He is very sports minded and they have paid all the fees associated with hockey/football since he started. I don’t have a problem with this, it is their money and they can spend it as they see fit, but this year, hockey fees are $10,000 because he has reached junior A levels. He is a good hockey player, but my FIL thinks he is good enough to get a multi- million dollar contract. I am not seeing it, but who knows. They have complained about how much money they spend on my nephew, and when I said, “just say no”, their response was, “Well, he’s a boy.”
The rub is that my daughter wants to start college this September. She was an honor student all 4 years of school and is very studious. My DH asked his parents if they could help with the tuition. Obviously they are very well off and could easily afford it, but he got the humming and hawing and was asked if she qualified for any scholarships. My DH is extremely pissed at his parents, but he expected it, as they did this favoritism thing when him and his two brothers were growing up. He was not the golden child so he was treated worse than the girls in this generation. The funny think is, they know that my DH is the only one they can count on when it comes to important things, he is the only one they will let work on their vehicles (they expect him to do it for free), take care of their house while they are on vacation (this ended when they left the druggie son in the house against everyone’s better judgment and sold off their possessions). My DH said never again.
My nephew’s mom became involved with my BIL because of the money even though she lives separately and is in another relationship. She has kept her “oar” in by ingratiating herself and her new boyfriend with my in-laws, no matter how much it hurts my BIL, and regularly “borrows” money off my in-laws “for my nephew” even though she has a government job and makes close to $60 grand a year. And she posts pics every weekend about concerts she was at, places she went etc… I just laugh at that because my in-laws know she is suckering them, but can’t say no if it’s for their grandson.
Do you think I have a right to be upset about this? It isn’t just that they won’t help with the tuition (only time we have asked them for money), it’s just the blatant misogyny against my daughters and my niece. It isn’t like they are old country from an ethnic background where this is common, they are 3rd generation Canadian/Irish. It has gotten so I don’t even want to be in the same room with them. 0429-14
I am of the firm belief that once you are an adult, there should be no expectations whatsoever that your parents owe you anything except maybe love. The bottom line is that your in-laws (and your parents, too) raised their children to adulthood and are not responsible to assist in rearing their grandchildren. You and your husband wanted and had two daughters, you then provided for those two daughters and that includes college tuition if that is your choice to provide. It’s not as if the prospect of a daughter going to college was suddenly sprung on you…the possibility existed since the day she was born and you’ve had 18 years to save, plot and plan a way to fund that education. Looking to one’s parents to help send your kids to college is a rather high expectation, in my opinion. So, you and your husband figure out how to fund your daughter’s choice of college without looking to the in-laws to help.
As for the disparity in monetary gifts to grandchildren, I know exactly what you feel. Among my own siblings there was one who seemed to always be the recipient of a greater largesse than the rest of us. As adults the other siblings and I didn’t ask for money and we certainly did not receive it whereas the money seemed to flow liberally to this one child. We reasoned that we were better people for this deprivation since we all learned to be financially independent and successful whereas the “golden child” never prospered. To hand over money to one “special” child isn’t always an act of love. It can actually be hateful in that the person becomes dependent on the parent and never matures or prospers to be a healthy, functional adult in society. It can be a means to crippling a person with an entitlement mentality, a poor work ethic, greed, ingratitude and selfishness. I and my siblings warned my parents many times over the years that they were not doing any favors for this particular sibling. We do not envy the “special” sibling one iota. I would not want to live the life this person does.
Your nephew recognizes the disparity of what is given to him and what is given to his own sister and cousins from his grandparents, and while he made a half-hearted effort to change the status quo, he’s not really interested in stopping the gravy train otherwise he would have rejected the money and extravagant gifts out of solidarity and loyalty to his own sister. No, he’s become a greedy, selfish, miserable creature with no sense of justice and frankly, he’s not a person I would trust. He’s the one most likely to financially exploit the grandparents when they are vulnerable and the one family member most likely to sponge off the rest of you when he doesn’t get that multi-million dollar hockey contract. He is to be pitied because his grandparents have crippled him, possibly for life.
So, teach your daughters to be strong, independent, hard working, grateful, and kind people who don’t have any expectations that parents or grandparents owe them a living or an education or any other material item. They will be happier and more successful as adults if you do.
And as a last word, gird yourselves for the probate from hell when the in-laws die. I can see the writing on the wall that distributing the estate assets will not be a rosy walk in the park.
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I agree so much with everything admin has to say.
This will turn out to be a terrible burden for your nephew, whose rewards will be short lived. That is not an enviable condition.
As for the tuition issue, you have the right to be upset about anything you want but nobody, not even you, owes your daughter a college education. Try to separate this issue from what your inlaws are doing to your nephew. Do you really want money from these people? Is anything worth that?
I completely disagree on one point: all children should be provided the opportunity to seek higher education and it is damn well a parent’s responsibility to help provide for that. You made a choice to have children, now it’s your responsibility to provide for them in any way possible.
And I couldn’t disagree more with you. Parents do not owe it to their children to provide them with a higher education for many reasons. For one thing, college isn’t for everyone, and it’s not mandatory at all that anyone attends college. Do you know how many kids are miserable and flunking out of college because their parents forced them to go? I saw that happen many times when I worked at a college for two years. It was so sad to see kids who weren’t allowed to make their own life choices.
Parents should provide info about college resources (grants, scholarships, financial aid, etc.) and such to their children, but they certainly don’t owe it to them to provide them with the funds necessary. Many people have successfully gone to college without any parental aid.
As far as federal grants and loans are concerned, yes, the parents do owe their kids money for college. Unless you can prove emancipation from your parents, their resources are taken into account when deciding how much financial aid you can get. It is deeply unfair for parents to then withhold that support.
I said nothing about forcing your children to attend college against their will. My point is simply that should your child want to attend college, I think parents should help any way they can.
I disagree. I wanted to go to college, and it was my responsibility to make it happen. My parents weren’t going to be able to afford it (I had been a preemie way back in the day and they were just climbing out of THAT debt as I made it to high school). I did make it happen, but it took planning, dedication and about four years to sort it out, get through what had to be done, and get there. My folks did not pay for my education (they helped out the first semester with books and equipment, I hadn’t saved enough). My folks did provide for my first 18 years; once I graduated high school; I did have a life plan and I did move out and move on. I met my foodstamp self, I have scrubbed floors and washed dishes; I never went back home to ‘roost’. I did not expect a wedding as that was the year after the big accident; nor would I let my dad go into debt for one. They didn’t OWE ME; they did their best to raise me, provide for me, and teach me to be a good person and live a life on my own and face whatever came. I loved them, they loved me; but. It’s nice to provide for your children’s education, including post high school; but. Not everyone can. If that be the case (the parent’s can’t, honestly can’t) then it rests squarely on the one that wants, to go make it happen.
No, it’s not. Food, clothing, shelter, love.
Nowhere does it say, in any parent manual, that it’s your job to provide your children with a college education. So poor people shouldn’t have children? Well then, I certainly wouldn’t be here, wouldn’t have put myself through college (thank you US Navy), become an engineer, gotten married, had two boys…
I have to say something about parents not owing their children help with a college education.
While technically no parent owes their child a college education, when it comes to pell grants such as those covered under financial aid at the fafsa.gov website, if the student is still considered a dependent (and many are until they are 24) they ask for the parent(s) IRS information so that it can be determined how much the parents can afford to contribute. Even if the parents ARE NOT going to contribute in anyway, doesn’t matter they still take it into account.
Also at the colleges there are several types of scholarships, the two main ones are merit based and need based. Merit based is based on go figure merit, gpa, sat’s, act’s, honor classes, etc. Need base is based, yes on need and once again the school takes into consideration the parents income and their (the schools) formula for figuring out how much they believe the students family can contribute.
Now there are a few ways for a student to not be considered a dependent after the age of 18-24 while attending college, they can get married, they can fill out a bunch of papers which in essence separate them from their parents making them educationally dependent, but then the student will need to purchase health ins, as according to our new laws.
One of the biggest problems I’ve seen is the difference in tuition rates between out of state and in state, and state tuition from state to state can be huge.
And our culture has changed so much in the past decade and more. At one time a high school diploma could get you a decent job with upward mobility that would support a spouse and a few children.
Now a high school diploma isn’t worth much, an AA or AS degree has taken the place of a high school diploma and just barely and a 4yr degree is now worth what once an AA or AS degree was worth. It is rare these days to be able to get a good decent job right out of high school, these days at minimum a 2yr degree or certification in a specific program is needed.
So if parents can help in some small degree they should, it’s in the best interest of their child and our society.
I’m on disability ($721 a month) and I still find small ways to help my daughter get through college, it’s not a lot, but when you have nothing, not a lot, can be a lot. And yes she does work pt time, she’s also a volunteer Den Mom for some Tiger cub scouts and she has other volunteer positions. We get through but barely, but that’s ok, it means she’ll have a better life than I did.
That’s all I’m saying. You’re informed, involved, and helping your daughter any way you can. You didn’t simply wash your hands of her as soon as she grabbed that HS diploma.
Wait, there is a parent’s manual!!??
Since when are parent manuals taken as law? I had loans, scholarships, and grants, and there was still $8,000 a year in tuition and fees that were uncovered and my parents paid for it. There was no way I could have covered that amount on my own. What my parents do with their money is their business, and if they chose to spend it on their child’s college tuition, so be it.
Disparate treatment does often ruin the golden child. Unfortunately, it also often causes one or all of the non-golden children to bend over backwards to try to win the parents’ favor and “prove” that they’re worthy. I’m glad OP’s husband said never again and stopped all the free auto work and housesitting. I hope they’ve truly broken free of the mentality and won’t get stuck with 100% of the elder care and none of the estate. Druggie son and golden grandson will definitely be thought to “need it more.”
OP is in particular danger of being expected to give up a decade or more of her life to take care of one or both of her inlaws. Please try to plan now how to avoid that.
Boy, is that ever true. I’ve seen several families like that, where there was one golden child who could do no wrong and got all the advantages, and it ultimately didn’t help anybody in the family. Lots of hurt feelings all around. And you’re right that it’s gonna get especially bad *before* the in-laws pass, as they need more care in their twilight years. OP and her DH need to start fortifying their spines now, because it’s gonna get uglier.
My brother was/is the “golden child”. He was adopted, and was quite gifted at making my mother feel maternal guilt about it. But now the golden child is a spoiled, entitled 45-year old recovering drug addict who is living with my parents with no job. I wouldn’t want that life for anything in the world. I suspect that if my parents had stopped coddling my brother when he was younger, he might not have fallen as far as he has. But I would never want the “benefits” he’s received.
I thought it sounded like he only stopped the house-sitting. I do hope it was (or at some point will be) both.
Waaay before I was ever divorced, I thought my ex’s family treated our kids like they were MY kids – not at all related to them, so not worthy of their attention. Actually, thinking about it, maybe it’s because like you, OP, my then-husband was NOT the favored child, so there’s no way his offspring would be. It’s like what you mentioned, the other cousins got expensive presents, my kids got cheap dollar store items. The cousins’ were enrolled in expensive sports all expenses paid, my ex and I were asked, “Why don’t you put your kids’ in sports?” My ex said, “We can’t afford all the fees, etc.” and they just shrugged. They would take the cousins on lavish vacations and then call and tell everyone, including my kids, all about it.
And for me, it wasn’t anything related to the money that hurt, it was the fact that it was a symptom of the problem – they didn’t care and our kids were an afterthought to them. We went to all the cousins’ birthday parties/sports events, they rarely attended anything of our kids’ ever. The ex and I and our kids would come to visit and they would ignore them. They don’t matter to their grandparents, which is really sad.
