Mom spends more on my sister's kids
Do grandparents have an ethical obligation to spend equal amounts on grand kids?
NEW YORK (Money) -- Question: I have two children, and my sister has one. Recently, my mother has begun "helping" with my niece's expenses.
First it was clothes, then a computer, then one-on-one tutoring.
Meanwhile, Mom has never offered my wife and me a dime of help with our kids. While it's true we make more than my sister and brother-in-law, they're not what anyone would call "needy" - and we have more kids to support.
Isn't my mother being unfair?
Answer: Not necessarily. While parents have a moral obligation to not play favorites with their children as they grow up, things are a little different for grandparents.
In particular, it's not unusual - or wrong - for a grandparent to become closer to one grandchild than another. Sometimes the reason is proximity, sometimes it's temperament, sometimes it's the amount of attention the grandchild gives them.
There's no rule that says every grandchild must be treated exactly the same when the relationships are different. And there is also no rule that requires your mother to give your family money just because she's given money to your sister's.
While we can understand your annoyance if Sis is unfairly playing the poor relation card, the fact remains that the money at issue belongs to your mother and is hers to do with as she wishes.
This said, your mother does have an obligation to not slight your children and to not signal to them that she favors your sister's child. While she's free to spend more money on your niece and to devote more attention to her, your mother shouldn't be revealing to your kids how much more she is doing for her other grandchild - and neither should you.
Recent questions answered: