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How to deal with my kids having more expensive things than my stepdaughter?

 
 
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2022 12:12 pm
My partner (Sam) and I got married and we recently moved in together with our kids. I have two teenagers (Caleb and Sasha) and Sam has a teenage daughter (Maddy). Before we got married Sam and I dated for a long time almost 4 years. We made sure our kids all got to know each other and everyone got along before we got engaged.

There hasn’t been any issues until we all moved in together. That’s when there became a very clear disparity between the personal items of the kids. Neither me or my husband are very wealthy people. However my late husbands family is and they would always buy my kids whatever they wanted. I think they liked to buy them a lot of things to compensate for losing them their dad and not being able to be around as they live in another country.

Over the years they’ve boughten them so many things. This includes things from clothes to electronics to their bedroom furniture.

The bedroom stuff has caused a lot of issues. Probably because its so visible. My kids all have very nice and new and matching hardwood furniture. Meanwhile Maddys furniture is particle board typed stuff. One of the more expensive things my kids have are these super nice mattresses. They’re the kind that raise up, have built in massagers, and warm up. Sort of ridiculous for a kid to have, but at the time I didn’t see the harm in them accepting them.

Both my kids also have big flat screen tvs for each of their room. Each have xboxs, nice cameras, macs, MacBooks pros, AirPods, and new iPhones. Maddy has an old android phone and a inexpensive chrome book.

There’s also a clothing issue. This probably should have been something we noticed, but we didn’t because well the kids didn’t see each other everyday. However its very apparent now that my kids have much nicer clothing. Like I know because I’m a bargain shopper that you can get a lot of nice looking new clothes at outlet places for most things. But still its not easy to find some things on the cheap. This mostly concerns things like shoes and Jackets. My daughter is a big fan of leather boots and leather jackets, and purses. She has multiple of these things. Things that will last her for years. Maddy has decent quality clothes however they are not name brand and anything like boots and purses are made of pleather.

With all this Maddy has become pretty jealous and wants all these things too. Except Sam and I cannot afford to get her similar things. Going forward we will obviously work to give the kids more equal things. My late husbands family has even agreed to cool down with the gifts and just stick to a present for birthdays and Christmas and add the money they usually spend to my kids college account (which I’m sure will probably be a whole other jealousy issue as Sam doesn’t have a college account for Maddy).

I still don’t know how we will be ever able to make things feel more balanced between the kids. We are planning on saving to get Maddy some new things however we are pretty strapped for cash right now as we had a lot of moving expenses, so it will take awhile. Even when we do save up some money it won’t be enough to buy the same stuff my kids have, so it will still feel unbalanced and probably always will unless we take things away from my kids, which I don’t want to do. Sam however thinks that we should sell my children things and get them all things of similar value. I think that will cause a huge amount of resentment from my kids. It feels very wrong to me to take away their things just because their stepsister doesn’t have as good of things. Especially since they are gifts from their fathers family.

I’m really hoping someone here has some advice on how to help things.Thanks.
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2022 12:32 pm
@Chturbin,
The three girls all get along besides this, correct?

I wonder how your daughters feel? They are teenagers so old enough to understand...have you talked to your girls alone about this? Maybe ask them their thoughts and what they think about making this equitable ? Maybe your daughters will surprise you and come up with something....maybe they are willing to give your stepdaughter some of their stuff?

I agree it is not right to take things away from them. Also wondering is your stepdaughter mom around? Another thing is to speak with your stepdaughter and ask her how she feels? You might not be able to change things material wise but these are all good conversations to teach each of your teens on values and what is,really important. You can let her know you understand how she feels and will try to make things as best for her as possible.

It could be along the lines yes Caleb and Sasha have all material stuff but they don't have their dad and their grand parents are so far they can't see them...they would give all this back to have their dad around...of course all this depends on maddys situation too.

But having these difficult difficult discussions will make all the girls better and caring people...they do need to learn that things are not always fair...it isn't fair your daughters don't have their dad around for instance...forcing your daughters to sell their stuff to me is akin to stealing from them and punishing them, however working with them to understand and perhaps figuring out how they can be fair to their sister can teach them a lot about compassion and love..taking these away could cause resentment.
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2022 12:49 pm
@Linkat,
There is probably a conversation with your daughters around what would be a better way to arrange the house. Should the TV's be in a common area where everyone can use them? Maybe in a game room where everyone can enjoy the video games? Can the girls share clothes? There is probably another conversation about privilege. Your daughters are living way above where their friends likely live and that merits a discussion too.
Mame
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2022 01:00 pm
@Chturbin,
How did the disparity not arise before this if you had been dating for 4 years? Did Maddy never come over and see all that stuff? Had she ever said anything?

I agree with your and other comments here, but jealousy is a reaction/emotion that needs to be discussed. Your kids should not suffer because the other is jealous. It's natural, I suppose, but 'things' are just one component of life. And not everyone would feel jealous or envious, so consider that, too.

