SO's parents were mean to my 11 year old.

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FFs post made me laugh a little! We grew up spending weekends and summers on my grandparents farm doing all sorts of stuff. Picking weeds, trimming trees, planting gardens, cutting grass, cleaning horse stalls, stacking hay, cleaning basements, painting, etc. Money never even crossed out minds, just something you did to help out and it was fantastic getting to spend all that time with family "playing" (we used to fight over driving the tractor) outside while our friends were stuck in subdivisions, or even worse inside!


I agree with the end though in that learning the value of volunteering and pitching in can be an invaluable lesson.
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I was a little conflicted when I first read your post. But after reading others' takes on it too, I don't think you should be angry. And your son shouldn't feel excluded. It sounds like all parties entered the situation with conflicting expectations that hadn't been fully discussed before. Recipe for a let-down.

Also they were discussing money and what they paid the 2 other adults working and my son heard it so he was expecting SOMETHING .
Originally Posted by violets
I don't think it's reasonable for him to expect anything more than a thank you from SO's parents just because the adults got paid. That's an entirely different matter. His response wasn't appropriate IMO and I think it sets a bad precedent for future behavior. It was confrontational. I can see how you found your SO's mother to be cold in her response. But her position was in the right, I think. So she was probably a little offended and it showed. And, as someone else mentioned, maybe they didn't have the money to pay everyone, especially someone they didn't expect in the first place.

It sounds like maybe some other factors are at work here too? Is there more to the story? Like maybe you're trying to teach your son to stand up for himself because that's been an issue in the past? You said SO doesn't really get along with his parents. That could be related too.

Hope this doesn't sour the relationship long term.
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FFs post made me laugh a little! We grew up spending weekends and summers on my grandparents farm doing all sorts of stuff. Picking weeds, trimming trees, planting gardens, cutting grass, cleaning horse stalls, stacking hay, cleaning basements, painting, etc. Money never even crossed out minds, just something you did to help out and it was fantastic getting to spend all that time with family "playing" (we used to fight over driving the tractor) outside while our friends were stuck in subdivisions, or even worse inside!


I agree with the end though in that learning the value of volunteering and pitching in can be an invaluable lesson.
Originally Posted by CurlyCanadian
Yes it can. That and learning a skill/trade. I would say that before sub contracting an 11 year old

My first loves dad was a carpenter. He showed interest and his father started teaching him the business when he was little. He would sometimes go on jobs and help, but wasn't paid for anything until he was older, had learned a great deal, and did an efficient job. Then he would occasionally request to go on jobs and be paid (he was around 15-16 and had been apprenticing for several years) so he could buy his own christmas gifts for people or get something he wanted. At that point he was more that ready to be pointed to a task and go, without any supervision. By 18 he could build a house, top to bottom.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

I just want to say to the OP, because you might feel like you're taking a beating here, it is natural to be protective of our kids and hyper-vigilant about how they are treated, especially when things seem unfair or their feelings are hurt. It has been a real challenge for me as a parent to step back and make sure I'm not just reaction to my child's emotional reaction instead of what actually happened. There have been times when she gets upset, so I get upset, but then when retell it to my husband I realize that there was no wrong done, or very little, or perhaps just unintentional thoughtlessness and I'm reacting because she did.

And then sometimes people are awful and I have to go take them down a peg. It happens.
I just want to say to the OP, because you might feel like you're taking a beating here, it is natural to be protective of our kids and hyper-vigilant about how they are treated, especially when things seem unfair or their feelings are hurt. It has been a real challenge for me as a parent to step back and make sure I'm not just reaction to my child's emotional reaction instead of what actually happened. There have been times when she gets upset, so I get upset, but then when retell it to my husband I realize that there was no wrong done, or very little, or perhaps just unintentional thoughtlessness and I'm reacting because she did.

And then sometimes people are awful and I have to go take them down a peg. It happens.
Originally Posted by CGNYC
As I said before I know that has to be a tough one. It has to be hard not to react with and try to help/rescue. That's a natural instinct. Somehow my parents were masters at that one. Probably because I'm the 3rd. They had it down. Listen, think, and ask me if I had lost my mind and if I were aware that things could be much worse They were lacking in a few other departments, admittedly so. I'll never forget the "looking back..." conversation I has with my dad when I was in my 20's. He thought of things he would probably have changed if he could have a do over. Parenting really doesn't come with a book, but still wouldn't have traded them.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

I remember telling my kids that I'd made my mistakes as a parent and they will be careful not to make my mistakes, but they would make their own mistakes. None of us are perfect.
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From Michael Berg:

Every person has a unique connection to the Creator that can never be extinguished, and every person has a great soul that can manifest important things in our world. To make a person feel less than they are because of something inside themselves, be it faith, race, or sexual orientation, is the greatest sin of all."
My dad's parents were always rougher on me because I wasn't their real grandkid. I don't see this in the situation though, apart from the coldness of the grandmother. I was always raised that working for family was a favor. I would never have been allowed to take money for such a thing. I think this might have made things more complicated between the child and the step-grandparents.
My So is building his parent's kitchen. He wanted to take my son with him because even though he is 11 he was very excited to help.

