I want to thank all of the readers who left comments on last week’s posts: What Do You Think: Unequal Financial Handouts From Parents and Unequal Financial:Handouts Would You Turn Down a Gift From Your Parents? I appreciate the honesty and sincerity in your words. I wanted to leave a few last remarks on the topic.
I have never dealt with financial inequality in my own family. For the most part my parents treat my brother and I equally. If my mom buys something for me she makes every effort to purchase a gift of equal value for my brother or his family. There is only one time in my entire life that I can remember my parents not evening the score. They once paid for gutter covers for my brother’s house, but did not offer my husband and I any money in return. When I brought the inequality to my parents attention, (I only mentioned it because the discrepancy had gotten into my husband’s craw), they offered to write me a check for the same amount of money. (I did not take them up on that offer.)
My parents do not have a lot of money, which may make it easier for them to treat my brother and I fairly. I really cannot say. I do think it helps that my brother and I hold/held down high paying technical jobs and that we are both careful with money. Thankfully neither one of us has ever needed to rely on my parents. When we were growing up my father stressed the importance of a college education. My parents paid for our college expenses with the understanding that once we received our diplomas we would be on our own.
As for my own immediate family, I have only one child, so I cannot comment on financial equality among children in my own household. Though I hope I would always be fair, I’m sure that many other parents who treat their children unfairly once believed the same thing. In an ideal world wouldn’t we want everyone to be treated equally?
Although I have not dealt with financial inequality in my own life I have certainly witnessed it within my extended family. Regardless of the reason for unequal financial handouts the result is usually the same: someone gets hurt. No matter how strong and capable you are it can be difficult to watch a sibling receive financial handouts from your parents, especially when that sibling does not appear to work as hard or focus on saving as much as you do. There is nothing worse then seeing a loved one hurt by members of his or her own family. Parents may feel that they are simply providing more money to one of their children, but in reality the other child is left feeling unappreciated and unloved.
In my heart I like to believe that most parents do not willing hurt their children. I like to think that these parents do not realize how their actions are perceived by the children who are not receiving gifts. I hope that they want the best for all of their children, not just the one who is always holding a hand out for them to fill.
Am I being naive? Perhaps parents know exactly what they are doing and proceed with their actions fulling knowing that one of their children will be hurt. Maybe they think that their other child is strong enough to handle their decisions. Perhaps they really just don’t care.
From what I’ve seen in families where financial inequality exists there is also a lack of communication among family members. The golden child continues to receive handouts, while the other child sits by unable to speak up about the situation. Of course, in these situations communication may not matter. When the topic is broached the parents usually have one reason or another to continue favoring a child and while the parents try to legitimize their actions the other child may hear nothing but excuses.
The best course of action in this situation is to try and release the bitterness you feel. You have to accept the situation for what it is and try not to let the negative feelings overwhelm you. At the end of the day you have absolutely no control over the way your parents dole out their money, so your best action is not to brood over the fact that you are being treated unfairly.
If you are lucky enough to be successful then the good news is that you don’t need your parents money. You made it on your own. You can count the blessings in your life and focus on the positive things that surround you. Do you have a good relationship with your spouse or significant other? Are the people in your life healthy and strong?
I know that this won’t make up for the injustice you feel, but the truth is you have little to no say in the matter. If your brother or sister is willing to put his or her hand out for money your parents will continue supplying them with gifts. This will probably continue for most if not all of their adult lives. Since the situation is unlikely to go away your best option is to try to relax, breathe and do your best to look beyond it.
I realize this is all easier said then done. Believe me, I do, but in time it does get better if you change your frame of mind about it. I am thankful that we do not need the support of other family members. It doesn’t make their actions right, but it does feel good knowing that we don’t need to rely on anyone other than ourselves. These days I’ve changed my perspective on the topic of unequal financial gifts from family members. I know I can’t do anything about it and as a result I’ve decided not to carry all of that bitterness around with me anymore.