Christmas Lists 2008

imamommyNovember 29, 2008

On Thanksgiving, DH got the paper to look at all the 'Black Friday' ads. SD had given me her 'list' a few days earlier and I didn't know what half the stuff was. Her 'list' was on a full binder page... completely filled on front & back. Just a few things she wants... ipod, Nintendo DS, xbox360 & games, and like I said, every line filled on front & back. So, as I was looking at the ads & realizing what some of the things are and what they cost, I was pretty shocked. There's no way we'll be able to afford a fraction of what she wants this year. In the past, DH has let her make a list and she's gotten everything on her list. Usually, it's a short list & even then, I objected to him buying 'everything' on the list because, in my opinion, it takes away any surprise factor since she knows what she asked for and she gets it.... and it leads to her expectation that she'll get everything on her list... that feeling of entitlement.

Last year, DH didn't get her everything on her list because she also asked for many big ticket items and she already had a lot of what she asked for, she just wanted 'new' ones. (some of the things on this years list are things she has at her mom's house already) It was disappointing for me to see her get three times the gifts my kids got and toss them aside with disappointment because they weren't the big ticket items she wanted. In the end, she was upset and my kids were annoyed with her attitude. It wasn't about what she got vs. what my kids got, my kids were satisfied with what they got. Everyone was irritated with her attitude, including her dad. We tried to make it a good Christmas for her but it ended up with her being upset and crying in her room.

This year, I am already dreading it. She isn't with us on Christmas this year but we get her the day after. With the list she made this year, I'm dreading re-living last year's disappointment under the tree. With the economy what it is, our families are not exchanging gifts. DH and I are not putting anything on credit, so it's gonna be a 'humble' Christmas. My kids, growing up with me being a single mom, have had 'humbling' Christmas's in the past, so they understand. We'd spend our time baking, decorating & going to holiday festivals & charitable stuff. SD likes doing all that stuff too, but she also expects her list to be fulfilled. DH says she'll be with her mom, so he isn't going to worry about it. He is in agreement that her list is ridiculous and he's not going to buy her most of what's on it.

I just want a peaceful holiday and this is already putting a damper on it for me. It's my favorite time of year and I am nostalgic, not into the 'commercialization' of it all. I'd love to see her face light up and see her enjoy the holidays but instead, it feels like no matter what we do, she isn't going to be happy... she's going to compare us to her mom's house and stomp off to her room in tears like last year. We are not 'competing' with her mom, last year her mom bought her a new quad & riding gear. (I heard those things were being repossessed) Our attitude has been that if her mom is getting her lots of big ticket items, we don't need to buy the same things for her here. But, then we get the attitude from her. UGH!

and last night, we went to take our holiday pictures that I send out with our Christmas cards. As I'm ordering my package, she asks for me to order a sheet for her mom. DH told her no because her mom doesn't want a picture of our family. SD got upset that we only took pictures of the family this year, none of just her to give to her mom. Last year, we did take one of just her and gave her mom one. This year, we scaled down to just what we need for our Christmas cards and aren't buying any extra poses. That's another issue that drives me crazy, her wanting us to buy things for her mom all the time. For three years, every time we go into a store (for anything, like cat food even) she asks me to buy something for her mom. We'll tell her 'no, we're here for cat food' and DH has told her several times to stop doing that, but she still does it. She pouts, cries, or gives up tons of attitude when she's told no. Last year, she was given $50.00 to buy gifts for family at her school 'santa workshop' and DH made her make a list, with dollar amounts. She ended up coming home with an expensive item for her mom and a bunch of little crappy items for everyone else. (She got her grandma a string necklace with a bell on it for a dollar) I was a bit peeved at that since she didn't even have mom on her list. So, that would be the other problem I'm dreading this year. The school has the 'workshop' in a week or so and I told DH that I am not giving her any money for it. I gave her the money for it last year and he objected to me giving her that much money, but I justified it by telling him I didn't want her to have to buy a bunch of crappy items, I wanted her to be able to get a few nice things. He isn't giving her money so if I don't, she doesn't get to shop. I'd prefer taking her to the store myself this year (or have DH take her but he hates to shop) but, again I dread the 'can I buy my mom this?' because she wants to get mom all kinds of stuff. We say no, she throws a fit. Makes for a fun outing!!! ~sarcasm intended~ Like I said, I'm dreading it. (I hate to feel this way when I used to thoroughly enjoy the holidays)

Any suggestions???

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We do not participate in Santas Workshop at school because then the kids end up forgetting to get things for some people or buying themselves things! Instead we take them to the dollar store with their list and help them chose items. Last year my ss bought a clear vase for his grandma and painted it with acrylic paint. Then we made some coffee filter flowers to put in it. He loved making it and she loved the gift. My sd decorated an old frame we had around the house but were not using. She painted it with acrylic paint and put a picture of herself in it for her grandma.