The fact is, your in-laws have the money and they want to give to their grandchildren and they should be able to. Why deny them and your children? It's the way things are - some people have more money than others. I also don't think you two should focus any extra money on just the one child - that's favouritism. Your kids would notice and it's not fair.

Maybe have a family discussion and take the focus off the possessions and more onto family activities, talents, etc. Does it really matter what kind of mattress one has?

It's a tough one. I'm just not into commercialism and owning things so I'm coming at this from that perspective. Maybe talk to a family counsellor?
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2022 01:48 pm
@engineer,
Bingo: absolute best answer.

0 Replies
 
Chturbin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2022 04:25 pm
@engineer,
There already is a game system and tv in the living room. The girls are also very different sizes. Maddy is closer in size with my son, but she is far from a Tom boy so I doubt she would want to share any of my sons clothes. I have had conversations with my kids before about not bragging about the things they have and being humble and they are pretty good about it and they don’t show off. It was just sort of hard to hide during the moving process.
0 Replies
 
Chturbin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2022 04:28 pm
@Mame,
Maddy came over to our place before plenty of times, but my kids kept their things in their rooms and we all only ever hung out in the common areas.
0 Replies
 
Chturbin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2022 04:43 pm
@Linkat,
I actually have a son and a daughter. So two girls and one boy.

They all seemed to get along well enough. They never fought before and would have not trouble hanging out on game nights, but at the same time they weren’t particularly close because they all have different interests. Since we’ve moved in though it’s been a bit more tenuous due to the jealousy issues. There were a couple incidents where Maddy has said some less than nice things to us and my kids responded in kind.

Maddys mom is around. She lives with her part time.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Mar, 2022 11:00 am
@Chturbin,
Well, she's just going to have to get over it. It's not the kids' fault, and she could be jealous she's not as tall, not as curly-haired, etc. Ask her what she expects you to do. I'd also suggest a counsellor for her jealousy.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2022 09:30 am
@Mame,
I say this because emotions like "jealousy" and "envy" are a personal matter, and are unrelated to others. It wouldn't matter if the jealousy was because someone were taller or better looking or lived in a better neighbourhood or had 3 siblings - jealousy will rear its ugly head in a jealous person despite the conditions. The person with the jealousy needs some help, not everyone else. Think of it this way - would everyone feel jealous? Probably not. Therefore... it's the person's individual problem.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Mar, 2022 03:32 pm
@Chturbin,
Sorry about that I misread or misunderstood.. I agree with make on this. The jealously part ...it is harder when you blend families especially in the teen years as they are raised under different circumstances.

I asked about the stepdaughter and if her mom is around ...reason being is your children could be jealous of her due to the fact the do have a father around...she gets extra attention from another parent...That isn't fair for your children.

That is why I suggest you and your husband have a sit down with each of the teens. Let them vent their feelings so they can be heard but then also discuss the others point of view. I would hope that would help you all to have caring compassionate children and seeing they are teens gave them suggest some solutions ...with your guidance of course.
0 Replies
 
neptuneblue
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2022 06:08 am
@Chturbin,
You don't say the ages of the children and I think that would be helpful to know.

I'm glad you can recognise the disparity among the children but it doesn't seem you are all that sympathetic to your step daughter's plight. I don't see you asking your in-laws to start including Maddie, your new step daughter, in any preparations for the future or gift giving. Maddie continues to be an outsider.

I think that's a mistake. Just as you said, it would be unfair to your children to have to give up gifts provided to them. But is is just as unfair to Maddie to not be seen as a blended part of the new family. If your in-laws can afford two grandchildren, they can afford three. They have may lost a son but now they gained a second granddaughter and should be recognized as such.

I wouldn't worry so much about the bedroom furniture at this point. But the clothes, now that IS a big deal. You commented on having Maddie share clothes with your son... Did you really think about that? To me, that shows your ambivalence to what Maddie has to go through with your family on a daily basis. No kid wants hand-me-downs and certainly not from a step sibling of the opposite sex, no matter the quality or brand name.

If Maddie is old enough to get a part time job, you could strike a deal for every dollar she saves for clothes you'll match it or even a 2 for 1 deal. There's lots of stores such as Plato's Closet that sells pre-worn items for teens and young adults and websites like Thread Up and Posh Mart that do the same thing.

Maddie feels like an outsider, even in her own home. Yes, that is going to build resentment and jealousy. So make it a point to exert more of an effort just being there for her, listening and helping her to achieve goals your children had handed to them.

You now have three children. It's up to you to make this work.



Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2022 07:55 am
@neptuneblue,
Neptune...I think the clothes sharing came from me..I did not realize that she had a boy and girl ... I thought it was all girls involved so I suggested that maybe with her kids buy in they could share some of their things ...so I think this got misinterpreted all around.
0 Replies
 
Chturbin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2022 09:21 am
@neptuneblue,
Maddy is 17. Sasha is 15. Caleb is 13.

I can ask ask, but I can say with absolute certainty that they do not think of Maddy or my husband as members of their family. Tbh I get that being a big boundary for them.