They left around 7am and SO told me to go get him around 11am. When I got there my son was like "mommy I am working". He ended up being very useful opening the boxes and putting the cabinets together and a grown up did the staple gun and tools he isn't allowed to touch. In all he worked 7 hours that day

His parents didn't acknowledge what he did, so I encouraged him to write something up and call them. The problem is that he didn't understand why everyone else got paid but he didn't. Their granddaughter actually got $30 for helping unpack the kitchen. this is what he wrote:

I am dissatisfied because I assisted in remaking your kitchen but everyone else got rewarded excluding me.
I believe I should be treated with reasonableness since:
1) I helped constructing the cabinets
2) I explained to the grown-ups exactly how to build the cabinets and door hinges
3) I managed not to make an inaccuracy
In conclusion, I worked for seven challenging hours trying to help you reconstruct your kitchen and I reason that I should be treated accordingly


I did NOT help him write this. In fact I was at work when he wrote it.

He calls SO's mother and her answer was "Well I didn't hire you" she also told him she didn't pay her my stepdaughter, which isn't true. She didn't pay her that day but she certainly did pay her. Which my son knew because they are very close. Also they were discussing money and what they paid the 2 other adults working and my son heard it so he was expecting SOMETHING .
I am so angry they would treat my son this way. She was cold and heartless to him on the phone. She also said, "What do you want? Money? " to which he replied , well it doesn't have to be a lot.
I understand he is a child but he really did do a lot of work and he was doing it right. My BF isn't going to say anything to them because they really don't get along but that is another story.
Originally Posted by violets
Sounds like it was your partner's decision to take your son, and your son wanted to help out, at no point did your partner's parents ask or agree to your son being employed. Is it even legal for a child of 11 to work seven hours for a wage?

Reads to me like either voluntary work or your partner subcontracting work to your son, so either he does not get paid or your partner pays him. Plenty of times volunteers work alongside paid employees, that is very much part of the adult world.

Whilst absolutely your son should have been thanked because that is common courtesy, I don't think you should encourage him to think he should be treated the same as adults, nor the same as a relative (not a step since you are not married, that often matters to older generations), nor to expect a gift or reward when he chooses to help someone out. Volunteering can and should be rewarding in itself, you can also learn valuable life skills as an unpaid 'apprentice' or volunteer.
Originally Posted by Firefox7275
Very well worded.
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My son heard the whole conversation of what they where paying the other 2 adults. When my stepdaughter said she got paid, he assumed he was going to get something.

My SO parents don't really give a crap about my son. I encouraged him to speak up because he really wanted to know why he was treated differently. I did tell him that in the future, if he wants to get paid, he needs to have that conversation before hand. I told him that if he felt that strongly about it he should bring it up.

I do see a point where it can be seen as innappropriate.
However, considering that is a step grandchild and that their granddaughter lives in my house, is the same age as my son and they love each other to pieces the least they could have done is made him feel appreciated. They didn't even acknowledge to him the work that he did. I think that anyone that REALLY cared about him would have at least had a nicer conversation with him.

He was thrilled to work, though. He even told me that he wasn't finished when I went to pick him up.
And yes, my SO probably should give him something, but his parents didn't pay him either when he spent money to buy tools for this project.
He won't speak up because he doesn't want to rock the boat. I am mad at him for this, but I do know him, so I expect that.

I am hurt that they were cold to him considering who he is. They treated him like a stranger and they lied about paying the granddaughter. My son knows they lied about that. He said "mommy, I can't believe they said to me they didn't pay L. I wanted to ask them who did you hire? "

One of the 2 other guys was the son of the one that really went to help. So technically he wasn't hired either but got paid.

I am not sorry he stood up for himself though.

They are just a bunch of ungrateful freeloaders. They asked me to use my wagon to go get tools. I could have told them to go rent a truck but I didn't. The least they could have done was thank my son.
Well it sounds like you have a rocky relationship with your potential inlaws. May be your SO was brought up the way I was, and that was that family helps family and doesnt ask for anything in return. And he is taking care of his parents thats the way it should be . If he bought tools and supplies he shouldn't expect to be paid back unless it was agreed upon.

