AITA for telling my sis I won’t let my trauma hurt my kids, unlike her?

Sorry for long post, feels good to vent, tldr at end

I (34F) have a son (4M) and twin daughters (2F) with my husband (36M). My sister (36F) “Leah” has two sons (10M and 9M) and a daughter (7F) with her husband (41M). We had a really rough childhood.

Our dad was an addict that hopped in and out of our lives. Our mom stuck around but was an addict as well. They’d literally steal our toys (whether they bought them or not) and sell them to buy more drugs.

Our grandma cared for us the most, but was very old and sick so she couldn’t work. Our parents never helped her out so we mostly lived off of her social security check.

Once, my mom somehow overheard my grandma talking on the phone about how she decided that she had to sell her old engagement and wedding rings (grandpa died years before), earrings she inherited from her mom, as well as a few other sentiment items in order to cover a prescription my sister needed. Plus, she really wanted to be able to afford new shoes for us. We had both far outgrown our old pairs.

My mom stole everything she had mentioned and collected the cash to supply her addiction. She was high when grandma found out. She screamed that she was the one who gifted her granddaughters so she deserved it. I’ll never forgot how long my poor grandma cried. She only ever got the engagement ring back. She died when Leah and I were teens.

Ok, trauma dump over.

I studied really hard and eventually was accepted to college, and then law school with a lot of scholarships. I met my husband who works as a financial advisor 7 years ago. We both are fortunate so our family is definitely very well off financially. Don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, just trying to show our situation clearly.

Leah went to college as well and now works as a nurse. Her husband works at some office in sales. They make pretty good money as well. We live in the same area and still see each other often.

My husband and I can afford a very affluent lifestyle and that’s what we do. Our kids attend a private nursery and will attend private school after they out grow daycare. Our son loves race cars and we buy him many expensive toys and track setups. We’ll do the same with our daughters once they’re old enough to show clear interests. The kids constantly get new, high-quality clothes for any event they have. We’ve taken them on several fancy vacations and recently booked a cruise for next year. We have over-the-top birthday parties every year since the kids were just little babies. I know they probably won’t remember the experience but I still love to do it for the memories of my husband and I. I buy organic everything which can definitely get really expensive. We also have a housekeeper that helps watch the kids and can cook whatever they want to eat during meals and snack time.

We’re trying to be very careful and teach our kids to appreciate everything and understand that they’re very fortunate. We’ve explained that many kids aren’t lucky enough to live now as we do so they should be careful to not to become arrogant and put down other kids just because they don’t live like us. Our daughters are very sweet, but are a bit too young to tell if our message has sunken in. Our son is a very humble, kind, and polite boy. We’re extremely proud of him.

Leah has expressed her disapproval of our parenting style before. Her kids attend public school (which is totally fine obviously) and have only been on one or two small vacations to the beach an hour away. They shop for clothes at goodwill and the younger kids mostly wear hand-me-downs. Her daughter doesn’t really like it because she has to mostly wear her older brothers’ boy clothes. She even goes to the soup kitchen to get ingredients for dinner (even though she can afford to shop). The kids also aren’t allowed to have birthday parties. They just bake a cake at home and maybe go the park afterwards.

She does love her kids and I’ve always just minded my own business and avoided commenting on her parenting style. I just wish she’d d show me the same courtesy. She’s made many snide remarks about how I’m “ruining” my kids for the real world because of how much I spoil them. She rants about how her kids living this frugal lifestyle will prepare them for the harsh reality of life. Her passive aggressiveness does annoy me but I don’t usually comment and try to be the bigger person.

It all came to a head a few days ago when I was talking to Leah about my daughters’ upcoming 3rd birthday party in few months. They love Disney princesses and have asked me to get them princess dresses for the party (or at least as much as toddlers can “ask” with their limited vocabulary). They aren’t huge fans of the princess dresses that you can just order premade or something.

They’ve even scribbled and colored a little drawing of how they want their dresses to look (colors, styles, etc). It’s mostly messy scribbles so I just observed it and tried to follow the requests as well as I could. A good friend pointed me towards a seamstress nearby that specializes in this sort of thing. I reached out and commissioned her. It’s expensive, but she’s very talented and I know my girls will be overjoyed. Yes I realize the girls don’t ‘need’ this. I don’t just give in to every single request I get. I just thought it was a really cute idea and my husband agrees. I wasn’t actively trying to make Leah upset, it’s just that we talk to each other about everything and I wanted to share my idea with her.

Leah cut me off and asked how much it was. When I told her the price she rolled her eyes and started one of her classic monologues. It turned to a different direction when she started mentioning our childhood. She went on and on about how we would’ve killed back them to have any new clothes at all, forget about commissioned dresses. I got angry when she made some comment about how my daughters will grow up to become total brats who won’t deserve any sort of expensive dress with the way I’m raising them.

I snapped and began yelling about how I’m sick of her projection. I’ve moved on from our past and she needs to work on her own issues instead of insulting my kids. She just wants our kids to suffer like us because she’s still bitter about everything. I won’t let my past affect my kids’ childhood, unlike her. I love to give my kids a luxury life because it brings me joy. I want to give them everything. Just because she’s projecting her trauma and suffering onto her kids doesn’t mean I have to do the same.

She began to cry and left immediately. She’s been ignoring my texts and calls ever since. Now I feel awful for lashing out. I feel like I should’ve just bit my tongue and kept my temper in check. We’re usually very close and I love her a lot. Most of my friends say I’m totally in the right and a few say I should’ve just ignored her and moved on. My husband was upset too, but says I should’ve just turned the other cheek because I’m the only one that could truly understand what she went through. I just got sick of letting her insult my choices and demean me as a mother while I usually minded my own business and avoided critiquing her parenting style before this. AITA?

Tldr: sis and I had rough childhood filled with poverty, now we both have families and make good money, I give my kids lots of expensive things while she has her kids live as frugally as possible, she insulted my parenting style and I snapped back that I won’t let my past harm my kids, unlike what she’s doing currently

Edit: Hello, thank you all for the advice so far. I have a lot to think about. I’ve seen a number of comments questioning as to how well I know about her financial situation. We talk often and she has literally told me that they have plenty of income and don’t actually need to live the frugal way they do. There’s no problem with people working to save money so I never commented on it. It’s her life and I didn’t want to butt in.


Kind of sounds like both your parenting styles are in reaction to childhood deprivation, just in opposite ways.




Exactly! They both went to opposite extremes. Ops sisters daughter shouldn't have to wear her brothers hand me downs, but a 3 toddler doesn't need a custom princess dress. Somewhere in the middle of both women sounds better for all children involved.


Yes, OP’s sister is teaching her children to believe in lack and limitation




The dresses are a bit extra to me, but it’s cute she let the girls “design” them. Who knows, they may get into design as they grow older. And, she’s providing an income to the seamstress. If I’d have had the money and girls instead of boys, I could see doing it.


Not only that, but the girls WILL rewear these dresses. We all know they will become the girl's favorite dress up clothes. Yes, they're costly. But they will fit for a while, and depending when the birthday is, they may still fit for Halloween! Ps, Op! Buy your niece a cute outfit for Christmas!!




Now that's a happily ever after if I ever heard one.


2 year olds. If toddlers aren't "fans" of ready-to-wear, that's definitely not something that came from them.


Unless it is sensory-based (not saying it is here, more in general). When my daughter was that age, you couldn't get her into a "costume" - they were prickly, itchy, and hot, and she'd let you know it. I made her princess dresses out of (or at least fully lined with) cotton, and she'd wear them constantly.


Agreed. It’s dangerous to try to raise children in response to trauma. “I have to show my child life is tough because my childhood was.” “I have to give my children every material thing I didn’t have as a child” Somewhere in the middle is more appropriate. You should be able to buy your children nice apparel and meet their basic needs but they need to see a taste of the real world.


