Dear John: I have a good job, but my husband is struggling to start and secure his own business. I have no qualms about working, and I'm proud of what I earn. Still, we don't seem to be able to save for a down payment on a house.
At the same time, it seems to both my husband and me that everyone around us is asking for handouts from their parents. In our case, my parents have chosen to give financial assistance to my sister and brother-in-law, while we could have used help and would have certainly appreciated it. The more handouts everyone else gets, the more financially strapped I feel, and the more depressed I get. How can I deal with all this frustration and disappointment?
— Sibling Rivalry in Orlando, Fla.
Dear Sibling Rivalry: Your parents' generosity to your sister is not the true issue here. Your real concern is that your parents did not openly extend a similar offer to you, yet you don't say whether or not you've ever asked your parents for their help.
You can't expect others to read your mind. For all you know, they may feel honored by the opportunity to lend a hand. After all, at any age, it's every parent's wish that their children be happy and healthy, particularly hardworking ones like you and your husband.
If you've hesitated to do so out of a sense of pride, then pocket the jealousy, unless you're looking for an excuse to be on the outs with your family. If your end game is truly a home, shop around for the right property and find out what it would take to get preapproved for a loan. Inform your parents of your goal. Tell them how much you need for a down payment and how much you've already saved. Bottom line: You won't G-E-T if you don't A-S-K.
Dear John: I know you've written extensively about children, so I'm wondering, how do you define “spoiled?” My husband and I debate this issue regularly.
— Another Voice Needed, in Dearborn, Mich.
Dear Another Voice: What society sees as a spoiled child is in fact a situation in which a parent has failed to define boundaries for the child — and failed to follow through on consequences should those boundaries be crossed.
To make thing more difficult, adults don't always agree on issues that need boundaries. For example, one parent may feel that it is OK for an 8-year-old to stay up until 10 p.m., while another may feel this is wrong. One parent may allow a 12-year-old child to see an R-rated movie, and another may forbid it until their child is 16 or older.
In any regard, children, like adults, will test boundaries. Parents who firmly but lovingly stick to their boundaries on issues they deem important will rarely have their children called “spoiled” by those of us on the outside looking in.
Distributed by Creators Syndicate.