Google+ Authentic Parenting: Money and Equality: Should All Your Kids Get the Same?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Money and Equality: Should All Your Kids Get the Same?

The Taboo Carnival
Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this summer is PLAYING FAVORITES! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on favoritism in relationships with children, parents, siblings, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Growing up, my father had the rule that all three of his kids would get the same, at least financially. Maybe because he wanted to avoid jealousy or maybe because money is measurable and it would be ‘easy’ to provide the same for all. So there was calculating of inflation, age proportionate allowances, clothing budgets and so on. Yet in reality, treating all of your kids the same, even if just in the measurable, financial sense, is not easy. With a son from a first marriage, different ages and obviously different needs, even with the most advanced calculations, giving the same turned out to be tricky.

Image: 401(K)2012 on Flickr
With me living on another continent and my middle brother working in the family business, it is obvious that he gets to spend the most time with my parents. With spending time comes going out for dinner, and shopping together, and asking to go and get this or that from the pharmacy or wherever...
If we did have to do costs and balances, my middle brother will win with by large. But these are things that get overlooked when doing the calculating.

On the other hand, my middle brother - being closest - is also the one who gets called on to water the plants, to come and clean the filter for the pond and to be around my parents when they’re in a foul mood, yet again things that aren’t calculated in the big balance.
I don’t mind that he gets more, financially. If anything, I think he more than deserves it. Than again, I’m not the jealous type, nor the money-asking one, nor do I crave financial compensation.

Personally, I do not see the need to get anal over money, to check and count each penny you spend on your kids, to make sure they get exactly the same. They’ll never get exactly the same in the long run. But that’s okay. Their lives will be different, and if they are raised in a wholesome manner, if they have sibling connection, they won’t mind.
I think it’s more important to give when you can and where needed, even if it is not exactly the same for all.

Need an example? I studied at university and had to get lodging. My studies lasted 5 years. My brother, being 2,5 years older than me was given the choice of either a car or lodging, but never took the exams and kept the car. He then started working. Comparatively, I have cost my parents more with the studies and the lodging, yet my brother got to keep the car he got in order to drive himself to school. He also got a salary from the get go, so over the four and half years up to when he was 23 he got to save money, while I finished studying at 23 with nothing, not even a car (or a driver’s licence for that matter). Equal?

I don’t know. Is there a way to know? How can one make costs and balances of something as complicated as life? Is life even about being fair?

Now obviously with our kids being young, this issue really isn’t an issue yet. I used to stress about how to go about providing the same for all of our kids, but now I’m thinking this is something that will settle itself. If one child needs more than another, I’m hoping the other one will understand, or better yet, that they are detached enough of monetary matters to not make the balance.

So what about you? Have you considered the financial treatment of your kids?

Visit Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Taboo Carnival! Enjoy the posts from this month’s Carnival participants!
  • What makes a favorite? — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders what caused her grandparents and parents to choose favorites. She also considers possible causes for her own favoritism.
  • Taking Longer to Fall in Love with My Second Baby — Dionna at Code Name: Mama fell helplessly, powerlessly in love with her first-born. Love with her second-born has not been as easy, but does that mean #1 is her favorite?
  • Mommy Dearest or Darling Daddy? — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro guest hosts about every parent having faults. Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders why she would prefer one parent over the other and whether this applies to every situation or can it vary?
  • Money and Equality: Should All Your Kids Get the Same? — At Authentic Parenting, Laura investigates whether or not we should provide exactly the same for our children financially.
  • More Than the Kid Sister — Amy of Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work always felt that she lived in the shadow of her older brother's accomplishments, until her parents made her aware that her personality and passion have always brought them joy and pride.
  • Playing Favourites — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school looks at how her intense parenting style has created what 'looks' like favourites but is more causal than reality.
  • There Are No Favorites (I Hate You All The Same) — Amy at Anktangle guest hosts about it being easy to see how a cycle of conditional love can make a mother keep her children at arms reach.
  • Yes, Parents Have A Favorite Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her thoughts on parents having a favorite child and how this may have long term effects on both the favored and unfavored child.
  • On having two kids & not playing fair — Lauren at Hobo Mama learned from her mother that you don't raise children based on what's fair but on what's right for each child.
  • My Kids Totally Play Favourites — Amber at tries hard not to play favourites with her kids - but they make no secret of which parent they prefer.
  • The Ugly Side of Favoritism — Shannon of Pineapples and Artichokes shares a guest post warning: Don't favor one child over the other.



  1. It sounds like your parents and mine had similar philosophies about fairness. I totally agree with you that for things to be balanced, you can't actually do the same things for all your children. Each kid is an individual with unique needs, and trying to keep them all off the same path for the sake of "fairness" might not turn out to be very fair at all!