We do things like that and relatives love it from them. Plus, we spend much less money!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 11:48AM
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The problem isn't gift ideas as much as it is SD's attitude. It's the pouting, crying and fits because we won't buy her mom all the stuff she wants to get her mom. Last year, I made mom a scrapbook with pictures of SD in several past Christmases, including pictures of her & mom when she was a baby. We also gave mom a nice frame with a picture of SD. (plus the gifts she got her at the workshop) BM is into nascar & SD wanted to get her a bunch of nascar stuff... stocking, ornament, etc. The problem is SD's attitude when we tell her no at the store or when she opened her gifts & tossed them aside like she was disappointed and stomped off to her room to cry. I know it's not the monetary value of it that bothers her but I also want to find ways to help her enjoy the holidays but it seems to be a time of extra turmoil for her. She enjoys it for the most part, watching Christmas shows on TV, movies and baking. I'm not looking for a Norman Rockwell setting when she opens her gifts but I certainly don't enjoy watching her run away crying either.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 12:15PM
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Ima - You know what SD's doing with her mom, right? She's desparately trying to buy her love - just begging for her mom's attention. And that will never happen, no matter how much stuff you buy. Do you think you could rechannel SD's energy into making something for her mom? One year, my DS made a scrapbook of his artwork to give to Grandma. It was inexpensive, but a love-filled project and they got to sit together and admire and talk about each picture.

On the wish list, SD is old enough to understand the basics of "economic tough times" and "can't get everything you want". So I'd try talking to her WELL in advance of Christmas Day to let her know what's realistic and what's not. Kids have no idea what things cost, or what that translates into in terms of hours worked. For her own gift-giving, I'd offer her paid chores and an hourly wage, then help her do the math to see how many hours she will need to work to pay for Christmas. Then ask her how many hours you and Hubby should have to work to pay for all of your Christmas gifts. Then I'd actually translate that into a budget, and ask her to price out and re-prioritize her wish list. Get the pain out of the way now so Christmas isn't spoiled.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 12:31PM
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"I objected to him buying 'everything' on the list because, in my opinion, it takes away any surprise factor since she knows what she asked for and she gets it.... and it leads to her expectation that she'll get everything on her list... that feeling of entitlement. "

Exactly.God,what has happend to kids these days? It is the joy of the surprise that was most important when I was a kid.I remember spoiling Xmas once by finding all my presents.Even though most was what I wanted,Xmas day was boring because I already knew everything I had! I never did that again either.
Sounds like your Sd is a little spoiled,and if my child or stepchild started crying like that after we bought them all that stuff when we certainly could have put that money towards other things,my response would be to say,"Well,if you dont want it,there are lots of kids out there who would love to have it! maybe we'll just pack it up and give it to them..."

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 1:09PM
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Ima, my SD went through a very similar phase at about the same age. Funny thing was, she would accept when mom told her she didn't have the money for big ticket things (because she has to pay us support - a whole $200 a month) but then expect them from us. I later found out at this age she believed us to be "very rich." Hmmm.

Anyway, I did something very similar to what Sweeby said. We got online and priced out everything she wanted and totaled it. Then I told her what the Christmas budget was, and she figured out how over it her list went. Then I gave her the minimum wage, and had her figure out how long Dad and I would have to work (it made a better point using minimum wage) in addition to our regular hours just to get HER everything she wanted, and reminded her she had other family members who would appreciate a gift as well. Then I helped her make a list of all the traditional holiday things we wouldn't get to do because dad and I would be working and she and her brothers would be in day care. Once the picture was painted she started to get the picture.

To add to it, that weekend we did out annual toy clean out before Christmas and she came with me to the woman/children's halfway house to drop them off. She saw the little tree with nothing under it and the overall depressed look of the lobby area. She saw two girls out on their sad little play area. It made an impact. Then we had a long talk about appreciating what you have and being realistic in your expectations. At that moment it all sunk in.

On Christmas you could tell she was still disappointed that she didn't get everything, but it wasn't as bad as I expected. I did wonder out loud if Santa had known all the kids were at the halfway house and made it there. You could see her wheels turning and she snapped out of it a bit.

At 13, she does still have the sense of entitlement that I sadly see in most kids today and loathe, but she also can stop and see how fortunate she is when prompted. This doesn't mean we don't go rounds when she comes to me saying "I need a new holiday dress" rather than "Could I please help you and earn a new dress" or "would a new dress be a possibility - I know I don't need it but I'd really love it for the Nutcracker this year." But, after she pulls her head out of her selfish haze she 'gets it.' I think your SD will do, but it may take a little more 'harsh realization' as to what others don't have to see all that she does.

I know how much this can damper the holidays, but try not to let it ruin them for you. Not easy, I know.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 4:54PM
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Thanks everyone.

Sweeby, I hadn't thought about it like that. It does make sense. Perhaps she equates love with how much things cost or how many... so she wants to get mom a bunch of expensive things and by the same token, she wants to get lots of stuff. expensive stuff = love. Just a thought.

JNM, I was thinking about that too. My daughter was telling me that she remembers all the community service things I did when they were little. When my boys were in cub scouts, I was den mom & organized several toy drives. A few times, we 'adopted' families & supplied them with a tree, decorations, gifts for everyone & all the stuff for a Christmas dinner. So, my kids grew up with lots of charity work and we ourselves were usually struggling, so it was a big deal if they got to make a list, let alone get everything on a list. My kids were ALWAYS thrilled with everything they got, so I have a harder time understanding how a kid that gets more than my kids ever got, could be disappointed.

