"You're So Cheap."

Updated on December 28, 2011
B.R. asks from Sunderland, MA
54 answers

Yes, that’s' the line that I get from my 13 yr old when we don't get something for him that he wants. Yesterday it was for pizza, even though he had pizza with his friends Friday afternoon (there's another story in there) and we had Chinese food Friday night. He continually tells us we are cheap for not having cable TV (we have the most basic, 8 channel cable) and because he has a lousy trac phone unlike his friends who all are on their parents costly plans.

So yesterday we were at my moms, who had knee replacement surgery 2 weeks ago, and besides the little things Grandma asked them to do they sat on their buts watching her cable tv. I on the other hand cleaned and bathed and ran errands for my mom. So by 3:30 I was tired and in no mood when he gave me that line again. Of course I exploded and told him since we're so cheap he's not going to get anything for Christmas. Not one of my finer moments, I know. He was most apologetic after that but I didn't even want him talking to me at that point. He's also said in the past that we never get him anything he wants for Christmas even though we always get him the key things from his list.

So now what do I do? Do we wrap his stuff and not put it under the tree so he gets the point? Do I pretend that Santa still comes for his younger siblings and he gets coal? Do we pretend it didn't happen?

He's supposed to get the 2 things he asked for that were quite expensive plus a few other things. Not so cheap!

My husband talked to him last night about how insensitive he's being and that the name calling hurts, etc. And we've explained to him that our income doesn’t allow for stuff all the time. He seemed to get it but I was just upset all night about it. I don't want Christmas morning to be a "lesson" but I'm tired of his attitude. Any constructive advice would be appreciated. (And yes I know I shouldn't have said that, so there's no need to go there.) Thanks.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to all who've responded.
Many of your suggestions revolve around teaching him the value of money. We have had conversations about money, our income and budget with all our kids. We've talked to all of them about where the money on my pay statement goes and what's left over for extras. When they start telling us about their friends who have this, that and all those other things and how their mom and dads have upgraded their iphones and the kid gets the "old" version we talk about it some more. We explain to them that we are careful with our money and how important that is in this economy.

We do tell them when they ask for cable and phone plans, etc. that they are welcome to pay for it themselves if they really want it. That shuts them up for a while, but peer pressure is brutal and the questions come up again. They're kids.

My son does some pet sitting for our neighbors. We live too far out from town for him to have any other kind of job. Our road is not safe for him to walk or bike on. We have farms in our area that I hope will hire him next summer. He will spend his own money when we tell him we won't pay. We also feel that his"job" at this age is to work hard in school.

Up until yesterday I think it was a "catch phrase" for him. It's something he'd say even if the thing we were arguing about wasn't money. Ignoring the comment obviously didn't make it go away. He should have a grasp on how inappropriate, rude and hurtful it is to hear it from him now.

As Nellie93 said, I probably will not ruin Christmas by holding out on the gifts. I will have another discussion with him after he opens them, though. We'll look into volunteering also.

Enjoy you holiday.

Featured Answers


answers from Houston on

It should have started LONG before this, my teen would NEVER speak to me, their step mom, step dad, mom or any adult for that matter in that tone. PERIOD. I'm not saying I'm a better parent than anyone else, it's just that a lack of respect has been established some time ago for him to think it's acceptable to say these type of things.
I would show him just how 'cheap' you can be.

15 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't blame you for going there! They need to understand money doesn't grow on trees!

I usually tell my oldest to get a job! LOL

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You know we are raising kids in a very commercial time. I would not make Christmas a lesson. Just keep having honest conversations with him. My son is great, and full of attitude. Validate his feelings, with out giving in to unrealistic demands.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

Hi B.,

I have a sort of different take. I actually don't think his comments have ANYTHING to do with money. He's hit upon money cuz he's figured out it's a sore spot and he gets a reaction from you.

I would have flipped, too and had a not-so-finer mommy moment myself.

However, you agree you had an over-the-top response to his over-the-top teenage behavior, so I think it's time to be the bigger person.

What is it that he REALLY wants? It's not cable. I can assure you. Kids want "stuff" when what they really want they aren't getting. Could be he doesn't know how to ask for it. Could be he doesn't even know he wants it. Kids these days are so conditioned to want "stuff" that they actually delude themselves into thinking that's what they actually want.

Now that he's a big ole moody teenage boy - how much mommy time does he get? How old are his siblings? Is he missing the younger days when he didn't have so much 'responsibility' and pressure. For those who say they don't have "so much" pressure - I say.... have you been to a middle or high school lately? They have an enormous amount of pressure about grades and drugs and college and they have to talk about the economy and how the world is fallng apart IN SCHOOL. When I was in school we had Christmas parties all week this week. My 6th grader researched Kim Jong Il in the internet last night because in Social Studies she knew they would have to talk about him today and she wasn't that familiar with Korea.

Also - Kids can be really really mean about "stuff". It's not that he wants the stuff. It's that he wants to be able to have the conversation about the stuff. Because he wants the positive interaction with those peers.
My daughter got an iphone 4s for christmas from my mom. It's a long story and she's not spoiled and she was incredibly grateful and appreciative. I say this to set the stage for what I will say next. She was on the bus and was texting me about the snow and the bus delay and her friend saw her new phone and got really wierd. My daughter said her friend told her she was unhappy that my daughter had an iphone now because she would get all popular and not want to be friends anymore!!!! My daughter said - a phone doesn't have that much power. it's just how I let my mom know I'm alive and talk to my dad cuz he lives in a different state. That's all the phone is. But the kids on the bus all looked at her DIFFERENTELY because of her stupid phone!!!!!!!

But, all the other kids don't want the phone. THEY WANT TO BE LOOKED AT THE WAY MY DAUGHTER WAS LOOKED AT. They want to feel like the kids want to be around them. And my daughter DIDN'T want to be looked at that way just BECAUSE of her phone. See?

Your son wants to go to school and talk about whatever show he saw on cable that the cool kids are talking about so he can fit in.

That's my take anyway.

I digress.

