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Frugality & Finances > How much of your financial situation/choices should impact others?
KayleeZoo's Avatar KayleeZoo 07:51 AM 03-05-2013

The title isn't quite right, but I couldn't think of another way to ask it. I'll tell the story and then ask my question afterwards and you ladies can contribute as you see fit...

 

My almost-13yo was invited to a birthday sleepover by a classmate. They all attend a very charter school, which is great for learning about your kids' classmates and their families- there are faces for all the names, kwim? She hadn't been to this girl's home before, but I met the girl and her mom and they were very nice. I don't usually allow sleepovers at homes where we are not very familiar with the parents, but made an exception this time for a variety of reasons- another friend's mom whom I do trust with my kid is friends with the birthday girl's family and let her daughter go, etc.

Anyway. I dropped DD off and went inside- nice home, friendly parents, dogs, little sibs, etc. One thing was kinda strange- all the lights in the house were turned off (it was dusk) except for in the kitchen. I figured they were really mindful energy users, which was cool. Felt totally comfortable and so I left her there.

When I picked her up the next morning, she told me things that downright pissed me off. The parents got pizza from a popular restaurant, but told the girls that they could only have 1 slice per hour, so that they didn't eat it all. The dad immediately wrote his name on one of the pizza boxes and declared that "his" pizza and that nobody was to touch it. The girls were offered some fresh veggies and fruit, but there was a limited amount. When DD went to the fridge door dispenser to fill her water cup, the mom told her that they "save" the water dispensed from the fridge and they drink sink water so she needed to get her water from there. After dinner, the girls were told not to play outside, that they could not touch the ping pong table, and to keep the lights turned off so as not to waste electricity. They settled down to watch a movie a couple hours later and the host (birthday girl) asked her parents if the girls could make popcorn "since it was a special day". She was told no. That they didn't "need" anymore snacks. (They had been given an open bag of lowfat potato chips after dinner and told that that was their snack for the evening)

More weirdness ensued- the dad got angry at the girls for making noise at one point and lined them up in the kitchen to yell at them- and then for breakfast, they made pancakes. But he kept unplugging the electric griddle in between pancakes and it kept getting too cold to cook them. The girls got 2 pancakes apiece. DD saw milk in the fridge and asked politely if she could get a glass. The dad told her that milk was only for cereal and that she could get water from the sink.

Now, I think there was just some general quirkiness going on (who has a gaggle of 12-13yo girls over and expects them to be quiet all night, and to not want them to play ping pong? And I don't know ANYONE who would think it's appropriate for the dad to line them up and chew them out over laughing loudly, etc) but the food thing really made me angry. My child was hungry (and so were all the other kids- I was not the only mother who was VERY upset once I heard the goings on of the previous evening and morning). We all agreed that this family is probably super frugal, which is great. BUT, when you invite 6 pre-teens to your home, you have to know that they're gonna be hungry. And prepare accordingly. I've since learned that this family routinely restricts food as a means of saving money (from another friend who knows their family and did NOT allow her child to attend the party because of this exact reason. Wish I had talked with her earlier)

My question is this- when is it "okay" to let what you do/believe/choose spill onto others? These kids went to the sleepover expecting there to be enough food. It's what we all do- invite a group of kids and then hit the grocery store. Kids this age eat quite a bit (and my daughter is very very thin, as is our whole family, btw) and you have to plan accordingly, IMO. If you can't afford to feed a group like that, okay, but I don't feel that they should have been invited if the parents weren't planning on feeding them adequately. The other moms involved all felt the same way I did, but I wonder if it's because their own girls were involved. So I'm asking you all for your honest reactions. :)



bmcneal's Avatar bmcneal 08:13 AM 03-05-2013

To me, that would be upsetting, both because of the food thing (My 7 year old DD can't just eat one piece of pizza...), and the dad lining them up to yell at them. I can *kind of* understand not wanting them to have milk, *maybe*, because it can be expensive, but... if they were anticipating serving dinner to the girls, I think there should have been something other than just water. But, that's just my opinion. I'm interested to see what other people have to say.