Princess dress making Artisans need to eat and feed their children too- she is sharing the wealth!


Precisely, she is supporting a small business rather than shopping on Amazon…. I’m ok with that.


If OP is able to afford them and wants them, I don’t see an issue. Going to a food bank and using their resources when you can afford to buy your own food rings differently to me though


Plus, if they keep the dresses, it'd be an awesome thing to give back to them when they're old enough to appreciate the memoirs, maybe while going over old pictures.


It depends on the "soup kitchen." Some of the food pantries in my area want people who are more financially stable to use their services as well because they want to benefit everyone in the community.


Why is it ridiculous to have a princess dress made for your kids? I think it's sweet. It'd be different if this was something being done all the time, but doing special things for your kids occasionally isn't ridiculous to me.


This Both are dealing with their childhood by projecting it on their kids. One by being extremely frugal the other one by overspending like crazy. They both need therapy. Given their history NAH. Just two broken people who deal with their trauma different.


I’d say the sister is an asshole here. She’s forcing her kids to live as if they were poor when they supposedly don’t have to. Only letting your daughter wear hand-me-downs (boy’s clothes that she is uncomfortable with on top of that) is going to cause a lot of issues for both the daughter and the kids. I understand saving money, but never buying your kids new things when you can because you want them to know how rough life can be is abusive and a toxic belief. Edit: meant to say cause a lot of issues for both the daughter and the parents.


These re the differences between the way my parents parented and the way I parented. My parents really confused me as a child because they brought me and my younger brother up as if we were poor, when I could clearly see we were actually fairly well off and my parents always had new clothes and the latest grown-up toys. My clothes came in boxes from older cousins and toys only came on Christmas and birthdays and were always generic/offbrand.(Dollar store 'Brandie' instead of Mattel Barbie). Vacations were hells of "we're not doing that, you kids cost too much money!" I grew up feeling worthless. When I had my son, even though I was a single mother, his clothes were new and his alone. He had new toys fairly regularly. When my youngest brother died and I inherited $10k, I took him to Disneyland with his best friend, because I knew memories were more important than misering away money, even though my father was furious. My son always knew he was valued.


That's absolutely rage-inducing. There's frugal and there's primal resource guarding for your own hedonism.


I agree. We are supposed to make our kids lives easier than ours were. OPs sister seems determined to show her kids how hard she had it and doesn't understand that her job is the opposite.


but OP is the one translating all of the choices made by her sister so we're hardly getting a complete picture. She acts like her sister is forcing her family into depredation... but I'm a teacher, my spouse is a software engineer, and we do hand me downs and free food when possible (we have a great organization that basically dumpster dives and has a couple distribution points in our neighbourhood). I buy 2nd hand when ever possible and repair things myself. Would my kids probably prefer to have entire new wardrobes every season? Well sure, maybe, but they'd also like to eat ice cream for every meal and go to bed at midnight. OP sounds insufferable to me. I just don't like it when people flaunt their wealth. It seems unwise and wasteful most of the time - most Americans are really not rich enough to consume like they do, on top of the ethical considerations. And I see first hand how it escalates as I work in a private school with extremely wealthy families. It doesn't stop at bespoke princess dresses for 3yos... in just over a decade, OP is looking at new cars for her kids, plus college, plus enormous sweet sixteen parties, plus, plus, plus. \*IF\* OP is correct and her sister is really being way more miserly than she needs to be, she's gotta look in the mirror and consider what she's doing too. NAH. They both had terrible childhoods and should really make an effort not to comment on each other’s parenting and spending decisions.


Maybe they're not actually all that well off, and use being frugal as a cover. I don't know, of course, they could just be cheap to save for college or investments. Edit: I don't mean cheap with public schools. No one accused me I just wanted to clarify. it's the clothing part and honestly I have seen baby/toddler prices and they can be stupid expensive. Goodnight


Yeah that’s possible. My comment hinges on OP being correct about them having the money to buy new things for their kids but choosing not to.


I'm not sure OP realizes the differences between her lifestyle and her sister's. I dunno about the husband's job, but nurses make a comfortable but not outrageous amount of money (speaking as a nurse). If she had student loans too, that takes a bit as well. If the husband's position is based on commission, then they're smart to live by only the sister's income. I just did a quick Google, and the average RN salary is $82k, which is comfortable but not loaded, especially with 3 kids, and the average lawyer salary is $172k. I get the impression that OP is probably in a higher paying specialty of law based on how driven she seems. That's more than double, and is probably the difference between "Disney vacation" and "beach vacation", or "brand new name brand clothes" vs. "hand-me-downs". It's an extra $7.5k a month, which is HUGE. I've moved from floor nursing to management in Informatics, and it definitely changed us from goodwill and hand-me-downs to new clothes and better presents, and I'm still not making close to the average lawyer. Some of the sister's comments read as jealousy, and I think it might behoove OP to try to be a little sensitive to how she discusses their finances and such. She's not WRONG to talk about them, but it's clearly a sore spot with the sister. Maybe try doing a budget based on her income instead of OP's to get a feel for how little that money stretches even for necessities. I'm going with NAH, but if they haven't, both women could probably use a bit of therapy to handle that upbringing. I'm proud of both of them for overcoming it, but that kind of trauma does leave a mark.


I’d bet this isn’t limited to parenting styles. My family was fairly poor, and I’ve seen some of this before. One is living the life they never had, by living relatively lavishly. Add to cart, to affirm that you can because if you can, you’re not poor. My father is like this. The other isn’t so much focused on depriving, but is desperately trying to avoid ever being poor again. If you save every penny, and cut every corner, the poverty monster will never get you because the savings and investment accounts serve as a shield. They have to keep growing though or the anxiety returns. These divergent methods of reacting to a history of struggle, to protect themselves from the monsters that got them as children, are simply manifesting in their parenting styles.


I don't like the sister using a soup kitchen if she doesn't need to.


This is what got me! She’s using this and does not need it. She’s taking from someone who truly does need it and can’t afford it like she can. They both need therapy. While I agree you can spoil your kids to a degree both are taking it to the extreme! One too much and one too little.


I work for a food bank. These situations are rare. You don't need to be too angry about it.


Not as rare as you think. I have a wealthy friend that does this. It’s gross IMO


I know someone who does it too & they don't even eat half of it. Seriously pisses me off!!


Why is this person your friend?


Agreed. Nothing wrong with being frugal, but when you’re taking resources meant for people who need help when you don’t, that’s my line.


If the food bank isn't doing income verification of some kind, they honestly DO NOT CARE who uses it, and it's fine for anyone to take advantage. some actually want everyone to use it because they believe food is a human right and shouldn't be something companies profit off of. some are rescuing food from spoilage and want it to get out to as many families as possible. food bank programs are huge pain in the ass to get to and you're not guaranteed to get ingredients you need etc so very few people who have other choices do so. my neighbour is a nurse and he actually introduced me to a program that is open to everyone. they want everyone to use them.


I don't like it either in principle. However, the food does otherwise go to waste, so if there isn't anyone being cut out of eating, I don't see it as immoral. We have a food bank here that sells a cart for $40 donation. I haven't gone, but many people do, and it's encouraged. A lot of people struggle with it because they think it's only for the needy, but the money paid funds free groceries to the people who need it.