Find out what he really wants. It's not pizza and it's not cable. But I bet it's a sense of belonging. purpose. control. Institute game night. Buy a tai chi video and have the family learn the moves together. Or tell him he needs to pick the activity for you guys to do together as a family. Put him IN CHARGE of something that you know he will rise to the task and do well. There has to be something. Anything.

I think that's the fix for his attitude. Not taking away christmas presents or showing him whose boss as others have suggested.

And don't be hard on yourself. OF COURSE you flipped. It's fine. But I think he's old enough for you to have a converastion with him, rather than punish him.

Good luck

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I understand your pain!

My daughter once complained that we "don't go out to nice restaurants enough." This came out of a conversation where she wanted to go eat at a semi-expensive restaurant and we said no, we were going home to eat. She always wanted to go out and do things that cost money, she was forever suggesting expensive things to do. Also, we'd go out to dinner and she'd want the $25 plate of ribs or the $28 steak. Conversations about money did not help. She was 9 at the time.

So my husband gave her $60 and told her that was our money to spend for the whole weekend of fun, and that we could all do anything she wanted but once the $60 was gone then it was gone and we were done. At first she thought $60 was a LOT of money--and of course it is to a 9-year old! Boy, did she come up with a huge list of things we were going to do with the $60. We didn't say a thing, positive or negative about it.

She wanted to go out to dinner at her favorite restaurant and have the steak. Then we were all going to a movie, and then after she wanted ice cream.

Well we got to the restaurant and we wrote down the prices of what we all wanted (including her steak) and it was $50, including drinks. That left NO money for a movie (because movies are $10.50 for adults!) and of course no money for ice cream. Boy, was she upset! She ordered off the kid's menu (which in the past she refused to do) and her father and I ordered the cheapest meals possible. Still, the bill was over $40 once tax and tip were figured in. That left no money for going out to a movie, so she opted to rent a movie and then she got the idea to make ice cream sundaes at home. So for the $20 that was left, we rented a movie and bought ice cream stuff at the store.

This was a girl, who in the past, would COMPLAIIN about eating stuff "at home" because it wasn't as special as going out. I get it, it's much more fun to eat the ice cream from an ice cream place.

She hasn't complained since about us being cheap, or us not going out and doing things. In fact, in restaurants she will sometimes ask us "what's the budget?" LOL!

This worked much better than lectures about money, or even making her work for stuff with her allowance. It was just a reality check, and sometimes kids need those now and then. The whole experience was actually very positive, we were very supportive the whole time and now, a year later, she'll often reference back to that time and laugh at herself.

Good luck! Sometimes lessons don't have to be harsh to be real.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I will be the first to admit that sometimes I say things in the heat of the moment. We are human and we are allowed to! So don't beat yourself up on that.

13 year old people are poopheads! I will say that they do grow out of the selfish phase but not soon enough! If he says it again, look at him and say "you bet. All I need to provide to you is shelter, clothing and food. The rest are luxuary items." Then take a picture of his face!!!

Have Christmas and Santa.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Rewind to 15 years ago and my parents did just that to my brother and I. It was more that fact that we misbehaved badly and was told that there would be no presents if we didnt quite. Well we called my parents bluff and needless to say Christmas morning there was not one thing under that tree. My brother and I couldnt believe that they did that. There of course where presents and after a talk about how we should behave and how my parents only had to provide us a roof over our heads and food. Needless to say we got the point! Now did we get hurt by it? Yeah we were upset but we got over it.

Alot of teenagers these days dont understand or appreciate what they have. Earlier this year my son was being rude, disrespectful and just down right mean. We took everything out of his room except his bed and dresser. We took all toys and made him bag them up and into the shed they went. As he started to behave he was able to get a bag out and go thru it. Its made him appreciate what he has more.

I would stick with what you said. Let the younger ones open up their gifts and once they are done, tell him that you do not want to hear that you are cheap again or everything he is about to get will be donated and he will have to earn money by working or doing chores to get back the items he wants.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

First and foremost - STOP beating yourself up over your statement. We ALL have said things and regretted them.

Now, the hard part. You said it. So you should stand by it. BUT, that will surely ruin Christmas and cause resentment.

Two things are clear:
1) He is a TYPICAL teen boy who is resentful of the "things" he sees his other friends with. Their parent's have more money and he is too young to understand why he cannot have those things and,
2) He has been allowed to DISRESPECT you and your husband for some time now.

Trying to balance out the two is the hard part. A teen boy's brain doesn't work the same way an adult's does, so we cannot expect him to act and think like an adult. BUT, he CANNOT be allowed to disrespect you either. My husband would have gone through the roof if our kids talked to me like that!

So, you and your husband need to sit down and figure out how to handle this LONG TERM without ruining Christmas and causing resentment for him and you. He needs to be doing the Dave Ramsey plan or something similar. Dave has stuff for teens that would be just perfect for your little unappreciatve monster. (I say that in kindness=)

Best of luck. And don't let him talk to you like that anymore! I know it is easier said than done, but you have to be CONSISTENT and STERN, all the while telling him "I love you." You can do it!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Just wanted to throw in my little experiences. I remember when I was a young teenager.. my parents would ask me what I wanted for christmas. I would tell them.. I dont know,.,, whatever. Then on christmas morning, I would get alot of gifts and I would be like.. what am I supposed to do with this stuff? You didnt get me anything I wanted. I know it was very hurtful and it was never my intention to hurt my parents, I just had a lot of attitude and I couldnt tame it. As I got older, I realize how much they tried to make me happy and tried and how appreciative I should have been. I am 26 yrs old and I still feel very guilty for treating them like that. I have a 3 yr old son, and I know it would break my heart for him to do that to me.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

He may have already gotten the message! LOL. I totally hear you, my BIL used to act like that when he didn't get his way either. What's funny it wasn't his mom or dad that got through to him, it was me.

After listening to him complain and complain, he finally set me off by saying he wanted to get emancipated. So I looked him square in the eye, (he was sixteen at the time) and told him, "Emancipation is for kids who are being beaten and raped at home, not spoiled little brats who are mad that they don't get everything they want. You want those things? Get off your butt and get a job, stop expected to be handed everything, and wake up to reality."

