“Why do they always get EVERYTHING they want?” – This is a question that my biological son asked me a few years ago after listening to my stepchildren talk about all of the stuff they received at their mother’s house on Easter morning. It was a difficult conversation to have but one that I was actually waiting for.
You see, my stepchildren literally get anything they want at “Mom’s house”. All three of them are spoiled by their mother and maternal grandmother. On Easter morning, they get such things as bikes, game consoles, clothes, American girl dolls, etc… At our house, the Easter bunny leaves a basket (for all 5 of our kids) filled with chocolates and other small goodies. That’s it. My husband and I have the same family values when it comes to our children. We don’t overdue it on holidays – the kids still get more than enough on Christmas morning and birthdays, etc. My biological kids are treated the same at their Dad’s house too. They get enough ‘stuff’, but it isn’t an abundance of gifts that gives them a false sense of reality. Money doesn’t grow on trees….as they say.
(A bit of context – my husband’s ex wife works in a job where the income primarily comes from a large amount of tips that she doesn’t declare to the government, therefore, she receives more child support and government tax benefits than she should be receiving. A LOT MORE)
My husband and I try to counteract what they are being taught at their other home as much as we can. That is that you have to work hard to earn money and it isn’t “STUFF” that brings you happiness. We focus on time spent with loved ones and giving more than receiving. But it is a very bitter pill to swallow when I have to look at my two children listen to their stepbrother and stepsisters go on and on about all of their new ‘stuff’. Every parent wants their children to have the best of everything, but we also want them to grow up to be decent people who have values and understand how the real world works. My biological children are now 16 and 18, so I can have a more adult conversation with them about why my step kids get more stuff than they do. But when they were younger, it was difficult to try to hide it or explain it to them. I saw the look in their eyes when the kids would arrive at our house with new toys or brand name clothes. It made me sad for them and at the same time angry that my step kids were being taught that they will get anything they want just because they asked for it.
I definitely have seen a change in my stepkids over the years as we have worked with them to earn their allowance and buy things for themselves. But it is a constant struggle that we will continue to fight. Ie. My stepdaughter was saving her own money for a camp that she really wanted to go to. She was only a couple of hundred dollars away from reaching her goal when her mother went ahead and paid the registration fees for the entire camp and gave that to her as a birthday present. So now, my stepdaughter doesn’t get the feeling of having saved up and reached a goal all on her own. The same thing happened with my stepson a couple of years ago when he was saving up for a scooter. She went and bought it for him before he could do it on his own. And he was so close to reaching his goal.
I know that at the end of the day we will make some progress by continuing to teach ALL of our children the values that we share in our home. It’s just another example of focusing on the things we can control in blended family life. We are going to do what we can and love each other along the way.