My DH and I are going to have a talk with her tonight. It is time to explain 'harsh realities' to her. I think she does think we are 'rich' or that obviously we both work and maybe she thinks that we can afford more than her mom, who doesn't work. Of course, then her mom does go buy her more expensive things, like video games and her quad. Of course, mom put the quad on credit & now she's going to lose it and this year, even though she's not working, she bred her dogs and has sold a few puppies at about $1,000.00 each... so she may be able to buy the high ticket items. (we'll see what her priorities are because she probably has to decide between buying gifts or paying her rent with the money she gets from selling her puppies) How do you explain to a 9 year old that mom that doesn't work but sells expensive puppies, has more money than dad & SM that both work... and we both just started working a second job on weekends. It's because we have bills and supporting SD without BM's help and BM is living off her BF, so she has no expenses. Makes it harder to explain things to her because we can't really say anything about her mom without her getting totally upset. I think she knows what her mom is all about, she just doesn't want to hear it.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 7:51PM
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JNM, I have no problem telling my DD that our priorities arent LCD TVs etc., but to tell her how mnay hours I would have to work and then use minimume wage (to drive home the point?) -- I find disingenuous. I emphasis college not only for hhe love of learning, but to find a career. Of course she is at an age where she would understand i dont make minium wage.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 10:09AM
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True - But if you're earning $100+/hour in a highly-paid profession, it doesn't have quite the same impact... And of course, your daughter is much older.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 10:41AM
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My point is honesty with children. I see no need for parents to discuss what they make wich children, but they shouldnt lie (even an indirect, but deliberate misrepensation) either. Even with young children. Where does it lead? What if they remember when you start talking about why school is important? Find a different way to discuss money. I tell my DD that necessities, inlcuding savings come first.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 10:51AM
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The difference KKNY is first you make tons of money and so does your ex.... second.... I could tell my kids there isn't money for this and that and they understood ... no arguments, no sense of entitlement.

My SC on the otherhand well ... seem to think there is an endless supply of money.

But its ok if their mom say she doesn't have money thats ok they don't bug her for this and that ... but if hubby says he doesn't have any money they think he is lying.

Guess all the times she told them to ask hubby for this and that because she was paying CS and didn't have to buy them anything left a mark in their brains so they think he "has" to buy them everything they want.

So now comes my real issue :)

SD9 (10 in 2 weeks) takes everything she has here to mom's everytime she leaves she takes a bag of stuff with her ... her stuff here is dwindling because "she doesn't live here anymore" she wants to take all her stuff ... clothes toys pillows blankets books, you name it its gone I think she has one pillow here no toys left ...anyway ....

Trying to think of something she can't take with her to get her for christmas... or just tell her it stays here (and deal with the aftermath) or buy drums and a guitar??

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 5:44PM
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I dont think how much a parent makes should excuse a lack of honesty. Is your first point that it should?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 6:00PM
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My point was that Ima's SD was out of touch about how much she was asking for on her Christmas list, and that one way to put it into perspective would be to translate it into hours worked. That way, she could understand and modify her wish list into something realistic. From my point of view, it makes sense to use a wage representative of what the child could earn for a child's wish list, and use teen's wages for a teen's wish list. But a parent who is paid a moderate wage by the hour could certainly use something along those lines, if they're comfortable sharing that kind of information with their children. (I'm not.) Now if you were a CEO making $10,000 per day, it would be hard to use your 'real' salary to justify to your child that her $10,000 wish list was inappropriate. Even if you didn't use real numbers, the whole point of that exercise would be lost.

I know too many young adults who seem to think their standard of living should immediately equal their parents'. As soon as they graduate from high school or college, they're off buying the same types of things their parents bought them in the same quantities. And going bankrupt.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 8:52PM
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When JNM explained it, she said "Then I gave her the minimum wage, and had her figure out how long Dad and I would have to work (it made a better point using minimum wage)"

I agree many people (adults and teens !!) are out of touch about spending, and I certainly think discussions about money are in order. I just think if you are going to say how long Dad and I would have to work, then you should be using your current hourly after tax rate. Otherwise, say something else.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 9:30PM
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You could buy her a pet rat or snake...eeeeew.

Or a ferret...they smell!

Maybe she could take that to Mom's...

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 11:20PM
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Well, we talked to SD last night and it worked out fairly well. It helped that we worked at my dad's business all day Saturday. DH and I, along with my daughter and SD, went in & washed chairs all day. (Dad rents wedding/party supplies like tables, chairs & china, etc.) and DH scrubbed the chairs, I put them through the washer, my daughter collected & stacked them at the end. Then we dried & stacked them. It was physical labor but not too difficult. It gave her an idea what work is, that it's not sitting at a desk answering phones (even though that can be very stressful too) but my kids used to tell me my job was easy because I had a desk. Kids don't always understand what it is to work when they are young. Anyways, we didn't discuss dollar amounts since it really doesn't matter. We asked her how many days of that kind of work should daddy have to do to earn enough to buy everything she wants. She said she didn't want daddy to have to work that hard everyday. We talked to her about less fortunate kids and that Christmas is all about giving, not getting. We asked her to re-think her list and give us a list of ideas that we can pick from but letting her know she won't get everything on her list and will probably get things not on her list. She actually started talking about what she wants to do for others and I think she really got it. She tried to tell us that she wasn't disappointed last year and made up an excuse why she was upset, saying it had nothing to do with her presents. We told her it's okay, that this year we want to focus on the real meaning of Christmas and be grateful for what we have since so many people are losing their jobs, homes, etc. I was very impressed with her reaction. I let her know that we will take her shopping for her grandparents and sister this year, she won't go to the school sale since she didn't stick to her lists. She said that she didn't want us to see what she was getting us but we told her we don't need her to buy us a present, that parents know their kids love them by behaving and doing what the parents want. I suggested she make cards for people and give from the heart (with her words) instead of buying expensive things.

