Dear Prudence: My 10-year-old niece owns two American Girl dolls. The dolls are a source of pride for her because she "bought" them herself. My sister gives her a weekly allowance in exchange for doing household chores. (She has to save some, donate some and can spend the rest.) To my husband and me, who don't make nearly as much as my sister or my brother-in-law, our niece gets a large allowance for a young child -- large enough that she was able to purchase the two American Girl dolls over 18 months.
My daughter, also 10, would love an American Girl doll, but my husband and I can't afford it. I feel like my niece flaunts her dolls and doesn't understand that she seems spoiled to others. Sometimes it's difficult to spend time around my nieces and nephew because they have many more toys than my kids do, and my kids feel badly afterward. How can I address these issues with my sister without making her defensive and my niece without hurting her?
Prudence says: You need to address these issue with yourself, then your children -- not your sister. Your sister and her husband have more money than you do. Unless they are constantly flaunting their wealth, you and your children need to understand that good and bad fortune is not distributed equally. Explain that's life, and if the absence of an American Girl doll is one of your biggest heartaches, then you are lucky.
Your sister's children may get a generous allowance, but I love the lessons they're learning about enjoying the results of saving. I think you need to take a page from your sister's parenting book and instill some worthy lessons in your own kids.
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