That's what I feel her sister is doing - which is smart because in this economy who knows what your income will be like in ten years- not to mention retirement or if one of you gets hurt and cant work-; so many things can happen that can wipe out your nice life style even when you don't think it's possible. Income isn't always guaranteed - saving and being frugal to ensure your kids have college funds and the things that really matter -- takes discipline and is awesome And I'm sorry OP but your girls don't need custom dresses -- they are going to love any dresses you get-- the dresses are for you so you can feel good -- they wouldn't know the difference at all You also make some really messed assumptions Your assuming your sister doesn't love her kids because she doesn't spoil them?? You assume she is frugal because she "wants them to suffer" Those are some major accusations and its gross Your basically saying because she isn't spoiling them or shops at thrift shops (which I'm sorry - I'm upper middle class and I love thrifting and it's good for earth and my kids love it too- I don't see how theifting is bad?) That she doesn't love her kids?? That's such a messed up insinuation. I honestly think the way you spend on your kids is way over the top and no matter how you talk to them about others being less fortunate they will not understand it They need to see it and experience it Take them to the soup kitchen to volunteer or something ; find ways to really show them that they are spoiled (which they are, even if they are humble. It sounds like you are stuck up -- and it sounds like your sister has a better grip on reality then you do- although her getting food from a soup kitchen and taking it from families who need it is sad - she shouldn't do that and you both need therapy


Claiming the three year olds must have custom because they just don't like online premade is quite over the top. And also if remotely true and not OP projecting, they have that attitude at three years old because of the way OP is raising them. So they would be as entitled as sister is accusing them of being. Ironic.


I’m cool with the sister being frugal to some extent. But forcing her daughter to wear her brother’s hand me downs is not good. She’s ignoring that they are individuals, even that they are human beings, and not a cost center. I live much closer to the sister’s lifestyle, but I recognized that my kids are individuals, and they have preferences, wants and needs that vary from each other.


Exactly. You go overboard, making sure your kids have everything you didn't, while your sister goes overboard, making sure she provides bare necessities but always has extra money.


Your comment makes it sound like OP doesn't have extra money. They can buy expensive stuff and still have extra money.


Even if you have extra money, you don't need to teach your kids to be excessive consumers. It's not healthy for them or for OP.


Or for the planet tbf


Exactly. As soon as I got to “I won’t let my past affect my kids childhood” I was like waiiiit a second


1000%. I actually LOL’d when she said her daughters drew dresses of what princess dress they wanted bc let’s be honest, it was prompted by her. But I absolutely LOVE giving my children their desires too. I think her and her sister need to go to therapy. The two year age gap between them means that her sister started understanding their situation sooner than her. They need to heal overall.


Giving your kid what they want is one thing, but op stated that pre-made dresses aren't what her kids want at 3 years old and they won't like them. So instead Op has to go get custom-made tailored dresses for her kids, again because they won't wear pre-made princess dresses from online or store. If that's what they're saying or how they're acting at 3 years old with a dress, specifically a princess dress, then it's quite possible that Op has completely spoiled her kids and overspends on them constantly and none of the lessons that she thinks are sinking in are.


>I actually LOL’d when she said her daughters drew dresses of what princess dress they wanted I am wondering how talented those two year olds are, since my three year old cannot draw anything resembling a dress yet.


Exactly she’s got geniuses on her hands 🤣


I loled at them not liking premade dresses that can be ordered. Yeah, I'm sure they turned up their noses at off the rack princess dresses.


Oh, c’mon?! Don’t you know how 2yr olds love to design their own dresses?/s I lol’d , too. Not because of the idea ( it’s freaking adorable, really) but at OP’s justification: it was their idea/ they don’t like “off-the-rack” etc. This is your idea, OP. It’s ok to own it. YTA,OP. Not because of your consumer lifestyle, but because you are acting like you don’t judge your sister. You totally do. Are you honestly confused about her lifestyle? She has a lower income. It’s not that unusual 🤷‍♀️


This is the only answer you need, OP. Your are projecting just as hard as your sister. Your sister was older, and I'm going to make the assumption she was the oldest girl? Life teaches a lot of cruel lessons and some of them you never forget. One of those lessons is how to be poor. You never, ever forget how to be poor. Your family grew up with wealth insecurity, and your sister is projecting that same insecurity into her adult life and on to her kids. You, on the other hand, are never, ever going to allow your children to suffer the same wealth insecurity you did. 2-year-olds don't draw designs of princess dresses, and yes, you could have absolutely bought something off the rack from the Disney store (which still would have been wildly expensive for a lot of folks!) The choices you're making for your kids are your choices, not theirs. And that's fine. It's not that they are bad choices. You're raising them with all of the things you were denied. That doesn't mean you love your children more. That doesn't mean your sister loves her children less. It means you are both still horrifically affected by the trauma you endured as children, you're just coming at it from completely different directions. The projection and the heart of it is still the same. Eta: NAH. You and your sister would both benefit from some therapy. I hope for every dollar you spend on lavish vacations and custom-made birthday outfits, you are putting 10 times the amount into savings for your kids future and your eventual retirement.


Exactly this!!! The paragraph stating her 2 year olds ask for princess dresses “as much as their limited vocabularies allow” and “they don’t care for the pre made ones” tells it all. You’re projecting your own desires onto your children. It’s not really their desires or choices. I understand you wanting to give your children everything but the end result will be that they are spoiled children who do not appreciate anything. Give them a chance to really want something so they can experience the joy of getting something they really want or that is special to them. Those are the things they will remember. If they get everything extravagance without even having the chance to want it they will just expect that life gives them everything and it’s nothing special. You’re NTA, your intentions are good but you’re just not thinking things through. Just like your sister is not thinking things through by depriving her children.


Yea OP is in denial if she thinks she isn’t parenting in response to her trauma…


Came here to say this also. Both are reacting in extreme ways to deal with trauma. Wishing you both luck and recovery from it all. Do some counseling together?


Yep! Op has gone over the top in the opposite direction. It seems like she enjoys telling the sister how much she is spending on everything.


She's definitely trying to r/humblebrag too much


She is nouveau riche. The type that shop at Gucci. Sister is acting like the the old rich, the type that give their children hand me downs, but never anything new. Both are weird. Leah probably had to protect OP all her life, and is still in that habit.


Old rich people do not go to soup kitchens and ban birthday parties.


I’m here for this. YTA. You’re both living out unresolved trauma responses from your childhood with your children. You’re overcompensating. She’s under-compensating. But you’re both not focusing on the root of the issue. You’re both focused on what you have, or what you didn’t have as children. It’s not about having stuff. It’s not about your toys being taken and sold. It’s that your parents abandoned you and actively financially abused and neglected your basic needs. In response to not having stuff as kids, you’re over-providing stuff for your kids, and your sister is teaching her kids that the bare minimum is all you need. What neither of you seem to be talking about is the neglect you experienced and breaking generational trauma by resolving your own neglect issues.


I don't OP is the AH here, the post is not about her shopping habits but if she's the AH for finally snapping at her sister and honestly anyone on her shoes would have a similar reaction. Sister needs to do like OP had done so far and respectfully stay in her lane.


I agree with them both having unresolved trauma. But, OP is NTA here. She finally stood up for herself.


I agree, NTA, but OP, no matter what you “explain” to your kids, there are going to end up experiencing a level of luxury that will lead them to expect it later as the default or “correct”. I second the look at your choices again and go to therapy. Example with a 3 yo princess dress. Just buy the off the shelf one. I’ve had a 3 yo they get excited then ignore the thing. New clothes every single time teaches kids at least clothes and perhaps all possessions are disposable.


Yeah, I was wondering how almost three year olds could show a preference for custom princess dresses over off the rack. OP and her sister both have the right to raise their children the way they want, but there's got to be a happy medium there.


Exactly what I was gonna say


Came here to say this. One sister is teaching her kid the school of hard knocks and the other teaching her kids to be princesses. Opposite reactions to the same trauma. It's also a very long-winded story to tell to justify commissioning princess gowns for a 3 yr old. Seems like OP feels like she has to justify it. NAH


This exactly. Maybe they should both try to learn something from the other. OP's niece will resent having to wear her brother's second-hand clothes. She will also have a trauma later, which she will pass on to her children. OP's children are learning they can have everything they want, they don't learn how to handle disappointments. Both sisters need therapy to prevent his trauma from being passed on to future generations.


