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Allowance and Stepchildren - Page 2

post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ione View Post
Get it?
Sheesh. I just asked a question.

"Fairness" is a difficult concept in blended families, and the more complex, the more difficult it gets. My family is very complex. The only way to make certain no one ever felt slighted would be to make sure that my prior kids and DP's prior kid never saw/talked to each other, and that none of them ever saw/talked to our youngest. I won't even talk about my SS from my first marriage. We give all the older kids the same allowance, but my older kids know d@mn well that SS has access to waaay more money than they do because his mom pays him outrageously for small chores. Thus, they're hurt that we won't adjust their allowance up and SS's down to compensate.

Fair means one thing to us: each child has 100% of what he or she needs, and some of what he or she wants. It doesn't mean we spend the same amount of money on each child. It's a hard lesson, when one kid has an $800 bike and all the rest of the kids have $175 bikes. They've had to learn that money does not equal love and I think that's worthwhile.

I guess the short answer is that I think your goal is worthwhile, to try not cause any child to feel displaced or less-than. I don't think, though, that you can necessarily prevent that IRL.
post #22 of 30
I didn't really mean to start a war, here. I also didn't mean for the OP to get out a calculator.

FWIW, I grew up with divorced parents who remarried. In my situation, the custodial parent handled the allowance (my dad for my brother and my mom for me). I didn't expect allowance from my dad, my brother didn't expect it from my mom. We both received allowance when they lived together.

I was really only speaking to the OP's situation, where the child in question is quite a bit older than the two children that live in the house full time. So in my view, his allowance would be quite a bit more than theirs because his "expenses" are greater. And as he is almost a teenager, they will become even more as his social life develops. The other children in the house will still most likely be in elementary school when he graduates from high school.

However, I don't think that a non-custodial parent should be expected to pay an allowance that covers all of a teen's expenses because the child does not live in that house much of the time. During the summer, when he is living there full-time for a bit, they would be expected to cover all of his expenses. This is similar to any other expense with regard to this child. When he is with them, they pay for all food, toiletries, whatnot. When he is at the other house, allowance is their responsibility.

So if he is there on a weekend, slip him a $20 (or whatever works for the household) and call it allowance. If he is living there over the summer, it would be more. The age difference between him and the other two is so great that I doubt they will be comparing. In our house, the number we've tossed about for young children was around $5/week. I wasn't assuming that allowance distribution was going to be a ceremonial thing where the OP and her dh doled out the money while all over the kids stood there and compared.

In my book, it is one of those things that goes hand-in-hand with having two houses. There are some advantages (two birthday parties, in many cases) and some disadvantages (if one parent decides not to pay allowance, then the child might not get as much money). On the same note, the child may be expected to contribute to the household in different amounts at both houses as well.

To me, it seems a bit much to expect the non-custodial parent to pay the child's entire allowance. There is another parent who can contribute as well.
post #23 of 30
UptownZoo, I get it that fairness is a difficult concept to apply in real life. I also agree with you that "fair" does not necessarily have to mean "totally the same". Actually, "fair" is probably only rarely "totally the same". Just like in real life outside the home in so many other areas.

I have no objection to adjustments based on age, and would not object to adjustments based on amount of chores done if the base calculation is "amount of chores done" (even though it wouldn't be my choice since I personally am of the "allowance not tied to chores" school of thought).

At the same time, I just cannot feel comfortable with the idea of openly adjusting allowance up and down in function of how much time a child was physically present (per a custody order) any given week.

When they're teens and start going out lots, or if one child is a social butterfly and another a wallflower, do you then also adjust the allowance down to take that into account too??? Or, if one child has an expensive hobby and therefore more expenses??? I would guess that one would not.

I do think that you can avoid doing things that clearly and obviously will make a child feel less-than or displaced because of the blended family structure. The child may still feel that way sometimes, but no more than an older child in a non-blended family... Or may feel that way just because of the situation and other factors outside of your control. But you can still avoid doing things to make it worse.