My inlaws gave us a drier when ours broke. No questions asked. We asked if we could borrow their extra drier while we saved for a new one and they told us we could keep it. My cousin has fixed our vehicles countless times. I bought parts but he would never let me pay him. Family helps family. We take care of each other.


My friend just helped her boyfriend move down here from out of state. My husband and I went over to help unload the moving truck. Some other people were over there helping as well and he was paying them and told them so before hand. We didn't know this. My kids, ages 4 and 6, had a blast helping carry little boxes in. We helped till the truck was emptied and he didn't offer to pay us, but I wouldn't have accepted it even if he did. We volunteered becuase we wanted to, and this friend of mind has always helped me in a pinch.

Another friend picked my daughter up after school today because her kids go to the same school, and she watched her for a couple of hours.
She bought her a snack with her kids which she didn't have too. We tried to pay her for the icee and for watching my daughter but she didn't want payment and said she would do it anytime. So I offered to babysit or pick her kids up in return if she ever needs it.

We've got to be human and love and help each other and give without the thought of "what am I going to get out of this". And "oh my goodness I helped them and they didn't even say thank you". Well they didn't even ASK for his help from what you said so he definitely should expect nothing. Even if they gave everyone else $500 each, that's their freedom and right to do so.
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They see their grand-daughter as their family and your son as....your son. I think it may feel normal for them to lavish attention and gifts on her, and not even think of treating him the same. It's a little worse in your case, b/c they live together and can compare notes. This is something you may have to just accept and teach him different ways of coping with it. It's easier to adjust your behavior than wait for other people to change.

I don't think there's anything so wrong with the letter. Asking politely to be paid for work is a skill that can't be mastered too early, lol. Of course, the other party is always free to agree/disagree. It's a teachable moment, though. He learned how to express his thoughts clearly, deal with disappointment, and what to do in the future to prevent something like this from happening again.

I foresee you having to make distinctions between chores, favors, & paid work in the future, though. :P
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Ugh. I'm sorry, violets. I come from a very blended extended family where ex-spouses still go to family functions with their new spouses and I have aunts and uncles who are really the siblings of my half-aunt, but we still behave as if we are related. These concepts of "step" this and "half" that are so foreign to me.

I still think you should talk to her. Not about the money, but about your son's feelings of being left out.

Also, the length of time you've been with your SO may make a difference, too. Do you get along with his parents?
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Ugh. I'm sorry, violets. I come from a very blended extended family where ex-spouses still go to family functions with their new spouses and I have aunts and uncles who are really the siblings of my half-aunt, but we still behave as if we are related. These concepts of "step" this and "half" that are so foreign to me.

I still think you should talk to her. Not about the money, but about your son's feelings of being left out.

Also, the length of time you've been with your SO may make a difference, too. Do you get along with his parents?
Originally Posted by Po

My family does the same with ex members, other than my ex sister in law who paid 3 men to beat my brother in the head with a motorcycle helmet, in front of my nephews, when they were toddlers, because she's drunk and crazy. Luckily they were all caught and the truth came out in court. I'm friends with her brother and sister on FB, still think of them as family, love their kids to death, and have to force myself to be civil with her at family functions where she will be present (graduations, etc). She is part of the reason why 2 of the best things in my life happened, so I will be respectful for them. Not her. Now when it comes to my current nephew, 2 great nephews (a new one a week ago) and great niece (all "in law" and the girl (pure evil) is from a previous marriage of her mothers)... I get them something for Christmas. The oldest boy (the 12 year old I mentioned) is being raised by my brother and sister in law because his dad's an idiot who wants all his new kids and not him and his biological mom was an addict. So yes, we see him more and he gets paid for mowing, and birthday, etc... It's still no where near right that I have hard time giving my nephews a gift in front of him, and no I shouldn't have to buy for all of them at once. None live in the same state. He's gotten things when they were not around. He also has 4 Aunts and another grandmother who shower him with things. He need to get over it. The adults are not banks and they're not your teachers handing out gold stars for being there. Quit treating them like that. They're family.

And family doesn't always mean pretty or perfect


Violets, I was curious about how long you had been together as well. I also think you should teach a child to stand up for themselves. My parents taught me to confront conflict head on, when there was reason. That last part is the most important.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 09-05-2013 at 06:59 AM.
They see their grand-daughter as their family and your son as....your son. I think it may feel normal for them to lavish attention and gifts on her, and not even think of treating him the same. It's a little worse in your case, b/c they live together and can compare notes. This is something you may have to just accept and teach him different ways of coping with it. It's easier to adjust your behavior than wait for other people to change.

