REAL thread re talk w/ SS (I hit return w/o typing anything, before! Argh!) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 05-27-2009, 08:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Since the custody change (almost-10-y-o SS came to live with us when he was 8-1/2; his mom lives across the country and lost custody for all she did to alienate him from my husband), my husband's ex pointedly outdoes us, with gifts and entertainment. We bought him a Firefly (kid's) cell phone to keep in touch with her, she replaced it with a camera phone. We gave him an iPod Shuffle for Christmas (a couple years after they came out, when the price went down) and she immediately replaced it with an iPod Nano. We get him a new bike, she gets him a moped. We take him camping, she takes him on a cruise to Mexico. Get the picture?

Sadly, her childhood family did a lot of cruel, alienating things to each other, after which large sums of money or noteable material things tended to be given as gifts, to inspire each other to make up and "bond" again. So, literally, material things were equated with love. There is no question that she is banking on getting my step-son to tell a judge when he's 14 that he wants to go back to live with her and she expects to accomplish this, in part, by convincing him that life with her is infinitely more lavish and entertaining.

Of course I'd hate for my stepson to be seduced in that way (living with his mom again would be markedly unhealthy for him, on a number of levels), but I also hate the thought of him being trained to become one of those kids who only appreciates heartfelt gifts that somebody sacrificed to be able to give him...until the newer version hits the shelves!

I took all 4 kids to run errands today, during which time my step-son said he wants an iPod Touch for his upcoming birthday. Should I tell him we can't afford one? (true) That we've already bought all his gifts? (true) That I think it's a bit obnoxious that he's only had his Nano a year, and scarcely uses it, but he wants to upgrade? (also true) That I'm really not that crazy about kids his age having all this technology and I wish he just wanted stuff like Legos and a slingshot? (again, true)

I thought for a minute and told him that I believed it had been a big deal to his mother, to give him the Nano; that sometimes the person and thought behind a gift is more important than whether it's the latest thing; and that if I were his Mom, I'd feel a little hurt that he wanted to replace it so quickly. Furthermore, if his Dad and I were the ones who replaced it, his Mom might feel like we were trying to show her up and outshine her gift to him, which we have no wish to do. Both his parents love him equally and they each give him the nicest gifts they're able to, so it would really be sad if it seemed like there were a contest to give him the better gift. I suggested we could spruce up what songs are loaded on his Nano, load some new photos, maybe figure out how to upload a new movie onto it, to watch on his flight out to see his Mom this summer - remind him what a nice thing that is to own, and remember how nice it was of his Mom to give it to him.

Thankfully, my step-son's not a brat and didn't push. And I'll bet that his Mom will buy him the Touch. But I was glad to have a more-or-less neutral opportunity to tell him directly how we wish material things would be handled - and I hope it'll stick with him a little, when he's with his Mom. ???

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#2 of 8 Old 05-28-2009, 04:47 AM
 
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It sounds like he got it. FWIW, my 10yo has a hole in his logic where money is concerned; shuffles are lots of money, touches are lots of money therefore there is no difference between the two.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#3 of 8 Old 05-28-2009, 08:54 AM
 
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Sounds like you said it the best way you could and hopefully it sinks in. And it might not now either but maybe eventually he'll have an aha moment about the talk
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#4 of 8 Old 05-28-2009, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by flapjack View Post
my 10yo has a hole in his logic where money is concerned; shuffles are lots of money, touches are lots of money therefore there is no difference between the two.
I love that!

This is off-topic, but my twins (almost 14) used to have a wonderful ignorance about material things, too, when they were younger and watched less TV. Every Christmas I had the simultaneous blessing and dilemma of the fact that they had no idea what the latest fad toys were!

So, on the one hand, I never had to choose between standing in line for a Tickle-Me Elmo or having to invent an explanation for Santa not bringing their one heart's desire.

On the other hand, since they imagined what they'd like, they always pined for at least one thing that simply did not exist - one year it was a remote-control Winnebago - which my brothers would then try to create, out of Legos and old toys! I miss that!

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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#5 of 8 Old 05-28-2009, 03:04 PM
 
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I would like to applaud your approach...you said that so well! Seriously, I don't know that I could give advice to anyone that was as good as your approach. I thought you deserved a pat on the back.

I had the father, who bought me lavish gifts and bribed me to live with him. And my mother that loved me unconditionally with less money and less expensive gifts but loved me. Her gifts were heart felt and meant more to me. I remember her taking all us kids to McD's for dinner and a movie (the local McD's did a movie night). We went every week, for face painting and ice cream. Did it cost a bunch of money...probably not, but I knew it was a sacrifice, and I remember and love her for that.

For the record, I did fall to my father's bribes. The trampoline, the horse and the 20 pair of sneaker bribe, which also for the record I never got any of. I live with him and learned a very valuable lesson that year. All the money in the world, all the gifts, clothes or eating out couldn't replace my mothers love and attention!

Sophia ~ 9/21 learning how to be crunchy mama. Uh oh, I just went over the crunch edge! ECing!! Planned ~ maybe next time : :
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#6 of 8 Old 05-28-2009, 03:59 PM
 
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I think you did a great jopb as well.

We have a little of that here, but the kids are 4, 4, and 6. And really (with our family)I think it has more to do with family ideals and values than with trying to one up anyone. My dsd's mom flew her to Disney for a week for her birthday in March, my ex is flying my two dd's to Disney in July. My ex also has 8 or 9 televisions, 6 year old dd has a tv and computer in her room, an mp3 player, all of the kids have hand held video games, etc. We have 1 television and 1 computer, no hand held games, no batterly operated toys (except youngest's swimming dolly). For vacation we are driving to the Ozark mountains and hiking, visiting various state parks, natural springs, searching for fairies etc.

Maia (the 6 year old) said she thinks it is perfect, each vacation fits each house and that she is glad she gets to experience both types of families. I hope it stays that way, I worry that as they get older dad's house will be the "cool house"
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#7 of 8 Old 05-28-2009, 04:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post
On the other hand, since they imagined what they'd like, they always pined for at least one thing that simply did not exist - one year it was a remote-control Winnebago
That cracked me up... especially because my 4-yr-old has been begging for a pair of "tree frog gloves" so he can climb walls and trees...

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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#8 of 8 Old 05-28-2009, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by sugarpop View Post
I would like to applaud your approach...
Gosh, thanks! That's nice to hear.

Mommyto3girls mentioned disparities in her kids' extended family that aren't a problem, and I should say I agree - they don't have to be. My twins' dad and step-mom have a LOT more money than we do, but they have a positive, supportive attitude about the stuff we do with the kids - my ex has even gone along on my husband's "guys only", low-budget camping trips and thinks they're fun. And, when my ex wanted to spend a ton on a nice computer for the kids, he was generous enough to make it a gift from "both" of us, that stays at my house, because the kids each have one of his "old" laptops, at his house. So it really isn't a problem. The twins just accept that things are different at their different homes, not "better" and "worse". But of course, they're taking a lot of cues from us. It matters a lot what the parents' attitudes are.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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