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I feel like I should address this with my parents, especially since when they re-did their wills two years ago they informed me that their assets will be equally divided between my sister and me, which doesn’t take into account the considerable financial gifts they have given to her while they are still with us. Just because I manage my finances responsibly doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be incredibly helpful to receive some financial assistance every now and again, particularly since it would allow me and my husband to start a family much sooner than otherwise. I don’t know how to bring this up in a way that won’t result in a huge fight or falling out with my parents (particularly with my mother, who has always favored my sister over me), since my parents have kept me in the dark about how much they are assisting my sister and have not expressed any intention to amend their wills to reflect a more equitable division of their assets.
At the end of the day, I don’t NEED money from my parents. My husband and I work hard and make sacrifices, and ultimately make ends meet more comfortably than most. But I feel like my parents care more about supporting my sister, financially and otherwise, than they care about supporting me. It’s no secret that they love her more than they love me, but giving her tens of thousands of dollars and cosigning a mortgage for her is such an overt display of love and support for her and her family, while I get nothing.
I’m just at a loss as to what to do or how to address this with my parents without making the situation worse, and I’m so hurt and upset right now that I’m worried I will snap at them over Thanksgiving dinner. Advice? — Hurt By Parents’ Generosity
First of all, do NOT snap at anyone at Thanksgiving. That won’t solve anything and it will just make the situation worse.
Basically, you’re very resentful that your parents are helping out your sister and they aren’t helping you, but it sounds like your sister has actually ASKED for help and you have not, right? I could certainly understand feeling resentful if you’d both asked for help and they denied you but gave freely to your sister. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. And it’s unfair of you to resent your parents for “denying” you something you didn’t ask for — or worse, resenting them for providing your sister with something she DID ask for.
It’s great that you are so responsible and have been carefully saving your money and putting off parenthood until you feel better able to afford a child. And it’s a shame that your sister and her husband haven’t shown the same level of responsibility and maturity. And maybe it seems to you that your parents have even enabled such irresponsibility, but put yourself in their shoes for a minute. They have a daughter they love very much who is asking for help, not just for her, but for her baby now, too. Can you appreciate how difficult it would be as a parent to say “no” not just to a daughter, but essentially to a grandchild, too?
Obviously, I don’t know the details of your family history or the dynamics at play. I have no idea why you think your parents favor your sister over you. But if this particular issue is indicative of a larger issue, then it really just seems to be about your sister receiving what you don’t feel comfortable asking for yourself and you equating that thing — financial assistance, in this case — with love, which is really unfair.
It’s also unfair to assume that all things are equal and that your parents are somehow required to share their assets equally with you and your sister once they die. Things are rarely equal and parents often have very good reasons — reasons that have nothing to do with favoring one child over another — for allotting a bigger share of their assets to one kid. These reasons could include, but are not limited to: wanting to help a child who has had an illness that has created enormous medical bills or made it difficult to work; wanting to give an unmarried/widowed offspring a little more financial security; passing along a little more to whoever has more children to care for; passing along a little more to the offspring(s) who have a greater financial need. These reasons may not all be fair. Life isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that some people get sick or some people can’t have kids or some people lose spouses. It isn’t fair that some people work really hard all their lives and die penniless while others are born with silver spoons in their mouths and never know the meaning of a dollar earned.
I guess my point is that we get ourselves into a world of hurt when we start equating money — or, especially the dispersing of money — with love/ the expression of love. Money can certainly buy a certain level of security and it can make things easier. But, as you know, it can also make things harder. It can ruin relationships and create mountains of resentment. It can create a crater between those who have and those who have not. But the thing is, what we believe other people to have isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. And although we may often wish we had what others seem to have, it may not be worth nearly as much as what we’ve already got.
I don’t know, maybe your parents DO love and support your sister more than they support you. Maybe the expression of their love and support is much deeper than the financial assistance they give your sister (the assistance that she asked for and that you did not). And if that’s the case — or even if it’s not but you believe it is, which is hurtful enough — I am sorry for that. I can imagine that’s a painful and lonely feeling. But instead of letting the resentment eat you up, focus on the love and support you DO have from the people who share it freely, and accept what love and support your parents give you in whatever way it’s shared with you, understanding that we all have limits and flaws and overtly favoring one child over another is a huge flaw of theirs as parents and as people.
Also, if you want financial help from your parents … ask for it. It worked for your sister!
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