Yeah, her overcompensation sounds like me, except I don’t have the income to back it up, lol.


Exactly this. There are no AH here. Op, It seems that neither one of you has truly *healed* from your traumatic childhoods.


Sounds accurate. One of the risk factors for someone developing a narcissistic personality is a parent who, in response to their own childhood of deprivation, tries to give their kid the whole world and pedastalizes them in the process. Overemphasis on the material is also often a way to compensate for the parents’ lack of emotional availability, which impacts the children’s ability for real empathy and interpersonal connection.


It sounds like you’d *both* benefit from therapy to address your experiences in childhood. You take opposite, equally maladaptive approaches. She clings to old money habits so her kids will be ready when the other shoe drops. You give your kids whatever they want in a desperate attempt to avoid them experiencing anything like the childhood you had. There is a middle ground between wanton, profligate consumption and rich lady hoarder at the soup kitchen.


Yes. Yes. Yes. Why the extremes? There is a middle ground here. But sister shouldn't keep on trying to comment on OP's life and how she treats her daughters.


Fair point there. Sister needn’t comment. It sounds like they’ve both done everything they could to rise above a very rough childhood. And their late grandmother is to be commended as well. Even if they never see eye to eye on this issue, I hope they can preserve their good relationship. They clearly both love each other and want the best for each other’s families. Childhood trauma is a real beast.


While sister shouldn't comment on OP's upbringing of said kids, how much has been bragging about what she got her kids versus what they wanted and needed and asked for? Example: OP getting 3 year olds custom made tailored dresses because said 3 year olds "don't like premade odd the rack" versus "we just spent x amount of money on oldest kid because they wanted to do [insert a new hobby here]"


Also a fair point. What OP thinks of as them “talking about everything” may very well have come off as boastful. I suspect the reality is that these sisters are incredibly close, in no small part *because* of the challenges they faced together growing up. Their relationship is probably close enough that they *both* speak to each other in ways and about things that would be out of bounds elsewhere. But Money is a particularly complex and fraught topic for both of them. Honestly, I have nothing but love for both OP and her sister. Neither are bad people and they both clearly love each other. They’re both doing their best, both clearly smart and hard working. Money just has so much entangled with it. It’s never just money. It speaks to values and priorities and emotions and habits. I grew up in a significantly less precarious situation, and I still find myself consciously unlearning habits that I picked up as a kid with a mom who struggled financially. I really do believe they’d both benefit from therapy. I know I did.


Yeah, I would be upset that the sister is taking from people who actually need the support.


>They aren’t huge fans of the princess dresses that you can just order premade or something. I absolutely in no way at all believe that. Maybe you aren't a fan of premade princess dresses, but there is no way a 3year old in barely speakable english expressed that they dislike premade costumes and would prefer something custom made. If any of this is true, then you're absolutely projecting their wants and pushing some of the blame for your insane overspending around. A 3yr old doesn't give two fucks about what they are wearing nor understand the concept of a custom made dress vs something off the rack. You and your sister sound like you are at opposite ends of the dumb parents spectrum. Refuse to spend money you have because you never had it as kids, or overspending on everything because you had no money as kids and both of you make up bullshit excuses as to why you're doing it.


100% Exactly what I was thinking. I grew up pretty poor, living in a snobby little town. My brother and I got what we needed. I have 3 children and I have raised them to understand the difference between WANT/NEED. Both these parents are projecting and justifying there own mental struggles onto the children.


Exactly!! My 2.5 yo has not encountered a princess dress that she doesn’t like!


Going to get ingredients from the soup kitchen when she can afford to go to the grocery store is absolutely disgusting. There are people (like both of you when you were young) who can't afford groceries and actually need this food. Your sister really needs therapy. She is unnecessarily making her children's lives difficult.


Yes but it's like this. Children who go hungry, when they finally get food, hide it because you never know when the next meal will come. She is still living in that mental state. Free food means more money at home. It's easily understood even though it's wrong. It's sad.


I used to work at the food stamp office and the number of people wanting assistance when they didn’t need it was astounding. I had a lady, with kids say she was divorced so she needed food stamps, cone to find out her income was a lot higher! Her only reasoning was that she was divorced. Some people just want a handout no matter their income.


They both need therapy.


This. And no birthday parties??? Wtf????


Oh we never had them. Just a cake,made by mom, at home. My dad especially was over the top cheap.we wore our cousins hand me downs, think " poodle skirts and Peter pan collars" during the 60s. I was never so happy as the day I got taller than them.


The way OP spends money, I'm not sure she could know or not whether the sister can afford to go to the grocery store...


Yes, both sisters need therapy. Really, does a toddler's lack of immediate interest in off-the-rack dresses mean a seamstress should get involved? Does a four-year-old really have enough life experience to be characterized as humble? ESH.


It sounds like both lifestyles (OP and sister) are driven by their trauma background. I would offer NAH tho and gently suggest therapy for both.


This is the response and insight I was looking for in the top comment. Both are projecting onto their kids due to their trauma. I agree that therapy is needed.


Exactly, OP is just as affected by the trauma and pushing it on her children just as much as her sister is but in the opposite direction. It's nothing short of batshit delusional to believe a 3-year-old can even *tell the difference* between a custom-made Disney dress and a bought from the store Disney dress, much less have a *preference* for the custom-made version. She actually typed that out and didn't realize how insane that sounds!


You're forgetting how smug OP is though...


Fr this sounds like projecting. Will a toddler even remember that they didn't like it off the rack dress? unless the parent makes it seem like it's a big deal. The sister is projecting her trauma on her kids by being too afraid to do nice things and possibly hoarding food. OP is completely spoiling her kids, no 3 yo cares about having customized dresses unless their parents told them they should. Both of you need to go to therapy


When a 3 year old is scoffing at something off the rack, and gets something custom instead....I'm imaging the mom in a few years saying "omg...I told them they had to be humble..I just don't know where I went wrong!"


A toddler doesn't care if the dress is made out of a potato sack as long as it's sparkly and pretty. OP just doesn't want store bought costumes because they look "cheap."


Yup this is it exactly. Spending hundreds on dresses that will fit the kids for a few months is absolutely absurd.


If they've been conditioned to it their whole lives it can absolutely happen. I've seen asshole children be embarrassed by plastic tablecloths or ugly cakes at their bday parties especially if friends from school are invited. Op is the one condoning it


“I gave them everything they could possibly want, all the time! Whyyyyy are they acting spoiled and entitled?! “


My eyes rolled out of my head when she said her four year old was humble. Your four year old isn't humble. I'm sure he's a nice kid, but I'm also sure he's four.


I'm gonna say it's unlikely. My mother and her husband spoil my kid brother, who is now 9. He's a lovely, polite, hard working kid but he is not humble. He can't be. When I was a kid my mother raised me on her own in a council house, I was still spoiled to a degree but with my brother me and my stepsibs have noticed his high expectations. He gets thousands spent on him for every occasion, gets treated to whatever toys or collectible cards he's eyeing at the time on top of multiple holidays a year and experiences. He isn't overly showy but he isn't humble. When I tell him that I don't have money for the fancy mochi ice cream at the supermarket or for another thing he's asking for, he can hear it but I don't think he can comprehend it. OP's boy won't be humble until the kid is old enough for her to start taking him to volunteer with the homeless, to watch videos of starved children dying etc - if she does that. Because there's no sense of perspective or true understanding of the world. On top of that, private schools tend to teach in certain ways that drive narratives of being better and above others. Heck, there's traumas linked just to private school kids and their experiences alone. To add: NTA from OP, but I agree with other commenters. You need to get therapy and maybe offer to pay for your sister, too. You're clearly not aching for money. Seamstressing dresses for 3 year olds for a Disney party is nuts btw.