I don't think there's anything so wrong with the letter. Asking politely to be paid for work is a skill that can't be mastered too early, lol. Of course, the other party is always free to agree/disagree. It's a teachable moment, though. He learned how to express his thoughts clearly, deal with disappointment, and what to do in the future to prevent something like this from happening again.

I foresee you having to make distinctions between chores, favors, & paid work in the future, though. :P
Originally Posted by CurlyCurlies
Your first statement could be very true, even more so depending on the length of time Violets has been with their son. It takes people a while to bond. My oldest nephews were born when I was 12 and and 14. I am incredibly close with them. I only get to see my youngest once or twice a year and sadly have never been able to develop a bond like I have with the oldest. It's like I'm being re introduced to strangers every time I see them. They are both more socially awkward and can't pick up where we left off. I still treat them equally but some can't do that or need some time.

When it comes to my great nephew in law, I love him. I do, but I will never feel the same things I feel for my nephews. I wasn't there when he was born, I didn't babysit him, etc. He's not my big brothers son. I went through different experiences with him, and developed a different bond that way but it is one that will never flourish beyond what it is now because of his chronic "expectations". He will never fully treat us like family. He does work for his great grandmother without expecting a thing. We're a hand out. I can never get comfortable because I have to take my 24 year old nephew in med school aside and give him some money for his birthday I missed. Or to partially help with an expensive text book I know he is worried about. We can't be open or feel comfortable, and that damages.

I sincerely hope this situation does not cause lasting damage for you, Violets. I personally found the letter (though well written) to be incredibly formal, presumptuous, and more like your son was selling himself for a loan as opposed to being upset that he was not treated fairly and his feelings were hurt.
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When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

Well it sounds like you have a rocky relationship with your potential inlaws. May be your SO was brought up the way I was, and that was that family helps family and doesnt ask for anything in return. And he is taking care of his parents thats the way it should be . If he bought tools and supplies he shouldn't expect to be paid back unless it was agreed upon.

My inlaws gave us a drier when ours broke. No questions asked. We asked if we could borrow their extra drier while we saved for a new one and they told us we could keep it. My cousin has fixed our vehicles countless times. I bought parts but he would never let me pay him. Family helps family. We take care of each other.


My friend just helped her boyfriend move down here from out of state. My husband and I went over to help unload the moving truck. Some other people were over there helping as well and he was paying them and told them so before hand. We didn't know this. My kids, ages 4 and 6, had a blast helping carry little boxes in. We helped till the truck was emptied and he didn't offer to pay us, but I wouldn't have accepted it even if he did. We volunteered becuase we wanted to, and this friend of mind has always helped me in a pinch.

Another friend picked my daughter up after school today because her kids go to the same school, and she watched her for a couple of hours.
She bought her a snack with her kids which she didn't have too. We tried to pay her for the icee and for watching my daughter but she didn't want payment and said she would do it anytime. So I offered to babysit or pick her kids up in return if she ever needs it.

We've got to be human and love and help each other and give without the thought of "what am I going to get out of this". And "oh my goodness I helped them and they didn't even say thank you". Well they didn't even ASK for his help from what you said so he definitely should expect nothing. Even if they gave everyone else $500 each, that's their freedom and right to do so.
Originally Posted by Ashleynicol

I could be wrong but I didn't think that was the issue - that the little boy doesn't want to love and help. I think his feelings were hurt bc he was treated like a redheaded stepchild. Odd man out bc everyone else was shown appreciation and he wasn't. He probably never once thought about the money until he heard that everyone else got some except him.

Violets, IDK how often he will interact w/ "the grandparents," but if it's a lot, I hope you and your SO try to resolve this w/ them so they are aware they need to make him feel more a part of the family.
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3b (with 3c tendencies) on modified CG

SL, I totally agree. He was treated differently. OP, I think it is up to your SO to grow some b a l l s and be the one to address this with his family. It's not your place or your sons. Tho I do like the fact that your son stood up for himself.
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From Michael Berg:

Every person has a unique connection to the Creator that can never be extinguished, and every person has a great soul that can manifest important things in our world. To make a person feel less than they are because of something inside themselves, be it faith, race, or sexual orientation, is the greatest sin of all."
A little off-topic: The way some are reacting to his letter--saying that it's disrespectful--reminds of a phenomenon that was coined on another board. Ask vs Guess culture.


This is a classic case of Ask Culture meets Guess Culture. In some families, you grow up with the expectation that it's OK to ask for anything at all, but you gotta realize you might get no for an answer. This is Ask Culture.