Rude? Absolutely, but this kid had it so easy and his parents did just about give him everything he wanted, and it just went right though me.

If I were you, I probably would have exploded too, and I would be telling him is can't appreciate what he gets, then he doesn't deserve them.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Ahhhh entitlement. Kids don't want to feel like they are 'have nots', do they? All the pressure on kids these days to have those status symbols...

One way to help your son understand family finances is to sit him down with you while you pay your bills and balance your checking account. Let him see what the household expenses are and what you have for discretionary income, what you had for Christmas spending. Be real with him. He's old enough to understand these things and to begin thinking about ways to be helpful rather than self-centered.

As for at grandma's house yesterday, I'd have snapped the TV off and gave each a list of their share of tasks to do for grandmother and stood my ground. As unpleasant as it sounds, it's you who must enforce the teaching of the values you want them to embrace. I applaud your husband for taking him aside and having a good heart-to-heart with your son. How about your son atones for this comments and behavior by doing something special for Grandma all by himself?

[hugs] Have a happy holiday...

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My suggestion would be really mean - have him unwrap his gifts and then tell him that he's going to go donate them and his time to a volunteer organization for foster children or homeless children.

Since he never gets anything he wants for Christmas anyway, then it shouldn't be a problem for him to give up those "cheap" gifts that he didn't want.

MSN did a poll about whether we spoil our children. They published some of the highlights from the comments. I'm not suggesting you spoil - it certainly doesn't sound like it, but it was an interesting take on children and materialism.

I think it's a given that 98% of children take what they have for granted. Heck, I still take what I have for granted sometimes until I have one of those not-so-pleasant wake-up calls (not pleasant because I realize how selfish I can be).

It might also be helpful to go through your budget with him, or, at least go over the cost of things - daycare (?), housing, electricity and gas, car payments, clothing, activity costs, etc. Right now he has no clue how much things cost and it's time he learned.

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answers from Victoria on

I am so sorry. Its so annoying when I give a gift to someone that does not appericiate it. Growing up we understood that we werent going to get everything we asked for. We also understood not to ask for too much. The look of stress and dissapopintment my parents would have on there face when they could not get something we were really excited about made us at a young age be sensitive about things.

Your son is 13 and still imature (properly so). But he might be old enough to look at the budget. Or even a pretend budget. Show him how someone would live on a 40thousand income. I think that is the going starting rate for a teacher??? At the same time it will give him a bit of respect for his teacher. Show him how much rent/home loan is, electricity, (in TX 300 is the average a month), groceries, water, trash, car, car insurance, life insurance, medical insurance. All these things will make life realitiy for him.

Also have him volunteer at a shelter to help serve people. Not just in a lunch line but someother way of helping too. He is just the right age to mow lawns for a living. We have a nice size yard and to cut the grass, edge and pick up everything before it gets mowed over we pay 25-30 bucks. Teaching him how to earn money and work for something will also give him respect.

The last thing I can try to offer is talking to him about money. Why its important for him to go to college. That even if he makes lots of money that does not mean he will always be safe or have everything. I know a "man" that made twice what my husband and I combined together made and had his home forclosed, and is now homeless , looking for a job. Teach your son now that no matter what even if you have to take a bottom of the line job like flipping burgers. You do what you can to keep your family safe with food, shelter and clothing. Hope he gets it! Best of luck momma.

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answers from Atlanta on

Don't ruin Christmas to prove a point. It's good your husband has talked to him, but the three of you need to sit down aside from the holiday and have a discussion about gratitude and the difference in being "cheap" and being "frugal" -or smart with your money, AND the fact that money doesn't fall off of trees. Kids his age are inherently selfish, and they don't often get that their parents priorities are not (and should not) be the same as their own! He's at the perfect age to start really learning some valuable lessons about money and what's truly important in life (not things).

See if you two can find him some sort of job for this upcoming summer. I know he's still young, but he could mow grass and weed yards in your neighborhood or something so he could start learning more about earning money and money management. It's not too late this Christmas season to volunteer at a shelter or somewhere where he can see people who have nothing -and help them out. Show him that he has a LOT to be grateful for!

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answers from Beaumont on

I'm not sure what to do about the Christmas morning part but I'm POSITIVE about him needing to start earning his own money for the extras he wants. He is old enough to get a job in the neighborhood! He needs to understand what it takes to earn a dollar. My kids are 11 and 10 and their money (the stuff they EARN) is divided between tithing, spending and saving for their first car. The sooner he learns the dynamics of how this money thing works, the greater the respect he'll have for your guys and the better prepared he'll be for life.

BTW..regarding your comments not being one of your "finer moments". Don't worry, we've ALL said things we're not the proudest of. Just move on..

Have a wonderful Christmas!!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I don't think you should use Christmas morning as a "lesson" in humility and appreciation.

I think you should make him write an essay on appreciation and on what really matters in this world (people matter - things don't).

If the kids are sitting on their butts while you're working - that is your own fault. You turn off the tv and tell them to help you. Be specific. Don't listen to the whines and complaints. Just tell them shut up and do what you ask.

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answers from Washington DC on

Since your DH already talked to him about his comments, then I'd find a time to also apologize to him for snapping at him. Ask him to shake the attitude so you can all have a good Christmas.

After the holidays, sit down with DH and figure out what you might want DS to be more responsible for (maybe his own allowance money for things like lunch at school or get a little job in the summer for some of his school supplies or a different phone). Then I'd sit down with DH and DS and discuss things he has gripes about. He wants a different phone? Here's some info on phone plans and what you will allow and how much it costs. Is DS going to keep the phone offered by you and DH or is he going to work to pay for a different phone? If he works for a different phone and does not repay YOU timely, he'll have no phone at all. Don't bail him out on that. Maybe if you offer this (still under your control, still in reason) then he'll start to learn about the value of a dollar.

I read a National Geographic article where researchers found that while teens can make rational choices as well as an adult, they weigh reward much higher than consequence, so he's focused on the reward more than the down sides of said thing (you sacrificing more for his wants). Not that it's right, but it might help you deal with him.

