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Allowance for stepchildren

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I am active duty, so we travel a lot.  My stepdaughter lives with her mother and stepfather with her grandparents.  My children receive an allowance when they go above and beyond their normal chores to save for certain things.  We are planning a big family vacation this summer, so my children that live with us are saving all their money for the summer. 

Now my 11 year old stepdaughter doesn't receive any type of allowance when she isn't with us.  We still send her a flat rate box full of stuff every single month on top of her IPHONE payment.  We have been sending her $50 for As and Bs and $100 for all As on her report card.  Of course, it is her money to blow, and she does.  But here lately, she hasn't been making the grades.  I sent her mom a text yesterday asking about trying to do something a little different.  I explained to her that my children were saving for this summer, so I wanted to ask her opinion on this.  So I asked her instead of sending $$$ for grades, what she thought about giving her $$$ for improvements.  That way, it would give another reason for her to talk to her daddy, and get them both more involved with her grades.  I suggested $1 for every number improvement and we could save it in her piggy bank here for her spending money for the summer.  That way when the trip gets here, the kids would be more appreciative of their spending money.  Well, that did not go over well at all with her mother.  She told me that my children got to see their daddy every day, and hers didn't.  She stated that fairness wasn't an issue, that her daughter deserved to get special treatment. 

Am I being unfair?  Did I do something wrong? 

post #2 of 12

I don't think your idea is unfair to your SD, but her mom is probably working hard to motivate her daughter to improve her grades, and she might have felt it was presumptuous of you to think that you/your husband could swoop in and fix it in a snap. If it was an easy thing to fix, it wouldn't be a problem. The mom probably knows it's going to take more time and effort than a simple reward, she might not want her daughter having to deal with the consequences of not following through on homework months from now, after the time is past that she could even do something to change it. 


Maybe DSD sees that the other kids have more stuff, or get lessons that she doesn't. I don't know how old the other kids are, but it might be a matter of needing to say to them "We try very hard to be fair. DD didn't have the same opportunity to do housework for money because the rules there are different, but it isn't really fair that she not have money to spend on our vacation, either." And give her some money. Kids have to learn that you can't be 100% fair, all the time. Or do the piggy bank thing anyway, so it's not giving her a big chunk of money at once. Do you get the other kids little treats sometimes? Maybe you could put money in the piggy bank when they get a treat & she doesn't?



post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Mummoth, I do appreciate your response.  Her mom may be trying hard as well.  I am not sure what she is doing.  I try to talk to her to find out what/how things are run, but little cooperation.  My stepdaughter said her mom tells her to call to get her reward, and that she doesn't do reward her for that kind of stuff.  But maybe in her mom's defense, she may paint her fingernails or do her hair since she doesn't have a job to buy her things.  So I can see where she could feel that way.  It's not trying to fix a problem in my eyes, just kinda more like a trying to be involved where she'll let us...  Maybe that sounds selfish. 

The other kids have actually the complete opposite.  Nearly everything they have comes from the thrift store, which is free b/c of my rank.  We don't have time to do lessons whatsoever.  They spend most of their time at school and the after school child care, b/c my husband and I both work very long shifts.  We save our money for big trips, b/c we don't have small things.  They never get to see family. They are air force brats.  They have nice bed rooms, b/c that is the only thing they can call theirs.  I am deployed or TDY a lot so lessons or sports outside of what they do in school is just not feasible till they get older and can take themselves.  My step daugher cheers, and plays ball every single year.  My children have never had the opportunity.  I feel like I put more effort into my stepdaughter's feeling of acceptance versus just my kids.  I guess my stepdaugher's mom sees it the way you did.

My kids only get what their age is a week, so the 7 yr old gets $7.  If they get a new barbie, then I always buy my stepdaughter a barbie as well and mail it.  My kids never eat out. Maybe once a month, maybe.  My stepdaughter goes atleast 5 times a week, no lie.  It's really as fair as I can be.  All the children, even my stepdaughter, has her own room.  It's as nice as the others.  I used to send it home with her, but this year I will not.  I have to redo her room every single year before she comes.  My kids have the same for years.

I had her a prepaid debit card, and was putting money on that so she could have money throughout the year.  But it turned out that she didn't know she had what she did b/c her mom was using it.  So she never knew. 

post #4 of 12

I don't think it's selfish at all to want to be involved. Kids need a lot of support! I think that the more people a child has in their life who love them, the better. We don't have money for a bunch of lessons, either... I do after school care so I'm tied to the house until 5PM every night, anyway. But it's easy to think the grass is greener on the other side, you know?