I can’t imagine what life is like for your poor niece, OP. I’m sure she appreciated the bedroom stuff. Keep doing what you can for her to show that someone cares. 🙁
Wow. I can relate to this, in part. My husband has this kind of dynamic going on with his parents and his sister. They bend over backwards to help his sister (they’ve bought her two houses, thus far), but when we asked for some help with my husband’s students loans (he had to pay for his own education, his sister did not), they told us that at least there were no debtors’ prisons anymore. (Very helpful.) This drives me crazy because my parents were fairly pathological about treating my brother and I fairly, but that may be because I was adopted and he was their biokid — they felt they had to be careful. I don’t talk about it much because I realize how I sound, but it’s really not about the stuff. I mean, we’re doing great on our own financially and want for nothing, but it really makes me wonder why they don’t care about him more. We’re not having kids and our decision is based on our personal preferences, but part of me is relieved that we won’t have to worry about grandparent favoritism. I can’t be sure they’d continue this behavior, but their track record suggests they would. I really feel for your kids – they deserve better treatment from their grandparents. My one grandfather was a world-class jerk, but at least he treated us all in the same, jerky fashion!
We are seeing a lighter version of this in our family too. Sister was coddled, got a college education and expenses paid for, I had to go to the military to pay for mine. Parents might have helped me buy books one semester.
I get it – I had lousy grades in HS b/c the classroom rote learning model doesn’t work well for me. Who wants to invest in that kid? I needed more of an apprentice type learning environment – more so then than now. I didn’t get much help after the military either. Nor have I gotten much help in the decades since – and the great thing is that I don’t want their help now.
I paid for my college. I paid for my cars, I paid for my living expenses and I have never asked for any money. Nor have i returned home to “roost” except for a few weeks after an honorable discharge until I was ready to get my own place and start college.
My sister was coddled growing up, coddled through college, and even after she had a family of her own. My parents helped her fix up multiple houses (which she then flipped at profit) and move multiple times. They watched her kids, picked them up after school, and ran all over that city to help her collect renovation materials for the house. My parents have gone to their kids’ games and school events.
Meanwhile we moved by ourselves each time (we had a small utility trailer and didn’t want to rent a truck to save $). We’ve done whatever needed to be done to our own house. We paid for everything ourselves – including four college degrees. My in-laws loaned us $1500 to buy carpet and other renovation materials once which we promptly paid back with the sale of our first house. We were thankful for the help. My parents have never attended any plays or sports events. Visits usually last 3-4 hours at our house and occur once a year. We are expected to stop by anytime we are in their city however.
I don’t envy my sister but I do envy the “ease” with which she started her life and then continued her life with my parents’ assistance. BiL’s parents gave them alot of money too – which made for an easy debt free start to their marriage – my parents’ help and his parents’ help.
Meanwhile we’ve done fine. We worked multiple jobs and did what we had to in order to get our family life started and college degrees completed. I’m proud of what we accomplished. Two very good jobs, two great kids/ My kids have quit expecting my parents to show much interest in them so now the kids show about as much interest in the grandparents as the grandparents have shown them. Everyone is cordial but they aren’t the first folks my kids think to call to tell their big news to. Someday my parents might wonder why that is and I’m sure that I’ll somehow get blamed for keeping the kids away though really – my parents haven’t gone out of their way to spend time with our kids like they have with my sister’s kids.
I see the grandkids as a continuation of the way my sister and I were raised. She got all the attention and now her kids get all the attention. I got compared to my uncle that never grew up (coddled by my grandparents, unsuccessful in marriage, family life and careers. Meanwhile I’ve been highly successful in all these categories…) Sibling got all the “help” and now her kids will continue to reap the benefits which as pointed out in the article may or may not be a good thing for the kids longterm.
We’ve tried to build a good relationship with my sibling and my parents but it hasn’t ever been anything but an endless effort on our part. “Let’s get together” suggested by us for 20+ years now. Never seem to “have the time”. A ten minute phone call once a YEAR from them. Its just not worth the effort.
Sorry for the long rambling post but there is no way to paint the picture in 100 words or less. 😉
Just what the Lady said.
Also, have you heard about “tainted” money? As in “tain’t yours, tain’t mine”… Act and try to FEEL accordingly.
Conversely, adult children should not be responsible for their parents’ comfort, so lay off car repairs and the like. Especially since the old bat seems to be a quite heartless creature: “I thought she wanted it that way.”
While “family togetherness” is a beautiful thing, just because people are related in some way, it does not mean that they have to endure each other’s presence. If instead of joy there is a bile attack, I think that it’s best to minimize those attacks.
It’s a bit harsh to write off the nephew as ‘a greedy, selfish, miserable creature with no sense of justice and frankly, he’s not a person I would trust’. Legally he’s still a kid. You don’t know how he might turn out, my lovely SIL was a spoilt brat until she was 18. At least he’s brought this up to his grandparents, that’s in his favor.
Otherwise, this is in short: “I don’t like how my ILs spend their money and want them to spend more on my kids”. Tough. Stop doing them favors, stop expecting, stop complaining. It’s not fair, but it’s their money. Protect your daughters by doing as Admin says: make them strong and independent. What you really want is for them to spend the same on your kids. They’re legal adults if he’s the youngest! Get over it, ain’t going to happen now, you should have let this one go years ago and stepped away from these people. Not for the money side, but for the blatant unfavourable sexism side.
Yeah, I thought that was a pretty harsh judgement of the nephew, especially when its said in the same breath as adults have no expectation of parents or grandparents giving them any support anyway. So none of the kids should have any expection of a hand out, the grandparents can spend where they like but the nephew is miserable, selfish, untrustworthy and greedy for accepting it?
The nephew is greedy, selfish, etc because he is old enough to recognize the disparity between what he receives from the grandparents and what his sister and cousins receive. And having recognized this disparity, he does nothing to refuse the bounty he receives when any decent, normal human would hang their head in shame at gaining so much at the expense of others. Nephew has been pampered and groomed since infancy to be an entitled, selfish mooch who will let his own sister live in squalor while he enjoys many benefits most of us would describe as “discretionary”. No mercy.
Agreed. He is old enough to take a stand and has not.
From how admin frames it, the nephew does come out as very selfish, since it sounds like he received a $300 BMX racing bike for Christmas, and $10,000 for hockey, and didn’t give more than a passing thought at the fact that his own sister, who is still living at home and paying all the bills, lived in squalor.
But I personally had a different impression from the OP’s story. Nothing in the OP suggests that the nephew never tried to get the grandparents to help with his sister’s living conditions.
On the other hand, it is never even stated that the nephew *knew* about his sister’s living conditions. I seem to understand that while the niece lives with her father, the nephew lives with their mother (since the mother manages to have the GPs give her money “for him”). Although the nephew might have been aware of his GPs favoritism on occasions such as birthdays and Christmas, and with regards to his sports career (but in that, he might feel entitled, if family members boost him up as a star player), he might not be privy to all the details of his father’s household and his sister’s struggles.
If he knew, common decency would have required him to stand up for his sister. But the again, if the underlying principle is that no one should dictate how the GPs spend their money, the nephew has as much a right to tell his GPs how to spend it as the OP.
His only option would have been to refuse the gifts and the payments out of brotherly solidarity, but although it could make sense up to a certain point, he would, ultimately, only be jeopardizing his (possibly successful) sports career over it. His hockey might not be as spectacular as the GPs think, but it might still be good enough to get him into college: $10,000 today might buy him a scholarship next year.
I don’t think it would be altogether fair to ask a 17 year old to have such solid moral principles, and a total lack of foresight, as to refuse any financial aid his GPs might offer if the same is not offered to all grandkids. Especially since, as stated, he might have the choice to refuse what the GPs give him, but he has no right to ask them to spend money on the others.
On top of that, I think OP made it clear that the nephew is not getting anything “at the expense of others”, as the GPs seem to be sufficiently well-off that they could potentially help with one of the girls’ college expenses *on top* of all they already spend on the golden kid.
They simply don’t want to. And it’s not the nephew’s fault.
Had he accepted the lavish gifts, then sold them or somehow used the advantage, to be able to share with his sister and cousins, then that would show him to be truly “golden.” He didn’t.
I hope that OP’s husband has stopped giving his parents freebies. If it’s true that asking one’s parents to finance one’s kids’ college education is a tall order, then it logically follows that free intrafamily auto maintenance falls in the same category.
Skilled labor isn’t cheap.
Perhaps this steps outside the boundaries of etiquette, but if I were DH, I would send the parents an invoice next time auto maintenance comes up. Invoice amount would be equal to the cost of four years in school for a kid.
I agree wholeheartedly with the admin. Grandparents owe you nothing once they have raised their own kids to be independent and those kids have kids of their own. I know it is frustrating to see one grandchild favored over the others, but you have to try and focus on your own family–your own daughters and do the best that you can to provide for them. Use this as a lesson for your own life should you become a grandparent one day–now you know how it feels to put up with unequal treatment–you won’t do this to your own grandkids. Teaching your kids to be independent and responsible is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give them. And it lasts a lifetime–much longer than hockey equipment. This being said, my heart does go out to the OP and I think it’s great that you helped out your niece. I’m sure she really appreciated this.
My spouse has a friend who is the direct result of behavior such as this. At the age of 45, he is basically unemployable and lives off his wife. It’s really sad that he just can’t do any better. My step-grandmother behaved this way as well. She paid attention to only 2 out of 30 grandchildren. The rest of them might as well have not existed. (Of course, she paid no attention to me at all since I was not her “real family.”) The cousin I am closest to has never let it make her lose any sleep. I know it is hurtful to the girls, but they will be most likely be better in the long run.
While I can see exactly what the Admin means in the first paragraph I am not sure the verbal beratement was necessary. Yes, when one has a child you have 18 years to figure out how to pay for college, but also remember college tuitition increases hand over fist every year, even local colleges. Even having saved for my college the tuitition was a sticker shock to my parents. I realized they went hat in hand and asked the in-laws which is not kosher; but it is understandable that they asked. Not polite, and did set thim up to be rejected since they do know the in-laws spending habits; but I am not sure it warranted the scolding.
OP, this is actually common in many, many families; and is true in mine and my DH’s family. In my family the child that was the squeaky wheel got it all (the squeaky wheel does get the grease) and still gets in all. That child is spoiled, and rude to the reat of us. In my DH’s family his grandfather has 3 girls and 2 boys. One of the boys was treated extemely well by the grandfather and his wife down to the fact that the rest of the children could not touch certain things or eat certain foods. Now, fast forward, and the 2 sons are having children. One son has 2 daughters; and the favorite son has a son and a daughter. Not only are all the possessions due to be inherited by the favorite son because he has a son (and can carry on the family name), but the other son was ridiculed for a long time because he had only daughters. There is a bit of a silver lining, though. The grandfather makes up a bit with the less favored son (nothing in the will changes but unfavored son realizes that his dad is the way he is and if he wants to be with his dad he will have to scarifice). Also, though the favored son and grandchild still do not see how them getting everything in the will is unfair they are not spoiled or stuck up. This stems from the sibiling bond that the children have. Favored son was left out for a long time, and finally started to try and make amends. He has passed this lesson on to his son.
It hurts to know that not only are your children left out but that your neice lives in such dire straights when the means to help her are readily available. Knowing that it is your in-laws money and they can do as they please with it is cold comfort. You can be upset, but do not let it last. I know some might say it is passive-agressive, but maybe it is time to rethink your kindness. Are you doing it in the hopes of reaping some monetary gift at some point down the line? If you are not, think about what it might be interfering with and graciously beg out of helping if it interfers with an important event, etc. I have been so very hurt by my parents, and sometimes it is hard for me to be civil; but EHell Dame always rings in my head. I know I will never be on the receiving end of their good graces, but that does not mean I show how much they have hurt me by being mad or lashing out. They’d win that way, and it would solve nothing.
