Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Sons should not be caught up in perceived financial inequity

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Sons should not be hung up on perceived financial inequity

Q: Father helped send two sons to law school, though they have student loan debt they'll be paying for decades. Father has much younger stepdaughter. The sons are not particularly close with father's "new" family.

Stepdaughter plans to go to medical school. Sons suspect that financial support for her will be greater than they received. Should they insist the stepdaughter receives the same? Less? Don't sons have right to better treatment?

Gratitude vs. Resentment

A: Ugh, no. First of all, "sons suspect" is not the same thing as "sons know," so treating suspicions as actionable facts is a bad idea to begin with. As is inserting themselves into a transaction that isn't their business.

Second, accounting fairness nickel-for-nickel is arguably not fair. Father helped his sons, presumably, as much as he was able to at the time. As an older man supporting fewer children now, maybe he's able to do more. Would it then be fair for him to help his stepdaughter less than he is able to? And what would his reasoning be — because she's not really "his"?

I imagine stepchildren would have a lot to say about being treated as less worthy of love and support than . . . what's the adjective you'd use here, "real" children? "Biological" children? What about adopted kids, are they less worthy too, then?

Seems to me the more reliable path to a full heart and a warm life is to be grateful for what you've been given, and not gather supporting facts toward begrudging what others receive.

There is clearly some doubt here, and should be, since the sons don't have firsthand knowledge of the father's finances — and the sons benefit from this doubt. They're better off assuming nothing beyond that their dad loves them and did his best.

That said, I could argue it's time for them to get to know this "new" family better, since their fates are linked in many ways, especially as the father starts to fade. Isn't it better to have people pulling for each other, versus against?

Anonymous: Okay, I'm the older daughter who watched my dad buy a Porsche, then tell me he couldn't help with college — then watched years later as he fully footed the bill for my half brothers. I get it.

But you're conflating "treatment" with "money." If this is about his love or the way he "treats" you in everyday life, then talk to him about that. If this is about "I didn't get a free ride, why should she?" shut your mouth long enough to listen to exactly how selfish and entitled you sound: You're willing to hurt both your dad and your sister (who has zero say in this), simply because you're jealous that she got a better lollipop than you? You really want to be that guy?

You can approach life one of two ways: on the assumption that you are the less-favored child, or on the assumption that your dad loves you and did the best he could with what he had. Either way, you will find plenty of evidence to support your worldview. So: Which one is going to make you happier?

Carolyn: Sitting and typing that I'm standing and clapping. Thanks for the firsthand account.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Overwhelmed parent weighs out options

Overwhelmed parent weighs out optionsQ: Since my kids were born, my job basically covered the cost of day care. The kids came home overtired and overstimulated.As they became preschool age, I restructured my work to freelance so I could drop off and ...
Published: 12/12/17

Tell Me About It: Identity of biological father is revealed

Identity of biological father is revealedQ: When I was 18, my mother revealed that the father I grew up with was not my biological father. She claimed she didnít even know my bio father, and never contacted him again after their brief weekend fling a...
Published: 12/11/17

Tell Me About It: Parentsí extreme sheltering feels creepy

Parentsí extreme sheltering feels creepyQ: My daughter, 11, has three friends from school. One girlís parents are generous hosts. "Emma" is an only child and has a pool, fun toys, great snacks.The problem is that Emmaís parents donít let Emma be a gu...
Published: 12/10/17
Top things to do for the week of Dec. 11-17

Top things to do for the week of Dec. 11-17

Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress roars into Tampa’s Amalie Arena on Friday ($45.75-$195.75). amaliearena.com. Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights begins Tuesday, bringing fun celebrations including Hanukkah in the City at the Sundial St. ...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/12/17
Wild weather expected, 2 boat parades canceled

Wild weather expected, 2 boat parades canceled

Boat parades that were planned tonight in South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach have been canceled because of weather fears.Organizers said they will not be rescheduled. Heavy rain is expected to approach the gulf coast near sunset Friday ahead of a stro...
Published: 12/08/17
Fun and profound Hanukkah celebrations around the Tampa Bay area

Fun and profound Hanukkah celebrations around the Tampa Bay area

It’s time to observe the Festival of Lights, starting at sunset Tuesday and ending Dec. 20. Many congregations seem to be having a great time, because Hanukkah celebrations this year are hilarious. There’s a menorah made of fidget spinne...
Published: 12/08/17
From Hogwarts Castle to your home, digital projectors give a real light show

From Hogwarts Castle to your home, digital projectors give a real light show

At night, Hogwarts Castle is suddenly dusted with snow in steamy Florida. It’s not really snow, but light causing this trick of the eye. Projectors and sophisticated software then send ghosts across the castle towers. A turret spins and turns i...
Published: 12/08/17

Tell Me About It: Self-awareness best way to break bad habit

Self-awareness best way to break bad habitQ: I recently had a friend tell me that I have become arrogant since I entered a new career in which thereís a culture of snobbery and one-upping.I was defensive, and would really have liked to believe she wa...
Published: 12/08/17

Tell Me About It: Exís attempt to make amends falls flat

Exís attempt to make amends falls flatQ: My first love e-mailed me out of the blue, after 10 years, to make amends as part of his AA program. The lengthy e-mail detailed my exís love for me, regrets, and urged me to consider a phone call or FaceTime ...
Published: 12/07/17
Three shades of comedy this week: Game Grumps Live, Harlem Globetrotters, Liberal Redneck comedy tour

Three shades of comedy this week: Game Grumps Live, Harlem Globetrotters, Liberal Redneck comedy tour

VIDEO STARS: Game Grumps LiveYou thought video game players were wasting their time, but these days professional players are packing stadiums and making more money than youíll ever see. They also give us hilarious shows like Game Grumps Live, coming...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17