I'm pretty sure my ex thinks the amount he pays in child support is huge, but he doesn't think of all the little things that add up... school supplies, socks and undies (my mom works at a thrift store, so a lot their clothes are second hand, too) a gift to give when they get invited to a birthday. Never mind the big things, they were preschoolers when the marriage ended... if he's spent any time thinking what groceries cost us, I'm sure it hasn't occurred to him that DS eats as much as an adult now. They used to share a room, but they're 10 and nearly 8 now... boy/girl, so they don't share any more... that meant moving into bigger/more expensive place. He has no clue what they cost to raise. It might be the same for the mom, she has NO IDEA how things are financially for you guys... people seem to think everything is cheaper for everyone else than it is for them.


Will you guys go straight out on vacation or will DSD be at your place for a bit first? She's the oldest, right? So she might be able to do some jobs the other kids aren't capable of, or things that aren't every week stuff. Maybe she could be given a few jobs at your house before the vacation starts. One job I used to love was cleaning the oven... you just spray the stuff in, wait and then wipe it out with paper towels so it's pretty easy. It's one of those jobs where it looks so much better when you're done, so you feel really accomplished. But mom hated doing it because I guess she thought it was gross. You could tell the kids it pays more because it's a really dirty job... there's got to be some kind of job like that that she can do that you can tell the other kids it's comparing apples to oranges if they complain she got paid more.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
That is such a great idea. I never thought about that. I will def have to try that. Thanks so much.... I do agree with the grass is always greener state of mind. The mother thinks my kids have it made but what she doesn't realize is they don't have their mother like she doesn't have her father and they have to leave their friends every few years and start over. Life isn't fair. But thatvis a great idea. Thanks.
post #6 of 12

Does your SD get an allowance at her Mom's?  Would it be possible for her to bring some of THAT money for her to spend on vacation?


At 11, the barbie, etc thing is going to start being less interesting to her - what about putting the money spent on that aside for her to use on vacation instead?


Just thinking aloud. I know this was an issue for my kids at their Dad's. All the kids got a certain amount for various chores, and, since ours weren't there as much as the others, they got less. Fair enough. I tended to send them with some spending money from here (not an extraordinary amount - if there was holiday shopping some more, if it was just a weekend, less), but it was made clear to them that they were only allowed to spend what they earned there. Okay, different rules. But it was a problem when it came to buying Christmas gifts, etc. when they had $10 to get stuff for 4 people, were not allowed to bring anything from here (be it gift or cash to spend) and their siblings had ~$100. And homemade gifts (even if made there), were not valued. It made ours feel... less. And yes, it has affected their relationship with their Dad.


It's hard to feel second best. And I don't think you TREAT her that way, from your post. But she may feel that way...


None of that probably helped. :( Sorry.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

I do not think she gets an allowance there.  Bringing any money here would honestly never happen.  I asked her mom about her doing well in school and us keeping her allowance here for the summer instead of sending it there, and was told me that she deserves to get more than my girls b/c they get to see their daddy.  It just kills me.  It can't be like that.  It can't.


The thing is with my stepdaugter, is she never has to pay for anything and gets more in cash value, b/c yes my kids get their daddy all the time, but they don't get me all the time.  My kids are starting to get older and are questioning it.  So I brought it up to her mom about saving an allowance for here and she can do whatever for there.  Yeah, she just ignores me and now wont respond to my text or phone calls. 


We always give  Christmas to my stepdaughter, her mother, and all her 4 sisters.  We only get a card.  No worries.  But it kills me that my stepdaugher willl tell my children that she got them something, so they look for it and it never comes.  I just don't see the fairness in that either. 


I understand there will always be issues, but all I ask for is pictures.  I have to pay for the school pictures and yearbooks and get them when she comes nearly a year later.  I send stamps and envelopes and still can't even get them.  So oh well.


It all in a bunch just makes me want to focus more on my b/c it is obvious to me and my kids they get less.  But it is always viewed as mine get more, which is completely inaccurate.  Military kids sacrifice so much, and they are so thankful for what they do get b/c they know what it is like to have nothing, even if it is just in transit, they know....


I treat her like she is my own.  I always have...  But maybe it's the financial situation that I have been handed to me from trying to hlep her mom, and getting screwed over, that is making me just feel burnt out on doing everything that I do.  But if I stop she will only get what he does which will be nearly to nothing unless she is here.  Which is turn isn't fair to my kids either cause they work so hard all year to get a summer too. 


I am just so confused. 

post #8 of 12

I wish I had more to help with. I don't. Sorry...

post #9 of 12

I don't believe that paying for grades is a good route to take in part because of this problem you are facing. Your step-daughter obviously either has a problem at school (in which case the lack of money for her grades may be a punishment for something outside of her control) or she's decided that she doesn't care enough about the money to earn good grades. By setting up that system, you're creating that option for her, but now you don't like it that she's exercised the option. My children are expected to make excellent grades. They're both capable of it, so we will expect it. Not getting good grades means that we will deal with whatever the problem is, but it's not presented as a choice or something for which they will earn a direct reward, though I think it's fine to go out to dinner to celebrate a good report card just as we do when I land a major client or my husband gets a promotion.