Completely agree! When my fiance’s parents paid for his older brothers tuition it was like $5-$8k a year. Fiance’s 15 years later was closer to $25k! And they went to the same college!
Tuition increases are far above the rate of inflation, in general, and far above any interest you could possibly earn on your savings. That means you have to save more and more each year, just to keep up.
Some colleges and universities started programs where parents or grandparents could ‘pay early’ a fixed but not small amount, and when the student turned ‘college age’ their 4 years tuition was paid; no matter what it had really climbed to. If the student decided not to attend, there were ways to transfer it to a sibling, relative, or get a good chunk of it back as a ‘cashout’. That might be an option to help….
I agree whole-heartedly about tuition. It makes me sad to see so many people here complaining that it’s not a parent’s responsibility to help their children get higher education. My parents didn’t save even enough money for me to cover my first year of tuition (7 grand), let alone books (five hundred per semester), materials (similar to books), food and living expenses (on campus it was about eight thousand a year for a room in a dorm, and then another grand for meal plan). I worked my ass off through university, and came out the other side in a tonne of debt, and without a job — since the crash of the economy, even a university degree is sometimes not enough to get anything more than a part-time retail job.
We unfortunately don’t live in a world anymore where you can just bypass a higher education degree.
I worked like a dog through college and came out the other side with a student loan debt which took me a decade to pay off. Couldn’t find a job in my chosen career either. I still don’t see why my parents are obligated to provide a higher education for me, especially since it would have entailed them working like dogs themselves and coming out the other side with a large debt as well. I wanted it therefore *I* worked for it.
Exactly, Admin. It took me four passes through college, I did finish degrees; I paid off the last of the loans a few years ago. I have an expensive framed wallpaper collection and a few bound books that are the original vanity press (the thesis fodder). It didn’t mean a job. The willingness to WORK meant a job. Yeah I spent many thousands to be educated; that was my choice. I’m still glad that I didn’t cost my parents to get married or get the education I wanted and earned. Worse my DH was in college at the time I met him and we had to go through his education being finished as well… but we did. His parents didn’t pay for that either. Nobody OWES their kids a post education. It’d be great if they CAN, but.
Why is DH pissed off this much when his parents won’t pony up for his daughter’s tuition, but wasn’t so much when he found out the living conditions of his young niece? Why is DH giving his parents freebies instead of supporting the niece? Why is the subject of the daughter’s tuition a bigger concern than the niece’s obviously abusive situation? I wouldn’t write off the nephew just yet; he is still a child and has plenty of time to grow up despite his lousy upbringing. The focus (and immaturity) of the OP and her DH, however, are what really concern me. Mind your own business when it comes to how other people spend their money, and mind the welfare of your underage relatives, when the need arises.
Why is DH not giving his brother hell on earth for putting his daughter through that, if he’s going to get involved? It’s the parents’ responsibility, not the grandparents’.
This also means that the nephew has a useless, abusive bum for a dad. I don’t blame him for taking the handouts, he is a 17 year old child with useless parents, he needs a way out of there. If he’s brought up the unfairness to his grandparents, as OP says, he is more likely a perfectly nice kid who doesn’t know what to do in the situation. Maybe he is taking the money so when he’s older, he can help himself and his sister?
OP, the nephew has two useless parents and his sister lives in hell. Don’t begrudge him the money, he is hardly a ‘golden child’ with that going on in his life at that age. At least your kids have two stable parents.
You also have to wonder where is the neice’s mother. Since, the mother plays the grandson card to get money for concerts and the like, one would assume that, like her husband, she is useless (and greedy). She has to know how her daughter lives yet chooses to spend the money she receives on herself and her son. That is extremely cruel in my book- to see yet look the other way.
I took it that the nephew’s mom was not the same woman as the niece’s mom.
If he’s taking the hockey stuff with a view of this being a lucrative career, it’s possible he may plan to help his sister when he’s able.
But the other gifts ought to be shared now, if possible. An expensive BMX bike could be traded in for an inexpensive, but functional bike plus something to help the sister.
People you can’t have it both ways, slamming this person or that one for this or for that and then finding fault with the only non-college student in the mix.
The 17yo boy is just that a BOY, he isn’t a man yet and it will be a few yrs yet until he gets there whether he’s spoiled or not.
Why is it HIS responsibility to take care of his older sister? When most everyone on here is all about parents not helping college age students? You can’t have it both ways.
The GP’s are deplorable as they know how their GD lives with the response of ‘oh we thought she liked it that way’ Really?
But there are several things we don’t know for sure some we can guess at, although it’s been put out there that the children have different parents I believe they have the same parents. The son may not live with his father and sister. The sister/niece is the one who deserves our most attention as it seems that she is supporting herself and her underachieving father, and most likely does it out of guilt and a feeling of where would she go. If the OP and DH could it would do everyone good to maybe have her live with them.
But really we should stop blaming the 17yo boy, he doesn’t know better, he has mentioned it, but nothing came of it. But to ask him to rise up in solidarity with his sister and cousins is a bit much, he has been a child for a long time, to be able to get to that point it takes a lot and he’s not there, and while he may feel twinges of guilt from time to time, asking him to sell his bike or give up hockey or any other such thing is unfair to him. If he does grow up to be a spoiled lazy adult then that will be on him.
But it’s also appalling to see parents and adults saying ‘we don’t owe our chidren anything after they turn 18 even help with a college education’ to ‘this 17yo boy should be ashamed of himself, he should be selling his bike and whatever else he gets and share it more equally amongst himself, his sister and cousins’. You’re asking a 17yo boy to act like a self aware adult and there’s not even that many adults who can do that.
Leave him alone
Invite the niece to move in with DH and wife – so she has a decent place to live while she goes to college locally if possible… No rent as long as she gets a minimum 3.0 GPA and gets her degree done in five years or less…
The sister is not underage and I don’t think it’s fair to assume she is in an abusive situation. It appears that she has made huge sacrifices and is the only one supporting her family (besides the brother’s luxuries paid for by the grandparents). Her situation is horrible and she has my sympathy but as far as we know, she’s not being abused.
A grown man who lets his 18 year old daughter go through that to support them both is an abuser in my book.
There are different kinds of abuse, and turning her into a Cinderella sounds like emotional abuse, at the very least.
Actually, I would dare to make the argument that nephew is also being abused. There’s a lot of creepy, manipulative pressure being exerted on both of the kids. I don’t know why OP isn’t grateful her kids aren’t the center of attention in this highly dysfunctional drama. They’re the lucky ones.
+1 Thank you, Dee, for calling this out. This is frightening. I honestly wish the OP had taken her home with them.
If 17 yo nephew is the youngest grandchild, his sister is not an “underage relative”. And, really, doesn’t have to live with her father, either.
I wouldn’t write off the nephew yet, too, but apart of that I agree with admin.
Two things: first, I’m reminded of a scene from the movie “Parenthood”, when Dianne Wiest has to explain to her pre-teen son, whose biological father has rejected him, that he just has to learn to say “To HELL with him.” If the grandparents aren’t going to treat the girls as well as the boys, they aren’t. Yes, it’s BS; yes, it hurts; accept it and move on.
Second, with regard to college tuition, I’ve worked in higher education for eighteen years, and these last nine I’ve been a fellowship advisor. I counsel students on scholarships, beyond what Financial Aid can do. Fellowship advising is fairly new in academia, but I’m sure the university your daughter wants to attend probably has an office of fellowships or scholarships that is separate from the Office of Financial Aid. If she’s an accomplished student, she is probably eligible for several different awards that that scholarship office can advise her on. Encourage her to use her resources and contact them; learning to be resourceful will not only help the practical question of money, but also in strengthening herself against glassbowls like her grandparents. She’ll learn that she can find what she needs on her own.
It just occurred to me: Do your genealogy. You’d be surprised by how many grants and scholarships are waiting to be claimed by someone eligible, and have been set up to be given to someone of a particular heritage. So, you might be able to get some money, if you can prove that you are descended from some rich person, five generations ago, who set up a legacy. It does happen.
In fact, there are scholarships for all sorts of things that are not necessarily grade-related. Many go unclaimed.
Also, if she’s flexible about what college to attend, she might be able to get enough financial aid at a different college, since many of these scholarships and grants are school-specific.
You would be SURPRISED on some of the unusual scholarships out there. And true, a number of them are unclaimed because partly nobody has ever heard about them, and they may have some very unusual qualifications if you do find out about them. Dig deep, cast far; a scholarship is something you do NOT have to pay back! Just qualify, apply, and if granted, keep the GRADES UP.
Some of even the biggest most expensive colleges and universities have some programs for ‘disadvantaged’ to allow those that might not otherwise be able to afford to attend, get in and pay for it all. Even ROTC (a few of the years you get paid while you are getting the degree; then you must serve in the military for a number of years to ‘pay back’ for the degree… and they will often pay for some pretty pricy uni’s depending on the major and your grades) might be the way to be done in 8-10 years; degree plus debt free at the end of serving.
While the premise of GP’s favoring one grandchild over another is nothing new (and something I’ve had to deal with in my own family), this story feels a bit “off” to me. Why is nobody calling out the “good-hearted bum” for allowing his own daughter to live in such (allegedly) deplorable conditions? Has the daughter ever companied to the OP, or mentioned any instances of neglect in the past? Why did it take the OP so long to find out how the sister was living? (FWIW, when I was a teenager I went thru a somewhat “punk/goth/faux-starving-artist” phase and would have LOVED to have a room like the OP described — if my folks had let me!) If the everyone’s aware of the unfair treatment (including nephew and uncle), can they not simply sell some of the extravagant gifts meant for the nephew, and give a share of that money to the daughter — or better yet, use it towards more important things?
I get a strange whiff from this story — it’s as if the OP is trying to paint everyone other than the niece, her own daughters, and herself in as bad a light as possible. Also not sure why she’s asking permission to “be upset about this” — who would’t be, if it’s all true? — rather than seek out some practical advice.
Asking permission to be upset?
Perhaps she was raised with the idea that “Ladies do not get angry,” or that “Women should just accept their lot.”
If so, just asking permission to be upset about it is actually a big step.
In addition to what Michelle C Young said, sometimes you are stuck in an environment which thinks things X, Y, Z are completely normal and acceptable. It is easy to get confused in a way that “this does not seem right to me, but everyone else is fine with this. Am I just stuck up dog of female persuasion or is this really a problem.”
As for the nieces living conditions. As I now think my own aunts, many of them live quite far away. And it is not that aunts or uncles visit me all the time, nor was it so when I lived with my parents.
And if we are talking about young girl who is working to support herself and her dad, I can’t see her easily complaining to her aunt. Too much pride, I would say.
Interact as little as possible with your in-laws is my advice and the nephew. Why see all the hurt? My own in-laws favor one granddaughter. One visit to them golden grand stayed in their house, we all stayed in a hotel. My daughter is 5 years younger. Golden grand got 5 outings with grandma, our daughter got one. At the end of the visit my MIL was visibly nervous and said “Will you come visit again?” never apologizing. DH said “We will see.” No apology or change of behavior so we haven’t visited them in 10 years. 2 years ago my dd became an adult and it was her choice to spend her money to go visit them. She hasn’t.
This is the future for your in-laws. Their grandkids just won’t care. Sad.
Reading these stories, I am so grateful that my parents were so even-handed with my sister and I. I’m sure both my sister and I secretly believe that we are our parents’ favorites, but they’ve also been careful to be equally generous to us both in terms of love and attention as well as financially. This was a good reminder to thank my lucky stars, so thank you for that!
