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#1 of 9 Old 06-02-2010, 12:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband and I have explained to our 3 older kids time and again that we feel it's sufficient for them to share 1 computer, separate from ours.

My step-son - who turns 11 today - told me "all he wanted" for his birthday was a digital camera, so I bought him a nice case with a card tucked inside telling him we would take him shopping today, to pick one out.

Evidently, he went behind our backs and told my MIL he wanted his own laptop. She just showed up with one. She's expecting my husband to reimburse her for some of the cost, as he has done sometimes in the past, with expensive gifts (except he knew about THOSE in advance).

My twins' birthday is later this month and money is tight. There's no way they're going to get nice gifts like this.

I am collecting myself, so I can go out and NOT act irritated, which my step-son shouldn't have to deal with on his birthday. But I feel like he behaved in a manipulative and greedy way. This is compounded by the fact that my husband has been grouchy for the last several days about God-knows-what and this morning he is complaining vociferously about me using all the cream cheese, INSTEAD of appreciating the fact that I baked his son a homemade cheesecake for his birthday, which is his favorite.

Deep breaths. Argggggghhhhhh.

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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#2 of 9 Old 06-02-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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Ouch. Crazy entitlement there! I just don't understand kids who don't "get" money. Money was tight in both mine and DW's families when we were growing up, and she still has a sister or two that just doesn't get it.

I'm not sure how I'd deal with this honestly...never had kids that old. I guess the "nicest" way to deal would be to give MIL money equal to the value of the digital camera budget and not give him a camera. Not sure how to punish or teach him for the crazy manipulative aspect, though.

Although, if you give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he didn't think MIL would get him one...might have just been an offhand comment to her that turned into a nice gift?

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#3 of 9 Old 06-02-2010, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Plunky, thanks for the quick reply. Silly, but I really needed some sympathetic feedback. We are giving Grandma money instead of getting the camera. But my husband doesn't see this as manipulative, so that aspect probably is not going to get dealt with. He just thinks his mom asked V. what he wanted and he told her. I think if that's all it was, it's curious that he didn't tell US that's what he wanted - not a word!

The twins' Dad gave them an iMac for Xmas when they 1st came out (to keep at our house). As soon as my step-son moved in with us, I explained it was no longer just THEIR computer, that it was the KIDS' computer - and that their Dad would agree with that - there were just fewer kids in the house, when he bought it. But I was clear that I didn't want to hear "our Dad got this for US and you can't use it" - ever. And they've been great about it. And they're not acting jealous about V. getting his own computer now. Really feeling good about them today!!!

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#4 of 9 Old 06-02-2010, 01:12 PM
 
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I can see why you would be frustrated. But if grandma has bought more expensive gifts in the past and he knew money was tight, then maybe he asked grandma for the more expensive gift because he knew he wouldn't get it from you. I agree that giving grandma the camera money is the best solution, although you could also refuse to give her $$ and explain that you need to know in advance about these kind of purchases as money is tight. I don't know your stepson but I wouldn't assume manipulation. And even if it was a mild form, like Grandma always gets me what I want so I'll ask her, then I can understand. Kids have little control over things like that. I DO think you could gently sit down with him and explain that you wish you had known he really wanted a laptop, that money is tight, but that you could have brainstormed ways to meet that desire if it was a reasonable one - e.g., raising $$, asking grandma to pitch in with parents to help pay for one, doing extra chores. That you want to be seen as a partner in helping your kids figure out how to responsibly get the things you think are really important while recognizing that this is not always possible. Clearly, in this case it was so it's more about how to go about it.

How old are the other kids? As the mom of an 11 year old just going into middle school I can really understand the personal laptop desire. Our family shares one between us: and I work from home with it, my partner does activist work AND goes to school and uses it and my daughter uses it for fun but also homework. It's a bit much. She is about to go to middle school and will really need pretty free access to a computer. So, unfortunately, these days I don't think it's entitlement to want one. We're also contemplating buying one and it's not really in our budget. We're looking at ways she can "raise" some of the money herself to help pay for it: e.g., lemonade stand, selling old books, organizing a yard sale, babysitting/extra chores. If the twins are the same age range, I could see how that would be hard and I would ask Grandma to pony up for another one so everyone have one of their own. If they're significantly younger (like under 8) then I think it's fine as computer needs are much less and now they have one less person to share with so they benefit too.
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#5 of 9 Old 06-02-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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That's great that your boys are so practical and well-balanced and not jealous. I'm glad to hear that!

And I think the way you solved it, with giving her the $ for the card, is a great idea.

How frustrating, overall, though.
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#6 of 9 Old 06-02-2010, 01:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bronxmom View Post
So, unfortunately, these days I don't think it's entitlement to want one. We're also contemplating buying one and it's not really in our budget. We're looking at ways she can "raise" some of the money herself to help pay for it: e.g., lemonade stand, selling old books, organizing a yard sale, babysitting/extra chores. If the twins are the same age range, I could see how that would be hard and I would ask Grandma to pony up for another one so everyone have one of their own. If they're significantly younger (like under 8) then I think it's fine as computer needs are much less and now they have one less person to share with so they benefit too.
I agree with what you're saying here. The only reason I mentioned entitlement was the idea that you can manipulate two factions into getting you two nice, expensive gifts when you know money is tight. Maybe he didn't do this, but MIL thinking that the OP should chip in for the machine makes me think he did. Otherwise she would have just thought that she was being extravagant on her own.