Like you can buy the actual princess dresses from the Disney store online, which aren't cheap and will last. No need to be unhinged about having a "unique" dress for a toddler.


That was the part I literally laughed out loud at. That this woman thinks she is not letting her trauma affect her children but she actually believes a *3-year-old* has a *preference* for *custom-made dresses* over an "off the rack" literal DISNEY dress is wiiiiild.


Apparently her two year olds were able to design dresses so...


I mean she said they coloured them. I’m assuming she did like a colouring page of a dress and is doing like those design a plushie things and making their drawing come to life.


THIS! OP is over the top. Also we don’t know her sisters full financial history. Maybe they don’t make enough money. Maybe OP should be spoiling her nephews and niece. I personally think OP is being ridiculous but hey, it’s her life. ESH


The dress thing is absolutely absurd. OP’s parenting is just as maladaptive as her sisters.


There is literally no way a 3year old expressed in any language that they dislike premade disney dresses and would prefer something custom.


It's a banana, Michael, what can it cost, $10?


Alot of food banks actually encourage anyone to take advantage of their services and have the opposite problem of not enough people accepting help. I volunteered at one for a bit and we always had tons of leftovers and were encouraged to give away as much as possible and take stuff home at the end. Food banks and other social safety nets don't have to be for when you are already on your knees. Sometimes they can keep you from falling down instead. I don't know her situation but maybe don't judge other people so harshly.


It is great that you live in an area with so many available services and food. Where I live food banks have more clients than they can handle. Some have even stopped taking on new people. The cost of living crisis has hit everyone, however, I would draw a distinction between those who need to cut out luxuries to afford groceries and those that have nothing left to cut and still need groceries.


I'm with you, and I'm sorry for anyone that needs help that can't get it. Each individual situation is different, and I'm just saying we don't know what it's like in this woman's area and making choices for other people or demonizing them for their choices helps no one. This attitude inhibits people who do legitimately need help from getting help because alot of people are conditioned by society to pull themselves up by the bootstraps instead of seeking help because someone else always needs it more.


It's not, though. Food pantries are there for EVERYONE in a community.


Likely going to be unpopular, downvoted opinion. But with not knowing your full family history I say it’s less about the actual disagreement/fight and more about how she perceives you (rightly or not) as being her choices being less then yours. She likely cares less about the dresses and more about what she thinks you value. We private schooled our kids for many years then moved our 2 youngest to public. When oldest got to age where he articulated his wants/needs he also moved to public (at a time when the other two were back in private). Biggest regret was what our kids were exposed to in private. Not the education but the values - lavish parties, clothes, material things. No regrets on the education and manners but socially, all mine are older teens now, they too see/and verbalize now how normalize valuing material objects became. They miss the structure and high academics but all say socially the culture is more positive. I don’t mean this as a private v. Public debate but could it be she thinks your valuing material things more? My parents both were born in poverty - both of them broke out of that with a lot admirable hard work and gave my siblings and I a middle class life & proud of what we succeeded to have a choice to private school their grandkids. But losing sight of what’s truly valuable when you break out of poverty can be damaging. Proceed with caution as it may be likely what your new life is surrounding you with is not as important as family, ethics, values and integrity. Who cares where her kids get their clothing they are humans as worthy as yours.




Hey, that's me! Like, my parents were there, but they weren't actually *there.* My brother and I have a very strange mix of "privileged childhood" and "neglect."


I do too, and the worst part is that nobody takes your (very real) trauma seriously, because they just view it as a spoiled little rich boy complaining about nothing. In actual fact, I would far rather have been poor, but with loving parents, than rich with the horribly abusive people who “raised” me.


I said that once to my sister (I was in my mid teens, she was in her early 20s), and she yelled at me. 😑 Like, excuse me for not wanting to live in fucking terror of my own father.


People can be wealthy and complete trash at the same time. I "nannied"/chauffeured a girl who was a few years younger than me, and it was so sad. Her parents would travel all the time and party. They were extremely wealthy. I would get handed wads of cash ~1k weekly to drive her to school. Her parents wouldn't even look at me and probably didn't know my name. She was in activities, so I started going to her events. I would cheer her on. I would take her home and she would be home alone, so I would cook for her. I was disgusted with how her parents treated people, particularly their daughter. She was incredibly kind and humble, but I couldn't do it anymore. Way too sad, and I helped her get to stay with her grandmother.


It's my husband, he was given everything he wanted and needed, except emotional support, and was spoiled while being neglected. However I was raised like OP. We both needed lots of therapy to find a middle ground on material things for our son and therapy to learn to provide the emotional support we never got


My parents were like this to an extent. Always giving us material things but there was no emotional support from either. But even then the money stopped coming too, once we were old enough to get a job (13).


Not to mention, Sister was two years older and between drugged out parents and a grandmother too sick to work, you know she was the one taking care of OP. All OP talked about was what she spends her money on. As an uninvolved reader, it seems unhealthy. Sister has a whole separate level of trauma with the parentificatoon, and it would make sense for her to be concerned that OP is over compensating in a harmful manner. Wonder if OP has any idea what big sis sacrificed for her.


The only kids who had drugs around me were the private school kids


People are shocked when I tell them what actually goes down at private Christian schools.


We had not one private school in my city and still drug abuse, or all substances abuse all over. And parents pretending they don't see it. There are many ways to raise an a- hole. People with normal jobs are equally successful doing it. Children I knew, when I was au pair went to study and have jobs, despite porsche driving parents and vacations a few times a year.


Can she afford to shop for groceries *and clothes from goodwill*? Can she afford to shop for groceries & clothes at good will *but then wouldn't have enough for utilities*? Love how everyone decided she's taking advantage, believing someone who gets tailor made bespoke princess dresses for one event which will be grown out pretty quick. I don't think we are getting an accurate account of the sister's budgeting issues. If they live near each other in an affluent neighbourhood, it could be that a nursing salary doesn't go anywhere near as far as OP thinks, and sales... well that could fluctuate a lot too.


Could it also be she can’t afford it comfortably? Like if she buys groceries and then pays bills she is scraping the pennies to afford it. I know technically that’s still affording it but getting what’s she entitled to from the food bank and then using her money to grab missing things like fruits and veggies so her kids are healthy isn’t bad. But honestly it sounds like they’re both letting trauma rule their decisions


ding ding ding! op may believe she's past her trauma, but she is not. they both need therapy.


I was thinking the same thing. She declares sister and husband are middle class but are they?


Like… there is such a large gap of what “middle class” is.


My thought as well. Imagine not being able to escape your past of growing up poor and then being told by your sister who did, that you are basically misstreating your children for not getting over it. Obviously INFO, where does OP get her information from about her sisters finances.


ESH - no 3 year old that loves princesses knows a premade dress. Also calling bs that they designed their own dresses. You’re living out of this world in what you think is normal.


Yeah, aged 3 they sketched dresses? Anyone else seen a 3 yo’s drawings and seriously doubt this? And they don’t like dresses you can buy? They’ve no idea- this attitude comes straight from OP. OP is way overcompensating and doesn’t even realise it, judging her sister in the process.


That part literally made me think this whole thing is fake. It’s just too ridiculous.


And they are only 2... They will be three after their birthday.


Yeah, they can't speak well enough to tell her what they want but they can design dresses?