We also started pointing out things with the kids around that age - like how credit cards accrue interest (something my SD did not know). Start his financial education.

If they need to step up and help with MIL, then spell it out. Don't allow them to sit there. Turn off the tv and give a list.

My SS gripes about his car, but it was given to him by a friend of ours, it's a FIRST car, and he can get a job and buy a different car like the rest of us did. I just tell him he has the power to change it, if he makes it a priority. He has not yet. Not my problem.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think it somehow hardwired for teenagers, especially young teenagers, to feel this way. And act this way. Not saying it is OK, but I have to laugh when people say "my child would never DARE speak to us this way!" Really? Every young teen, even the very best of them, speaks to their parent this way. Some parents just forget, or block it. My mom would happily tell you I never said anything like this, but believe me I did!

No advice about the specific gifts, but time for him to have control over some money, and good lessons in choices and budgeting, and how much he does have. It won't mean he won't be a butt head, but it will help. I also like the idea of saying to him "you are old enough, if x or y is important enough to you, you can 'buy up'" either by contributing or taking a hit on your allowance. If you think better cable is worth it - here is what it costs - you pony up x% and trade off something else we'd buy FOR YOU with that money.

And talk to him about attitude and hurting feelings. The key is to teach empathy and raising thoughtful caring kids, not ones who comply out of fear of punishment.

He'll get it eventually -if he's an average kid you'll get some heartfelt thanks and I'm sorries in about 10 years!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would've snapped too! They just don't get it do they? We have a lot of responsibility and other bills, besides spoiling our kids rotten. We have to provide needs, not wants. And being on a tight budget is not the same thing as being cheap. It's embarassing to have to say no so often. But in the long run, it's important that they learn that lesson. Needs come before wants and you can't get everything you want.

I think since dad talked to him and he understands, I would lift the sanctions. Now....if he opens his mouth to say another disrespectful thing, you will have some things to take away from him! If he really doesn't get it, once the holidays are over, that is the time to make him feel the pain. Take away all his stuff and make him earn it back. But for now, don't let your anger and hurt feelings cause you to punish him. Discipline and punishment are two very differant things.

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answers from Dallas on

I would allow him his two big presents only AND only after a huge apology from him to you!
After his loot is divvied out to him. Pull him aside and tell him you really questioned giving him anything at all, but you have faith in him and trust he will make the right decisions moving forward about respect and family finances, etc.
I don't know if I would make him too privvy to your finances. Kids (even teens) get worried about money, or lack of, just like adults and they can't really process it. Maybe a small introduction to budgeting, etc, but not using your family's finances as the example could benefit him. Maybe he starts paying for his own phone?
Don't beat yourself up. We all say extreme things and find ourselves wondering "do I go through with it or not?"

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answers from Kansas City on

I didn't read all the responses but the ones I did read are bigger women than me! With 3 kids and one on the way, the last thing I need is a brat that doesn't appreciate what he DOES have.

My response? "I may be cheap, but at least I'm not grounded like you are! Oh, and no pizza for a month. And by the way? You will be very lucky if your cheap mom has presents for you under the tree!"

And I wouldn't feel one shred of guilt about it

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I probably would have said the same thing to him. He definitely doesn't understand that things cost money and the value of a dollar. Usually kids don't. That's normal.

What I would do is take him to volunteer at a shelter and serve food for the homeless. He could use a good charity work in order to help him understand that we have to work for what we can get and sometimes life is unfair and we can't always get what we want. And also not everything is valued at the dollar amount. (ie: his comment about his friends' expensive phones and cable etc). What this could also help him with is to learn that we should value ourselves by who we are. Not by the expensive toys and gadgets we carry and don't absolutely need. Perhaps volunteering at a shelter for families will help him understand. He may not completely understand until he has to work and pay things for himself.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I agree that Christmas morning shouldn't be a "lesson" as far as gifts or no gifts under the tree, but I think it's time for him to start spending some time volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter and then maybe he will learn a little perspective. Maybe even on Christmas Day if your schedule allows for it.

I also would sit down with him, and show him, on paper, what you guys earn, how much goes toward taxes, etc. and then how much everything costs, including mortgage/rent, car payments, utilities, cable, gas, food, etc. Then maybe he'll start to understand how there isn't always money for "extras" but at least he has a roof over his head and food on the table.

They are so much fun at that age, aren't they? ;)

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answers from Portland on

I think a heart-to-heart between yourself and your son is in order. Your husband did some of it, but it's also good that he 'face the music' with mom.

Perhaps you can sign him up to work with you serving meals at a homeless shelter or working at the food bank, just as a nice reality check, or delivering meals on wheels. Something that would broaden his perspective...?

One thing my father did when I was in my teens (we lived in separate houses, mind you) was to take out the family books, sit me down and explain every.little.thing. It was an eye-opener to me, that I wasn't being 'deprived'. Kids can be selfish, I remember this from being a teen. Only when he explained how much everyone's hot showers cost and how much money it took to heat the house... it put things in perspective, knowing where "all that money" went.

Does he have an allowance from which to buy presents for others? Does he ever have the opportunity to save up for some of the bigger-ticket items from his own funds? These are also some ways to help him understand the value of money. If we choose not to let our kids earn things on their own, we think we're being great parents by getting it for them, but they miss out on other valuable experiences. Growing up, when we were young, we had a chart of tasks which could be done for money which were above and beyond our regular chores. Come pre-Christmastime, when we found out that the folks weren't going to subsidize our Christmas presents for others, we got to work!

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

He is old enough to start learning about budgeting and how you spend your money and make it work. Show him and teach him how you manage your money so he can learn.

I would not ruin Christmas morning as he will just be in a bad mood making it miserable for all, but why not have him volunteer at a shelter or food kitchen, or food pantry. Somewhere where he can see what truly having nothing means.

I do this with my daughter each year and we buy gifts for a local homeless shelter with kids. After our visits with kids who truly have nothing she always has a better appreciation for what she has(at least for a little while anyway).

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answers from Detroit on

I actually would have said it a whole lot sooner!!!