Raising them equal and even handed – and not an easy thing to accomplish. Our teen thinks we coddle the younger sibling too much. There is five years difference at work. Youngest is just at that stage where he is figuring out wishing doesn’t work, Santa Claus isn’t real, etc. That you have to work for what you want to happen.
Then there are those personality differences at work too. Oldest is very independent. Youngest would happily stay five for another decade I’d bet. I’m all for growing him up, my wife is in fact, coddling him a little b/c she thinks it suits his personality and needs. Only recently though I think has she seen that he’s playing her a little – experimenting a little. She’s adjusting her parenting style now thankfully. 😉 He is clearly better for it too.
Its tough to parent those different personalities and aim for the same resulting self-motivated well-adjusted adult. Its tough (for me anyhow) to remember all those little vignettes you told your older child to make an important point about some topic.
I’m glad the younger son is at the age is he b/c he’s finally getting interesting to me b/c he is getting to be more and more independent and logical.
I can understand feeling a bit like Harry Potter when your cousin gets a new bike and you get a coat hanger for Christmas. It’s wrong to be jealous, but gee whiz.
My family was like this too. Brother got a driver’s license and a car at sixteen, his own credit card, lots of spending money, could go anywhere and do anything and four years of college-all expenses paid for by my parents. I had to live at home, pay for my own college via loans & scholarships, was not allowed to have a driver’s license until I was twenty-one, could not go to anyone’s house or have anyone over to mine (I was supposed to be my mother’s friend and no-one elses’), and was given no spending money at all. Grrrr…
I don’t advocate being generous to one child and ignoring the other. The bottom line is that the one who has everything may see you as Daddy Moneybags and, once the money stops, so does he-he stops seeing you at all. The one you ignored may go gaily off since he/she never formed any attachment to you as you made a point of forming no attachment to him/her.
Let it go. It’s their money. What happens later will also be their problem.
Cat, I’m afraid your parents are going to be very miserable in the future, if they aren’t already. Probably your brother will, too.
I believe her parents are both deceased.
Yes, and have been for many years. Brother, however, is still going strong-but away from me.
I’d had another thought last night. Could it be that the GP’s are compensating the nephew for having such a lackluster father — replacing love with money — and also trying to secure a relationship with that side of the family (no gifts, no relationship), whereas they take for granted the security of their relationship with the writer’s DH?
Maybe all the labor is the way the GPs feel loved by the son ….
Just a thought.
Why just compensate the nephew and let their niece suffer?
Because in some families (and it isn’t all related to ethnic roots) that boys are special and girls are third rate. If there is any boy around they get it all and the girl gets what’s left if that. …
OP here. That seems to be exactly what is happening. It is ridiculous how they favour my nephew to the point of excluding my niece and daughters, yet still have the gall to complain about how much it’s costing them. DH is learning though. This weekend he had planned on going fishing when FIL showed up to get his car fixed. It has an electrical/computer problem that requires hours of diagnosing. DH told him to bring it into the shop on Monday, he had to go, he had people waiting on him. Before this, DH would have dropped everything to help out his dad, and even get a thank you.
“No, I cannot accommodate that request”, is such a nice “go to” phrase in so many situations.
Brav-vo Catherine. Such a lovely shiny new spine, gotta give you and DH a round of applause!
And in some families the girl is special (a princess) and the boy is just “trouble”…
I had a grandmother who played blatant favorites. She had a couple of golden children and grandchildren, and the rest of us were of no interest to her. When I was still very little, I kept on asking why granny wasn’t coming for my birthday, and when my mom invited her again, she pretty much said that I only wanted her there for a present. Where she got this notion from I really don’t know – I can’t say that anyone else has ever called me grasping. Mom told her that I’d be happy with a small bar of chocolate and having my gran there but left it at that.
Anyhow, years went by, and on my twenty-third birthday, I got a phone-call. This woman was congratulating me. I said “That’s very nice, but who’s speaking please?”.
You guessed it, it was my gran. I honestly didn’t recognize her.
A few years later, she complained to my mother that my siblings and I never sent her Christmas cards or rang. My mother expressed some polite surprise that gran didn’t see that coming.
Anyhow, she’s long dead now. I haven’t shed a single tear for her (neither did her son, my dad, or any of my four siblings), and that’s what she got in exchange for her lack of interest – our lack of interest.
My kids are the ‘non-golden’ children on my husband’s side. My in-laws are nice enough to them, but never really seem to take much of an interest in them, and lavish a lot more attention and gifts on my SIL’s girls, who can do no wrong in their eyes.
When my parents were alive, even though they were 1000 miles away, they constantly knew what my kids were up to, sent them cards, came to visit whenever they could, and just loved my kids and my sister’s daughter to pieces. The in laws, who are less than 2 hours away, couldn’t be bothered to come to my kids’ first communions.
But you reap what you sow. At one point I remember telling my boys that we had to go see Nana and Pa (what they call my inlaws). My younger son’s initial response was, “Who? Oh yeah, them.” Now that the kids are older, they have zero desire to go visit the inlaws at all, as they know they will be ignored for the most part. It’s a shame, because the inlaws aren’t getting any younger. But my kids made the effort to get to know them for years while they focused exclusively on the nieces. Now the nieces are off to college, and the grandsons aren’t interested. You lost your chance.
Administrator is spot on. I’ve seen this play out.
I don’t blame OP for feeling some resentment, but the fact is there is nothing you can do about other people’s behavior. Accept the fact that the in-laws are dysfunctional and move on with your lives. Spend more time with the people who are a positive force in your life.
I agree that parents don’t owe their kids or grandkids a college education. I don’t have the means to give my two kids much when they go off to college especially with child support disappearing after they turn 18. The most I can offer them the support of a home and all perks during the summer, plus cell phone paid for, etc. What I was able to do is provide is support and assistance while my son filled out scholarship applications, support when he was in an endless stream of extracurricular activities (that look great on scholarship aps) and encouragement and support with keeping his grades up. He’s off to college with everything paid for when taking into consideration grants and scholarships. Hopefully, he won’t need to touch the college fund (which his grandparents were kind enough to set up for him) until his last couple years or grad school.
But not every child is in an ideal situation financially or with parental support. That’s why what really bothers me about is your poor niece. Although she was 18 when you took her living situation in hand this had to be going on for years and years. It is absolutely reprehensible that ANY person allowed this child to live in such a way with a neglectful parent. That her own grandparents had the means to alleviate this situation and didn’t is disgusting. Yes, it’s their money to spend as they wish. Yes, I absolutely think that they shouldn’t HAVE to pay for their child’s bad decisions. But sometimes you have to do things that aren’t your “responsibility” because it’s the right thing to do. You don’t refuse to take your sick friend to the hospital because it’s going to cost you gas money. You don’t not stop at an accident because it will make you late for a meeting. You simply don’t let a child live in squalor when you can help. They could at least have taken the time to get social services involved. This was a child and a member of their family and they just walked away. I’m sure I’ll have a slew of people here who disagree but there’s simply no excuse good enough to dismiss their thoughtlessness and cruelty. I seriously can feel the bile coming up just thinking about the kind of monsters that this couple must be to let their granddaughter suffer like that. Revolting
Just a short note–depending on what state you are in, you could be wrong about the child support. Please contact an attorney before not pursuing support for your child during their college years from their biological dad. In many states, kids who go to college get support up to age 22.
I was divorced in PA…..I only get support until the child graduates High School. Had I gotten divorced in NJ where I live now, the ex would have had to continue paying support while they attended college full time.
Unfortunately it’s in my divorce decree as ending when he is done with high school and I did check with our county’s child support office. Wish I had negotiated something different at the time of my divorce but I didn’t. It was a while back but I have a feeling I may have agreed in order to receive a bigger settlement with the house, etc. so there was a valid reason.
I understand the OP’s frustration. Even though you can’t expect anyone else to fund you childrens’ educations, it must still feel very unfair when such frivolous gifts are lavished on the Favored Grandchild.
I feel terrible for the niece. She must see every day how favored her brother is, and how overlooked she is. I hope she has help getting away from that situation.
I don’t agree with Admin yet that the nephew is selfish, greedy, etc. He is on that path, but is still a kid who (like any teenager) would love the gifts and opportunities he gets through his grandparents. He sees the inequity, but may not know what to do about it. It’s not like he can get much guidance from his parents on that issue!
I think the OP has to accept the fact that her ILs are not likely to change. Their behavior is nasty and unfair, but all you can do it accept it. Lower your expectations, make sure your daughters do the same, and no freebies in the form of work or help or whatever to this family that doesn’t respect you and yours. In fact, any requests for help should be met with something like “no– we’re spending the weekend with niece; she could really use our help.”
OP, please learn to let go of this emotionally and instead turn that emotion into loving relationships with your daughters and niece. You can’t change anything but if you continue to stew over this you will (unintentionally, I know) damage other relationships you care about.
Two stories: My maternal grandmother did the same thing, favoring one grandchild over the others–and did so blatantly. One Christmas in particular stands out; I remember clearly getting a card with a $20 bill tucked inside and a simple “love, Grandma” in it. My younger (male) cousin got $200 worth of stuff he asked for. That was probably 45 years ago and I still remember it, though without bitterness for the last twenty years or so.
And I do agree the grandparents are probably setting the nephew up for a lifetime of mooching. My sister, who is now 62, believes she should never have to work–and mostly has not–but should be supported in the manner she believes everyone owes her. I was told not long ago that a number of years ago she told our parents, when they explained they couldn’t afford to give financial gifts any more, “You owe me!” I nearly fell over when I heard that.
So turn your heart and your head in good directions, OP. Let their actions go. Do what you can and what you want to be a good role model to all the children in your family.
Shocking, but not surprising.
I don’t really have much to add on top of what admin said, but I do have to say, if one of my nieces was living in such appalling conditions, I would be moving her into my home. Even if I had to give her my bed and sleep on the couch. An 18 year old girl should be concerned with college, not providing for her loser father.
Don’t wait for someone else to step up for her because it’s not happening. I wouldn’t worry about nephew, though, as it is obvious grandparents will provide for him.
Admin is spot on here. And OP, I definitely feel your pain.
My DH is the older, responsible brother and his younger brother is the entitled brat who gets everything he wants. My DH paid for his own undergrad degree and we are still paying off his graduate degree. BIL has had two undergrad degrees paid for by his parents, they have bought him FIVE cars, let him live with them on and off, and subsidized quite a bit of travel. When DH and I got married his parents contributed a fixed sum to the wedding costs (as did my parents, and that was our budget, anything else was our own dime). My BIL found out his parents’ contribution amount (from them!) and demanded a check for an equal amount, “to be fair.”
This is the kind of monstrous behavior that is created by feeding someone’s sense of entitlement. IMO, OP’s DH should not be working on his parents’ cars for free any more, and I know it hurts, but stop expecting them to care about their other grandkids – they clearly don’t. I’m guessing their relationship with the girls isn’t so great, while it’s sad for the girls it is probably better that they aren’t around these folks, anyway.
PLEASE tell me they didn’t give him the check.
Your BIL asked for the same amount for his own wedding? Or do you actually mean to tell us that he asked for the money, for no other reason that it was “fair”? Did he pledge not to ask for anything when/if he later had a wedding? Because if he expects financial help for a later wedding, I hope he knows the parents will then also have to write a check to your DH, as well, to keep things “fair.”
I don’t know if they gave him the check or not. But to clarify, yes… he asked for the same amount of money to be fair. He was 21 at the time we got married (DH and I were 23 and 24), and no fiancee on the horizon.
This pattern started early on and continues today. His mom visited us once in college and bought us a load of groceries, she also brought DH a sweatshirt from his hometown. BIL called and said, “Brother said he got a sweatshirt and groceries. Send me a Costco gift card and I want a sweatshirt too.”