And, in a blended family situation, there may be nothing you can do to prevent feelings of "unfairness" between the separate households. Just as you cannot prevent your kids from feeling that whatever is unfair compared to the neighbors. You can prevent unfairness within the confines of your home, though. (Again, remember, "fair" in my book does not have to be "the same".)

And saying something like "we give $7 a week in allowance, but this week you were here 2 days so you only get $2, next week you'll be here 4 days so you'll get $4" just sends a really bad message. One that is subtly but completely different from the message sent by "allowance is $1 per year of age per week starting at age 10 when you're with us". IMO.

Yeah, it's tough. Yeah, it's hard to figure out. No, nobody's perfect and not everything will work perfectly every time. But that's not a reason to give up trying.

pinksprklybarefoot, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not "in a war". And, now that you've expanded on it a bit, I'm glad I didn't say half of what I was thinking at first when I responded to your first post.

For the record, I don't think any parent is obliged to pay allowance. CP or NCP. But if you do as a parent (CP or NCP) decide to pay your children an allowance, then you are the one who decides how it should be calculated. (Unless things are so peachy-smooth between the two households that you willing decide to coordinate with the other household, which is not an obligation but could simplify things. I doubt this last option is possible in real life in most cases, though.)

Calculate it based on age if you want, I won't object.
Calculate it based on number of chores done if you want, I won't object (I might privately shake my head, though, when none of your kids are around).
Calculate it based on spending needs if you want, I won't object (I might privately think you're off base, though).
Calculate it based on a zillion other things that haven't been mentioned, I might be royally confused but probably won't object.

Say "when you're living here during an allowance "pay period" you get your full allowance, but when you're not here at all during the period, you don't", I won't object even though that results in de facto pro-rating of total $ received for the kid.

Just, please, please don't say "in our house, allowance is X for all kids (where X is the method of calculation, not the $ amount), but kid #1 was here Y% this week so only gets Y% of X..." No matter how little "ceremony" you do it with.

And, NO, I do not and never have thought that an NCP should be "expected" to pay allowance to any child. Just as I don't expect a CP to be have to pay allowance either. Allowance is a voluntary contribution by parents that they chose (or not) to give for any number of reasons.

I don't think "full-time household member" or "part-time household member" should be one of those reasons.

Sure, in real life, you probably won't be able to make sure that things are 100% equal between all the kids in both households no matter how hard you try. They never will be.

But you can send the message that within your household, all the kids belong equally and are equal members, no matter how they divide their time with another household.
post #24 of 30
Thread Starter 
I agree that fairness in blended families is difficult. I also agree that due to the age difference between my children and my stepson, the opportunity for comparisons between them re: allowance is minimal. However, I don't think anything will ever be fair. SS has a whole other family from whom he gets presents, holidays, and vacations. My children don't. Now, SS has to split his life down the middle. My children don't. There is no way to remedy these things-- it's just the way it is.

That being said, I kind of understand what you are saying, Ione. We would pay SS an allowance on the fridays he is with us, and if my children were the same age, I would pay them under the same framework (and because they are always with us, they would receive allowance every week whereas SS only receives it biweekly). I don't feel that is unfair. We would offer an allowance primarily for use at our house. That is our prerogative, although I recognize that it may not be a popular one.

And I suppose parents have no obligation to provide allowance, but I think that SS's mother should. He is in danger of being raised just like she was-- entitled, without any notion of money management. I think we can do better by him.

Thanks for all of the suggestions, by the way. I think we've pretty much figured out what we're going to do.
post #25 of 30
Glad you've figured out what you're going to do! That was the point after all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Selesai View Post
However, I don't think anything will ever be fair. SS has a whole other family from whom he gets presents, holidays, and vacations. My children don't. Now, SS has to split his life down the middle. My children don't. There is no way to remedy these things-- it's just the way it is.
You're entirely right here. Some things just are.