Nazsmum's Avatar Nazsmum 08:16 AM 03-05-2013

I don't know if it about $$ OR just not "fun" parents. I do think that the party should NOT have happened!!


SunRise's Avatar SunRise 08:59 AM 03-05-2013

Seems really regiment; hopefully the birthday girl had fun and felt special.


FloridaBorn's Avatar FloridaBorn 10:47 AM 03-05-2013
That family is setting their kids up for a lifetime of disordered eating... and spending!!
worthy's Avatar worthy 11:07 AM 03-05-2013

I don't see a problem with only offering water or tea to drink, or limiting portions, but there needs to be sufficient abundance of food.  I do have juice or lemonade or something special for parties.  I limit (for example) meat portions even when we have guests, but we always have lots of filler-upper kinds of foods available, and heck -- popcorn is one of the cheapest things to snack on!  I would not feel pressured to say yes if a guest looked in my fridge and asked if they could have something I was saving/rationing, but I would take it as a sign that they maybe needed something they weren't getting in what was offered.
 

Did they have cake or any celebratory food?  What did they do to "celebrate" the birthday?  Anything?  I'm so curious.

 

We keep our house quite cold (heat just with a woodstove in the main room), but when family or friends sleep over, we turn on the furnace.  Though, come to think of it, not for just one kid friend -- but we have extra sleeping bags, plenty of blankets, ask them to bring warm layers and slippers, offer to lend such things if needed, etc.

 

 

We are friends with a family that keeps a bucket in their shower and uses the "overflow" shower water for flushing the toilet.  And they are open about that with guests, but also equally open to the guests not doing it.  It's kind of like, we do this, if you want to and think it's cool you can, if you don't want to just go ahead and flush.

 

I don't think anyone should have to bring their own standards up to someone else's -- we all have different budgets and tolerance levels and family habits.  But the dad yelling at the girls and limiting their pizza by the hour is really beyond that, IMO.  When you have kids over for pizza, you don't have more than you can afford pizza for.  Period.  If each kid can only have a couple of slices, you supplement with plenty of other food that kids are likely to eat.  And you never, ever yell at someone else's kid.  Or let your spouse do that.  The poor girl must have been so embarassed.


Escaping's Avatar Escaping 11:13 AM 03-05-2013

That's very unusual for me. I was always brought up that if you invite someone into your home, you offer them everything you have until you're blue in the face. If you can't afford something like that, you don't invite people over. 

At the same time, I can't help but feel bad for their child if none of the other kids will ever attend a party at their house after this. If they ever hosted another function, I would maybe get together with some of the other parents and have all of the kids bring some kind of snack to share with the others under the guise of 'it's rude to go to a person's house and not bring something'. I know kids don't usually show up to a sleepover with a baked ham (and I imagine you bought a gift for the birthday girl) but why punish the kid if the parents are different?

As for the lining up the children and yelling at them... not something I would ever do, but I'd also expect my child to be respectful of someone's house rules no matter how irrational they were. 


chel's Avatar chel 11:37 AM 03-05-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by FloridaBorn View Post

That family is setting their kids up for a lifetime of disordered eating... and spending!!

I agree. Sounds like a control issues for the parents.
Things like water from the fridge or turning off the griddle isn't about being frugal.

I would probably let my kid spend the night again, but like pp, I would send enough snacks to share with the entire group. Such a a large bag of chips AND a 2lt of drink.

My daughter routinely brings snacks to a friends house. Usually something she has brought for lunch and others have expressed an interest in.
sarah_bella1050's Avatar sarah_bella1050 11:50 AM 03-05-2013
No what happened isn't right, it sounds like a controlling and possibly abusive home. Not saying that it is, just that I would be on the look out. This is what they let the world see imagine what they may be hiding. I would not let my kid go over there again, but would let this child come to mine. I would not confront the parents about it either, it could make it worse for the girl.
Quinalla's Avatar Quinalla 12:14 PM 03-05-2013
I think that is over the top. I'm ok with limiting snacks/food/whatever to a point, you don't have to provide the kids every single thing they want and water is fine for drinks, but if the kids are hungry, you have to provide them something. It can be inexpensive, but they shouldn't be going hungry. If you can't or don't want to spend the $$, invite less people over and make sure they are well fed.