  2. My kids are at such varied ages that this is not an issue for us at this point. I do get paranoid, though. If I splurge on something for my 3yo (for 25¢), do I have to splurge on something for my 14yo? You know it wouldn't be 25¢!

    My dad rarely handed out money, but when he did it was the same amount for each of us (regardless of a pretty long age range there, too). We usually got money before Christmas, but it was understood: we spent half on the sibling who's name we drew and then spend or pool the other half on gift(s) for our parents.

  3. My grandmother counted every penny when it came to the money she spent on my sister and me, her only grandchildren. If someone got a more expensive Christmas gift, the other would get $5 in an envelope to even it out. She did this because her own mother very obviously played favourites and spent more on one specific child than the others. She didn't want to do that. However, I found the insistence on absolute equality to be stress-inducing.

    Keeping things basically even is considerate, but I wasn't keeping track. When my grandmother was, I worried that maybe she thought I was. Plus, I could tell that she was really anxious about it. With my own kids I do try to keep the money roughly equal, but I don't freak out if I paid more for one kid's music class than the other kid's swimming lessons, or what-have-you. I'm not counting the pennies.

  4. This is a huge issue for me with my in-laws. My husband and his sister are 20 years apart. She is 16 years old and unlike my husband when he was growing up, she is spoiled rotten. My MIL gives her everything and anything she asks for.

    My husband wasn't given much. Even when we got married, his parents did not give us anything. And yet, that same year, his sister got two of the newest video gaming systems.

    I don't personally care about the money or the stuff myself. But I often wonder how my husband feels about it deep down. Does he think it is a son versus daughter issue? Is it the fact that there is 20 years difference in age and his parents are too tired to set boundaries?

    I'm not sure that you can "spend" equally on each child. Some will simply have more/different needs. Babies need more than 12 year olds. Children with health issues might need more than children without health issues. So it would be hard to put the same cap on each child.

    Interesting and thought provoking post! Thanks for sharing it as part of the Carnival!

    1. My husband is in a similar situation, though he only has 6 years of difference with his sis. When I met him, (he was then 21), he was still wearing the same old, worn clothes from when he was 15!!! ANd his sister gets new expensive clothes EVERY WEEK, she has so many that she doesn't wear half of them!
      My husband got to 'borrow' his mom's old car, but when his sister went to university, he had to hand it in, and when that car broke down, she got a super expensive new one... All the while the next year when we bought a house, we had to practically beg to get one third of what that car cost!
      I do think it is making him very sad, also because they do spend much more time and attention towards her. It doesn't help either that she was wanted and he was an accident...

  5. Hi! Yet another excelent post!
    I'm an only child and never had to deal with that issue. But wanting a larger family already got me thinking on that. How can I be fair? How can I make all children happy and not jealous of each other? I really do not believe in splitting everything in half because that's not really my definition of fair. If I have a banana and 2 kids, should I cut it in half or help them decide when I know that there is one that I already know one doesn't really like bananas or has just eaten one?
    For example I find it stupid to see all siblings receive birthday presents when one of them has a b-day... Or that every child has to blow out the candles at their brother's or cousin's party... I think there are more ways to show affection and attention... Thank you for writing about this!

  6. I think I'm in Amber's camp - make an effort, but keep differences in mind and don't count pennies. Hopefully we can leave them a little something in our will - that will be split equally :)

  7. My husband taught me that way. :)
    Equality and Fairness for the distribution of the money to the kids should always be present and visible to the eyes of our kids.
    That should give them a lesson.

    A Proud Mom and A Volunteer Writer about Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms

  8. I agree that there's no way to divide money exactly equally or fairly (and that those are different things) among children. For instance, my older brother went to a military academy so my parents gave him the money they'd saved for his college. But then they took out loans to pay for my and my younger brother's schooling. My older brother still complains (half-jokingly) about the fact that he saved my parents money and didn't get as much spent on him. But what difference does it make? He got what he needed, and we got what we needed. Why would my parents spend equal amounts on our schooling when we each went to a different school and they all cost different amounts (his none)? I got some scholarships but not nearly enough to cover the cost of my schooling. My younger brother chose a work-study program that helped finance some of his. I don't know who cost them the most money in the end.

    Then, later, they've loaned and given us money when we had financial problems, and they loaned and gave my older brother money when he decided to go to grad school. I don't keep track of the amounts; I don't think it's unfair if my brother got more or if we did as long as our parents were being mindful about what each child needed.

    And to be clear, I don't think it's the parents' duty to bail out grown-up kids or pay for schooling or whatever; I'm very grateful my parents are generous. I guess that's what it comes down to — as long as needs are met when the kids are minors, parents can decide what extras to give their kids. I'd hope they wouldn't be really obviously playing favorites about always giving only one child gifts or whatever, but otherwise it's really up to them who gets what and how much. With our kids now, we try to give gifts according to what would please them, not according to how much the items cost.


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