I was WORKING at 13 and paying for my own CLOTHES AND SHOES!!! So, if either of my kids decide that they think I'm cheap... They'll be getting a baby sitting job or paper route... Then we can talk about who's being cheap.

I babysat and did a paper route. My parents didn't DRIVE me to my sitting jobs either. They were within a mile of our house. I walked or rode my bike.

I have a 3 and 8 yr old. When my daughter makes a snotty comment regarding what she gets/doesn't get... Stuff gets removed from her bedroom and/or the kids play room. If my 8yr old can understand earning things, your 13yr old certainly should be able to. Let him read this reply to your question.

Maybe he can learn that not everyone gets handed things in their lives. I began paying rent when I was 16 because my parents lost their jobs with the Detroit News... The child support that was from my dad, paid for groceries for the whole family [2 stepbros, my mom, stepdad, and I] and I hardly ate at home because I was working part time [max hrs @ part time back then was 35/wk] and went to HS too of course.

My parents didn't ask for rent... But I wanted heat and electricity thanks.

And does he really still believe in Santa @ 13?

I would be holding back on those gifts personally... But that's just me.'

ETA- AMANDA!!! I LOVE your idea!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

Your son is old enough to learn about paying bills and expenses. Maybe have him sit with you and hubby so he can see for himself how much money comes in and how much goes out. I think this is the perfect age to learn about home economics. I am sure his friends may be getting more or he thinks they are. I would still give him his gifts for Christmas, he may become very resentful if he gets nothing. He is learning about how adult life works and needs to understand that there are no money trees in the back yard.

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answers from Salinas on

You should have stopped him immediately the very first time he said it. You can't be really certain it's about money or what he wants as much as he just wanted to hurt your feelings. I have a 13 year old daughter and if she ever called me cheap, unless she was clearly kidding, she would be stopped right there.
Of course my daughters are not always respectful or kind but the minute I hear an insulting or disrespectful comment that holds no water except to be spiteful the conversation turns to "why do you think it's OK to speak to me that way?"
We talk about the self entitled brats, the mean spirited and spoiled kids we know and how ugly it is to be around. How immature they sound and how sadly, they are really acting that way at their own expense. They think they sound cool and in control but it really comes off as babyish and bratty.
Both my girls have grown up in a house where we point that stuff out and talk about it later. "so and so spoke to her mom really rudely" or "she seems to be trying to get attention by being mean" When you really notice that stuff and incorporate it into your day to day communication with your kids it's like you're in on something together. They feel proud that they treat people respectfully and realize anything less is immature and beneath them.
I'm not saying I don't get typical 13 year old behavior it's just that we try to use it as a talking point. Usually whatever the offensive remark is, it has little to do with the actual subject and more to do with a teenager blowing off emotional steam.
You might find you can try teaching him the value of a dollar (which IS a great lesson) but he finds another subject to complain and insult you about. I would focus on the behavior not the fact that he wants more stuff and what "all the other kids have" no teen is ever totally satisfied when it comes to that.
Taking away Christmas is overkill because you didn't make it an important issue the first time he said it. Honestly, it will be a less fun holiday for the whole family if the day turns into a punishment for one child and that's not right. Get him to understand that calling his parents cheap isn't the type of person he wants to be and he'll feel better and get more of what he wants by approaching it in a constructive way that will actually have positive results.

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answers from Phoenix on

I think I would've taken all of his things away long before this, personally. He thinks you're cheap now? Just wait until he has NO phone, NO video games, NO computer, etc. He sounds very unappreciative & that he doesn't know the value of money, and he is well old enough to be taught about both things. I'm sorry, I just have no tolerance for this sort of thing.

I think I'd feel too guilty to actually follow through on the Christmas threat, although I probably wouldn't give him everything, and I'd be having choose some things to donate, as a lesson.

Tell him that if he mentions how cheap you are again, he will start losing his Christmas gifts & other items & most definitely, that he will need to get a job to pay for things since you are so cheap. He can pay for the toys & clothes & food, then.

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answers from Houston on

Tell him he is not allowed to speak that way to you. It is rude and hurtful and disrespectful. He needs to be thankful for what he has because lots of kids have less, and if he wants something, he is to ask for it in a respectful way and you have the right, as his parent, to say yes, that you'll think about it, or tell him no - all without hearing how cheap he thinks you are. You can also remind him that a "no" to his request is not you being mean to him. I think this is not so much a matter of not understanding money as it is about respect.

As for Christmas, I think he should still have Christmas as usual but with the understanding that if he chooses to call you cheap in the future, not only will he not get what he wants, he will lose something he already has - like a present he got for Christmas.

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answers from New York on

I'd say, "Wanna see cheap?" Then I'd take his phone away for a week.

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answers from Austin on

Amen Jim!

I would have told our daughter I also wanted pizza so to get her money out and order it. And I would not have been kidding. I would have told her I wanted the pizza with the works!

It sounds like your son needs more responsibilities at home. For some reason he feels entitled instead of grateful.. It sounds like he does not understand to have the things we want takes work.. And even then we are grateful and PROUD to have been able to purchase these things on our own.

He needs to consider how can he work? Babysitting, tutoring, mothers helper? Pet care?

Do not feel bad, he is just being a teen. He is self centered with not much empathy. He needs to learn the world is not revolving around him all of the time.

Be honest about your financial situation.. At this age our daughter knew we only made so much money and we showed her the bills. Sometimes, I had her list them and add them up.. Or I would give her a budget and have her purchase and prepare a meal. It really helped her understand.

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answers from New York on

Telling him is one thing but actually showing him the value of money by allowing him to manage a set amount of money per week will teach him so much more. He will be 18 in 5 short years and he will need to know how to manage money for himself before then. Also he has been very rude and ungrateful to you which is unacceptable. It is time to cancel his Christmas at least until you see a change in his choice of words. Perhaps his Christmas should be on January 25 instead.

People understand action much more than words in most cases which is why I would cancel his Christmas. My son was they same way at one point and I had to cancel his Christmas and he has never been that way since then and he is 17 years old now.

