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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Carolyn Hax: Help sister’s kids as needs arise

Washington Post

Hi, Carolyn:

My sister has four school-age children, and my nieces and nephews have, quite frankly, had to do without.

My oldest niece (who is on the dreaded “spectrum” and has struggled because of this) has started a running program, helping her get out some of her anger from her parents’ divorce as well as sort out some of her other social issues. Due to my sister’s limited income, this child did not have appropriate shoes for this endeavor. So I bought her a pair.

The problem? Now my sister would like me to buy equal gifts for her other children.

I kind of get it, although my sister has a reputation for being a bit of a freeloader. I asked my sister for suggestions of anything special the others needed, but received none other than, “something for each.” So now I am left poking around online toy stores and buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff.

I don’t want the others to feel left out, but where do you draw the line?

–  Tapped-Out Aunt

You draw the giving line wherever you want. Your money.

And your sister draws the receiving line wherever she wants. Her kids.

You already proposed a loving compromise, to satisfy a similar need for each child. Your sister didn’t bite, but that doesn’t mean you have to do grudging and wasteful toy shopping to appease her. Please don’t, in fact.

What it means is: “Yes, I intend to buy ‘something for each.’ Please tell me when each one needs something special.” Assure her you’re good for it, then – your justified resentment aside – make darn sure you come through.

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