When DH was in high school and his parents paid the fee for his participation in sports, BIL demanded an equal amount be spent on him in a hobby of his choosing. As in, “You paid Brother’s $50 basketball fee for his track suit/team tshirt/whatever. Take me to the Game Stop and spend $50 on me.”
And you can see why he clings to his parents for support to this day!!!
That’s the kind of behavior that should have been nipped in the bud when your BIL was 3. The fact that his parents (your in-laws) actually listened and entertained these demands is entirely their fault and honestly I don’t feel one bit sorry for them! They created this monster.
Aunt’s neighbor had a huge old house and four kids; there was a 4 year gap between the first one, and the next one down and 7 years to the baby brother. They bent over backwards on the ‘fair’ bit but it backfired; the oldest was denied many things because his youngest brother couldn’t have the same thing too because he was too little.. then the middle girl (about age 6 at the time) got a birthday party invite to nearby big town (pizza party and rollerskating) and the parents HAD TO and managed to keep it a secret until about 3 days before the event. The other three had full blown knockdown dragout tempertantrums and screaming bawling FITS because they couldn’t go TOO. (I watched the then 11 year old have a full fledged toddler tantrum meltdown when he confronted his parents in tears and demanded to go, and was told that only his sister had an invite). IT WASN’T FAIR! I think the parents tried to get the host family to add their other three, which was totally refused; and ended up taking their kids to the big city AND the same place; and the siblings would NOT stay away from the partygoers… Not much after that they moved, and nobody kept in touch with them. I wonder at times how the kids all turned out… (this was circa mid 70’s)
Seriously? They had one story in an advice column where the grandparents paid for all of the grandchildren’s college educations and the son who produced no grandchildren felt they owed him money to make it “even.”
I could understand a childless sibling resenting the fact that the siblings are being handed checks for tuition for the siblings kids by the grandparents because that’s a heck of a monetary gift. I suppose it can be argued that its the nieces and nephews who benefit but really, that’s the grandparents choosing to pay off a significant debt for all of their children but one – the one who didn’t have kids. I don’t know that I’d ever demand things be even, because you always get painted as the selfish one, but I don’t know that I’d be happy knowing my siblings had a significant financial expense paid for by my parents while I got nothing.
But the siblings without kids don’t have the expense of raising kids for the first 18-21 years of their lives.
Sorry but this makes no sense. Why should someone get money for an expense that they don’t have?
Why should two children get given thousands and the third nothing?
People who have kids choose that expense for 21 years.
I’ve seen that happen many a time in friends and relatives, and no, it doesn’t matter how many generations they’ve lived ‘over here’. I myself would have been third rate had I had a brother instead of ending up as an only. (I refer to the ‘Cinderella syndrome’ thread where a pair of grandparents had picked a daughter to stay home and care for them, when she died unexpectedly the grandparents demanded the OP’s older sister to adopt and take the dead aunt’s place… ) That said.
Nobody owes anybody a college education. I started as a freshman in high school on how was *I* going to get my education. I had to give direction to my parents during junior and senior year on how they had to hold their assets (savings was considered available to pay tuition, checking account balance wasn’t, so they had to hold their $ in their checking; and when taxes had to be done-not filed, but done, etc); and I had an evening of take over the kitchen table and fill out my aid packet that I had qualified for and was offered, including loans. My father LOITERED in the kitchen, that kitchen was not ‘loitereable’ and finally he asked quietly if he had to sign anything. I said no, this state was no cosigner; just me was responsible. He almost skipped out of there. I did finally finish paying off all of that a few years ago… loans, grants, workstudy, and other things. Nobody OWED me it. I asked during freshman year for some help with books, after that I usually got grants that covered most of it.
As for the niece and nobody did anything, that is just sad; but. I do hope by now she’s escaped that altogether. It is nice someone tried to do something….
I agree about when the probate hits that is going to be a very ugly one.
There are two in my family that are great at spending everyone else’s money; and are still going full throttle. I know that if my last surviving parent goes first before either or both of them go, I will be in court to answer about ‘the settlement’. An accident my father was in shortly after I left home, had been FILED for many multi-millions and settled out of court for a pittance; I know at least one of them still has an illusion about there is some serious buckage hiding out and they are entitled to a big chunk of it (after over 30 years and they lived in low income housing, it should be pretty obvious if my parents had a nest egg they wouldn’t have been in LI subsidy housing) and I did secure a copy of the final disposition as I know I’ll need it.
Glad that the OP and OP’s DH got enough backbone to cut off from the situation (housesitting, car mending, etc) and they should just keep the distance, and don’t hope for anything other than a big mess; write off the heirlooms (if they still exist) and stay away. In the interm time when the case had been filed and it had swelled to that astronomical number, I sat down with my parents in their apartment and told them that I didn’t care what they did with anything they got, give it to the Hare-Krishnas or what have you; there were a few small family heirlooms that I wanted. They didn’t have monetary value per-se, they were just a few small things that I did want. It cleared air, and they gave me almost all of those and a lot more I didn’t expect to get; mostly because of downsizing further, do what I wished with the stuff. I am still waiting on three items that the ‘vultures’ I know won’t want; and that’s good in all.
OP’s daughter, there are still many ways out there to get a college education and afford it; just that you’ll have to look for them, work for them, and take what you can get. Have you considered ROTC? (It is a way to afford some colleges that otherwise an aid packet won’t touch…)
OP, hoping you and your family can rise above this; and you can get your daughter into college.
Wow, you are a great example to students, everywhere! Seriously, that is great!
That was over three decades ago, but it’s still true. You can go to college, but it may take some serious planning and work, dedication, and willingness to get there. Thank you, Michelle.
Nobody owes anybody a college education. It’s great if you can get one, but if you realize that the only one that can GET one is you yourself; and once you get there it’s still WORK… that you chose to do. Don’t kid, it can be VERY expensive. Just look harder, even some of the top ivy league colleges and universities have ways.
Let me second the military option. Mine enlistment was 25+ years ago. It gave me the GI Bill which was raised a couple of times before I graduated giving me more money. It also take some great life lessons. I had no interest in being career enlisted but i wouldn’t trade the time I spent in the military for much b/c I would not be “sqaured away” like I am today. It grew me up.
The rest of my college was paid for by going slow and working hard to make money. Mowed grass, cleaned out basements, did people’s chores, and worked several piddly jobs – the work was real, the income was modest. Eventually I was able to get employed full time on campus and was making a fair income and benefits plus a tuition discount. I left before graduation to work in my field (engineering) for more money and more good experience.
Everything seems very expensive these days but I think some people’s hardships are as much about how they manage their money as what things cost. Lots of folks paying other people to do their chores i.e. washing their car, changing their oil, laundry, etc. Lots of people with cable TV, cellphones that cost hundreds to buy and hundreds more per year to operate plus internet service. Plus lots of folks out there who wouldn’t be caught dead in discount clothes or an old car.
Side gigs plus scholarships plus grants plus GI Bill plus summer work like mowing grass, etc all adds up if a person is frugal.
OP my DH is the unfavored son and endured years of neglect by his adoptive parents (after he was adopted they became pregnant with their golden boy). DH has since left home and made a life for himself, successful career, real estate empire and has a wife (me) for the past 25 years. Our kids are both off to college paid entirely by us. Grandparents don’t offer a thing (my parents are deceased) even though we help them out now and again (we manage their properties).
BIL is divorced, no kids – too late now, chronically unemployed and constantly asking them to pay his bills (he once asked us but I gave him the death glare – “Seriously? We are raising kids”) The money his parents shoveled at him did him no favors, in fact, it ruined his life.
You are the lucky ones. The only sticky wicket is the parents will eventually rely on you for their care (since other son is so destroyed). Think ahead on how you will handle this.
I don’t have kids yet, but I feel like I’m already seeing this from my future in-laws. My fiance has two older brothers who both have kids and whenever they ‘grow out’ of something, whether its clothes or toys or what have you. The in-laws always say “put it in storage for Emma and Fiance.”
Whilst I’m grateful they’re thinking of us, they know we’re not having kids for at least another five or so years. Why should our children get nothing but old hand-me-downs, that have been in storage for almost a decade (his brothers are 15 and 12 years older than him), when the two older brothers’ children all got new?
I also realize that we are entitled to nothing at all, but it’s annoying to see the different treatment. So OP, I totally get it. But admin is right. We’re not entitled to a thing.
Not knowing your inlaws I can only guess but isn’t it possible they’re just exceedingly thrifty?
We lived in hand-me down clothes from our older cousins and that was a blessing for us. We weren’t poor, just economical, and in fact never as kids did we realize that it could be associated with times of financial duress to wear used clothing. Getting that big box of new things every year was like Christmas, we didn’t know they were out of style. Being in an extended family of large families, wearing the clothes of older siblings was just what you did. In fact I think for a certain generation that might even be preferable. I know I don’t see the point in buying anything new for a child that you could wear used because they grow out of their things so quickly!
It does seem like a long while to hold onto those things but look at the bright side, you might get your hands on a vintage treasure.
That is what stores like Goodwill are for. My grandmother decided I needed her old clothes and mailed a huge box of them to me. She was fifty-seven years my senior. I really was not interested in dressing as a ninety-six year old woman.
When you receive those relics of the past, a kind thank-you and a trip to local charity will take care of them. I would check through the toys though. Old Star Wars figures and such might be worth some money to a collector.
That’s the same grandparent who would hire a teen to mow their grass for $5. Uh – Ma’am? $5 won’t buy the gasoline now… 😉
So, I realize I’m not actually there and can’t speak to how the matter is presented in your case Emma (and I understand if it’s a “if you were there it’d be clear” thing.) But I would like to give another perspective. My MIL says the same thing about my nephews’ hand me downs. Always my BIL should put them in storage for the day me and my husband have kids. By the time we have kids those clothes will be at least eight years old.
The thing is, it’s not that she favors one son over the other. And it’s not that she thinks my future kids will be any less deserving of new or nice things. She just *really* hates the idea of getting rid of anything that could still conceivably be useful at some indeterminate point in the future.
It could be a case of waste not, want not, and any money she would have spent could be put towards college funds.
Perhaps, when you are both feeling warm and fuzzy, you could ask her plans for the future, regarding any children you might have. She might just surprise you.
Or not. But at least you’d be prepared.
BTW, if you do have that conversation, don’t just ask what sort of gifts she plans. Maybe just mention that you sometimes wonder about life with your future kids, and what it will be like, and the family dynamics, and all, and then see how she responds.
I agree, don’t borrow trouble and feel hurt before the hurt has been given.
Mmmwait a second, @Emma. Just because your future ILs are thriftily stockpiling their grandkids’ outgrown stuff for hand-me-downs to your own future kids doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re planning to give you NOTHING but hand-me-downs! Don’t holler till you’re hurt, as the saying is.
If your fiance’s parents don’t habitually favor his brothers over him, I don’t think you ought to assume that they intend to start doing so once he has kids. In all families, firstborns get more new stuff than laterborns anyway; that’s just how birth order works.
In any case, as you say, you’re not inherently entitled to any gifts and I’m sure you wouldn’t be rude enough to grouse to your ILs even if they do turn out to be less generous to your (future) children than to their other grandchildren. But why nurse a hypothetical grudge prematurely, even in private?
Hubby’s Aunt has a raftload of grandkids close to our girls’ age. She hoarded all the baby clothes. Perfectly stored, organised into sizes. Our girls (we have twins) lived the first six months of their lives in hand-me-downs. I didn’t have to buy a stitch. When you have two at the same time, who need the next size up every two months this is a godsend. Don’t sneeze at the hand-me-downs.
My firstborn (born when I was 26) got from my mother (among other things) the sleeping bag *I myself* had slept in as a baby. 🙂 I thought it was so cute!