Then tonight, she called her mom and was overheard rattling off the long list of things she wants from the toys R us sale ad. LOL, at least she knows where we stand. It's up to her mom to have her own talk with her I guess, unless she is going to buy her everything or let her be disappointed.

I'm looking forward to doing the other things, like decorating & baking with her. I also agree that with young kids or preteens, it's probably best to use minimum wage in the example, only because they don't always have a concept of money and most teenagers start working for minimum wage, so that is what they can relate to. I agree Sweeby, there are too many young people today that want to leave home and be 'independent' and continue living the same lifestyle their parents provided when they lived at home. I have a niece that has done that and a nephew that came home with his tail between his legs. My niece hasn't really gotten it yet. She's 22... married her DH at 19 (he was 18), neither went to college, she had a baby right after they got married and broke up a few months later. When they got back together, she got pregnant right away & just had the baby a month or two ago. Now she just announced she's going to quit her job and be a stay at home mommy. Well, I hope it works out for them, but she and her DH have had to move back to my brother's house three or four times because her DH can't keep a job or make enough to support them. The last thing they needed was another mouth to feed and to lose her income, but she's young and thinks it will work itself out. She wants a total of four kids.... gosh I hope she waits for the next one. She wants to live in a nice house and drive a new car and my brother has enabled her so far and is getting tired of it. The second baby was pretty much the final straw. But, now there are two little babies that he can't turn his back on so he's stuck between a rock & hard place. I really hope she grows up and that her DH does too. Just a few weeks after she had the second baby, they went out partying and posted drunken pictures of themselves on her myspace. My brother finally admitted to my dad that his little girl has this sense of entitlement. ya think???

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 11:47PM
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Thanks nicksmom but with my luck she would want to keep the ferret here!!

They had a pet rat back when hubby was a yes dad ... it didn't matter what they asked he said yes just to not here them whine.... but after the rat bit a child who was sleeping over (first time the kid ever slept out) I had to call the mom and tell her, her child was bit by a pet rat at my home .... the children were given one week to find him a new home or I would ... well a week later I dropped him off at the pet shop. Same thing with the new dog the oldest came home with snipped at a neighbor kid ... told SD she had a week to get him a new home or he was going to the pound too .... needless to say he went to the pound a week later.

I asked SD(first time sleeping over in 3 months) this morning what was the one thing she wants she said a nintendo DS ... she has a gameboy she doesn't play so I am not going to get it ... I'll just get her a game for her gameboy that she wants.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 10:26AM
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we aren't poor. but we never buy expensive gifts and certainly not lists of gifts. we don't spoil kids with gifts.

DD never made any lists, and nobody asked her for one. She got what she got. there were no expctations so no dissapointments. as she got older she got what she needed, only one year it was expensive item, but only because it was needed anyways. such as laptop for college. other than nothing more than $50-100 worth. Gifts are not our priority.

the reason parents get crazy lists because they ask kids to make them. don't ask for lists and then you won't have anything to complain about.

if you buy a lot of gifts just so kids don't cry or don't pout, then you deal with consequences.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 11:00AM
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I feel for you. We are going through the same thing as well. SS keeps saying that he wants the xbox 360 after he just got a Wii a few months back. He also wants a 150 dollar robot, a new ipod, a 100 dollar lego set, and everything else under the son. We keep telling him all about the meaning of xmas and not being greedy, but it goes in one ear and out the other. It makes it kind of hard to give to someone when they want SO much. My MIL does not help much because she just about does more than us at xmas despite multiple requests to go easy on the gift giving.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 2:13PM
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imamommy, glad to see by your last post that things are looking up. What a great idea to take the kids to work. I hope you worked it into the conversation that it would take several weeks of that kind of work to buy most of the stuff on her list. And that's without buying groceries or other items that kids take for granted too!

It's not just your kids, it seems like the majority of them have this sense of entitlement that the older generation did not have. I wonder if it is because our parents raised us with cash and their parents have raised them with credit cards and they just don't understand how money works? I don't know!

But it is unrealistic to buy a child everything on their list, I do agree with you there. BTW, you never said how old SD was and I am guessing between 10-13?

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 3:24PM
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KK, I agree that the truth is *almost* always the best option, but in this case I had several reasons I didn't find it the best option. For one, I told SD that the number I gave her wasn't the true amount we make hourly as we're salaried and our pay does fluctuate. I did explain that for people not as fortunate as DH and I that is the wage they would earn. Secondly, at that point SD was into thinking we were rich and I didn't want to perpetuate that. Though we've explained from our pay quite a bit goes into investments/savings she (at that age) just saw dollar signs. Also a big factor was that I do not want her mother knowing the amount I make. She pays for nothing over the meager $200 CS DH receives as it is, because she also views us as 'rich compared to her' and perpetuating that by putting a dollar figure to my income isn't where I want to go.