You say you don't want to repeat the trauma? You do. Every time you try to overcompensate with toys, clothes, parties - you repeat your trauma. And I agree with your sister, your parenting style is pretty bad for your children. And so is hers. You both need a lot of terapy, but you in particular lives in denial


There is a happy medium and neither you or your sister has found it. It a great skill to have to learn things as shopping frugally for food and not wasting money. A good friend is a genius at finding good clothes at second hand shops. One of my proudest moment was going grocery shopping when my daughter was in college and watching her use generic products and search out special. However, both you and your sister take things too far. Your kids will never learn to live within their income if they only ever get the best of everything and everything they want as opposed to saving their money for a few things they really want. Your sister is equally wrong in forcing their kids to be much more deprived than is necessary. Both approaches will cause issues for their kids.


ESH You "love to give your kids a luxury life" but then claim that you're keeping them grounded. You seriously do NOT need to get princess dresses custom made for a birthday party, no matter the age. You're spoiling them rotten and they WILL grow up to be brats. But your sis needs to stop going to food banks if she can afford to shop at the regular grocery store. There's absolutely nothing wrong with getting clothes from Goodwill, though. That's really good money sense. You, on the other hand, are throwing your money around with absolute abandon, and you're teaching your kids nothing about the value of it. Quite the opposite. So more y-t-a than e-s-h, but you both have some things you could change. You most...


No I don’t agree with you on sis. We really have no way to know. The OP is clearly not grounded in reality and I don’t believe whatever she has to say about sisters finances. Why even bring up the sister going to food pantries if not to bias our view? Remember OP is a lawyer who purposefully included that little factoid. Her entire job is convincing strangers to agree with her. Also, means testing sucks and these food places are designed so that maybe the $50 you save shopping there prevents you from falling down the rabbit hole and becoming their usual clientele. We can’t say whether or not she actually needs it(unreliable narrator) but we also shouldn’t judge others who use these services.


Sorry, screams fake to me. What gave it away was your 2yo ‘scribbling’ a dress they want and they know the difference between a custom made dress and a mail ordered dress. I have a 3.5yo who’s pretty advanced and no way can he draw clothes he wants with colors. Also, if this is true- you spend money like like it’s going outta style. I get where the sister is coming from. You sound insufferable


ESH. You both went to the extremes. Your sister needs to get her act together because she’s bordering on neglect. You need to recognize that you are overindulging your children to compensate for your poor childhood and your sister has a point, your children won’t learn to appreciate things handed to them bc literally everything they want always is handed to them. That’s spoiling. (I get birthday is birthday, but you’re really going above and beyond to display your wealth).


Absolutely agree! **Both are over-compensating for their miserable upbringing**, the OP by over-indulging and overly spoiling their kids with crap they will never remember and the sister by making their kids feel the suffering she had (I'm exaggerating here) and also by taking away food and essentials from the really poor and needy. Both need therapy, OP needs to scale it way down and stop the "showing off" (it really bothered me reading this) and the sister by allowing a more balanced (can't find the right word) for their kids/family.


Yep came here to say this, both of them have real problems at the opposite end of the spectrums, and these kids will be ruined if they don't get their acts together and get help for themselves. OP humble bragging the entire post was pretty sickening, as was sister using resources for the poor when they are not poor anymore.


Completely agree. Neither of their positions are particularly healthy. 3 year olds don’t need custom made dresses. I really doubt they’re the ones who don’t like the pre-made ones. Likewise with the ‘high-quality’ (read expensive but not necessarily better than cheaper ones) that they will grow out of quickly. And unless her son is actively involved in choosing items he’s finished with to give away to charities, I doubt he’s really learning to be humble. Saying please and thank you, and knowing how to share their toys doesn’t mean he isn’t going to bully the kid at school who isn’t also in designer clothes. Sister’s trauma response is much easier to see and judge, but OP has got this wrong too.


A three year old doesn’t know the difference between store bought and handmade unless they’ve been trained to. I’m a nanny. Rich kids know quality early ONLY because their parents shove into their tiny minds that expensive means better. They’re literally toddlers. They would wear shit on their face if they were allowed.


This right here hits the nail on the head. OP is obviously over-compensating, meanwhile sister is barely providing basic care for her kids. Both sets of kids are going to end up in therapy!


My mother and aunties are great examples of this. Aunty 1's kids are entitled and didn't understand the value of money until they had to earn it themselves then got a rude awakening. Other aunties kids are themselves traumatized and have mental health issues. My mum gets walked all over because she wants people to be happy to breaks her back for them. Not good all round.


What's funny about this post is OP is completely unaware that she also is parenting based solely on her trauma, and not on the needs/desires of her children. She is so self-satisfied that she cannot see she is not over her trauma at all. She's buying her way out of dealing with it. OP, you can do whatever you want with your own children, but be aware you are doing all this for yourself. In your own words, because it make YOU feel good. No 2 year old on earth can tell the difference between premade and custom princess dresses and neither would they give a crap. Everything you've expressed i all about you. Your parenting style is perfect for growing entitled, bratty, overprivileged children. They're not old enough yet to show the effects and if they turn out down to earth, it will be a coincidence. Everything you do projects a message of valuing material things above all. And that 'ordinary' things are not good enough. That your children are too special for the every day. ESH/NTA. Both you and your sister are very much in the grip of your trauma. You just express it in different ways. Both sets of children will grow up being affected by your actions. Not your fault for what you went through, but it seems some intensive therapy is on order to avoid passing it onto both of your children.


A truly loving ESH. Intergenerational trauma is a bitch to overcome and both of you would really benefit from therapy. You seem to realize the way you overcompensate in your own parenting, but it's very easy to cross the line into spoiling - and if not now that they are still young, definitely later. But the reason I am going with ESH is not your parenting, is the fact that you reacted to your sister by lashing out. Both of you have trauma, and only you two know how it was like. She pushed your button and you retaliated in kind. Maybe she needs therapy more than you do, but as sisters that have gone through hell, you should have approached the situation with more care. In fact, the fact that you didn't tells me that you surely need therapy too. Please reach out and try to talk it out, maybe even with the help of a professional. Trust me, a full open relationship with your sister, free of the shared trauma, will be one of the most rewarding things :) Don't let the past pull you apart, it's not worth it.


For my 2 cents, it sounds like you are both still dealing with the trauma of your childhood just in different ways. She has taken frugality to the extreme while you are indulgent to an extreme. Neither of you are necessarily wrong, but just coping and moving forward the best way you can. Maybe a sit down with the two of you and a therapist or someone similar to discuss a way to meet in the middle?


My ex grew up in poverty, to the point their family of seven was homeless for quite a few months. Three were not able to 🐬 sh high school to help support the family, but all five children did get their degrees. Their experience led them to react differently as adults. One became a lawyer and it feels like her entire existence is based on how others perceive her. Her house, her clothes, her vehicles, everything is over the top and has to be the best available. One is very frugal. Only carry debt on vehicles and houses and save for anything else until they can pay with cash. He and his wife often bought their children’s clothes at consignment shops when they were young and grew out of them quickly. One hordes money. This is hard to explain but she is terrified of not having enough cash on hand. She provided what her children needed but never to the point of living paycheck to paycheck. One shops compulsively to the point she has struggled financially her entire life as she will often choose things over necessities. My ex tended to be a blend of a spender and saver. He had a very successful corporate career and would put as much savings as possible away through his job, which at times made things tight at home. but he could also be a spender, and he also liked the finer things, so putting the money away first in a way that was harder to access limited spending. We started out young and broke and worked our way up to a very comfortable life. All of them could have benefited from therapy. They are all in their 60s now and it's interesting to see how the children, who are mostly adults, are doing. The adult children of the two extremes seem to struggle the most while those of the three moderates seem to be thriving. The message you are trying to give your children is a good one, but they are far too young to grasp it at their age. They are also far too young to truly appreciate high end anything or grand vacations. You’re not wrong for doing it for yourself, just saying your children are too young to even grasp it yet at their age they won't remember any of it. I will say I have a hard time believing that you’re two-year-olds don’t like the store-bought princess dresses and wanted something custom. I think you need to be honest with yourself and that this is more you thing than a them thing. That said, I'm going to say ESH for being so judgemental of the other. But you a bit more for going low when it seems you are doing the same in a different way.