I have a friend who took all the baby clothing my two kids had worn for their first year for her own firstborn who was just a younger than my second, exclaiming how nice it was to get a set of stuff without having to wonder herself what and how much she’d need. A couple years a later, another (common to us) friend asked if I needed these clothes again, or should she pass them to someone else…
Sometimes, passing on clothes may generate the opposite problem. My mother has told how, when my dress became my sister’s, she had added an application or something to make it a new dress, and my sister was sad because she had wanted that exact pretty dress that I (the big sister to be looked at with awe, at least that age) had had. And a friend had a drama when her older son outgrew a cool racing-themed outfit – it was bad enough to know that he couldn’t wear it anymore, but to see his younger brother strutting around in it…!
If my friends with kids are any indication, you will be supremely grateful for all of this stuff when the kids come. All of them wandered around in a state of constant sticker shock at first. Most people I know — even those with decent, middle-class jobs — accept useable hand-me-downs from any source they can get, and I see that those who don’t have a source available to them are very active in those online yard sale groups you see on social media sites. I don’t think that this has any connection to how they plan to treat your children, unless you’ve just presented one facet of an ongoing attitude.
It doesn’t always work that way. I always inherited the clothes my cousin wore. She was nine years my senior and styles had changed. In the beginning of the age of the mini-skirt, I was the only girl in a poodle skirt that came belong my knees. Fortunately, the crinolines that went under it had not survived the years.
I was very thankful when I outgrew her and her things no longer fit.
And I was a teenager during 1970s when there was a big 1950s nostalgia going on, so my mother actually made me a poodle skirt. Seventeen magazine had the skirt in a photo spread which gave the pattern to buy and a place you could order the poodle applique from.
You think that was bad? I was downstream of my female cousin and I had to wear all of her hand-me-downs!
Handmedowns were the best. We were downstream of an older cousin and we received most of our boys’ clothes. Three generations wore those clothes and we passed them on to a friend and her boy(s) wore them too. Certain things just don’t go out of style – jeans, shorts, t-shirts, etc.
I agree with Kimstu! Wait until you are having kids and can fully vet out the condition of the toys/clothes. When my parents boxed up my room they put everything in the boxes including old toys I had when I was a baby. One toy was a musical dog that when you wind it up it plays a melody. It is plush, requires no batteries, and does have a few wear marks (it is 28 plus years old!); but it still works, and my children love it. Also, we had fantastic neighbors in our last neighborhood. When our first child was born they dumped ALL their hand-me-downs on our front porch. The clothes were thrift store purchases that their grandchild had out grown. We have used them for our first child and second child. They are on their last legs now, but we did not have to buy clothes for either of our kids (same gender) until they turned 3! Don’t bite that hand yet!
Wow. Word for word this could be my husband’s family. Though he is the golden grandchild in the sense that they always come to him for everything and they spend more time with him, there is another grandchild in the family who gets all the money and gifts while the rest get nothing. We have the only great grandchildren and they have tried to make one of them the golden great grandchild but luckily it didn’t stick. I don’t get how parents/grandparents can do this to children. They do notice. And the golden grandchild, while not whiny or spoiled, is not very independent as she gets ready to turn into a legal adult. Never had to take responsibility of anything. Very sad.
I too grew up in a family with only one boy. We actually called him “the golden child” because of the ridiculously preferential treatment he received from everyone.
Long story short, as an adult, once my parents were no longer able to provide him with things he valued, he stopped visiting. And when he did visit he came late, left early and was disgustingly rude while he was there. I mean stuff like swallowing air in order to forcefully burp out loud all throughout thanksgiving dinner– when he was 35 years old.
He’s been through two horrible marriages and divorces to two horrible women, many, many failed relationships, and is childless and alone at 50 even though he desperately wanted a wife and family. The problem is, he just has no idea how to behave, he cannot understand why he isn’t automatically the star in everyone’s life no matter what. I’ve given up trying to socialize with him. It’s just too frustrating and embarrassing.
So OP just realize, your nephew really is getting the short end of the stick. I was often sad, upset, angry as a girl over the fact that I had to do chores around the house, and then start working outside the home as soon as I could (age 13) while my brother’s only responsibility was football practice and his social life. But looking back I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m in a much better place emotionally, socially, financially as an adult than he is. And I know it is 100% because I was made to stand on my own two feet during my formative years.
In my family there were four kids. Three were/are Momma’s babies. I was my Father’s child. My Father was a work-aholic and lived with responsibility and raised me to be self sufficient. Mom raised her kids to do nothing, she would do whatever had to be done and if it didn’t have to be done, don’t bother. The house was rarely cleaned, laundry rarely washed, etc unless my Dad or I did it. My siblings occasionally have jobs that bring them a little play money. At 17/18 I was for a time, the sole financial provider for my family. My siblings sat around the house all day doing nothing while I worked all day (two of the three were old enough to work, older than me) and then came home and was made to clean up the messes my mom and siblings made all day and hand over my whole paycheck for food and bills for everyone then my mom would request more money for rent from me even though she had taken my whole pay check.
Now all of my siblings live in one tiny run down house with my mother. Sometimes they’ll work jobs making very little and doing as little as possible. All of them contribute nothing to society. And I’ve known for some time that though I’m not well off financially (far from it because I mostly do charity work, giving and doing for others) at the point when my mom goes, any plans will be on my shoulders because my siblings never learned to be capable of anything.
I used to try to earn my mom’s love but a couple years ago I was chauffeuring my mom and siblings around because they didn’t have vehicles and my mom was spending hundreds on each of my siblings meanwhile expecting me to put out time, money, etc for all of them and getting nothing. She spent around 1000.00$ on my three siblings in a few days and less than 10.00$ on me. And said I was ungrateful for her (before you ask, yes I thanked her for the few dollars she spent on me while my siblings neither thanked her or me for anything). I gave up. My mom has made it clear all my life that I was last. As sad as it is, it was better that way. I am the only kid that is not emotionally, mentally and generally stunted in every way. I wish I had a good loving mother but I’m glad I was never her pet and therefore learned to be a functioning adult.
Sorry you had to have such a short stick in life, PB, but. I do hope you know about restraining orders, which I hope you’ll never need, as once your mom goes I bet you collect every one of your siblings at your door, furious and horrid, that there isn’t a new place to roost with free everything.
May you be able to keep your distance as this one unfolds. And again, it does blow wads, I offer you sympathy on all of it.
Put some miles between you and those siblings when the time comes. Its hard to go halfway across the country when you’re broke and lazy like the siblings. Beware though b/c if they did come, they might assume you’d be a good host and put them up. Maybe you could only leave a post office box forwarding address?
Those kinds of people are like acid on the soul. They take the joy out of life.
Why do I feel I’ve read this story before? It seems so familiar like it was on another site. Maybe these types of stories happen all the time.
You can look up Golden Child of Narcissists and get info. My grandmother did this to a smaller extent. I noticed it while I was quite young and I’m sure other children do too.
OP, it’s ok to feel sad over it. Just try not to transfer your resentment to your children. Admin is right about the battle over the estate. Steel yourself mentally now.
In my family, the “golden” child died in a drunk driving accident (incident frankly. Can’t believe it is called an accident with the driver is intoxicated) when I was still in elementary school. He was the driver, wrapped his car around a tree, and seriously injured his passenger. Being “golden” is not a good way to go through life. After that, I don’t think there was a replacement unless it was me and my brothers because we were the ones who visited most often (despite other cousins living across the street from the grandparents). It didn’t spoil us though–we always knew were were going to have to pay our own way (through scholarships, aid, and loans) and that’s what we all did.
On the other side of the family, all of the other grandkids were the favored ones while my brothers and I were the outcasts. Our dad divorced our mom and suddenly we were no longer invited to anything except the biggest holidays or when they needed a “family” picture. My dad was the “golden” one of his family so apparently being associated with our mother caused us to be non grata. And then they acted all mystified about why we never called them and why we stopped coming for holidays. Here’s the five dollar gift you gave us while our cousins were opening hundred dollar gifts, use it to go buy a clue, gran.
OP, this is the family you have but it isn’t the family you have to keep. If you can, bring your niece into the fold and give her some support–she is too young to be having to deal with this shit and desperation to get out of her current situation may lead her to making bad choices. Help her and your children realize that while a leg up from the grandparents may be nice, it isn’t necessary to success. If nephew comes around, keep your arms open for him too–sounds like his parents suck and his grandparents are doing their best to ruin him.
First of all, I know where you are coming from, OP. Been there, seen that, got the t-shirt.
It really stinks, especially when the kids are old enough to understand.
My grandfather on my Mom’s side remarried many years after my my grandmother passed.
She had a “real” granddaughter, and then there was my sister and me….”the step-grandkids.”
EVERY Christmas, my sis and I would (no exaggeration) would have ONE present to open, and while I know it’s the thought that counts, it would always be a very ugly/way too big/ too small item of clothing.
My cousin, however, would get numerous expensive gifts….clothes that were the right size, toys, saving bonds….etc. I’m not stretching the truth at all when I say we would sit there for at least an hour watching my cousin open the mountain of gifts she’d received. Many Christmases and Easter’ s would entail my mom in tears on the way home because her girls were treated like absolute garbage.
Good Luck to you and your family, my Dear!!! 🙂
I have a similar issue with my MIL. My two sons are her only grandchildren, but they are treated very poorly by her, with her instead heaping gifts on two female children that aren’t even related to her. The girls don’t do anything for her, as I could understand if they were the type of kids who came over and helped with her home or pets or just kept her company. No, she seems to be fixated on girly things and, especially since the boys have grown out of the adorable little kid phase, she no longer seems the least bit interested in them. She has literally bankrupted herself buying them things from expensive dresses to horses. Real horses and all the accoutrements. She’s trying to sell her house before the bank takes it. Of course, the girls and their parents aren’t helping out in any way.
It’s extremely upsetting for the boys, as my parents refuse to see me or them because my parents choose to belong to a cult that will not allow them to have anything to do with someone like me who got out. So my children do not have grandparents in their lives. My ex is a diagnosed narcissist, so he’s not there for them either. I am the one adult in their lives that they can rely on, and that puts a lot of pressure on me, and makes them hypervigilant about me and everything I do and say.
I don’t know. While I certainly don’t think the grandparents OWE their granddaughter help with college, after watching them spend for years on their grandson, I really don’t blame the OP and DH for asking. If only to point out the ridiculous discrepancy.
That said, let it go, OP. Good luck.
OP here, Just want to clarify some things. My nephew lives with his mother, and my niece lives with her dad. They don’t see each other that often. My BIL has had a lot of drug and alcohol issues, and is a serious mooch when he falls off the wagon, so we limit our contact with him. That’s why we didn’t know the condition our niece was living in, and she never mentioned a thing whenever we saw her. My MIL and FIL DID know and did nothing about it, or even mention it to us. She has since moved into an apartment that she can manage well on her own.
My DH has had a lifetime of this disparity to live with, I have only seen it the last 25 years, so when he said he was going to ask his parents for assistance with the tuition, it was more to see what the response would be, rather than an actual need for the money. My daughter qualifies for a student loan. His parents have done an amazing job at ruining his two younger brothers to the point that they have become dysfunctional, and I could see them living on the street eventually if they can’t get it together. They are now doing the same thing to my nephew and that is what makes him so angry, because it is all the same mistakes. He wants to wash his hands of the whole family, but they are master manipulators and can make him feel so guilty if he doesn’t help them.
Hmmm….I ‘m going to say it….your husband set himself up for disappointment and a renewal of his bitterness by asking a manipulative question he had decades of experience to know what the answer will be. Yes, it was a manipulative question because you have the means to fund the daughter’s education without asking the grandparents for it. Why would he entangle himself in that kind of emotional morass with emotionally abusive parents again? Geez, he stepped right into it!