I think you may have misread a comment. I said that Maddy would likely not want to share my sons clothes. None of the kids share clothes right now.

Thanks you for your other suggestion though. I will talk about it with my husband.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2022 09:28 am
I just don't understand how you didn't see this coming during the previous four years - see signs of it and deal with it then. Or perhaps you tried?

Anyway, bottom line, as I said earlier, jealousy is a personal emotion. "Laura" may have said, "Oh, lucky you!" and continued on with life. Why are some people jealous and others not? I certainly don't think your children should be penalized because one person cannot control their feelings. She needs to see a counsellor because jealousy extends in all areas - getting or not getting on a team, getting or not getting a promotion, being invited or not to a party, etc. Counselling would help her deal with this her whole life long. And jealousy is certainly not the basis for great friendships.

Edit: There are a ton of articles online you could read.
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2022 10:00 am
@Chturbin,
Personally I think it is a bit much to ask in-laws to give gifts to a step child. It is their money they should give as they feel comfortable.

I think it would be a nice thing to do....in my family my brother has a step child whose dad is very involved in her life .... My mom treats her as if she is her blood grandchild ...Now my brother was involved in her life since she was very young so to all of us ahe is no different to us than her siblings who are my brothers birth children.

But every blended family dynamic is different and these kids are all older and Maddy is one year shy of being a legal adult so she should be mature enough to understand this. Especially knowing her age now...I honestly cannot understand the jealousy.

I grew up in a family of four...all brothers and I was one of the middle kids...my other middle brother was treated completely different by my grandmother than any of the rest of us. She was his godmother and my grandmother although not wealthy spoiled him rotten...well he wasn't rotten..she just doted on him. He had a room in her apartment that was filled with toys..she took him out every Saturday and they would spend the day together.

You know what ... I never felt jealous of this...I have no explanation why...it was just the situation. And I was significantly younger than Maddy when this all occurred. I guess I never thought anything odd about ... They were just close
0 Replies
 
Chturbin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2022 10:38 am
@Mame,
I don’t know it just never came up and I didn’t see any signs. Even thinking back I can’t think of a single incident. The kids got along before.

I’ll talk to my husband about counseling.
0 Replies
 
neptuneblue
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Mar, 2022 10:50 pm
@Mame,
I disagree with your philosophy. You are attributing extremely highly sophisticated concepts to the mind of a teen ager that most adults would not even consider. Your "get over it" mindset is not based in reality and can actually make a home life more difficult for a blended family.

It's not just one person here, although you consider Maddie's feelings to be unjust and self centered. On the contrary, she is seeing the exact truth, the disparity of the division of assets. You talk about friendships but this isn't about friendships at all.

OP's children lost a father and the guilt and the pressure from the parents-in-law to over compensate for that loss in the form of goods over the price range of the custodial parent. Although I'm not faulting Mom, she could better understand how detrimental that is to her children, having a life style that she, alone, cannot provide to her children.

Asking to have Maddie included should not be seen as a punishment, any more so than having a child with the new husband should not be viewed as a slight against a dead husband and son. Life moves on and people are sometimes added or subtracted from the equation.

Yes, jealousy IS a healthy form of expressing displeasure. And it's up to the parents to figure out who and what comes first in a blended relationship.

Maddie's needs are not being considered here. That really needs to be addressed.
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Mar, 2022 12:01 am
@neptuneblue,
neptuneblue wrote:


Maddie's needs are not being considered here. That really needs to be addressed.


That's why I suggested counselling. Another kid wouldn't be bothered; another would be bothered more. Jealousy (and other such feelings) are an individual thing.

She may be "seeing the exact truth (the disparity of division of assets)", but that's also reality. She also may not be as good-looking, talented, gregarious or skilled. What do you do then? Compensate for that by having the others look ugly, act stupid, try to be introverted?

How do you know that parents-in-law are over-compensating? Do you know them? Maybe they just love their grandchildren. And even if they are cover-compensating, so what? Are they not allowed to act on their feelings?

I didn't suggest Maddie should not be included, but as the OP suggested, the in-laws likely won't want to do that, nor should they be pressured to. She is not their offspring and they shouldn't be expected to even out the differences.

She's 17, not 7. Time to grow up and accept what is. Love and inclusion on non-material issues goes a long way - be invited to help cook, play games, go to events, etc., are more meaningful than an iPod. It is what it is.

So, in effect, I disagree with your philosophy as well.

Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Mar, 2022 08:17 am
@Mame,
I agree with Mame - this girl is 17 - one year shy of being a legal adult.

What happens when/if she goes off to college and say her roommate is wealthy - she goes home and cries rather than knowing that things in life are not always fair - no one is suggesting the parents handle this in a heartless fashion - no - instead handle it in a way to "teach"; to help this daughter be a better understanding resilient person. To give this teen tools to handle harder situations.

If they were to instead convince these grandparents to also give Maddy expensive gifts what does the girl learn? She learns by whining and complaining she will get what she wants. They raise an entitled child.
 

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