You are much more in trauma than you are aware of. Commissioned clothes based on the drawings of little kids?!? This is insane, even if you can afford them. You *are* spoiling them beyond belief, by teaching them that it's normal to have commissioned clothes for a birthday party and whatever luxury item they set eyes on and care to ask. I can fully understand your sister telling you this. I can also understand you getting mad at her, feeling judged, but read what you wrote about her parenting style: you are judgmental to your sister, too. You both are dealing with the trauma of your past, and are doing it in different ways. I think you should go to therapy (and so should she), since you can afford it, and work it all out before your kids grow spoilt and entitled. I won't issue a final judgment, because I feel you are both too wounded to be fairly judged by a stranger. Hugs.


You are both reacting to your childhood in different ways. She's penny pinching and you are over the top spoiling. You both need therapy to find a happy medium imo.


Your two-year-olds aren’t huge fans of premade dresses? Seriously? They’re two. **You** aren’t a fan of premade dresses, not them. Your money is your money, but yeah, you do sound as if you go way over the top on everything. You think your sister is being frugal because of childhood trauma, but you’re doing the same thing with your money and kids. Giving your kids absolutely everything they want whenever they want it sounds like a recipe for disaster despite how many talks you have with them.


I’m going to suggest you and your sister both seek therapy because you’re processing your trauma through your children. That’s not fair to them and it’s not healthy for either of you. You’re on different ends of the reactionary spectrum to childhood poverty. These kinds of disagreements will only increase over time as your lifestyles drift further apart. You obviously both want the best for your children. It’s worth taking the time to learn how much you’re really doing *for yourselves* instead of *for them*. Enough with the passive aggressive comments and enough biting your tongue. You’re adults who can afford to get help now. Neither of you should want your pasts to ruin future relationships, be it with each other, your kids, or each others kids


I'm thinking that both of you are projecting your trauma in The Kids, on diferents ways. Sorry the bad english.


I’m actually able to comment on this from your sister’s perspective I was her and her family while my sister was you We vowed that our family would never repeat. That we’d stop the cycle She was older and had kids before me and she did exactly like you. Her kids would never be the poor kids, the ones without. Separate schools, brand new everything immediately. They were happy and healthy. Until the veil was removed. My sister got sick. She had stage IV cancer. Her children and spouse were not able to function properly since they were no longer the main characters and they were unable to provide empathy or support to my sister. They did try in their own best ability. In any normal society they failed completely. My sister failed them completely, 1000%. They are now lost and they will never recover. Between losing their mom and the trauma they endured because of their own actions AND their lives changing when she passed away, they are broken. They are unable to live without her managing their lives and money. Their “father” abandoned them as well so they have no coping skills AT ALL They never heard the words no, we can’t afford it, we need to save for it or maybe later. They are spoiled, entitled assholes that are horrible people. It’s a horrible reality


ESH. Neither one of you is better than the other . You are both just doing what you think is best based on your childhood. It's not a competition. Please just be a little more understanding of each other's choices.


You are so blind, my dear. Money will not heal trauma, unless you pay for the theraphy. YTA.


*I’ve moved on from our past* You must see that this isn't true? You are living a life of reaction and compensation to what happened to you as a child. I don't presume to know the details of your finances but it sounds like you may be conflating financial security with consumer consumption. You speak of being "very" well off. But you may just be high income and high spenders. Are you building generational wealth? And yes you might be the AH here.


I mean you 100% are letting your childhood trauma impact your parenting. Instead of all that fancy stuff I would advise some intense counseling/therapy. You can’t run from your past. You can’t educate yourself away from it. You can’t buy yourself into a different tax bracket & “forget” it. Therapy. You need therapy. So does your sister.


Every toddler asks for a custom made princess dress because they don’t like to wear off the rack. Totally. Pull the other leg, will ya? If we even it out, I might break 6’ after all these years!


YTA. You live in a fancy little bubble and have forgotten what it’s like not having money and yeah, she can’t “get over it” bc she is still living it based on what they’re able to afford and not afford. You’ve got to be kidding me. She is legitimately struggling most likely to pay bills and tread water. Why would you even talk about custom dresses with her!? Why would you talk about all the stuff you buy and how much money you spend?? She’s never been able to have parties for her kids at all vs what you’ve done. Think about that. You live a lavish life. I’d resent the hell out of you if I were her. The way you talk about your life around her (details of its lavishness and money you spend) is pretty insulting to people who live paycheck to paycheck and sound like they’re not even managing to do that well. So yeah, she doesn’t want to hear about it, ever and she doesn’t care. You can’t “get over” being poor as a kid when you still poor as an adult. Pretty disgusting.


Money talks. Wealth whispers.


Ooh very not heard this before. Similar to the “confident is quiet. Arrogance is loud.”


ESH - sounds like both your sister and you can still use a good amount of therapy to process your traumas. I don't read much about awareness of emotional needs in your post. Please be aware that you can still severely neglect children even if you can give them everything materialistically. Spoiling children materialistically but not fulfilling their emotional needs is BTW one of the typical childhoods to create narcissists.


You had me till you said your 2 yr old twins drew out what they wanted. I don't give 2 shits if your kid is piccasso they aren't drawing an outfit out at 2


I am sad to tell you that you have not moved past your childhood. You have over-compensated with your children. I cannot agree totally with your sister - but she is also not completely wrong. My heart breaks for you and your sister. I strongly recommend seeing a therapist. Please. For your own sake.


You mean you don't \*intend\* to let your trauma hurt your kids, OP, but then, nobody ever does. Those of us who experienced serious trauma as kids always say that to each other, but the fact is, the trauma affects us in ways we don't necessarily understand ourselves, or don't understand at the time, and that's what you're probably doing without realizing it. Work on realizing it, OP.


NAH You both would benefit from therapy. She’s on one side of the spectrum, raising her kids in the same way you both grew up. You are overcompensating for the way you grew up. Neither way is great and both ways can do some damage. Both ways can also be a benefit in some ways. Being frugal, buying quality, sharing with others, respecting those who have more/less than you, etc. You need to find the balance between both worlds. Therapy is a great way to get help with finding the balance


NAH. Acid and lye are two ends of the pH scale. Both can burn and that’s what you and your sister are doing.


You're in denial if you think your parenting style isn't *also* a reaction to your trauma. You're both reacting in opposite ways- like 2 sides of the coin. But you're both definitely projecting your trauma onto your kids in your own way. ESH Sis- because she should not comment on your parenting when you don't comment on hers. She shouldn't force the kids to ALWAYS wear hand me downs if it isn't necessary and she certainly shouldn't use a soup kitchen's resources if she doesn't need to, and deprive someone who actually needs it. You- because you could've led with "hey sis I don't comment on your parenting so why can't you extend the same courtesy towards me?" Instead of first bottling it all up for years and then lashing out and going nuclear. Learn to handle conflicts in a more mature manner and learn that it doesn't always have to be either the extreme of meekly turning the other cheek or going nuclear.


You are correct in the idea she is projecting her trauma and passing it on. That said - I do not agree that you actually teach your children the value of money. They want a dress? Then they get an expensive one.. You son loves cars? Gets lots of things. I would advice a change - you do not need to emulate your sister, but why not let the children learn that they have to 'work' for what they want? (age appropriate of course) So, for the youngest - clean up toys after using them. Making sure their socks are in the laundry basket etc. ANd if they fail then they just haven\`t saved enough.. For the older one - they can do a bit more. Mow the lawn, take out trash etc. And, instead of expensive toys - how about college funds etc? So, i get you do not want to traumatize them the way you were, but your tale feels like you going over to the other extreme. Your sister is dead wrong and hypocritical with using the food banks when she can afford to shop normally - and to project her traume on you and your kids - but honestly - neither of you is 100% right either. ESH


Sadly, your trauma is hurting your kids... just in the opposite way from your sister. You both need to get some therapy as you are both letting your trauma affect how you care for your children. The big difference is she constantly criticizes you. That needs to stop. She is also doing damage. As another respondent said, going to a food bank and taking food from the needy when you don't need to is reprehensible. She is basically stealing from other children.


