I retired three years ago, live alone, and have to be very careful with my money. I have three grown children and four grandchildren.
My one daughter lives overseas, works for a non-profit organization, and has one daughter. She struggles financially, yet is always very generous with me.
I’ve also been very generous with her - paying for gifts, trips home, etc.
My son and his wife, both well-paid professionals, have one daughter. My other daughter and her husband are also very well off, have a daughter and my only grandson.
This past Christmas with them all was very disappointing for me.
As always over the years, I made a beautiful dinner for everyone, treated them all to brunch at a high-end restaurant and purchased numerous gifts for all of them.
I also babysit regularly for my son, and the cost of gas each way adds up. They go out for dinner and often leave me to scrounge through the fridge.
My son drinks only the best scotch which I keep on hand, and he’s emptied the bottle and never offers to replace it.
I received one cheap gift from each of my children as couples – same as last year (probably every year) but since I’m now living on a fixed income, it hit me harder.
Am I being a selfish idiot? I expected that my children would realize that I deserve some "spoiling" over the holidays and would want to treat me in a special way.
We all give each other Wish Lists in early December and they pick the cheapest thing, because I guess they don't think I’m worth it.
That’s the way I feel.
I'm thinking that next year I’ll only buy one gift for each of my children (as a couple) and buy a few things for each of my grandchildren. Am I being completely ridiculous?
I don't know how to get over this disappointment and I cannot see a way to talk to them about it, without appearing greedy.
What’s the best way to deal with this so that I feel that I’m special to them? I truly think that people will treat you the way you let them and yet I'm not sure how to change.
You said it best: They’re treating you “the way you let them.” The good news is that you can change the dynamic without being greedy.
Your financial circumstances are different now. Tell them so… not as a complaint, but as your new reality.
Inform each adult child separately (a group email may come across as too dramatic).
Say that you’ve been working on your post-retirement budget and realize you need to cut back.
Also, you know they’ll understand if future dinners at your place are “pot-luck,” as one example. Say it’ll be fun to share the creativity.
Don’t replace the scotch – hopefully, your son’s sensitive enough to bring a bottle.
And don’t mention Christmas – it’s in the past; it’s a new year, new circumstances.
When there are sales on, look for one meaningful gift you can get each couple, and also cut back the number of gifts for the grandkids.
Babysitting is an important way of having time with those grandchildren on your own. At the next request, ask your son upfront if he and his wife can leave some dinner for you, and also gently mention that the cost of gas adds up.
You’re cheaper than a hired babysitter but more important, you’re family, and special.
FEEDBACK Regarding the sister who legally controlled her dementia-stricken father’s money and took $2000 for her son’s tuition (Jan.3):
Reader – “The writer (another sister) could arrange an IOU from the sister to her father's estate: When he dies, she pays it back or it comes out of her share. It could even be insured by the sister in case she dies first.”
Ellie – The sister later agreed that two siblings should share control of the father’s money.
Reader #2 – “The first sister had the thankless job of paying her father’s bills and seeing that he’s looked after.
The Dad said, “I gave money to my grandson for university.” He knew and she knew it. She had no obligation to tell her siblings.
“Parents give control to someone for a reason.
“As my financial advisor said, It’s no one’s business what I do with my money while I’m alive. It’s the will that should be equal.”
Tip of the day:
A parent’s financial changes/needs are a reality that should be explained up front.