As for lining up the girls and yelling at them, that seems odd to me, but it is hard to tell the context of it all, so that I would probably not worry about too much. The food thing though, yeah, that's silly to me.
KayleeZoo's Avatar KayleeZoo 01:12 PM 03-05-2013

My DD said that the friend whose birthday it was seemed *really* embarassed, especially when she asked if they could please make popcorn since it was a special occasion and was told no. This girl is shy in general, and I wonder if her home enviornment is a big cause of that. The whole situation seemed VERY controlled, to me, not just the food aspect, and I don't think the kids are encouraged to speak up and let their wants/needs be known, from what I'm hearing from the mutual friend... The girl tried to invite several of the original sleepover friends over on Saturday nightl, but NOBODY would go :(  My heart is breaking for *her*- it's not fair that nobody wants to go to her house because of her parents. I asked DD if she would be inclined to go if she brought a bunch of snacks for everyone to share, but she said no- that the weird feeling from the dad lining them up in the kitchen and yelling at them made her never want to go there again. Honestly, I wouldn't be comfortable letting her go, even if she wanted to. I would absolutely address the food issue by sending DD over with a bunch of stuff- saying that we had hosted a party and had wayyy too many leftovers and would they please help us out by letting the girls all enjoy it, etc. so as not to make them feel insulted about us bringing food. But the other stuff just doesn't sit well with me, either.

I have friends whose financial situations prevent them from having a bunch of kids over, and I have reminded them that there does NOT need to be unlimited "fun" food like soda, ice cream, pizza, etc. for the kids to enjoy themselves. I've discovered that just a bunch of snacky type stuff, even if it's inexpensive, pleases this age group just fine. Part of having fun for this age seems to be hanging out, listening to music, jumping on the tramp, playing with each other's electronics, and EATING, lol. But I just can't help but feel that you need to be able to satisfy everyone's hunger if you're going to invite them over. I dunno, my mom and dad always taught me that when you open your home to others, you offer whatever you have. I have always wanted other people to feel 100% comfortable here and have no problem with the kids' friends looking in the fridge, cupboards, etc. and finding snacks. Although I do realize that some people would be put off and think this behavior to be rude. I like to know that people are *that* comfortable here that they treat it like home.....

 

ETA- I grilled DD about what the girls did that caused the dad to yell at them- she knows that she is expected to be respectful of other people's rules and homes whenever she is at someone else's home. Period. From what i can tell (both from what DD told me and the accounts from her friends whose moms I've spoken with after the fact), the girls got silly and were laughing and jumping around- I'm sure they did make quite a bit of noise. It's hard- we have a stricter noise policy here because littlest DD is 3 and goes to bed at 7 each night- my kids' friends know that all loudness has to cease then. BUT, I also give them more leeway than I would my own kids if there were no guests over because sleepovers, well, they get loud pretty quickly and it's not intentional. I wouldn't yell at anyone's child for noise. I have had to be very blunt with a couple of my kids' friends over the years about being disrespectful of our home, of belongings, etc. But I'd never line a group of them up and chew them out for noise.


KayleeZoo's Avatar KayleeZoo 01:26 PM 03-05-2013

Oh, and there were lowfat cupcakes for the birthday dessert. DD asked me why the mom was so adament on letting the girls know that they were lowfat. I told her that I had no idea. The family members that I saw were all healthy weights, and DD's friend is pretty thin. They didn't have any special activities planned - which isn't super unusual- some families (like ours) always have one kinda big "planned" thing (craft project, etc) and then I let the kids pick and choose between that, watching a movie, playing outside, maybe baking cupcakes or cookies, etc. I know lots of people who do the same thing- get Tshirts and fabric paint for everyone, etc. when it's a birthday sleepover. But DD has been to some birthday sleepovers where there were no special activities, too, and it' works out just fine. For regular overnights, I just provide a bunch of food and will pay for a movie on Xfinity if they want to watch one.


FloridaBorn's Avatar FloridaBorn 01:28 PM 03-05-2013
I've learned my lesson reading this thread to always from this point on send my daughter to a friend's house with a snack to share!!

