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No, I am not cool with a $500 Christmas present (LONG and x-posted)

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I am a little miffed with DH. I wasn't sure if this was more blended or PaP, so I put it in both to get a variety of viewpoints.

Situation: DSD lives with us week on/week off. Christmas is a shared holiday with Santa going to both houses on different days.

DSD is a little obsessed with birds and flying. She draws a lot of bird pictures, pretends to be a bird, etc. It is cute. We have indulged this - we sent her to bird camp over the summer, I spent hours making her a very specifically designed by her bird costume for Halloween. She plans to ask Santa for the ability to fly for Christmas.

DH wants to give her what she wants and not burst her bubble (which is endearing), but the closest thing that an 8 yo can really do to flying is a hot air balloon ride. In our area, the cheapest rides (where you are in a group) are over $500.

Most years, our entire Christmas budget is about that. DH hates Christmas, always complains that it is too expensive, and is generally a PITA throughout the entire season. Now he wants to spend the equivalent of our entire budget (historically, anyway) on one gift from Santa?

Let me add another wrinkle: DH has been unemployed for a year now, and his unemployment just ran out. We are both full-time students, living off of student loans and food stamps, for pete's sake. We 100% absolutely positively *cannot* afford this. Not hardly. This Christmas was going to be a lean one in the first place, given the circumstances.

When I mentioned the prohibitive cost, all he said was, "I feel really strongly about this." I got a little upset, because I really needed to hear, "I agree, we cannot afford that this year. Maybe next year," or something to that effect. He says that I have no right to be upset at him exploring gift options. I feel like I do, because this is NOT an option. It is a fantasy. DO we have the money for it in the bank at the moment? Sure. But that money needs to go to other things. I am applying to pharmacy school right now (which is our chance to secure a stable financial future), and need to travel to interviews/put down deposits. There is no telling how much this process will cost. Between that and feeding the family, we do not have a spare $500.

Here is where the blended dynamic comes in: DH would never suggest a present that extravagant for either of the boys. DS1 is as obsessed with trains as DSD is birds, and he would never buy, say, a $200 train ride for him, let alone a $500 one! She often has big/multiple birthday parties and gets expensive gifts, which I have somewhat credited to the fact that she is older. But I don't necessarily want to match what she gets when the boys are older - I want them to have nice, but simple childhoods. I guess I would like her to have that as well.

The other issue - she is really unappreciative of gifts and things done for her. She doesn't get excited. She doesn't say "thank you." I will admit, I am still a little annoyed that she never once thanked me or even told me that she liked her Halloween costume. I tried to just let it go (as this is generally the way things go), but it took a lot of time. She told DH, but couldn't find it in herself to tell me. DH thinks I need to get over things like that. I think that at 8, she needs to be taught to receive things graciously and be appreciative. Or not receive them. A month ago (right after her birthday), I actually told DH that he could buy her Christmas gifts because I was so sick of putting time and effort into something that she doesn't care about. I did not mean that he could spend however much he wanted - if I have a budget, so should he. Although I suppose this one is win-win, because she doesn't have to thank Santa.

If you made it this far, thank you! Bottom line, I am looking for two things: how to handle this with DH, and a cheaper way to simulate flight.
post #2 of 30
It could be cheaper to put her on an airplane to somewhere where you have a relative, have them take her out to lunch and fly her home. It all depends on your location and where they have direct flights too.

I think you should do a 4-6 month projected budget with DH, include the expenses for pharmacy school along with day to day stuff. Do not take about the holidays until the end. Then say "How do you see Christmas fitting in to this?" If he wants to come up with a way to make the money for her gift, then maybe. BUT. . . what does that cost the family (quality time)? and how would he feel if you took your time/talent/energy to earn an extra chunk of cash and decided to spend it all on one of your sons? If my DH did that I would be hurt and my other children would be hurt too.

I agree with you; DSD needs to be taught appreciation. That is ridiculous to let her get away with being blatantly rude and disrespectful of what you've done for her.
post #3 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
A month ago (right after her birthday), I actually told DH that he could buy her Christmas gifts because I was so sick of putting time and effort into something that she doesn't care about. I did not mean that he could spend however much he wanted - if I have a budget, so should he.
This caught my eye... it sounds like he doesn't like the burden of gift buying, especially since he usually says Christmas costs too much. Thinking of a gift she'd like that is reasonably priced takes more effort than he's willing to put into the task. Some people just aren't gift-buyers. He's just waiting for you to throw your arms up in frustration and say you'll do the shopping for DSD after all. Do you know of a few things DSD might like that are within your budget?