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answers from Denver on

UMMM I think coal would be a good lesson for him and you other children. I am mean though :) Sounds fine to me mom, I bet that is a lesson he would NEVER forget. You can always give him the other stuff later after you have a heart to heart and perhaps he has "earned" some of it back.

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answers from Rockford on

Ah....the joys of parenting a teenager! Mine (daughter almost 13 and son will be 12 in March) don't ever tell us we're cheap...they know better, but they never stop asking for things...daughter especially! (that's partly my husbands doing, cause he loves to shop!) "can we get subway for dinner?'' "Mom, can I have this drawing tablet...it's ONLY $5." and on and on!

So...maybe show your son what it would REALLY be like if you were "cheap" (broke!) NO tv, NO phone, NO going anywhere, NO presents under the tree! Cause guess what? That's what it's REALLY like for some people!

If you are like me, you already know you aren't going to w/hold any presents! LOL! What about making him volunteer to ring the bell for Salvation Army or doing some time at a soup kitchen?

Honestly, I think this is partly his age too...where he is old enough to "get it"...sorta! Once he starts earning his own money and having to actually pay for his own things, food, gas, insurance, it will sink in much more quickly!

Definitely keep talking to him, and use specific examples that he can relate to his life! Good luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

I think you should give him money, like an allowance, and make him buy his own things out of his allowance. He needs to not only learn the value of a dollar, but also how hard one has to work to earn that dollar and then how one has to prioritize what we want/need. We all WANT a lot of things; but we don't get them because we have to pay the mortgage or keep the lights on, etc. In just few short years he will be out there on his own; that's when these lessons will come into play and he will thank you for them. While all of his spoiled friends are falling down or taking advantage of parents who are too generous, he will be proudly earning his own and buying his own things. His "wealth" will last; theirs will not. So, man up, don't let the comments derail you; there will be many, many more years where he is singing your praises for teaching him how to handle money.

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answers from Philadelphia on

i understand your frustration.... you have gotten good advice already and seem to be headed in a good direction on your own...
Just wanted to add ... am I the only one who thought of the Cosby Show... where they turned the house into and apartment and made Theo pay rent and buy food/furnature using monopoly money.... loved it!

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answers from New York on

At 13 he has NO IDEA where you spend your money and how much you spend on food, mortgage, gas etc. You have to SHOW him and TEACH him. He needs chores and money and he needs to pay for gifts for others and pizza with HIS money. At 13 he doesn't think about the children and families who have less. Again you have to teach him (I like the suggestions about taking him to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to volunteer) I would be less worried about Christmas and more worried about preparing him to face life independently after school, you are in danger or having a 25 yr old he thinks you should still be supporting him financially. Christmas is about giving unconditionally, teach him about life every day of the year

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answers from Amarillo on

Well you told him no Christmas but that doesn't mean that the others shouldn't have theirs.

I say let the little ones have their Christmas in front of the brother. When they have opened all their things up, give son one of the giflts he was to receive. Let him know that you love him but he has to learn from this incident that life is not always what everyone else has. He should be very thankful for what he does have. Later in the year if he should behave I would give out the presents one by one.

Have your son volunteer at the food bank, homeless center or a childrens home where kids have no one to see what the world really looks like. Maybe he can spend the night at the home so he really gets a taste of what it is to have nothing.

You are going to have to break that "you owe me" attitiude from him as quickly as you can. No one wants to be around a person with this thought and no one wants to help them because they are ungrateful and always want more. The world does not revolve around him he is a part of the world and has to find his place in it. No one is going to "give" him what he wants he is going to have to earn it for himself.

Do go over the budget or make up a make believe family budget for him to work with and find ways to make things work.

When my son was younger I had told him that I didn't know if we could "afford" the items he would bring to me. One day he asked me if we could afford the item? I looked at the price $5 and told him we could and he was very happy getting it. So it is all in how you phrase your words as to how you get results.

Good luck with this teen and the teen years.

The other S.

PS Your are not cheap your are sensible and living within your means.

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answers from Boston on

You have a lot of great responses and I don't actually have an teens, but I remember my teen years and my cousin's teen years. My friends got allowances and I (nor my cousins) didn't. I remember complaining to my parents about it and their response was that it was my job to do well in school and to do the set choirs (mine was all the household laundry) assigned and I didn't get money beyond room and board for that. If I wanted to earn extra money, I could do extra choirs like mowing the lawn or cleaning the shed. Basically, I didn't get money for just living. You had to earn money. I think that was a good lesson.

They would also not try to compete with other families. It wasn't about "well that family is richer and can afford to buy X." My parents did teach my brothers and I about budgeting, but on our own not with the household budget. I do think it is important to teach your kids budgeting through experience and lessons. I feel like I was ahead of many peers because my parents taught me to live within my means and NOT buy ANYTHING until I had the cash. My parents would tell my brothers and I about their slummy first apartment that they had to frequently turn the water off to because it was in the basement and when any tenant's pipes backed up it would overflow starting from their toilet, and how they would buy a roasting chicken from the local farm on Monday and make it last until the next Sunday. But because they did that, when they got good jobs they had NO debt and could now afford our nice house. It is GOOD to be cheap when it means you can use it to reach your dream. My husband and I used that lesson to save and buy our house. It is a good lesson.

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answers from Chicago on

My 14 y/o just said the same thing a few days ago :)
We took it as a compliment :)
I guess, it is the teenage thing. I remember I was saying things like that to my Mom. Just keep explaining how the world works, no need for punishments, they will grow and they will learn.
Merry Christmas!