Heaven forbid any of the sleepover friends were diabetic and needed juice in the middle of the night!

Will not share with you all the totally non-PC comment my husband made after I shared this story with him. Ouch.
KayleeZoo's Avatar KayleeZoo 01:33 PM 03-05-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by FloridaBorn View Post

I've learned my lesson reading this thread to always from this point on send my daughter to a friend's house with a snack to share!!

Heaven forbid any of the sleepover friends were diabetic and needed juice in the middle of the night!

Will not share with you all the totally non-PC comment my husband made after I shared this story with him. Ouch.

Florida, it can't be as bad as what my own DH said when DD told us everything that happened. Oy.


KayleeZoo's Avatar KayleeZoo 01:36 PM 03-05-2013

I keep thinking that I want to make sure I"m seeing this from the other parents' side, too. I don't want my kids to feel entitled when they are with friends whose families may have a different financial situation. BUT I feel pretty strongly that, as an adult, it's the parents' responsibility to make sure that all the children in their care have their basic needs met. Like food. If the kids were older and had drivers licenses and could go get snacks by themselves, maybe that would be different. But these girls are too young to take matters into their own hands and feed themselves. And we have adopted a new sleepover plan- any time any of them go to anybody's house that is not a best friend whom we know will feed them, they take a snack. And a phone to text me and let me know to come pick them up if necessary.


erinmattsmom88 01:53 PM 03-05-2013

Wow, read your story and I am shocked. Does not sound normal at all. I feel really bad for the birthday girl. Lowfat cupcakes? For 13-year-olds? Weird. I hope the girls' friends still want to be friends with her. It's not her fault at all. I'd invite her over for sleepovers and be extra nice to her. Tough situation though. I understand all about being frugal and trying to keep utility bills down, but to be that strict on your kid's birthday? Can't sacrifice just one day? Father sounds selfish for keeping one pizza just to himself. What a jerk.


justmama's Avatar justmama 01:54 PM 03-05-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by Escaping View Post

That's very unusual for me. I was always brought up that if you invite someone into your home, you offer them everything you have until you're blue in the face. If you can't afford something like that, you don't invite people over. 

 

Exactly how I was brought up and how we handle guests here too.  We rarely invite people over and my kids have never had a birthday party with friends.  We have had low-key get-togthers with spaghetti and cake and such only.


annethcz's Avatar annethcz 04:51 PM 03-05-2013
That does strike me as odd, but I can see the other parents' perspective a bit. My kids are similar ages, and we do host sleepovers on a regular basis. Although I do provide special foods and lots of junk food at birthday parties, I don't do it for every sleepover. My kids get together with their friends often, and if I provided soda and junk food all the time, it would not only be an added expense, but it would also be unhealthy. 2 pieces of pizza is probably the serving size if you look at the nutritional information.

I certainly wouldn't treat guests that way, but I don't think I'd be angry about it either. I'd just acknowledge that different families choose different lifestyles, and I'd follow my child's lead in terms of whether or not he/she wanted to go back.
katelove's Avatar katelove 05:17 PM 03-05-2013
Poor birthday girl :-( Would you and your DD be inclined/comfortable with inviting her to your place soon so she doesn't feel like she has no friends over this? Or would that make things worse "you can come to my house but I'm not going to yours"?
A&A's Avatar A&A 05:42 PM 03-05-2013

I always think of the friend of dd's who was here for a sleepover.  In the morning, I made french toast.  She ate one slice.  Then I asked her if she'd like a second slice.  She said, incredulous, "You can do that?"  She had literally never heard of getting a second slice/piece of anything.  (She was about 7 at the time.)   So, some families are just like that.