Coming in now to offer to pay for her to improve her grades just feels like bribery for your benefit. You're trying really hard to keep from just handing her money to spend on vacation because you know that your children have the opportunity to earn money throughout the year while she doesn't. There's no way you can make it equal. She cannot do in a couple of weeks the amount of chores she would need to do in order to make up for a year of your children having that chance. They're not in the same situation, so you can't make it equal. That doesn't mean that it can't be fair based on the situation you have. If one of your children invited a friend, would you give that child spending money if she didn't bring it? I certainly would because I'm not going to invite a friend and then say, "your parents didn't give you money? Well, I guess you can't get anything at the souvenir shop!" That's in essence what you're wanting to do with your step-daughter.


You have 2 very different issues going on. (I don't think an 11-year-old blowing an occasional $50 she's given is a problem. I think that's pretty typical. It's hard to teach money management when that money doesn't come in often. Perhaps if she received $5 or $10 a week, she would learn to save better. I think that's probably something that her mom will have to do, though, unless you guys want to commit to sending her a check each week.) One issue is her grades, which is something that your husband and her mom need to discuss to solve. He needs to listen to Mom, though, because she's there everyday. She should have a better idea of what may be going on, and then he can continue those discussions and try to help during the summer when she's with you.


How you handle money with regard to your children is a separate issue from her grades, and you can't solve one with the other. You and your husband need to discuss the issue together and come to some resolution that you put into place and stick to. I think that you may just have to explain that everyone doesn't get the same treatment because everyone doesn't have the same situation. 

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

That was very insiteful VisionaryMom.


Paying for grades is probably a bad idea.  Just trying to figure out a way that works best for her.  Just not too sure what that would be.  I was giving her $10 every single week on her debit card for spending money as long as she was doing her best at school and helping her mom at home, since she was 10 years old.  The problem with that is when I would talk to her, she would say she had $65 to go and get some game, but the store said she didn't have that much money so she was being told by her mother to ask me what I did with it.  So I would tell her taht the charges were made in her state, taht I didn't take any money from her.  I then started looking at the transactions, and money was being charged at like Taco Bell when she was at school, and then every day the same amount would come off at the same gas station for the price of cigs.  So it was being turned around as if we were taking her money, when it clearly wasn't us.  So we just told her we stop sending her cash, and just send her a gift for that amount straight to her house.  We have been doing that, but she never lets us know if it comes in or if she even got it. So???  We buy her movie tickets, friends bday gifts, have pizza delievered when she has company.  We try very hard.   I just think I am doing the wrong things.  As far as other kids coming over.  Yes, if their parents doesn't send money.  We do pay.  But what I am saying is I set aside $1000 for her round trip tickets with baggage and unaccompanied minor fees.  I am paying for everyone's disneyland and seaworld trip.  If the kdis want extras, they will have to use their money, b/c I cannot afford it.  But I will not make my kids pay with money they have been working hard for, and then pay for my stepdaughter. That is not fair.  Yes, our children live totally different lives.  For years, they have been on the backburner during the summer b/c it's not theirs.  My oldest is now asking to go to gramma's house for the summer so she can have fun.  Now, how fair is that?  I am trying to establish as much fairness as I possibly can.  My husband is a very laid back person, and jsut says they are kids.  But regardless of being kids, this is shapping them into who they will become in the future, and I am trying to to do my best.  Thank you for your advice.  The grades thing isn't the solution.  Any other solutions are greatly appreciated. 

post #11 of 12
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post

I think that you may just have to explain that everyone doesn't get the same treatment because everyone doesn't have the same situation. 

Well said. Kids have a great capacity to understand that "fair" doesn't always mean equal, it means everyone getting what they need. If a younger child doesn't know how to tie their shoes, you don't refuse to tie them for her because you don't tie the older one's, nor do you tie the older one's for her because you do it for the younger one. Different people need different things, depending on their own situation. I think that is a good life lesson to learn, and it helps children build compassion and empathy that will serve them well later in life.


post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

UPDATE:  So I was able to talk to my stepdaughter's mother.  I explained to her my thoughts.  She said that is how she was treated, but she is def not in a spot to be able to reward her with grades.  She said all she can do is reward her with a sleepover with friends.  When I was a kids I used to get $20 for all A's on a report card and mom would let me spend that on extra's at a movie for my hard work.  She said that she doesn't disagree with me for any reason.  That maybe that will help her in the long run, b/c her mind is on everything right now.  So she is encouraging her and we will give her the $$$ anyways when she gets here.  Hey, if something doesn't work, try soemthing else.  I'm glad we were able to discuss it with each other. 

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