In Guess Culture, you avoid putting a request into words unless you're pretty sure the answer will be yes. Guess Culture depends on a tight net of shared expectations. A key skill is putting out delicate feelers. If you do this with enough subtlety, you won't even have to make the request directly; you'll get an offer. Even then, the offer may be genuine or pro forma; it takes yet more skill and delicacy to discern whether you should accept.
http://m.theatlanticwire.com/nationa...uessers/19730/

In my family it was totally and definitely okay ask for anything as long as you were polite about it. (ETA: well, maybe not anything, but most things. Asking for money was how we learned to negotiate, lol.) It was also equally okay to say no to any request, though you may have to deal with some guilt if it was something the other person really needed.

It kind of put me in an odd spot at times with friends, though. Learning later on that a person felt obligated to comply to a request that I made was kind of crazy to me. I also get frustrated sometimes when people don't come out and ask for what they need/want. Instead they shop around their tales of woe, hoping that someone will take the bait.

Last edited by CurlyCurlies; 09-05-2013 at 08:49 AM.
A little off-topic: The way some are reacting to his letter--saying that it's disrespectful--reminds of a phenomenon that was coined on another board. Ask vs Guess culture.


This is a classic case of Ask Culture meets Guess Culture. In some families, you grow up with the expectation that it's OK to ask for anything at all, but you gotta realize you might get no for an answer. This is Ask Culture.

In Guess Culture, you avoid putting a request into words unless you're pretty sure the answer will be yes. Guess Culture depends on a tight net of shared expectations. A key skill is putting out delicate feelers. If you do this with enough subtlety, you won't even have to make the request directly; you'll get an offer. Even then, the offer may be genuine or pro forma; it takes yet more skill and delicacy to discern whether you should accept.
http://m.theatlanticwire.com/nationa...uessers/19730/

In my family it was totally and definitely okay ask for anything as long as you were polite about it. It was also equally okay to say no to any request, though you may have to deal with some guilt if it was something the other person really needed.

It kind of put me in an odd spot at times with friends, though. Learning later on that a person felt obligated to comply to a request that I made was kind of crazy to me. I also get frustrated sometimes when people don't come out and ask for what they need/want. Instead they shop around their tales of woe, hoping that someone will take the bait.
Originally Posted by CurlyCurlies
This is where people will never see eye to eye, and it has little to do with askers or guessers. It has more to do with being raised differently. I grew up feeling comfortable to ask my family about (or for) things. They're my family. If you can't talk to them who can you talk to? Same with friends. I was always aware of situations and had no problems helping my grandparents and expecting nothing because they were my mamaw and papaw , were a housewife and retired paper plant worker, living off a smaller income, with 8 kids and 32 grandchildren. If they had anything to spare it needed to go to my cousins who were having a hard time. No one would have had it any other way, and no one would have ask (not because they are guessers but because they are your family/friends and you enjoyed generosity of spirit and spending time together). Asking someone (in this situation your mom's, boyfriends, mother) to pay for something I was not promised pay for, and in fact volunteered for without their knowledge, after the fact, would be different imo. Nothing to do with guessing. It's more to do with the facts of how the situation happened.


I have to add... I've already said I couldn't have just left him out. That would not be me. I couldn't have been cold to a kid on the phone either, though I would be honest. I can understand why he was upset after he found out. I still personally do not feel that was the best way to approach it. This will probably cause some major tension and might even cause tension to spread between others in the long run (Violets's boyfriend's daughter and her son). I hope not.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 09-05-2013 at 10:25 AM.
My grandma has 30something grandkids and she told me straight up who her favorites are, and none are me, and I'm ok with that. I love my grandma and am grateful to have her but she is 86 years old and entitled to have her favorites
Originally Posted by Ashleynicol
I can't believe she told you that.
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3b (with 3c tendencies) on modified CG

My grandma has 30something grandkids and she told me straight up who her favorites are, and none are me, and I'm ok with that. I love my grandma and am grateful to have her but she is 86 years old and entitled to have her favorites
Originally Posted by Ashleynicol
I can't believe she told you that.
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
I can. That can be a pretty common thing with people of specific generations. My grandmother never told me, but my mom made me aware of her mother favorites (I only knew one set of grandparents). It was common for the mom to favor her youngest son and his children. That's how things worked for generations in her own family. These were not the grandchildren who grew up rather roughly though. My grandmother just always treated them differently so it was obvious. My grandfather on the other hand made every single one of us feel like his favorite. He had a knack for that.

I never minded, and though I easily could have figured it out on my own I was glad my mom told me. They were honest about the ways things worked.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

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