 

 BUT what would piss me off about your story is that that dad took an entire pizza for himself when the girls were still hungry.    So your story isn't just about frugality.  Homemade pizza would have been much cheaper, and then there would have been more to go around.  


rachelsmama's Avatar rachelsmama 05:46 PM 03-05-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by KayleeZoo View Post

I keep thinking that I want to make sure I"m seeing this from the other parents' side, too. I don't want my kids to feel entitled when they are with friends whose families may have a different financial situation. BUT I feel pretty strongly that, as an adult, it's the parents' responsibility to make sure that all the children in their care have their basic needs met. Like food. If the kids were older and had drivers licenses and could go get snacks by themselves, maybe that would be different. But these girls are too young to take matters into their own hands and feed themselves. And we have adopted a new sleepover plan- any time any of them go to anybody's house that is not a best friend whom we know will feed them, they take a snack. And a phone to text me and let me know to come pick them up if necessary.

Considering the choice of low fat cupcakes and chips, I doubt that finances were the only motivations for the food limitations. 


Alenushka's Avatar Alenushka 06:00 PM 03-05-2013

To me, that is is CPS call worthy. If this is how they control food with guests around....imagine what happens when they are alone?


velveeta's Avatar velveeta 06:19 PM 03-05-2013
This sounds horrible. I'm so sorry for their daughter. I was also struck by the dad getting his "own" pizza. This doesn't seem about money, at all. Pancakes are super cheap! I bristle when someone says what someone else "needs" or doesn't "need." "You don't need popcorn." They did need popcorn because they were hungry! The low fat remarks are creepy, too. :-(
serenbat's Avatar serenbat 06:25 PM 03-05-2013
Quote:
To me, that is is CPS call worthy. If this is how they control food with guests around....imagine what happens when they are alone?

this is laughable! seriously?? that's crazy

 

are you going to call and say my kid got low fat cupcake.... investigate? down right stupid

 

they provided food, there is no indication they don't feed their child (children) - it may not be what you deem standard but no indication that they are withholding food

 

if a parent has a problem with how her child was treated - one you never let them go over again, two you should have checked and known the parents a bit better prior to the event, this was an over night not a week vacation- they did give food

 

if you have an issue with how they treated your child, pick up the phone and talk it over and hear what did happen from their point of view, let them know how you feel- I don't get why this wasn't done in the first place- if someone yelled at my child, I would have spoken to that person ASAP regardless of what my child said, not talk to another parent who also was not there- I don't get that at all

 

you can be up set by what happened but many families have odd behavior that doesn't mean you call CPS!

 

It may simply not be the norm in the family to do things just like one thinks they should be done, instead of complaining, how about talking to the parents? If you feel there is a concern about the child not getting enough food- drop off a bag at the door- you know now.

 

Really I would not let a child sleep over or visit a home of a parent that I don't know and I would instruct any child that was doing any type of sleep over to call if they didn't feel things were right (PRIOR) to going.

 

I don't see why the OP did not speak to the family about this.

 

ETA- so what is the harm in a low fat cupcake? It may not be what you would have given, but you don't know the reason they gave them without asking and really I see this a odd from the point of view of making it an issue-Did they make others to give to someone they know wanted low fat, is it some things they usually do? Unless you spoke to every parent of every child that was there how you do known they weren't made for a certain person for a certain reason?   sounds really petty  

 

did the invitation say dinner? or was it just snacks? 


Katielady's Avatar Katielady 06:34 PM 03-05-2013

That is creepy and weird and I would not let my child go back. The yelling thing alone is unacceptable, and the food thing is just crazy. But as PPs have said, I really worry about the kids in that house. The OPs child only had to deal with that environment for a night; the kids who live there must have it like that and worse on a daily basis.

 

You could certainly have the girl over to your house. I had a friend from a very strict home (nothing like that though!) and she loved coming over where you wouldn't get yelled at for spilling.
 


LoveOurBabies's Avatar LoveOurBabies 06:44 PM 03-05-2013

The lining the girls up and yelling is the only red flag for me. That is not on! The father sounds like a jerk.

 

Restricting the food however, it's not a massive cause for concern. A few things spring to mind:

 

-Perhaps the parents did not grow up in homes where you are taught to shower your guests with everything you have.

 

-I have known of a few parents who bought specific items for themselves that were untouchable for the kids. I grew up with a girl who had parents like this. I could never understand why she would stare at me blankly everytime I opened the fridge to get something to eat, without asking my parents first. Or when I would tell her 'just grab what you want and eat it'. My friend's parents weren't abusive at all and weren't financially struggling (they were affluent), they just had very strange rules regarding food. They also had a set amount of food per person at dinner time and if you were still hungry after that, it was tough luck.

