I always come back to mothering.com when the sh*& hits the fan! lol
OK, I have an almost 10 year old daughter and a 6 year old boy. My two year old is a girl, but not part of the story. It has just come to my awareness that my 10 year old has a serious entitlement issues. I don't have any money and I'm a full time student--her dad lives a couple hours away and lives with his mother (he's a bit of a leach on his own parents). Earlier this summer I allowed my daughter to work with me at an event and I gave her half of the total money made for a new bike. She was really excited about it when I went and picked it up for her.
A couple weeks ago her dad's parents bought both the older kids bikes to have up there, which I think is great. This morning I started hearing about how the bike I got her is too small, the handlebars aren't right and the butt is not as comfortable. To be fair, the bike they got her was one of those cruisers--a really NICE bike. It got to the point where she was crying about how bad this bike was. I explained I did not have the money to just buy her a new bike and that there was nothing wrong with this one--in fact it was not too small, just a different kind of bike.
I started to talk to her about her choices of either trying to be happy with what she had and having at least something to ride OR I would get rid of it since she didn't like it anyway.
I started to think about how she's been in the last 6 months or so and am realizing that she really feels she should have whatever she wants whenever she wants it. I am constantly being asked to go to the movies, go out to eat, get this and that. Every time I try to explain that we simply do not have the money for things like that and I offer up "free" options of fun things to do.
I'm starting to think this is genetic or learned from the amount of time she spends with her dad. He is capable of working, but is waiting for disability for his bad back (really!)...his parents do not seem to have any problem in buying him anything he wants and he has no real need to work for anything.
How can I fight this? What can I do? Do I cut off anything for my kids without making them work for it? My daughter does do weekly horseback riding lessons in which she is required to work for various family members to earn, but I'm still not sure she's getting it. I think the bigger issue is that she can't be happy with what she has. It always has to be bigger and better. She is right now vying for an American Girl doll for her upcoming birthday.
I will say that my 6 year old is the polar opposite and will be quite happy with a ball of string and something to tie, lock, knot, or pull. He also loves to work (which probably drives my daughter insane) and will happily help out without a reward of any kind.
So...I'm looking for ideas/websites/books...anything!
It's not genetic. It's being 10. Preteens don't have a good sense of time, money or budgeting for the future. They're still very concrete thinkers. They're still pretty 'self-centered' in that they think of their own needs first and it takes work to get them to see other perspectives. They also get moody and upset over seemingly small things. Please don't blame it on her dad.
I'd suggest having her become part of the budgeting process with you. Lay out your monthly income and expenses. Let her see how much is left after all the bills have been paid. Talk about areas where money might be able to be saved (food, clothes, cable, whatever), the concept of disposable income and really let her have input. Maybe put her in charge of buying the food for 2 meals with a certain amount of money. Have your disposable income charted in a visible space. Then when she asks for something, say "Hm... what does our budget say?" Then it's not YOU saying no all the time. She can figure it out for herself. She won't be any happier, but she may understand more.
If there's any way for you to give her an allowance, I'd do that too. My 10 year old gets $5 a week (though honestly, I often forget to pay him). If he wants to buy something or go to a movie, I first ask him "Do you have the money to do that?" If he does, the it's fine. If he doesn't, he doesn't get to do it. It wouldn't have to be $5 a week - it could be $1 or $2. My kids also get birthday/Christmas money from relatives. That too is theirs to spend and budget.
I also have my kids put big wishes on birthday/Christmas lists. "Oh, you really want another stuffed penguin? Fine, put it on your Christmas list." Then you're not saying "no", you're saying "maybe".
The final suggestion would be for you to read "How to Talk So Your Children Will Listen". It sounds to me like you were communicating at cross purposes about the bike. She was saying "I really like the bike I have at Dad's better." You were saying "What do you mean? You've got a perfectly nice bike here!" Instead of trying to convince her that her bike is fine, what would happen if you said "yeah, the bike you have at your dad's house is really cool, isn't it?" Don't try to argue with her. She may just need validation and a listening ear.