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answers from San Antonio on

Gosh I love Teenagers!! NOT! I wish we could trade them in until they were 20!! Even that is cutting it close! Their mouths are tragic! I saw a saying the other day. "Hey Teenager, why don't you move out and pay your own bills while you still know everything" HA!! They have no clue!!
I was a terrible teenager! And for that, I have apologized to my parents. I had very little supervision and NO one on one time with either parent. I was the 3 of 4 and the typical middle child.
I was determined to be different with my kids and be a better parent. I got to know EACH one of my kids on a personal basis. We spent alot of time together and I made sure to have days set aside for each child alone with me. That being said, they got to be involved in some coupon shopping, cutting corners to save money to feed everyone due to strict budget.
At the age of 17 and 15 my boys got checking accounts. They were responsible for the account. They had small jobs and birthday money and Christmas money went into their own accounts. If they spent more than they had in the account, they paid the fees involved. But the oldest is the only one that did that. The other son has only overdrawn his account one time and that is because his check did not get deposited on time.
My daughter got her account at age 11. Her own debit card too. She has never gone over. My kids are now 21, 19 and 14. They have a good idea on how to budget money for things they want and only ask for help for bigger items. But even that is rare. My daughter gets $50 a month. The boys have jobs and they pay for their cell phones and car insurance.
If you start now, then the younger kids will learn too. It is never too late to teach them how to handle money.
I could not withhold Christmas presents. I would tell him that starting now he will have to save his own money for the things he wants.
Good luck and GOD BLESS!

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answers from Columbus on

I do not think that you should withhold gifts, or even take them back. Tell him that you were really angry with his comments and that while you are still angry with his entitled attitude, you are not going to withhold gifts from him, and that you were wrong to threaten to do so, despite his being very self centered and repeatedly having an attitude.

In light of the fact that you already talk about money, budgeting, "extras," (good for you!), make a very careful list of all the items you get everyone, and put a price tag on it, and then add up the total, and then compare it to the "extras" line in the budget. Tape it up in the fridge. For him, perhaps you need to keep a running total, if he thinks money = love, he's wrong.

Then, as a family, or just the 2 of you, need to go and volunteer at a homeless shelter or similar place. And I'm not just talking about once or twice. As part of your (and his) New Year's resolution, make it a requirement that he volunteer (and you with him, so you can see what he sees and talk to him about it) at a local mission/soup kitchen/etc. for at least 6 months, once per week.

If you are in a church, get him involved in the outreach/charity ministry that reaches out to the have-nots. If you're not involved with a church, look for opportunities through youth organizations in your area (I'm wondering if Habitat For Humanity has a youth division?). If you don't have anything in your area, consider signing him up for a volunteer camp type of activity, over the summer, where the campers do volunteer work.

I don't blame you for getting really angry. I would too, and could totally see myself reacting in the same way. He needs to actually see how much he has, and the only way to really do it is to see what others don't and what it's like to truly be poor. Right now, all he has to compare to are the other kids he sees, who do have more, which is a very narrow, limited view.

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answers from San Diego on

You can talk to a kid until they are blue in the face. They never get it as kids. Only some of them get it as adults. To a degree, they will all one day get it. But it takes so long that it hardly matters and don't expect any apologies when they are grown. By the time they understand it, they'll be fighting with their own 13 year olds.

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answers from Chicago on

Maybe it's time to show him how expensive things are. Put him in charge of buying his own clothes, give him a chore list, and give him a set sum every month. If he wants pizza with friends, he pays for it. If he wants the latest fly jeans, he pays for it.

When he blows all his money, teach him how to be cheap: how to use coupons to get expensive stuff cheaply.

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answers from Allentown on

Haven't read all the responses and I don't have a teenager, but I would react exactly as you did. Kids try to manipulate us and when our feelings are hurt, I believe it plays into their hands. Isn't that sad? Why can't we say "That hurts mom's feelings"? I've tried that and while it gets an apology from my 5 yo, next time she knows it's what will hurt when she doesn't get her way.

I think you need to call his bluff. Perhaps not for Christmas if you are worried about spoiling everything, but another time. It's what gets my daughter's attention when she doesn't want the snack I got her (because she wants something else). I say, "Oh you don't like it? Give it back. You won't have anything". Then she decides not to be a brat and to appreciate what she's got.



answers from New York on

I realize Christmas has already happened, and you must have come to a decision. I'd be interested to hear what you opted to do.
It's one of those things where we've all promised a punishment and then regretted it - but I feel like you really can't go back on what you said. You're certainly not the only one ever to have done that! I think in your situation, I'd tell him what you got for him, and let him know that he can EARN them. He seems to think that money falls from the sky. While I don't think that kids need to know exactly what their parents' salaries are, I think it is important for them to be raised knowing what your financial situation is, so that they are not expecting things that are not realistically going to happen. My oldest is 16 and clearly knows what our budget typically does and does not allow. Her best friend doesn't understand that and continually asks my daughter to do things with her that my daughter will not be able to afford.
As for the name calling, that would be instant punishment, every single time. That's incredibly disrespectful and I would not put up with it, not even once.. I say from working in public school that we are raising the generation of entitlement, and your son sounds like a prime example. He isnt going to just start helping out on his own, you need to demand it of him. At grandmas, if you assign chores that must be done, the kids will do them but they are not likely to see that you are working hard and pick up the vacuum or start folding the wash when the dryer buzzes.. Dont' expect those things, demand them :)
Good luck


answers from Dallas on

My parents used to drive my older siblings through extremely poor neigborhoods so they could understand how good they really had it.


answers from Chicago on

Wow B., so many people have taken time out to share so many great ideas. I personally don't know which way I would go..... 1. to let this be a huge lesson and skip presents or... 2. to let him have his presents.

Either way, you do need to incorporate ways that he can understand that what you're doing financially is a good thing for the family. To many families, I believe, live ABOVE THEIR MEANS and are doing their children a huge disservice.

At least weekly, a conversation comes up in my house about finances with my children. They are 10 yrs. old now BUT I have incorporated this type of talk since they were toddlers. As 5 year olds, they used their own $5 each to buy food at Aldi's to drop off at a food shelter. THEY felt so good about doing it. As 6 year olds, they had to use their own money to buy things that they really wanted. I would say "Well.... do you have enough money at home to pay me back if I go ahead and charge $8 on my credit card?" My nephews were with me once and heard a comment like that from me and made a huge smile. He thought it was wierd (but a "good wierd") that his cousin was in charge of his own money. WELL..... guess who went home and told his mom all about his shopping experience with his aunt? Now she handles money decisions this way when shopping with her boys.