Your niece has the right idea of not enabling her father to exploit her finances any longer. Helping people who refuse to help themselves is not love and perhaps you and your husband can begin to think of ways to sever the ties that continue to facilitate other family members’ bad choices.
I don’t know why he sets himself up for disappointment liked that. I think he feels that one of these days they will realize their mistakes, and they will lavish all the attention on him that he has missed. I think it is just another twist of the knife. They still ask him to do things for them like car and home repairs, and if he refuses, they get extremely passive aggressive, and guilt him into doing what they want. I keep out of all that drama and leave the decision up to him. Sometimes he gets upset when you point out all their flaws, and says they are still his parents.
One good thing is that when the girls were 9 and 11, we lived next door to an older couple who have distant children and no grandchildren, and they became adopted grandparents for my kids. My mom had just passed away the year before, and these people love my girls like their own, the feeling is mutual. They do all the grandparenty things with them, They never forget any birthdays or holidays and even now my kids enjoy spending time with them, and they share many interests. They have really helped sooth the hurt the GPs have done to my kids.
I know it’s tough to think the best, hope for the best but with some persons this becomes a futile waste of time and energy. They will never change apart from a miracle from God.
And you have a lovely blessing in those neighbors.
Agreeing with admin totally here!
Thanks for update on niece OP, I am glad she’s managing well on her own.
Admin is right here. I have one big rule for all who enter my house: Do not ask a question to which you do not want to hear the answer. Meaning if you ask DH if you look fat and he says yes, you cannot get mad at him. Yes, it hurts, but you did ask. It stems from the fact that my family goes on “fishing” expeditions instead of asking questions outright. I got a text from my sister once after my youngest had been really sick asking how everyone was, how things were going, etc. I knew my mother would have told her about my child; but instead of asking how my child was she tap danced. Do we always ask those questions? No, sometimes we tell the other person to not answer it. Are we always truthful? No, but we strive to be truthful.
Thanks, OP. I got the sense reading your story that DH’s request for money was less an expectation and more giving his parents the opportunity to even up the treatment of the grandkids. Sometimes it’s better to ask. Years later you could hear “why I had no idea you were in need!” when you know it’s probably not true – but you can’t say definitely.
I was in a similar position once – I was upset about being turned down but in the long run the reply I got gave me definitive insight into the character of the person to whom I directed the request – and that was invaluable information. I was worth the disappointment.
Regarding Emma–My daughter married a guy last year who has two older kids and his older daughter is “golden” even though he does not have custody. he gives those older kids all kinds of stuff they do not need or appreciate.
He has a storage unit full of old stuff and clothes that the older ones had grown out of. My daughter has to “ask permission” of the 10 year old daughter if she wants to use any of her stuff–like a baby stroller. Daughter said the heck with that. She was allowed access to the clothing and she can use some of it for her two boys, and she has been donating a lot, and has even sold a few pieces of the girl’s baby things on eBay. So if some of the stuff is in good condition, be happy to have it–the rest can be donated. you will probably get a shower some day with a lot of nice new stuff, anyway!
PS–the in-laws of this daughter are like the ones in OP’s story, except they have three kids and play them all off each other all the time–even though youngest son is the golden boy. Middle daughter is a drunk who has had 8 miscarriages, and the MIL was rude enough to tell my daughter that SHE was rude to be pregnant in front of her DD. Really????
That reminds me of a story when I married my husband, his daughter was then three years old, and very spoiled because her mom and divorced when she was almost two. (I had nothing to do with the breakup, I met my husband about a year later). Anyway, we marry and I am pregnant with my parents first grandson. I had some problems early on and elected to find out the sex of the baby. My parents were over the moon anticipating their first grandson. Fast forward to my giving birth, and my parents give me a teddy bear they had specially ordered, a blue very soft teddy bear with the words, “All our love to our special grandSON.” My husband brings his daughter to the hospital to meet her new brother and pitched one of several tantrums because she is not the center of attention like she usually was. Of course I don’t blame her, she was three and didn’t know any better. My husband grabs the blue bear and says “here honey! Would you like this cute bear?!? It’s yours!!!!” My folks beat a hasty retreat out the door so they wouldn’t upset me, but there (rightfully so!) PISSED!!!! That little girl is now a beautiful young woman in college, and my folks STILL mention once in awhile what nerve my husband had in giving their special gift to his daughter.
How long before you spoke to hubby after that stunt?
Well…being between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”, I let it slide for a few days then asked my husband why on earth did he give his daughter the bear. He didn’t seem to think any wrong was committed, as HIS daughter wanted the bear and so…She shall have it! He needed her to feel special with all the upheaval in her young life. Now, I’m not a heartless wench, and I certainly appreciated the sentiment, but my folks looked for months for that bear, and they were furious! My parents bought my step daughter lots of gifts for the same reason, New marriage, New sibling, new family. They got her balloons and a cute t-shirt, “I’m the big sister!” We were all in a place of adjustment, and all these years later, “it was just a Damn bear!” No….it was a blue bear for our son. Go to the damn gift shop and buy her another soft toy! Didn’t get it then, doesn’t get it now.
Wonder what would have happened if son ever took something of big sister’s and wouldn’t give it back and you said “It was just a damn _____!”
@asharah: Oh, that happened alot! Didn’t help matters much her mom was very bitter that my husband remarried and started “another” family. My kids toys were fair game, but HER daughter’s things were off limits. Once, when my husband and then two of our sons, picked up our daughter for our weekend visit at our house, we had just announced I was expecting again a few weeks earlier. On the way to grocery shop, my step daughter was very quiet, and we asked what was wrong. She started crying and said, “why are you having ANOTHER BABY?!? MY MOM says I’m the ONLY kid it takes to make HER happy!!!!” Gobsmacked doesn’t even begin to cover that statement.
I have to ask Just4kicks; how old was the girl at the time?
The lack of logic is mind boggling. Totally off topic but I was reprimanded one time by someone b/c their child was drawn to climb all over my parked motorcycle.
All children in a family deserve to be treated fairly. Not equally, but fairly. Treating my sister, paternal cousin, and me equally would have either been very boring for them or painful to deadly for me. (I still remember a woman at a carnival berating my Mom and Aunt because she over heard them telling the face painting woman No she can’t get her face painted, while my cousin and sister were getting their faces painted. We kids were totally confused why she was mad because 1 we had the same number of tickets, 2. I was allergic to the face paint.
Situations like the OP’s need to be handled when it crops up, not years later. My friend had a similar problem with her in-laws. There were 3 siblings. OB, Friend’s DH, YS. YS was the golden child – but she had no kids. Friend and her DH had girls. OB had a boy.
The girls were golden, and the boy was not. At first the differences weren’t as noticeable Friend’s oldest daughter is 12 yo than the cousin. So differences looked to be about age. Then Friend had her 2nd daughter and the differences were much more noticeable. Her daughters were obviously favored over their boy cousin.
Friend explained to her DH that this was NOT acceptable. It took a couple of clue by 4’s because he was so used to his sister being favored. But he got it. They lay down the law. Either his Mom treated the kids fairly or she would not see the granddaughters. Due to a previous time out, she took them at their word and treated the kids fairly. The first Christmas was apparently hilarious. She went to Pier 1 and redecorated the kids rooms. With matching boy/girl everything.
I think that it’s best not to get involved in the struggle for what’s “fair” as an adult. It’s a losing game. That said- you can limit contact, make liberal use of the word “no”, host your own family holiday gatherings, and basically run your lives in as ethical and enjoyable a fashion as you can. We don’t choose our family- but we’re not stuck with them forever, either. The key is taking mindful, consistent and appropriate steps to limit exposure and to seek out healthy relationships, activities and lifestyle choices that reflect your own values and priorities. It’s not easy- but the rewards of peace and goodwill in your own home will go a long way towards compensating for whatever sense of loss lingers after moving away from these formerly primary, ever toxic relationships. Good luck, OP! And start steppin’ AWAY from the drama.
I have nieces and nephews. I remember all of them at birthdays and holidays with nice gifts that are roughly the same in value and spend as much time with them as I can when I travel to visit them. Luckily none are in a bad situation like OP’s niece, but there are occasions when there is a special gift suited to that child’s interests or needs that I will give them, even if it is a bit more than what the other children received that year. But all of them at one time or another have gotten that gift at least once or twice, so there have never been any hard feelings in the family.
Visiting them on vacations is trickier. One year I will spend more time with one sibling’s family and their kids than another and then the next year spend more time with a different sibling and their kids.
While I agree this is all bad, there are always things to these stories we really don’t really realize.my kids are the golden kids . The reason is because my kids go to see my MIL, they buy her gifts, pick her flowers, wash the dishes when they are there, and call. While I don’t necessarily agree with MIL, she does not go out of her way for the other grandkids because they ARE the kids who only come over at Christmas ( for the presents), ignore her birthday and never call. MIL “retaliates” by being somewhat closed off to these other grandchildren, because she is hurt by their attitude (not saying she’s right, just trying to give a glimpse into the attitude).
At least in the context of this story, “golden child” refers to receiving benefits one has not earned.
It doesn’t always work that way, though.
I was the only grandchild in my maternal family (I also had four cousins) that made any sort of effort to have a relationship with my grandmother and yet I could never do anything right by her. She constantly put me down about my weight issues from a metabolic disorder, my taste in music/friends, etc. I’ve always been kind of a geek and she really did not approve of that. My cousins seldom wrote or called her and she often complained about this, yet she spent holidays with them and flew to the opposite side of the country to do so. My family left our home state when I was 10 and I only saw her once when I was 16 and my mother nearly died. Even during that visit she talked constantly about my cousins and bought them gifts during a shopping trip with me. She ended up dying when I was 20, so she only saw me once for about a week during that 10-year period. By the time she had died, I had grown tired of the way she had treated my mother and me and majorly cut back on my interactions with her. My mother never did stand up to her, though.
It took me a long time to realize that the problem wasn’t me–it was her. She did not like my mom as much as she did my aunt and was open about this, and she transferred that favoritism onto the grandchildren. While I was a late bloomer and a little bit unconventional, I was still a good kid, did well in school, was in several school activities, etc. She just chose not to see it. She never really knew me, and that was what she chose. It was, ultimately, her loss and I hope that the grandchildren in this story come to realize it. It took me several years to fully realize it myself.
If your daughter has the grades, she can attend college. Maybe not right away, but she can do it.
And I’ll tell you something – it will mean so much more to her, and she’ll try so much harder for the grades at college, if it is not just handed to her, but she has to work for it.
That said, I hope you can find some financial aid, scholarships, and the like to ease the burden. If it’s not enough, I highly recommend taking a year or two to work and save up for paying her own way through college. I also highly advocate for local colleges, rather than the big names, as a Harvard degree costs WAAAAYYYYYYY more, and gets you maybe a little bit more respect. In the actual trenches of the working world, having the degree matters only for those jobs that actually require a degree, and then, if you have a degree from Phoenix, or from Harvard, it still counts.
And don’t deny the value of vocational schools. They are often set up for you to learn at your own pace, take a test to prove you can do the job, and then will help you find a job. People who have a piece of paper that declares they have been tested and proved that they can do X, Y, and Z are more likely to be hired for an X, Y, and Z job than someone who just says “Yeah, I can do that stuff.” And a few years of skilled labor can be enough to save up for some community college, at least.
My experience with college is that my fellow freshmen and I were tired of living under our parents’ rules, and with our schooling paid for, without us having to work for it, we were more likely to blow stuff off, because it did not have the same meaning for us. Now, my second time around at college, it meant a whole lot more to me, and I was more mature, and didn’t blow things off. YMMV.
