When I was growing up, there wasn’t a lot of money going around. I remember things being okay up until a certain point and then it became difficult. I remember wanting things that everyone else seemed to have that my parents could not afford — a Jansport, a Lisa Frank binder, Five-Star notebooks, a decent pair of sneakers — nothing too extravagant. They are all things I could walk out of the house and purchase today, although I’m not even sure if Lisa Frank binders are still around. If it weren’t for one of my siblings working full-time after graduating from high school, I’m not sure if we would have ever had a computer in our house. I didn’t have a cell phone, which led to my mom calling my friend’s cell phone regularly when I was out after I graduated from high school. So when I look around at my husband’s family, it just boggles my mind.
I always told him that if and when we have a child, that child will not be spoiled. On the other hand, I think he wants to have one child and wants to just to spoil that child to death. We are usually on the same page about money things but when there are money issues surrounding family, we tend to differ here or there because of our experiences growing up. When he first told me he wanted to give his goddaughter money for Easter, I was a bit surprised. The only money I ever received on Easter was either $5 from my grandma or the change and dollar bills my parents shoved into those plastic eggs for us to find around the house. I know how his family is so after my initial surprise, I agreed to it. Then I asked him, “How much?” He looked at me and firmly stated, “Fifty dollars.”
I had to pick my jaw up off of the floor after I screeched, “FIFTY DOLLARS” because I did not expect that figure at all. I was so shocked after he told me that is what he was used to getting as a kid. And even though his family had a little more money than mine did, he was not wealthy—he was lower middle class. So I negotiated him down to thirty dollars and called it a day. I just don’t get it. When I was growing up, I don’t ever remember receiving more than $20 for a birthday or Christmas. We are talking about EASTER. The only people to sometimes spend more on me for Christmas or birthdays were my parents and now my siblings.
So this all leads back to children being spoiled. It’s something I do not get and do not want to participate in but I feel like I have to because of the “family culture” my husband’s family ascribes to, especially now more than ever. There are so many examples that drive me absolutely insane that they even start to boggle my husband’s mind.
- We were at the home of his cousin and his wife for Easter. They have three children. The parents spend a lot of money on their kids, who seem to play sports, take lessons in everything, etc. I think that stuff is great. But then we’re sitting around and we find that two of the three kids have a Nintendo 3DS (that they both said they had barely used), one brings his Mac Book downstairs and the other brings her iPad. I almost had to laugh because my husband & I both work full-time and would not be able to afford all of these things. They also have a rich uncle who takes them on trips regularly and loads them up with tons of money for college. One of the children is in high school, one is in middle school and the other is in elementary school—and they all have more stuff than us!
- For awhile my husband’s mother was very adamant about us giving a particular family member money for every gift because she was struggling. That’s fine and all. Fast forward now to today—which I perceive things are better because I haven’t heard anything from his mom. This particular family member’s husband works a lot but doesn’t make a lot of money. She always says she wants a house but cannot afford one. So I am a bit confused when I see that she is driving a nicer, newer car than ours and when she talks about getting a new iPhone and being on her new iPad. But then I read a post about her kids playing on her iPad and it was a good thing her one child was getting a Kindle Fire for her birthday so she would stop using her iPad. Again, it just blows my mind that a five year old is getting a Kindle.
- One of the children seems to constantly break or misplace her phone—not a cheap phone, a smart phone. She gets her hair done regularly, new clothes whenever she feels like it and now her mom talks about her possibly getting a part-time job. She has absolutely no desire to do that—why would she if she already gets the things she wants?
I guess that’s when it starts to get to me. My husband and I both work hard to be very self-sufficient and hate all of pressure on us from other people that we are not giving enough. When Christmas time rolls around, we have nine kids to buy presents for plus my parents, my siblings and his mom. There are always birthday parties and birthday presents to give. I almost hate contributing to this entire thing where all of these kids get everything they want and more. I am frugal but I absolutely do not mind giving—to a point. I am trying to save-up money for my own life and my own goals so I’m not even sure what to do anymore. I think that’s the thing that gets to me and that I am left wondering about — will any of these kids be self-sufficient? Do they get it? Do they actually understand how much things cost and how hard their families work for these things or will be they grow-up to be self-centered, entitled brats?
I really hope it’s not that latter. But I won’t know until they get there.
And in case you were wondering yes, for the goddaughter’s birthday, I wrote out a check for $75.