I don't talk about what I wish I could have, BUT rather what I have that I am so blessed to have. I say things like... " I am so FORTUNATE to have a washing machine and running water." There are people in this world who don't have these types of luxuries. And I say things like this often because I totally feel this way. I think talk like this is rubbing off because so far I have not once had my kids beg me for something or got upset with me because their friends have "this and that" and they don't.

Well... I could go on and on but you have so many good ideas already that I think I'd wind up saying something someone else already shared. So many responses were WELL SAID!!

I have seen a book called Money Doesn't Grow On Trees while in the library. When my kids were toddlers, they'd play in this one area near resource books for parents. I briefly looked at it and thought.... I am doing a lot of things like this already. So I don't think I checked it out, but you might want to even though you have good ideas from people on this site.





answers from Peoria on

I'm gonna be blunt here but please don't take it the wrong way...I'd not get him anything. If it were my child, I'd take away his "cheap tacky phone" for a while and see how much he actually appreciates actually getting a phone...not all kids get their own phones, he should be grateful for even any phone at all. Secondly, remind him that you only make so much and he's lucky to get what he receives at all...that not many parents in the same situation even give their kids half of what you give him. Maybe he needs a job...mowing lawns, paper route, something to teach him the value of a dollar...i'd stick to your guns, no presents til birthday or for when he behaves or does good in school. helps with chores, etc...maybe that will help teach him appreciation, good luck!


answers from Hartford on

You've received a lot of great advice already. I agree that the lesson shouldn't be taught on Christmas. It's not one he'll be receptive to and it's not one you really want to teach for Christmas, and it will ruin the holiday not just for this year but for many to come.

Have a heart to heart with him. I wouldn't beat yourself up over what you said to him. In the grande scope of things it wasn't that bad of a parenting moment. It really wasn't.

You should also recognize that he's intending to hurl "You're so cheap" as an insult. I would point out to him that it's only hurtful because he's intending for it to be hurtful and spiteful, and your intention is to make sure that the entire family has what it needs all year long as well as at the holidays. Christmas isn't just about wanting gifts but also about being generous as an individual and not just hoping that you'll get get get.

He's also at an age where he's very self-centric. I hate to say it but it's not easy for most teens to think about others before they think about themselves. It's them against the world, them against their parents, and unless they've had to deal with real world problems in a very real sense then they usually don't "get it." Especially not when it comes to monetary issues.

So he gets it... for now. If he gets money for Christmas then use that money as a lesson. Let him open a savings account and let him start earning allowance for chores that he completes. He can keep half and put half into his savings. Show him his statements each month. He'll figure out the value of money pretty quickly when it's his own hard earned cash.



answers from Sacramento on

I think that there's no need to teach the lesson on Christmas.

I also think that it's common for kids to develop this attitude at some point. Either when they are younger and are used to getting what they want or older ages when they haven't been taught the value of money, and don't yet have the life experience to understand that "stuff" isn't the most important thing in life. I remember a good friend telling me about a neighbor kid friend he had as a child having every toy in the world. He was so jealous of him. My friend's parents made him work for things, and he wasn't automatically given things (even small things like comic books). One day his Mom asked him how much he had enjoyed a recent fishing trip with his Dad and uncle. He said he's had a great time. She told him to ask his friend how many fishing trips he had been on with his father. It turns out... none. This kids parents were never around, and to compensate for it the child was given every toy he wanted. It wasn't until years later that my friend understood the value of that lesson.

Gratitude is taught, and so is respect. But it is also taught through modeling by parents, both to our kids and to others.

I'd have a heart to heart with him and tell him you're sorry that you blew up and you didn't mean what you said. But then I'd let him know how it makes you feel when he says that you're "cheap" and when he is ungrateful. I would not have put up with him "continually" saying that you're cheap in the first place, so you'll probably have to start at square one respect before he's going to really get the gratitude piece. And in the meantime, I'd check out some resources online or in books to help you with some tips to constructively and positively teach those lessons.

Good luck~



answers from Boston on

Lots of good answers. One more tidbit: my kids when little WANTED stuff all the time, but I knew that 2 or 7 or 30 days later the newness would be gone and they would want something else. So I read somewhere and used this:" remember the last thing you HAD TO have? We got that 2 weeks ago. Is that still making you happy today? No? Do you think this new thing you REALLY want will still be making you happy in a week/month/year when it is no longer new?". Then we would go home and dump out all the similar items from the toy bin and they would realize they already have 3 dolls or 5 Barbies or 20 stuffed animals, etc. A little different now with the fancy phones and such, but perhaps have him ask for money for Christmas and then he can get his own phone and pay the difference on the plan (data plans are expensive!). Also remember that all these fancy touch screen phones are easily damaged - we see lots of teens using ones with cracked screens since they do not have the money to replace them. We stick with the basic "qwerty" keyboard phones for texting and one family plan for all 4 of the phones.



answers from New York on

I might see how he does for the next week... It's vacation I assume so no money for fun stuff for him. If he asks, say " you must know the answer. We're so cheap. Of course we never would give you money for something fun." I often wonder how my parents structured things so we had a good idea what we coudl "afford". They would never ever tell us how much money my dad made! Only thing I can think of is it was clear that they didn't spend a lot on themselves but sacrificed to give us what was important. So maybe in this case, if you also don't spend much on yourselves, show him that you're going to take that money and treat yourself for a change. Show him that you're often depriving yourself to give to him but now that he doesn't appreciate it, no more. If you do though treat yourself to a lot of stuff, maybe that's sending mixed messages. I remember we didn't have cable TV when other peopel were getting it but I never dreamed of calling my parents cheap! They'd drilled it into my sister and I that they didn't make as much money as some of our neighbors (very wealthy town) and they believed in living within our means and saving for things like education and they viewed some things as a waste of money. My dad has a very authoritative way of dismissing things... But I know times have changed too and it's likely getting harder to keep kids in check w/ all the "stuff" out there. So I worry how my kids will be but I always come back to the example my parents set. If you're setting the example too of working hard and not wasting money on stupid things for you and your husband, he'll "get it" eventually. But to teach him some respect in the meantime, I'd definitely look at depriving him of some gifts or treats this vacation and making him do some work! I babysat at that age! It'll be a tough lesson but worthwhile.

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