As parents, we all want to provide the best of everything for our children — education, care, attention, activities, and experiences, and also just plain fun. Providing for our children and keeping all of those balls in the air can be challenging, but we do it. But when outside pressures enter the picture, like hello, 2020, it can get hard. Then, when family members, like judgy grandparents chime in with unsolicited opinions, that’s especially stressful.
That’s what was recently described by a mom on Reddit’s AITA forum when discussing her boy’s birthday. User HappyDance103 wrote, “I have a 10, almost 11-year-old son. His birthday is in three weeks’ time, and me and my husband can’t afford to get him a birthday present this year. We explained to him that we’ve taken a financial hit and that instead of a birthday present we’ll get his favorite takeaway and watch a movie of his choice on his birthday, and per his request, he can have the day off school.
“Yesterday we were at his grandparents, my husband’s parents, and they asked what mom and dad are getting him for his birthday and he blurted out: ‘Nothing, they’re poor.’ We weren’t embarrassed by it or anything because he just generally doesn’t have a filter and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
The grandparents, on the other hand, took their grandson’s exclamation seriously and pulled the parents into the next room. The grandparents “said we were in the wrong for telling him about this and that he’s too young to know about what’s going on.” When the mom and dad tried to offer an explanation, “they called us a pair of assholes for not trying harder to provide the best for our son and being lazy instead of finding a way. “
It’s apparent that HappyDance103 feels guilty about their financial limitations at the moment. But the OP (original poster) is also comfortable with the decision to make their son aware of the situation, as well as provide him with activities to still make his birthday special. She feels the grandparents were way too harsh.
Reddit responses to this post were definitely in support of the OP and her husband for providing their son with the best birthday they are able to this year. But there were some responses against the parents discussing finances with their young son.
“You didn’t get him nothing. Take out, a movie, making it his day, and letting him have a day off of school is a present,” commented OK_Professional_4499. “Presents don’t have to be expensive electronics. This present may end up being far more memorable. The grandparents should mind their own business.”
“So much this,” added No_Elephant3224. “If you ask any kid what they got for their birthday three years ago, chances are they won’t remember. What they remember is the funny things and the silly family moments.”
We love this genius idea from commenter Rusty0123, who suggests the kids and parents trade places for a day. “When I was a single parent and broke AF, we did Parent for a Day,” they wrote. “One of the kids got to be the parent that day. I usually gave them a budget of $20. They had to assign chores, choose the menu for the day (either from what was in the kitchen or using the $20), decide if we were watching a movie or going to the park, being in charge of dressing everyone, remembering coats, setting the schedule and all that fun stuff parents do every day. They still talk about it. Nothing more fun than telling mom what she needs to do that day.”
DarkObserver0457 was one of the rare commenters that disagreed with the parents revealing their financial worries to their son. “Soft YTA (you’re the asshole) — not because you can’t afford a gift, because you’ve decided to burden your child with adult problems.”
While commenter StepRightUpMarchPush was in total disagreement with the OP, “I know that I internalized this shit as a kid that age. ‘Guess we can’t afford stuff because I’m too expensive.’ Just tell the kid that you aren’t spending too much right now because it’s better to save money or something. Don’t give him a report on your financial situation.”
Commenter OpossumJesusHasRisen shared a real-life example of how talking about money with her daughter worked out.
“Just to add on, 11 isn’t too young to ‘discuss such things’ if done in an appropriate way, in my opinion. I’m single & have to make money stretch, but at that age my kid started asking for name brand shoes. Since it’s literally the only pricey thing she requested, I would tell her something like, ‘Not this check, but next on X date.’ When she asked why, I sat down & showed her where all our money went each month, so sometimes I had saved up or delay luxury type stuff. She understood better & never complained about waiting again.
“Now she’s almost 17, knows how to budget, prioritize stuff around her budget, & has like 3k in savings from working over the last 10 months or so,” Opossum continued. “She told me she appreciates that I showed her that so early & included her in monthly budgeting by sitting down, asking what she needed that month, & planning it all out. She said that she sees the difference between how she approaches her finances & the way her friends do.”
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