 

-Serving only water could be part of their whole 'low-fat' regime they have going on there.

 

-Even though they may look like they are 'okay' financially, they may really be suffering behind closed doors. They could be up to their eyeballs in debt and freak out at every little thing that could cost them more money. Appearances are always deceiving. The only thing that makes me feel like I could be wrong about this point, is the father hoarding a pizza to himself.

 

Either way, good luck. I wouldn't send my dd back (due to the yelling) but I would invite the girl over for a sleepover and ensure my dd remained friends with her. I can't imagine the hard time she must be having at school right now after that sleepover.
 


Escaping's Avatar Escaping 07:11 PM 03-05-2013

I too knew several kids who had to ask before they ate something. I even remember going to one's house at lunch and she left her mom a voicemail at work (before cell phones lol) and we couldn't eat anything until her mom called the house back!!

It isn't THAT strange that food is restricted in certain households, just not something that ever happened in my family, besides getting yelled at for eating all the designated "for school" stuff... I don't really think bizarre food rationing is a sign of abuse. 


Smokering's Avatar Smokering 03:49 AM 03-06-2013

That's weird, definitely. Serving water doesn't bother me - it's not very partyish, but ehh, most other drinks are nutritional garbage. We quite frequently serve guests water (along with ample, fancy dinner and dessert, mind you!). But everything else does seem off. Also, wouldn't turning the pan off between pancakes use up more power?

 

There are plenty of ways to entertain cheaply. I have no compunctions about saying to close friends something along the lines of "Let's have a burger night at our place; I'll do buns and dessert: who wants to bring drinks, patties, salads etc?" We all know each other well, and work it out according to who's rich, who's poor, who can cook and who can't. :p

 

We've also had people over just for dessert. And we've had people over for afternoon tea rather than lunch. Right now we're a bit broke, and I'm trying to work on my pride so I can invite people over for simpler meals - I'm a foodie and like to provide lavish food with expensive cuts of meat, desserts that involve large quantities of chocolate, cream cheese etc - and we just can't afford it. So I'm trying to graciously learn to serve pasta  and salad (salad without fancy olives or feta, even!) to guests. Nice pasta, mind you - garlic cream pasta - but still, not chicken breasts.

 

But yes, there's a certain point beyond which you're clearly short-changing your family by inviting others to share their meagre food, and probably making them (the guests) miserable and hungry into the bargain. It sounds like this family's either at that point, or has some very strange control issues...


CookiePie's Avatar CookiePie 08:23 AM 03-06-2013

It seems like it might have more to do with control than finances.  I would have also been very upset by the list of strange things that occurred. 

 

DD went to a friends house for the afternoon once when she was in fourth grade.  We met the family, the Mom was a nurse and they seemed like a good family.  Well apparently the mother went to bed shortly after DD arrived because she worked 3rd shift the night prior. DD was starving for lunch and the other child kept promising that they'd make sandwiches but it never happened.  DD kept telling her that she was hungry...I don't know why she didn't just call me.  Needless to say she didn't go back there.  If the Mom discussed with me that she needed to sleep we would have gladly hosted at our house with lunch and all.  I was upset that she would invite another child over then not supervise!  I didn't discuss it with her.  It taught me to ask more questions before allowing my kids to go anywhere!!!  


serenbat's Avatar serenbat 09:27 AM 03-06-2013
Quote:
 It taught me to ask more questions before allowing my kids to go anywhere!!!  

 

 

this is what it means to me as well

 

even as a child ages, it shows they may not be ready to be in certain situations - even years (many many years ago) at sleep overs, I remember even past 13, having some not stay and call and go home - with age (sometimes!!) comes wisdom and the OP's child needs- IMO to learn how to recognize, assess the situation and (fake a tummy ache, etc) pick up a phone and leave- make it a "code" even!  this goes for other events too!! 


Tags: Frugality , Finances , Popular On Mothering In 2013
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