So sure, telling the truth is the right thing to do. But in this case, it wasn't the wisest.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 6:31PM
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correction - WAS the wisest!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 6:32PM
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JNM, I agree nothing is easy in this life. What you said doesnt quite jive with your earlier post, but OK. In any event, I think we all have to balance sharing our income with childre or stepchildren and making them understand the value of education and trusting us.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 7:40PM
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kkny, it's possible to educate children on the value of education without telling them how much money you make. Some people that value their privacy may not want everyone to know how much they make and some kids will blab... out on the playground with their friends or to their other parent or even strangers they meet. My niece used to give up whatever tidbit of info she had, you couldn't tell that kid anything that you didn't want repeated a million times. She was full of 'too much information'. But, when you are in a situation like JNM, me or any of the other custodial stepmom's here that have a BM that isn't financially generous with their child(ren) but tell them to ask daddy to buy it or tells the kids 'they make more than I do' or 'let them buy it for you because they are rich & I am struggling'. While they are not contributing (enough) toward their child's support, some of these mothers think that since a (custodial) stepmom is working or making good money, they don't have to contribute much or anything to their own child's support. I can totally understand why a stepparent or even a parent would not share their financial situation with the child, so the child will not go back & repeat that information.

Just this last weekend, my DH asked BM when she is going to pay the past due medical bills (she hasn't paid a penny since we've had SD for over a year) and owes over $400. (She also owes $1500 in support and $1000 to our attorney) He wants to take her to court or press the DA to file charges because she's told them she shouldn't have to get a job or pay anything. She says she pays for everything when SD is with her... a whopping six days a month. So, what is her answer to him?

She tells him and I quote: "Do you really feel it wise to put me in jail especially for our childs sake. What are you going to tell her? I am filling papers monday to add my mother as a person to pick up SD. I will explain to the judge that she is saving money for me by picking her up. I don't understand why you are being so horrible to me. I am trying to find a job and having absolutely no luck. Have you seen the news? Everyone is getting laid off. What do you want me to do? I also remember the 6 years before all this happened that you were not paying and we were sharing the cost. I can't believe you would even think of sending me to jail. Have you told DD? i realize she doesn't need to know this but if I do go to jail because of you it will all come out and she will hate you for it. If you want to burn bridges do what you must. Unlike you and your wife we are not out buying new cars and motorcycles. We are living with what we have."

That is her response to him telling her that until she gets the medical payments paid, she has to stick to the order and pick up her own daughter... the order does not say her mom can get her daughter for her. But, it's quite obvious from her last two sentences, that she thinks we have plenty of money to support her daughter so she feels no obligation to contribute a penny for her own kid. The six years she is referring to, DH and BM had 50/50 custody and DH still paid for much of whatever SD needed... he didn't give BM money as support, mainly because BM was living with her mom and her mom was supporting them. They had no rent or utilities & grandma bought groceries. DH paid for birthday parties, school clothes, shoes & medical insurance and copays (and pretty much anything SD needed)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 11:37PM
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We've always had the kids make Christmas lists but we've also reminded them that they cannot have everything off the list and that one item goes to a charity.
My Dh would always ask for a plain paper list but i like making it more we get outhte color pencils and glitter glue gun...the lists of all ofus are hung over the fire place:)
When they were younger they would ask for expensive things but were told we have no money to buy such expensive things eetc..they understood. But their mom would insist on telling them daddy cna buy it for you and he can't refuse, you are his got that line 2 years ago....i told my Sd when she said it, ' yes a parent can refuse to buy something, dont feel entitled. and as you grow older you will understand that you will have to work hard to earn your money to buythings. And tellign other people they have to buy things foryou is wrong. No one has to do anything for you. To need something is one thing, to want somethingis another. Her father sat her down further to explain by example. She's a good girl and so is her brother...they've just be so confused over the years.
This year's xmas list is very short and she's not asking for outrageous stuff.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 5:12AM
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Ima, I agree that education is important for a number of reasons, but JNMs first post -

"Then I gave her the minimum wage, and had her figure out how long Dad and I would have to work (it made a better point using minimum wage)" would seem to indicate that it does not make a different financially. I think that is a mistake to communicate.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 10:47AM
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I think it is OK for children to know what parents make. it helps them to have things in perspective. i don't see any point in keeping it a secret.

i'd rather children know what we make instead of assuming we are all rich just because we buy stuff.

and i don't understand how we can communicate any point by giving minimum wages as an example. it does not seem to be honest.

if i tell DD to calculate how much i have to work and give her minimum wage of course she would assume i can barely afford bread, let alone gifts. it would make much bigger difference if i give real numbers. unless we want deliberatelly to misinform our children about our finances i think we should give real or approximatelly real numbers.

and just to be clear DD never got expensive (unneccessary0 gifts especially not at age 9 or 10. i could certainly afford it, just never saw a point. it taught her to appreciate whatever she gets. and no lists. we are not a store.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 11:38AM
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Oh, good grief. Let me just make a couple things clear:
*SD knows we make more than minimum wage. She does not know how much I make in an exact dollar figure, nor will she. As Ima explained, this knowledge could do more harm than good. She knows we can take care of her.
*4 or 5 years ago when this happened, I was trying to make a point about having extraordinary expectations. I gave you bits a pieces of a very large discussion regarding people's wages, spending priorities, savings and such. I asked how a parent who makes minimum wage would feel receiving a list like hers from their child as she knows how much it upset me, making more than that wage. We figured out the minimum wage work time needed because it did make the most impact. She knew it did not apply to us, but it gave her a much better perspective on the 'real world.'

