Mom Wonders How To Tell Her Little Girl She Can't Afford To Buy Her New Boots Because Of Her Son's Private School Fees

Are these parents neglecting their daughter?

mom tells daughter she cant afford boots because of son's private school tuition Icons8 Photos, Ery Fitria | Canva Pro

Every child has different needs, and managing them as a parent is no easy task. When it comes to siblings, one might need special attention in some areas, but it’s important that all siblings feel equally loved and cared for.

When it came down to the material needs that would be required in order to keep their kids happy, one couple was at a loss for what to do.

A mom wasn't sure how to discuss their family budget with their daughter.

A parent took to Slate’s Care and Feeding parenting advice column to ask for input on balancing their budget between their two children. They were worried that their daughter had noticed that her parents spent "a massive part of their budget" on her brother instead of her, and wanted to know how to deal with the situation — without making any changes to their budget.


The parent explained that while they and their husband make "a fair amount of money," most of it is spent on "private school, mental health care/services, and legal fees" for their 14-year-old son who has been struggling with behavioral issues. Their son and daughter "don’t get along well," and their daughter seems hurt by the fact that her parents spend most of their time and attention on her brother.

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Apparently, the 11-year-old daughter has “always accepted” the family’s strict budget and knows that services for her brother cost a lot of money. When her mom got a promotion, she asked for a pair of boots that she wanted, pointing out that a friend’s father who got the same promotion was able to take his family on a ski trip and buy the same pair of boots for his daughter.


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The little girl's parents decided that the boots weren’t in the budget, and that was the final straw.

While a pair of boots might seem like a small issue, they more than likely served as a breaking point for the daughter, who felt neglected since her parents have been focusing the majority of their time and money on her brother. In the post, her parent explains that they want to avoid directly talking about their budget to their daughter and hope she’ll stop bringing the issue up.

“I don’t want to lie to her, but I’m worried that having an honest conversation about this will create even more friction between her and her brother,” the original poster wrote. “I know that she doesn’t really get how this works at age 11, but she sees a lot more than I expect. My husband wants to keep it vague and hope she doesn’t follow up, but I think that won’t work. How do I do this?”

Surprisingly, Slate’s response doesn’t immediately point out the obvious — that it’s no wonder she spoke out considering her brother is clearly her parents' top priority! Even if it wasn't their intention, they’ve communicated through their actions that dealing with her brother’s issues is more urgent than attending to her needs.


The parents state that their child is too young to understand exactly why her brother takes up more of her parent’s resources, but clearly, she’s noticed that he does. Instead of acknowledging how this may understandably lead her to feel less important than her brother, their first thought is how to get her to stop asking questions. They expect her to quietly accept a situation that they consider her too young to properly comprehend.

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parents cant afford daughter shoes pay son's private school kate_sept2004 from Getty Images Signature | Canva Pro


If she’s too young to see why one child could require more specific attention than another but old enough to notice, what would stop her from coming to the conclusion that her parents simply care more about her brother than her?

Instead, Slate’s response points out that kids “definitely do notice a lot of things” and that “often, they try to fill in the gaps themselves when they aren’t told exactly what’s going on.” They suggest having an open, honest conversation with the daughter about how “different families have different needs and things to pay for,” but they don’t directly propose explicitly telling the child that she’s just as important to her parents as her brother, or put much emphasis on working with her to find a way to meet her emotional needs.

Toward the end of the post, the author says that getting the daughter the boots she wants at some point in the future “might help mollify her.”

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Some worried that Slate's response framed the daughter as 'attention-seeking' and invalidated her feelings.

On Twitter, users had plenty to say about the original Care and Feeding post and its implications. Many users pointed out that the daughter clearly needs more attention from her parents, and that instead of finding a way to provide her with this, the post focuses on nullifying the situation rather than looking for a different solution.

“There is not a single thing in this that suggests actually honoring any part of this child’s worries,” one Twitter user wrote about the original post. Others warned that if the parents don’t communicate openly with their daughter about why they need to spend extra time and money on her brother, it would inevitably damage their relationships.

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“My younger sister is disabled and needed way more of my parents' time and attention. So my mom would set aside one day every month where it was just the two of us to do whatever I wanted to do. Prevented a lot of resentment,” wrote one user. “Ignoring one child’s needs in the favor of another is not going to work in the long run,” said another, who added, “Having a disabled child with high support needs is hard but that doesn’t give you a free pass to neglect your other kid(s).”


The parents who reached out to Slate are likely doing the best they can with limited resources. With a lack of affordable, structural support for children dealing with mental health issues, it’s no wonder that these parents are struggling to balance their children’s needs. But ultimately, as one response to the post stated, “Quality time doesn’t even have to equal money.”

Hopefully, the parents will be able to set aside some time for their daughter and have an honest discussion with her about their family dynamics.

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Jessica Bracken is a writer living in Davis, California. She covers entertainment and news for YourTango.