My whole point is, however, that no matter how unfair the situation is on macro level (between 2 households, in society at large, etc.), you can avoid doing things that would make a child feel less-than or excluded within a micro-level situation (i.e. one household) when compared to their (half)siblings because of that "unfair macro situation" outside of your control that needs to be dealt with somehow.

Again, I'm not hung up on "strictly equal" necessarily, I'm hung up on things that send a message of "proportionate belonging", "less-than", etc. within any one given household.

My brother, sisters and I almost never got exactly the same stuff or same amounts of allowance, vacations, whatever as we were growing up. But within "mom's" household (if not across households) NONE of those differences ever grew out of anything that could not have also existed in a non-blended family. Age played a big factor, probably the biggest factor. As did temperament, needs, what was financially or logistically possible one year vs. other possibilities at a different time (you can do more with a pre-teen and a baby than you can with a teen and 4 kids under 6, for ex., blended or not), etc.

Sure, I "missed out" on some stuff because I went to my father's, while my siblings didn't... But it was logistical and based primarily on all kinds of other considerations (when my parents could take off work, for ex., or whether I really wanted to go on XYZ vacation or thought I was "too old" for "baby stuff") and, if we hadn't been a blended family, I could just as easily have missed the same stuff because I wanted to go somewhere with friends, too.

You can't make it the same. You can't change what is. But that doesn't mean that kids who have to split their lives between two households can't also be full-fledged members of both households (rather than half-members of both).
post #26 of 30
DSD works for her dad 4-8 hours a weekend (working on paperwork, running errands, and helping dp sort out the basement), and puts half the money into her savings, the rest becomes her play money. If she doesn't work - no play money.

At the same time, we do provide things she needs, and on occasion things she wants. Big ticket items come in on holidays.

It worked well enough before she lived with us and even now that she is with us. Also provides some bonding time for her and her dad. So no controversy here... She gets money on her mom's side for babysitting, although she hasn't done that in a while.

That's our arrangements.
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by UptownZoo View Post
Everyone who lives in this house (full or part time) contributes to the routine maintenance of the home. Nobody gets paid for it. However, kids can be paid for extra or especially onerous chores, and if they want money they are allowed to ask for chores, though pestering us if we say no is not allowed. My house and yard were gorgeous when two of my boys were saving for new bikes!

Everyone who lives in this house also gets a little mad money to use for non-essential treats. We reserve the right to put boundaries around how the children spend the money since we view it as a tool for learning to manage money and save for special things.

Those are our values so that's what we do here. It's different at their other homes but we don't base our decisions about what to do on what they do there.
That's what I do, too. Both kids (at 14 & 16) have (very) p/t jobs as well. They kick in ~10% of their earnings into a common pot which we use for extras, and cover their own incidental expenses. Regular chores they do as part of the household, but there are other jobs that they can do around the house that I will pay them for.

At their Dad's, they get $5/wk allowance (pro-rated for the number of days they are there). Their stepsibs are paid extra for extra jobs, but ours aren't permitted to do any of them. Nor are they allowed to bring/spend any of their money from here.
post #28 of 30
Quote:
That's what I do, too. Both kids (at 14 & 16) have (very) p/t jobs as well. They kick in ~10% of their earnings into a common pot which we use for extras, and cover their own incidental expenses. Regular chores they do as part of the household, but there are other jobs that they can do around the house that I will pay them for.
I know this is a wee bit off topic . . . I really like that. Putting in 10% of their earnings for incidentals. Both of the 16 yr olds in our home have part time jobs and I get annoyed when they ask for money for tampons, shaving creams and shampoos etc. . . . they make 'good' money and can afford it themselves. Good idea.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
Their stepsibs are paid extra for extra jobs, but ours aren't permitted to do any of them. Nor are they allowed to bring/spend any of their money from here.
that's bizzar...
post #30 of 30
I didn't understand the stepsibs get to do extra but our kids not thing either - is that at their dad's house? that seems weird
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