Also consider this: Your daughter can skip college, get grants and scholarships, or even loans, or work her way through college. You can’t get a loan or a grant or anything like that for your retirement. You do not owe her a college education, but you do owe yourself a stable retirement. If you can manage to pay for college, without endangering your safety in your golden years, fine. If not, do not give it to her, and hope she’ll take care of you, later. It’s not fair to her, and it’s not a guarantee to you.
I wasn’t going to comment on this story but I have decided that I will share what it’s like to have your parent(s) favor one child over the other.
My parents divorced when my siblings and I were young- sister was 10, I was 7, brother was 4. It was a bitter divorce. After a few years of moving back & forth between parents, my father received permanent custody. My father always favored our brother. I think many men do favor their sons but it was obvious, event at that age, how much “more” of everything my brother got- attention, love, praise, gifts, etc. Brother rarely got disciplined for anything, but my father was not hesitant to punish us girls, me in particular, because I was often told how much I resembled my mother. Mostly, it was verbal, telling us how we would end up being “just like our mother”, with lots of curse words. When he was really in a mood or felt we have done something wrong or had embarrassed him somehow, it was physical- spanking, slapping, grabbing us by the arm to march us off somewhere to get that spanking or “talking to” and leaving a bruise. Brother very rarely got any of that. If he did get punished, within a few hours our father would take him to the store and buy him candy, a toy or something to make-up for punishing him. He got to participate in extracurricular activities, father bought him a fully restored 1969 Nova, gave him money, he didn’t have curfew- he got to do what he wanted, when he wanted, how he wanted and father financed or condoned it all.
When I was still living with father, I got a job after-school, bought a used car from my uncle and still kept up my grades and chores at home. Father always accused me of lying about my work hours, giving my money to boys and sleeping around. I paid my own car insurance, paid for repairs, gas, oil changes, bought my own clothes and even contributed to household expenses (groceries, bills). That was not enough for father- he expected me to give him additional cash money to use however he wanted. One year I tried out for cheerleading and made the squad but my father made me quit. Told me he would “beat my a$$ if I flounced around in a short skirt, shaking my a$$ and making out with boys”.
Eventually, when we got old enough, we all left our father’s home and moved 2 states away to our mother’s home. Brother did for one summer, when father was ill (hospitalized) and aunt would not let brother, recently graduated from high school, charge things on father’s credit cards or stay at her home without helping out. As soon as father got better, he sent brother money to come home.
Now, 17 years later, father is old, has health problems and needs either live-in nursing care or a day nurse and someone to stay with him at night. Brother calls and expects either sister or I to give up our lives and move our families 800 miles to take care of father, because he is recently married (2nd marriage) and has a family and home to take care of. Like my sister and I don’t. We both work, we both have children and I am married (sister is divorced). So father is being moved to a senior care facility (they shy away from the term “nursing home”) and brother is trying to lay a guilt trip on us. We “should” take care of father since we left home and he stayed (he forgot that we kept him up that summer he was here- paid his rent, bought his household items, groceries and paid his bills).
That is what you, OP, and your DH have to look forward to if you continue to do things for free . I know it is upsetting that your children are not treated equally but it will come back to haunt them. Most of the grandchildren will have nothing to do with them and golden boy will not want to step-up and take responsibility for their care.
I also agree that grandparents should not be expected to pay for your daughter’s college. She can do it, with your help or possibly without it with scholarships and such, and then she won’t “owe” grandparents a thing.
I got a little upset, remembering how our father treated us, when I making my earlier comment and forgot to add: There is no way in Hades that I am giving up everything I have earned to go take care of a man who treated me like manure and a servant when I was growing up. The things he accused me of I never did because I was too scared of him and what he would do if I did. When my sister moved to our mother’s home and it was just Dad, Brother and I, it was like being a student, working adult and maid. I was expected to do pretty much everything, while brother did nothing, and still, that wasn’t enough for that man. I was amazed and in awe when I moved to my mother’s home and my stepdad, who was awesome, helped with everything and treated us all the same. If he gave one money, he gave us all money, even though I was working part-time and making my own money. He helped prepare meals, take care of the house, took care of us when we were sick- I never knew dads did things like that.
So your father used to tell you you would end up “just like your mother”? Apparently your mother dumped a sorry excuse for a human being and married a decent man who treated her, and you, well. I would say following in your Mom’s footsteps would be a goal to be aspired to.
My father used to call my mom terrible names- he used the slur words that start with “b, w, c” all the time. She was no good in his mind because she left him.
I loved my stepdad (he passed away 2 years ago). He really was a wonderful man and I feel lucky that he & mom found each other and he was in my life. I miss him all the time.
Wow. It sounds like your dad had some serious issues with women. It’s sad that he projected them on to innocent little girls in that manner. I don’t blame you for not wanting to be his live-in nurse. He’d probably subject you to the same treatment. Very sad story. I’m glad you got out of that situation and went on to lead a happy life.
I just wanted to point something out in light of the narrative that many of these comments have woven. It seems that most people feel that when there’s the “golden” child and the “other” child, all of the praise and material goods showered on the “golden” child will ultimately ruin him or her. “Golden” will wind up broke, addicted, divorced and dependent after being unable to withstand the novel notion of working for things, while “other” will have learned independence and hard work.
It seems to happen a lot from these comments. But life is not a zero-sum game. If “golden” manages to escape being spoiled and winds up with a stable career, happy marriage, and whatnot, it doesn’t mean that “other” has lost because they’re denied the satisfaction of saying “well, all of that favorable treatment didn’t get Golden anywhere.” When “Golden” and “Other” grow up, they have to do their best to provide for their own happiness. They can both be happy and successful. Their parents don’t get to choose which one does well anymore.
Even in the cases where Golden doesn’t succeed, it’s unbecoming for Other to sneer and gloat. I can see how it’s tempting, but it’s good to try to rise above that impulse.
I do agree that not all the “golden” children end up being “ruined”. Some actually wind up doing pretty well and have good lives, maybe even children that wind up not spoiled.
Speaking for me only, it still stings knowing that even with all the things I did and tried to do- work, school, taking care of the house- my father would jump in front of bullet for my brother, but would push me in front of one.
I was the Golden Child with the parents. My only sibling, my brother was cut out of the will. My father actually said, ”if you give him so much as a coffee cup I will haunt you…” When my parents passed (I took care of them) everything went to me. I had the will declared invalid and made sure my brother got half. I also mailed him a coffee cup.
So, just because people are unfair does not mean you have to be.
Maureen, you are awesome!!!
I know two Golden Children. Two boys, two girls, one of each was ‘golden’.
The boy grew up to have no self-esteem because he felt like a fraud with too much pressure put onto him and was forced into doing things he hated. The girl was on a pedestal and hated herself when she fell off like normal people do. Both of them took failure in anything way too hard.
Both felt enormous guilt when they found out their siblings were being told ‘you’re never going to be as good as X’ (repressed family, lots of stuff only coming out 25 years on).
Non-golden siblings had no self-esteem either because of being held up to Golden Children.
So in short, all four kids were made to feel completely inadequate and miserable.
while i do agree 100% that its your job to pay for collage for your children, i think its wrong that your mil gives so graciously to her grandson sports and not your daughters collage. but, its their money and you cannot tell them how to spend it. but to answer your question yes, you do have the right to be upset, because grandparents should never show this kind of blatant favoritism . it should be in the grandparents rule book or something. my mom and i are very close, and i cant imagine her giving so much to my nephew and not my own daughters. it would hurt me greatly. all you can do is hope for a scholarship or grant or even loan of some sort for your daughters tuition and help her as much as you can and just watch , when your mil’s money runs out one day, your daughters will be capable independent women and Lord knows where you spoiled nephew will be.
Nobody ever experienced this in my family, but I witnessed the Golden Child issue happening with several of my friends growing up. It was so sad to see one child favored above others, and we all felt so bad for the children that got the short end of the stick. Thankfully, the Golden Children I knew all grew up to be good, responsible adults somehow.
One thing I haven’t seen discussed yet on this thread is why? Why do families do the Golden Child treatment? What compels them to do such a cruel and hurtful thing? What is the psychological reasoning behind such behavior?
In my family, it was an issue based on disability. My brother with the ADHD was treated better than I, because as a general rule I was capable of behaving without supervision and taking care of myself. That then turned into Mum always focusing on my brother, and over time it became a “them vs me” thing. And now, there are a lot of hurt feelings. But it made me self-sufficient and capable and for that I can’t thank them enough
We had a similar problem in my family. My Grandmother always liked me better than my brother. However, my parents always favoured my little brother. He was badly behaved, Mum would make excuses for him and his bad behaviour. If he hit me, I would be told to “move away” and “don’t upset your brother”. Nan hated that I, the quiet, well-behaved child would always be in the background; sad, defeated, almost despised by my own family. She always treated me well, I always remembered her punishing my brother when he misbehaved instead of punishing me. I moved in with her when I was 16 and it was the first time in my life I felt loved and appreciated. I’m 26 now and I’m still very close to my grandmother. My brother on the other hand is a delinquent who tried to run over Mum in his car; Mum and I have a better relationship now after I forgave her and cared for her through her cancer. It makes me sad that we lost so many years. But all I can do is vow to make sure my children are treated equally and not let my mother play favourites with them.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the golden child is the only male grandchild. Sounds like the grandparents might not be fond of their granddaughters because of their sex more than anything else.
@ Maureen– A scapegoated sibling here– you are my hero, for your attitude and actions towards your brother–
@NostalgicGal: I’m going to say nine or ten years old when her mom planted THAT little gem into my step daughter’s brain. I sat down when we got home (after my husband practically wrestled the phone out of my hands so I couldn’t call the ex wife and give her a piece of my mind!) and told my step daughter that having another brother or sister only brings MORE love into our home and family, not take love away from her. His ex was a strange one, and SHE divorced HIM! The way she acted, you’d think my hubby dumped her.
I do hope that she’s managed to get away from her mother; and has sorted out into a good life.
There are all kinds….
I lived in a large urban area and state where the woman almost always to a fault (even to obvious detriment to the children) got the kids in a split. Fellow I worked with; had done the split three years past and was a single father. His wife would go over to ‘help her mother and her other family’ every day, leave early, home late; and wouldn’t lift a finger at the house. He worked third shift and said usually there was his three year old sitting on the couch looking out the window waiting for daddy because he was hungry and daddy would fix him breakfast. As she breezed out the door to go help her family for the day ‘they so need me!!!!!’ and how dare he say boo otherwise.
He had enough, they went into court, and it was going to be ugly, until they brought the child into court for the custody. She of course wanted everything, a ransom in child support and alimony, and. The kid stood up, just over four, and said “Mommy I love you very much, but I want to go live with Daddy.” Judge rapped gavel right there and gave him sole custody and cut her off from visitation. (she never contested it). So there he was now, with his son, and he was doing the best he could. (he was paying the minimum alimony required by law then, $50 a month and he said that that was the best ‘good riddance’ tax ever, he was glad to pay it)
@NostalgicGal: Wow. It’s wonderful and a bit sad that at the tender age of four this poor little boy knew enough that his mom didn’t have time for him. Good for your coworker that he was granted custody, and the fact the mom didn’t argue speaks volumes about her intentions.
About 8 years after my husband and his ex divorced, she remarried and a few years later had a son with her new husband. I SO wanted to bring up the “only child that it takes to make ME happy” comment, but I didn’t. Damn near bit my own tongue off in the process…..
And…as much as I love my step daughter, she is more like her mom everyday. Not that her dad and I are perfect, but, she hasn’t called her dad or brothers/sister in months, including Christmas and birthdays. She is an adult now, and we respect her even if we don’t agree with her.