Dear Amy: My 13-year-old daughter's best friend, "Heather," is an only child whose parents' lives revolve around her. She is spoiled with new clothes, makeup, trips and spending money.
My daughter loves this girl, but struggles with jealousy that I am not able to provide the same for her.
Even if I won the lottery, I still wouldn't give all of this to my children, because I want them to grow up with solid values and coping mechanisms for not getting everything they want the minute they want it.
I have tried to tell her friend's mother that we can't afford these things because of our family's income, rather than point out that we have different parenting philosophies.
I tell her how much I am struggling and trying not to raise spoiled kids that expect everything to come to them without working for it.
She responds that she gives her daughter all she does because she works so hard in school and cleans her room without asking.
Every time I think that this mom understands where I am coming from, she immediately goes back to her spending and spoiling ways! And the daughter has started making comments to my daughter about my being cheap and too strict.
My daughter knows how I feel about her friend and her parents, and knows that if she compares or complains to me about it, I will stop inviting her friend to our home.
I am looking for any advice on how to talk to my daughter about reality, good financial values and how to handle this friendship without resentment and comparison.
Amy says: First off, stop trying to parent these other parents. They are raising their daughter the way they want to. Your input is judgmental and seems self-serving, as if you want them to do things differently in order to make things easier for you.
Thirteen-year-olds often struggle with questions of status. Adolescents frequently express the desire for and jealousy over material possessions.
Your only job is to continue to convey your own values to your daughter, as in, "Well, we know that 'Heather' has all sorts of cool stuff, but there will always be someone around you who has more. And you are lucky enough to have more than others. I hope that you can work on your jealousy, because it is making you unhappy in this friendship."
Your involvement in this other family's parenting is completely inappropriate. You are contributing to the problem, because you are telling your daughter that Heather and Heather's parents are responsible for her own negative feelings and behavior.
Caught in the middle
Dear Amy: I don't understand why my sister-in-law hates me, but my brother revealed that every time they have a fight, my name is on the table.
I have never borrowed money or asked her to do any favors for me.
My sister-in-law sent me and all of my siblings a nasty text today, and I am really mad about it.
How can I deal with this without putting my brother in the middle?
Amy says: Your brother has actually put you in the middle of this.
Why did he tell you that he and his wife fight about you? And why do they fight about you? Is your brother talking to you about things that he should be discussing with his wife?
If you truly have no idea why you are a problem for your sister-in-law, then you should ask her — calmly and respectfully: "I've never understood what I do that bothers you so much. Do you want to talk about it?"
If all you receive in return is a snarl, then it might be time to block or mute her number from your phone. Don't make a big declaration or gossip with your siblings about it — just do it.
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