Fine, I don't believe at all that knowing what I truly made would have kept things in perspective for SD. She would think we were rich, because at that age she wouldn't understand that much of it does not actually come into my account - she would just see the $$ signs. Now, as she is older, we discuss financial matters often as that is what I do daily. She still does not know my exact salary, but she knows enough to understand our household position and plan for the future. DH was recently let go as his company declared bankruptcy and is being sold, so we've discussed at length the impact that has on the household, retirement, etc. We've discussed our choice to have him stay home for a while to get our remodeling done and what changes would have to happen because of it. Have we had the same at length discussions with the boys? No. We've simplified it, just as I did with her many Christmas' ago, to fit their capacity to understand.

Next time I will be sure to lay out the ENTIRE conversation, verbatum, so that it doesn't create such issue.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 3:36PM
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Sometimes on this board, when posters get some feedback they dont like, they amend their earlier post. No one who wasnt there knows what happened, and it really doesnt matter.

Its difficult for me, in that my DDs dad lives "high off the hog" and I dont.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 3:43PM
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KK, I can understand how that could create personal feelings about this situation, but knowing that the full story is usually not given in a singular post it's a bit disheartening that you would assume I'm changing the story to fit the way this conversation is going.

I don't claim to live 'high on the hog' at all.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 6:23PM
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"Its difficult for me, in that my DDs dad lives "high off the hog" and I dont."

kkny, the only problem I have with this comment is that you are under an agreement and as far as you've stated here, your ex is paying what was agreed upon. If he isn't, they you have an absolute right to be upset. Otherwise, it doesn't matter if he is living high off the hog and you aren't. You really have no right to complain since it's what you agreed to. It would be different if the court made an order that you felt was unfair, but you are under an agreement that you approved.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 1:12AM
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What makes is difficult is when one household can buy much more expensive gifts.

"I have no right to complain" -- once again, Ima the arbitrar of the board.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 7:38AM
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It is so funny how one story can start such a debate.

Just to weigh in, I cannot see why in God's name anyone would tell their kids how much they make when they are so young. I think as a kid growing up my parents told my it was none of my business. As I got older and applied for college and financial aide I figured it out, but was told to keep it to myself. I cannot imagine why I would tell my daughter how much dh and I make let alone my SS who would then potentially go tell his mom and that is definitely not her business.

I thought you were the one here who made like a hundred bucks an hour? That seems like a lot of money to me. Maybe I am mistaken. You do mention the value of an education in relation to financial gain a lot and I agree with you. So, personally I think if your ex "lives high on the hog" and that is hard for you maybe you should go back to school to further your earning potential. If not I see no reason why you should worry about what ex makes. My SS's bm does not work and lives with her bf. They probably bring in far less than my dh and I, but that has never mattered to SS and it should not. He always has a good xmas and has a good life both places. Kids these days need to learn that if they try to fill themselves up and make themselves happy with things they will always be empty and looking for happiness.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 9:44AM
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Mom, I agree that there is never any need to tell children what you earn. I just dont think it is a good idea to tell them you make minimum wage when you dont.

And yes, I earn a very good income. Xs is in stratosheere though. It probabey didnt help my career that I took years part time etc.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 9:58AM
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kk, you want to complain... complain. I'm just pointing out that you are under an agreement, not that you got the short end in court by a Judge. There's a difference.

When one household can buy more expensive gifts, that could be for a variety of reasons. In my situation, we have a dual income, BM has no income. Yes, we have more money and drive new cars, take vacations and have a more comfortable standard of living. That goes to the fact we work, she doesn't. We also pay our bills & have good credit, she doesn't. We also have different priorities. She is the one that does buy more expensive gifts for her kids than we do. That goes to her priorities and values. We value a comfortable lifestyle and don't want more debt, we are willing to be frugal during the holidays because we want to be out of debt... we could outspend her in a heartbeat. It's frustrating that she owes DH almost $3,000.00 in support (and blatantly tells him she's not paying... ever) but buys herself expensive things.. she had an iphone, had a brand new truck, spent lots of money on herself. They went & bought each of 5 kids a new ATV or dirt bike last Christmas with all new, matching riding gear. Just a helmet is over $100 for a cheap one. She spent a good $2500-3000 per kid last year. Of course it was on credit & she can't make the payments now, because she won't work... the bikes were repossessed and the ATV might have been repo'd recently too, but that is what I mean about priorities and values.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 10:01AM
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Ima, I doubt there are many who think they are treated fairly in a divorce. Many people negotiate terms as they are concerend that courts cant deal with divorce fairly -- so I am not certain I see a difference.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 10:16AM
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as about difference in what parents make and who buy what gifts why do you care? I don't care what X can buy for DD. what difference does it make? we aren't married anymore so i buy separate gifts. what he buys is not my problem. why do people compete with their Xs I don't understand.

KKNY I do not find it difficult that X can buy more expensive gifts. It is nothing to do with me. I really do not care at all. I also do not find it difficult that he is better off than me. he holds a different type of job. we bioth have garduate degrees and both hold professional jobs but his line of work is different. what do you care what X makes? and what life style he has?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 10:56AM
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I am thrilled when X buys DD stuff, I am not jealous and yes I too hold graduate degree and profesionl quals. I dont enjoy it when DD whines, well you and dad brought be up in the luxurious lifestyle, why cant i have x, y and z. IIts not about competing, its about a custodial parent such as myself who has DD virtualy 24/7 365 days per year and has to deal with a different standard of living. If my X would take DD even one weekend per month, and she could bug him for stuff it would helo.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 11:32AM
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KKNY how old is your daughter?