I also agree that wanting your own computer is completely understandable. I hate when people use my computer. When someone else uses it for an extended time there's always something that feels different.

They're really not that expensive these days though. An eleven year old kid can start working toward these things by doing those jobs you mentioned. I build my computers, so maybe I'm biased, but I think kids that want expensive technology should get into it on that end....building their own machines, getting used parts or researching and just getting cheaper, not cutting edge parts.

When my brother and I learned how to play guitar, we had crappy instruments that we bought with our own money. I think this is a similar thing.

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#7 of 9 Old 06-02-2010, 02:12 PM
 
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Three cheers for the twins! That whole situation could have gotten MUCH uglier.

I'm not a huge fan of laptops for the under-16 crowd, since I'm not a huge fan of private Internet access for the under-16 crowd. Honestly, I'd be worrying more about how to manage the darn laptop than about whether or not the kid manipulated Grandma into buying it.
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#8 of 9 Old 06-02-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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Three cheers for the twins! That whole situation could have gotten MUCH uglier.

I'm not a huge fan of laptops for the under-16 crowd, since I'm not a huge fan of private Internet access for the under-16 crowd. Honestly, I'd be worrying more about how to manage the darn laptop than about whether or not the kid manipulated Grandma into buying it.
I agree with this. The grandmother hasn't only put financial strain on you, she's made supervising his actions online a lot more complicated. It's possible to remove the network card from the laptop... this would probably be an appropriate consequence if he doesn't abide by whatever rules you choose to apply to its use.

We've instructed my ex's parents to check with me before they make a big purchase, and asked that they not buy anything that has (or puts the kids in front of) a screen. If/when the grandparents do it anyway, we'll be sending back or confiscating the gift.

~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#9 of 9 Old 06-02-2010, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the feedback! Some thoughts:

1- In some ways, I've had it really easy with the twins. They're mildly Autistic and developmentally delayed and one nice thing about that is they've never done much lying, manipulating, pitting one parent against the other, throwing a tantrum in the middle of a store hoping to embarass me into buying them something to shut them up... all of those things require an understanding of what other people are thinking which is actually fairly sophisticated. In other words, maybe it is perfectly normal or even admirably intelligent 11-year-old behavior to:
a - Have your parents say "We don't think it's appropriate for you to have your own computer,"
b - Figure out that your grandmother (who sometimes buys you expensive gifts) probably doesn't know your parents' opinion, because no one talks about computers with her - she doesn't even own one!
c- Understand that if you talk Grandma into showing up with a computer for your birthday, your parents won't feel comfortable telling her she shouldn't have bought it.

2- It definitely was manipulative behavior. Kids have many things these days which my husband and I think do give them a sense of entitlement, an unrealistic idea of what they'll be able to provide for themselves when they're on their own and which teaches them to devalue what they have. We very consciously don't let them have TVs in their bedrooms. They don't have hand-held video game systems or TVs in the car, so they can be plugged in and tuned out to the people around them, wherever they go. When we buy them a Wii or nice mp3 players, we expect them to take care of them and not expect the latest upgrade from us every year. We've made it clear that even if we become milliionaires, we will not buy them expensive new cars for their 16th birthdays or high school graduation. And we don't think they each need their own computer. Their schools have - and use - extensive computer labs and, as of now, fully 95% of their computer time at home is spent on games and Facebook. That's OK, but they don't need MORE of it. They don't need MORE privacy. And we think it's good for them to have to manage sharing the computer with each other, not have the ability to each be on it all the time unless we're breathing down their necks. We have had many, many conversations about our position and the kids all understand it. My step-son clearly and definitely sidestepped us, to get what he wanted in spite of us. And he did it masterfully. And I really don't like that. But again, maybe it's normal for his age.

3- I'm also torn between:
a - He has been through so much S*#@. Maybe we should EXPECT him to feel like we're all here for him to get whatever he can out of us and not worry about respect. After all, plenty of decisions have been made about his life that had nothing to do with respecting HIS wants or needs.
b - Does it benefit him, if we make excuses every time he acts badly? Aren't we supposed to try to raise him to do the right thing and be a good person, regardless what heartache he's been through? (To clarify: it's not that he always acts badly, or disrespectfully. It's just that I always have an excuse in the back of my mind, when he does - and his Dad does, even more so.)

Anyway, we HAVE had a nice day. I took him to the pool with friends and had a picnic and got milkshakes, while my husband prepared the evening feast - to culminate with the homemade cheesecake I bake for him every year. I've sucked it up and this hasn't ruined the day.

BTW - someone asked and my twins will turn 15 in a couple weeks. But they're still in middle school. High school may prove different, but right now all three of the kids tend to be given computer lab time at school, when reports are assigned. They tend to do very little school work on the computer at home.

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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