What about spending the money now on gift cards? Write each kids name on their cards and whomever is shopping for each kid can use their respective card to buy whatever it is they have in mind. You're tied to one store then, but you'll know that each kid is being treated fairly.
post #4 of 30
Before you go any further, are you sure a balloon company will take her? Last time I checked, the companies wouldn't take under 12s. That would at least delay the issue.
post #5 of 30
I think it is fine to "explore" and even dream a bit for Christmas, even for an adult. Maybe that is what DH really needs regardless of whether he will try and buy it from the account with not enough money.
post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishmommy View Post
Before you go any further, are you sure a balloon company will take her? Last time I checked, the companies wouldn't take under 12s. That would at least delay the issue.
Good point. I never even looked into that!
post #7 of 30
She could get an actual flying lesson in an airplane for less than that:

http://www.pilotjourney.com/pstore/buy-certificate.php

Your issue is obviously less about the gift itself, and more about your DH and you not being on the small page regarding such things and I don't have any good advice there. Best wishes though.
post #8 of 30
500 $ is a lot, I agree. I have an almost 8 year old and she sometimes doesn't have the best manners but noty because we dont teach her but from a lot of things I have read a lot of those behaviors I have been concerned about are typical of that age anyway. I also see that she is your step daughter? Maybe he feels like he has to overcompensate for some reason and maybe she isnt that comfortable with you and thats why she didnt thank you etc? I dont know but I would try not having hard feelings towards an 8 yr old though because they are still pretty young and still learning. ALso and its hard to judge by chatting on the computer but I would keep discussing this with him and telling him it would put you guys in a financial crisis. That's about all I can come up with, good luck.
post #9 of 30
I think 8 is by FAR old enough to know to say thank you when somebody goes out of their way to help/do something special. Your dh really should understand that you deserve that respect IMO, though I have no idea how to convince him of that

Dp and I have struggled with this sort of thing too, though not to that extent. To some degree, I understand spending more on the older child/ren-let's say our budget is $300, we might spend 150 on dsd, 100 on dd and 50 on ds and that is fine with me. But it sounds like if you spend 500 on dsd there won't be anything left for the other kids! Could you lay it out like that and decide on a whole budget first and then kind of portion out what goes to each kid? Maybe putting it on paper would help him understand where you are coming from. Or maybe he IS just dreaming and knows it but is getting defensive because you popped his bubble?