Maybe you and her should go volunteer at a soup kitchen and that would give her some perspective. I would love to do this with my stepson sometime.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:28PM
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The more things my ex buys my son, the less I have to buy him.

I hate Christmas, vehemently. I think its become a symbol of all that is wrong with Western civilization. The greed, the one upmanship, the avariciousness, all turn my stomach and have for years. I try to do as little for Xmas as possible, since I despise the holidy. My kids, although they do not necessarily share my contempt for the holiday, do not expect much in the way of gifts from me. I give them one large gift each. period. If they dont like it, they can take it back themselves.

I am fortunate in that my husband also shares my dislike of Xmas. We purchase one large gift for each of his children. His son is fine with that, but his daughter tends to try to play Dad against BM, by pulling the "oh but mommy is going to get me this, and this and this" Maybe its her age. She is 13.

My husband and I dont even exchange gifts with each other for Xmas. The only gifts we exchange are Birthday, Valentines, and Anniversary. Even then, he gives ME something for Valentines, but I dont give him anything(he prefers it that way), since he considers Valentines day a pi**ing contest for women, and not a guy thing at all.

Just in re-reading my post, I can see my bad attitude about the coming month and its festivities is showing.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:28PM
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I usually do gifts for needy kids at xmas, which many people do. The other night I was at the store and stopped by and looked at the wish list of a child in foster care. She asked for a winter coat! A winter coat! It brought tears to my eyes! With all the goods many kids want she wanted a winter coat and some other girly items! Last year I did a little boy about my SS's age and he asked for a pair of jeans, model car, and a football. I reminded my SS of this little boy when he was asking for an obsence amount of items. Here is my question, how do we make our kids truly understand that it is not all about getting, but rather giving? I have been trying for years and feel as though I am failing!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:32PM
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My DD and I both volunteer, as I have noted previously.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:33PM
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Thats why the old standby's are the best christmas gifts.

New socks
winter coats.
New Sneakers
Last year they all got new bedding.

Just like you have staples you buy every week at the market I have staples I buy every year at christmas.

One "big" gift the rest is stuff they may not want but they NEED it.

and DITTO on what FD said ...I thought we weren't supposed to care how the other parents lives ... high on the hog or in debt up to their eyeballs.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 1:17PM
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"Ima, I doubt there are many who think they are treated fairly in a divorce."

I can't speak on your situation, but there is a difference between agreement and court rulings. I don't disagree that people are not always happy about what they feel they have to agree to. I just settled a lawsuit that barely covered my medical bills. I'm not thrilled but I also wanted to avoid a trial & years in court. I signed it, I live with it, I don't b*tch about it. That's life.

When BM moved away, DH and her agreed to terms. Three weeks later, I put the terms in writing and had him give it to her to sign. It was to protect him from what is happening now (and has happened over the last year). She isn't happy with the terms of the agreement because she wants to maintain control over him and the written agreement sets out the terms. We aren't thrilled with all the terms but we accept it and that's just what happens when you have an agreement. We ARE thrilled that we can now say "the agreement says...." and put an end to(or at least try to) stop BM from trying to change things on us and control our life. We aren't happy with everything in the agreement, but we sure would rather live with it than go back to court and pay our attorney $300 an hour.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 2:15PM
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"Maybe you and her should go volunteer at a soup kitchen and that would give her some perspective. I would love to do this with my stepson sometime. "

This is a really good idea.My aunt took me to volunteer at one when I was 16.It really changed my way of thinking.I was like most teens and pretty self absorbed,and after seeing how those people lived and the reality of life was shocking.
It got me thinking less about myself and my shallow problems and more about the world at hand and what I could to make a difference.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 3:26PM
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"My DD and I both volunteer, as I have noted previously."

Oh so sorry I guess I missed that. Well maybe you and your ex parented out of guilt like many of the rest of us do or have done and now you have a spoiled child. I think many of us battle this and it sounds like you do as well.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 3:54PM
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" i realize she doesn't need to know this but if I do go to jail because of you it will all come out and she will hate you for it"

In 2003 I put my ex husband in jail for nonpayment of child support--over Christmas. He got 45 days, reduced to 30 days because of overcrowding. Boy, was he shocked. He'd been ignoring the court order and in fact, he'd been ignoring subpoena's to appear in court. He quit his job, then got another job he tried to hide and got fired from that lying to them to persuade them not to honor the garnishment order. His support, alimony, medical and other payments were $80,000 in arrears, and he showed up to court to ask his payments be reduced.

I was shocked when the judge put him in jail; I'd been in court every couple months for the last two years and nobody had been responsive. The collection specialist told me: "You can't get blood from a stone." I said, "You can, if you throw it hard enough." And then poof, he was walking across the court room and putting his hands behind his back and being shackled and led off throw the back door next to the judge's clerk by the deputies.

Merry Christmas.

My kids did not hate me. They didn't much care, I explained it to the youngest that it was like a big time out for grown up who don't want to follow the law, and that parents have to follow the law and they have to take care of their children, and that I don't have the power to put him in jail, a judge did.

