Is It fair to spend more on a gifted son than on his siblings?
Money Magazine's ethicists say some sacrifice is okay, but not at the expense of the siblings' interests.
By Jeanne Fleming, Ph.D. and Leonard Schwarz

(MONEY Magazine) -- Question: We've been told our youngest child shows great promise as a pianist. Unfortunately, nurturing his talent (specifically, hiring a private teacher) will be very expensive. My husband and I are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, but we worry about our two older kids. Is it fair to devote a disproportionate share of our family's resources to one child, knowing the other two will get cheaper (and fewer) bikes, computers and so on as a result?

Answer: Being fair to your children doesn't require you to spend the same amount on each of them.

But if you are planning to devote considerably more of the family's financial resources to one child, you do need to be certain there will be enough money left for some of the activities that interest the other two - even though they may be less gifted and even if the activities that interest them tend to be less refined.

It's perfectly reasonable to lower your family's standard of living a little (say, to require your kids to get an extra year or two out of their bikes and computers, and to ratchet down spending on family vacations) to help offset the cost of the teacher.

But what isn't fair is to design a budget that includes piano lessons for your youngest child but requires you to deny his older sister the two weeks of basketball camp she's been longing for.

More fundamentally, while you nurture the talents of your youngest, you probably need to go out of your way - with both treats and attention - to make certain his siblings understand that you think they're as special as he is.

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Questions about money and ethics? Our ethicists are consultants who advise attorneys on people's ethical beliefs. E-mail them at right_thing@moneymail.comTop of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.