I dont' know if this would fit the bill, but we saw a zipline in a toy catalog and thought it looked really neat-do you or somebody near you have land you could use to put one one? They were still in the $100 range, but that is much cheaper than 500, lol, and your older boy could probably try it too. I am picturing your dsd with bird wings zipping down the line....!!!
post #10 of 30
8 is of course old enough to say thank you, but lets not forget the fact that the child did thank the dad (even though he may not have been the one to make the item) and I think thats worthy of mentioning. I dont think it's appropriate to force the issue or the child to directly tell her step mother thank you because in the childs mind the thank you could have been at her comfort level and directed at them both. I think that shouldn't be something a parent or step parent should hold hard feelings over though or be resentful about especially at only 8 years old. I think her behavior is pretty appropriate age wise from what it sounds like from raising my own child at that age.
post #11 of 30
Having read a lot of posts about your dsd over time...I do think she is rude and is indulged in her bad manners by her father. I have a much thicker skin to my kids behavior than their stepf does and I try to help him learn to let stuff roll off his back but if my kids failed to thank people or acknowledge work someone did for them on a regular basis I would be mortified and it would be addressed. 8 is plenty old enough to have learned manners and way to old to have the bad manners ignored regularly. I sometimes kind of wonder if 50/50 is good in your situation. I know her mom is flighty and often unavailable so it might be the only solution but it seems like she really wants her home base to be with her mom and not divided evenly. She could be venting her displeasure on you for this or she could just be a kid without a fabulous personality. I do want to mention that my ds NEEDS me to there for him but he doesn't do a lot with me. He's always out with friends, videogames, etc. He just wants to know that I'm close. As far as the present. I think it's a ludicrous amount of money to spend on one child who hasn't even said this is her dream activity. I would be really ticked he even mentioned it, personally.
post #12 of 30
I don't get how anyone can think that her thanking someone who had nothing to do with the gift as an acceptable display of appreciation toward the person who did give the gift. That's like bizarro world or something.
post #13 of 30
you've never seen a kid do that? well I have actually I've done it before as a kid myself maybe I was just some kind of mischievious lil demon seed I dunno actually I wasn't LOL...Its not like she's thanking the neighbor nextdoor she thanked the other parent her dad lol. Honestly she's 8 and I think its common for some kids to so stuff like this and to resent/hold a grudge on an 8 yr old for it is not something I will agree to. just sayin
post #14 of 30
I have to chime in here, because I think that it sounds like the 8 yo DSD is probably conflicted about her feelings toward you, the stepmother..maybe because of things she hears from her mother? Maybe she finds it hard to be grateful to you because in a way she is being disloyal to her mother and her mother's feelings? 8 year olds are not mature adults, and do not know how to handle some of the feelings they have..Maybe she was hoping that she could tell her dad, and then he would tell you..I mean, she IS 8 after all. I also agree that $500 is too much to spend on a Christmas gift like that. Your DH is probably feeling guilty about something-maybe because she gets expensive gifts from everyone else, but not him, since he has been unemployed? Not having a job does strange things to your head. I think if you lay it out for him, he will see the sense in your position. After all, there will be plenty of other times for him to take her on a balloon ride. Besides, what if they got there and she was too scared to go up in the balloon?
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bebe's Mom View Post
I have to chime in here, because I think that it sounds like the 8 yo DSD is probably conflicted about her feelings toward you, the stepmother..maybe because of things she hears from her mother? Maybe she finds it hard to be grateful to you because in a way she is being disloyal to her mother and her mother's feelings? 8 year olds are not mature adults, and do not know how to handle some of the feelings they have..Maybe she was hoping that she could tell her dad, and then he would tell you..I mean, she IS 8 after all. I also agree that $500 is too much to spend on a Christmas gift like that. Your DH is probably feeling guilty about something-maybe because she gets expensive gifts from everyone else, but not him, since he has been unemployed? Not having a job does strange things to your head. I think if you lay it out for him, he will see the sense in your position. After all, there will be plenty of other times for him to take her on a balloon ride. Besides, what if they got there and she was too scared to go up in the balloon?
I agree with that too!
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by hippiemommaof4 View Post
8 is of course old enough to say thank you, but lets not forget the fact that the child did thank the dad (even though he may not have been the one to make the item) and I think thats worthy of mentioning. I dont think it's appropriate to force the issue or the child to directly tell her step mother thank you because in the childs mind the thank you could have been at her comfort level and directed at them both. I think that shouldn't be something a parent or step parent should hold hard feelings over though or be resentful about especially at only 8 years old. I think her behavior is pretty appropriate age wise from what it sounds like from raising my own child at that age.
I agree. I also think that trying to force thank yous, or as an adult, being annoyed by a child not offering one freely, is like forcing 'sorry'. IMO that's a waste of time, as there is no genuine emotion behind it.

There are all sorts of complex relationship issues within a blended family, so if a child thanks one parent, but not necessarily the one who made the costume, she has shown gratitude, within the context of the relationships that are in place and within her own comfort level. By being irritated by her, no matter whether you think you show it or not, I think you delay that point where she will openly and genuinely come to you to express feelings of gratitude.

As for the gift, regardless of the budget or the relationships between the various members of the blended family, and regardless of whether she would be ultra polite and thank you profusely, I think it's excessive and unnecessary. My 8 yo dd is crazy about birds. She was thrilled on her birthday to get a good pair of child's binoculars and a bird watching book, then a class with a birdwatcher. I"m sure you could come up with something very cool that is bird related and please her. Flying is a fantasy, and she of course knows that. I can't think that she would expect her present to actually involve flying, and honestly, if she gets the hot air balloon, it may well still not satisfy her and next year she may ask for exactly the same thing - to fly like a bird!
post #17 of 30
For the record, I don't encourage or condone forced anythings. But I also don't fool myself into thinking a thank you to the father has any note of appreciation for the work her stepmom put into this, especially given this particular child's past behaviors that indicate she has a certain sense of entitlement and unappreciation for anything she's ever received.
post #18 of 30
I personally do a lot of extensive projects for my kids at times, they are too young to understand the kind of effort that goes into it at their ages including my almost 8 yr old, so they dont understand the level of appreciation that adults would they just arent capable of thinking that way.
post #19 of 30
I'll just have to agree to disagree on this issue, hippiemomma.
post #20 of 30
I just wanted to second the idea of a flying lesson being cheaper than a hot air balloon ride. Plus, she would get to have control that way.

As someone who has 2 younger sister that never say thanks, and always take everything for granted, I feel you on how obnoxious it is to spend your time buying for them and not even get a thanks or any excitement at all. Sorry mama. s
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