They were a little worried, would he be all right? I explained there's a difference between jail and prison. And explained that it was like the dorms their cousin lived in, except the door were locked and the worst part of it was dad wouldn't be allowed to smoke.

He got out and within a month coughed up $25,000 and then paid CS for the next 14 months. He stopped, but I garnished his social security benefits and get 60% of what I'm supposed to every month. He's now scard to step in court and ask the judge for anything--which works out well for me, in fact, he doesn't even come into our county because there's a standing bench warrant.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 8:48PM
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They will put deadbeat dad's in jail. But I have never heard of a deadbeat mom going to jail.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 12:12PM
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"The more things my ex buys my son, the less I have to buy him. I hate Christmas, vehemently. I think it's become a symbol of all that is wrong with Western civilization. The greed, the one upmanship, the avariciousness, all turn my stomach and have for years."

I'm right there with you. I don't buy my dd anything most years. I do the stocking stuffers. She gets everything and more from everyone else. I hate the whole commercialism, greedy greedy greedy, gimme gimme that has taken over the November-December months. Hate it. Often she will get too many toys, and I will just scoop them up before they are put under the tree (I get a lot of stuff from family off the internet, and then I am the one to wrap it) and put it in the closet for the next time. This will be harder as she gets older, but for now it works. She just gets too much stuff.

Love the tree. Love the lights. Love the music and being warm inside the house with a fire or baking.

I just really don't want to do the holidays. They make me sick to my stomach. Someone mentioned going to a womens shelter with the pre-holiday clean-out stuff. I think we'll do that this year.

KKNY, your posts on this are really bugging me. I don't make $100/hour. I worked very hard for my degree and don't have the luxury to go back to school. It is really hard for me to stomach you saying it's hard for you when your ex lives high off the hog when to me, and I'm sure to others on the board, making $100/hour is several times higher than my income. To me, that is high off the hog. It's all a matter of perspective, is it not? And yes, to those who do not have the kids 24/7 like some of us, it is easier to buy bigger gifts and look like a champion. Isn't that often the issue with NCP?

I understand that often the more one makes, the more one spends. The quality of life bar is set higher.

"...I agree that there is never any need to tell children what you earn. I just dont think it is a good idea to tell them you make minimum wage when you dont."

"...I just think if you are going to say how long Dad and I would have to work, then you should be using your current hourly after tax rate..."

Ok, I don't get it. Don't tell them what you make, but don't tell them it's minimum wage. If you're explaining the truth, shouldn't you talk about taxes too?

If I were to use Sweeby's suggestion, I would probably use $5/hour because it's nice and round and easy to grasp. Going into the issue of savings, bread and electricity is just way too much information.

I agree, education usually increases earning potential. Telling kids that college is good for the brain and the wallet is good. But this is not about talking to children about higher education. This is explaining the cause/effect relationship of work vs gifts and the relationship of kids who get a few nice things and kids who live in shelters. It's a basic lesson, not one that they will be recalling the amounts for when you are filling out college applications (but mom, I thought you only made $8/hour!)

Gimme a break.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 12:42PM
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"They will put deadbeat dad's in jail. But I have never heard of a deadbeat mom going to jail."

EW EW EW Psuedo I know this answer! It's becuase any mother who doesn't have custody of their children MUST be too mentally ill or have drug issues so they shouldn't be EXPECTED to pay CS. HAHAHAHA.

I'm sorry but unless you are institutionalized, labotomized or dead from an overdose there should be no freaking excuse for not helping to support your child...male OR female.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 3:03PM
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What I am saying, is that while there is no need to disclose salary information, once a parent does so, it should be reasonably accurate. If you dont agree, thats your priviledge.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 3:12PM
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I think this is an exercise in futility, but here it goes:

I agree that a parent shouldn't lie to their kids about how much they make. But for the exercise of calculating money for presents, most children would better be able to grasp the concept of a smaller number.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 3:25PM
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What good does it do to discuss 'real' numbers vs. made up figures? If you tell your kids how much you make... then you have to tell them how much you owe or how much all your payments/expenses are because if I told my kids I make 100k a year, they might think I am well off enough to buy them whatever they want. If I tell them I make 100k but I'm 500k in debt, then you might end up in conversations about interest rates, negative equity, blah blah blah... when all they NEED to know is you can't afford to buy them an iphone. (or whatever else they WANT) or it might not even be a matter of not being able to afford it, maybe it's that you don't think it's age appropriate or they are not responsible enough for such an expensive item, etc. There might be other reasons, besides being able to afford such gifts.

There's a time & place to discuss finances and I would certainly talk more with my teenager but a seven year old doesn't need to know figures even close to what you make. They aren't going to understand all the dynamics of income minus outgo and this is what we have left over. I'd think they would also be more likely to share your personal information with others. I just don't think the during the holidays is the right time to get into details of your financial portfolio, especially with younger kids.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 3:33PM
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Whatever happened to a simple "We ain't got the money" type statement? Since when did adults have to start accounting for every penny thay make to their children? I'm confused.

How bout this....if kiddo wants a ridiculously expensive gaming station, electronic gadget, new car, up to the minute phone, etc....THEN GET A JOB! I'm not all about breaking myself to spoil a child and I sure as hell ain't about having to explain my debt to income ratio with one either.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 3:44PM
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Well put Ima, that's just what I was trying to say.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 3:46PM
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