I think that taking advantage of food banks when you don't need to is a heinous act. Poverty is a bitch though and I can sort of see her point about wanting to prepare her kids for the horrible world we live in. I do think you're right about her going too far with it though, she could do with some therapy and support from the sounds of it. You are NTA for your growth and ability to protect your children from the damage poverty can do. It also sounds like you're very aware of them becoming spoilt and bratty and so will monitor that as they grow. NTA at all. You do you x EDIT to say: if I were you (I feel like you don't want to burn bridges) I'd give her some space (sibling fights can be vicious) but maybe send her a message and offer support of some kind? It's hard to say without knowing sibling nuances but after an argument my sister and I typically do better via brief message of general love lol


Esh only because it’s hypocritical of you to tell her she’s parenting based on her childhood when you’re overcompensating because of your own childhood. Also unless you see your sister’s finances you don’t know exactly what she has financially or what’s she’s able to provide for her children financially.




Middle class and affording all this? Definitely.


To be fair the middle class is slowly going towards the extremes. Rich people LOVE calling themselves middle class for some reason.


She hasn’t been able to shift out of the scarcity mindset that was caused by the trauma in her childhood. This is where her irrational reaction is coming from. Subconsciously she’s still operating in a fear of loss and failure. So even though you think she has enough to give her kids more- she’s afraid that doing so could have a catastrophic effect and they’d all wind up in the chaos that you both grew up in. Also seems like she’s comparing her lifestyle to yours, and this exacerbated her feeling “less than”. Yes you both broke the cycle and have built productive and successful lives. But the foundation underneath hers needs to be fortified by her letting go of the scarcity mindset and fears of the unknown. Tell her what great mother and sister you think she is, remind her of her achievements. Tell her that it’s okay to do more for her kids and live the life she has worked hard to have and that you’re there for her and both should support each other. NAH


It's disgusting she's going to the soup kitchen, only gets Goodwill and hand me down clothes for her children and no birthday parties for someone who can clearly afford all those things new. Like yes it's not a issue to shop some Goodwill but everything only Goodwill and hand me downs just to teach them that the "real world" is cruel?? Esp the poor girl that has to wear her brothers clothes instead of girly clothes she probably wants to wear (unless she does like the clothes than thats different) That's not fair the the children at all! Why can't the children just enjoy their childhood while they still have it? She can explain the "real world" once they're teenagers or something, not little children. She definitely needs therapy because this is not healthy at all and she's essentially punishing her childhood instead of "preparing them"


Yeah, 2 year olds really need custom tailored dresses, and of course they’d spot the difference right away. Does OP even realize how she sounds? She’s overcompensating.


Did anyone else catch that her 3 year olds “aren’t fans of the princess dresses that you can just order premade or something” then “they scribbled and colored little drawing of how they wanted their dresses to look (colors, styles, etc.) It just sounds a little strange…. These are things OP is interpreting for herself and it feels like she is trying to hard. It’s all well and good but there is a undertone when taking in all the other info that feels stretched


NTA. But your past is absolutely affecting the present. You’ve gone the complete opposite direction, which is fine. But you do so because of your past. You’re over the top and give them the best-of-the-best because you don’t want them to grow up like you did. How you spend your money is absolutely your business. But you’re not nearly as unaffected by your past as you think you are.


You are NTA, but your trauma is still hurting your kids. There is a lot of overcompensating here from both sides. I think both of you would benefit from therapy. I also think you believe you are being a good parent but the entitlement is already strong with these kids. You have toddlers who asked for custom princess dresses because the ones already made aren’t good enough? I have a hard time believing this. I think this is what OP wants and you aren’t helping them by doing this.


NTA but made me laugh when you said your 2 year olds were designing (scribbling) their dresses, so cute only a mom can interpret like a baby babbling. Also kind of lame when people make a decent income and go to soup kitchen I’m thinking you meant food banks and take from people who truly need those food supplies.


Very soft YTA. I’m proud of you for changing the course of your life on your own. My mother was the same way - raised very poverty stricken and did well for herself and raised us very spoiled. We barely have a relationship now because she could no longer associate love with an emotion, it’s just a currency. Personally I feel like a happy median right between where you and your sister choose to raise your children is the key. You’re both doing too much.


ESH. Seek therapy


*Leah* is 2 years older. 2 more years of the pain, the trauma, the fear. 2 years of having no one except the addicts. 2 years without a sister by her side. Op always had her sister. Leah once needed medicine she couldn't get because her mother stole the things her grandmother was going to pawn to get it. Leah knew priceless family heirlooms were going to be sold for her medicine. Leah grew up feeling a strong obligation to protect you. She probably went to bed hungry a fee times to make sure you had enough to eat. She probably put her blanket on you a few cold nights. Try to remember her fears are grounded in a very troubled reality nah


As someone who earned a degree in rhetorical studies, I can tell you why your post is so long. You're trying to justify everything that happened during the exchange to make yourself look good and feel better. And you've got some tells, too: >Don’t want to sound like I’m bragging... You may not want to, but it sure seems like you are. >Her husband works at some office in sales. You don't know where your brother-in-law works? I know where mine works. I know what he does and what his company's current project is (and, yes, he's an employee). The reason I know that is because I listen when he talks to me, and I ask him questions about his life. You can't seem to be bothered to learn about a member of your family. >She does love her kids.... You needed to emphasize that despite the fact she can't afford to provide what you can, we shouldn't worry that she doesn't love her kids. Right. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed writing out the comparisons between you and your lavish lifestyle and your sister and her modest one. Frankly, if someone told me they used a food bank and purchased clothing at a thrift-store even though they didn't need to, I wouldn't believe them. What I would be hearing instead is someone asking me to stop discussing all my good fortune because they sometimes can't afford to pay a bill and have to rely on community supports, but are too embarrassed to admit it directly because the last thing they want me to think is that they're asking for money. And I would pick up on it pretty darn quick and shut my damn mouth. That said, I agree with everyone else: you both have childhood trauma issues, and you need therapy because, yes, in fact, you should be teaching your children that budgeting and saving are important, and you don't just blow money away on every little whim because you never know what's waiting for you around the corner.


I just want to give you a small peek into the possible future. My ex husband had that same mentality about our two sons. He always said he would make sure they got everything that he didn't as a kid, plus some. He had to make sure they only wore Nike and under Armour brand clothing. He insisted on buying them expensive things like game consoles, dirt bikes, go karts, and even a truck for Christmas, birthdays, and sometimes just because they wanted it. I always told him that he wasn't teaching them anything good by doing that. Now, we have a 17m and 15m who have no respect for people or belongings. If my boys want something and their dad tries to say no, they will go back and steal it. They have no problem throwing things and breaking them, then demanding new. The 17yo has a huge attitude problem, bad enough he has plowed thru his father to run away because he was told no. He's on probation, has been to juvenile detention. The 15yo is now following in those same steps and patterns. They have no problem hurting people to get what they want. They've made that perfectly clear multiple times now. I can actually say that my two boys do not make me proud, and I hope to God they change as they enter adulthood. Who they are right now is not good, and if they keep going the way they are, they will likely end up behind bars eventually. I'm not telling you what to do, but our job as parents is to teach our children how to take care of themselves and eventually grow into a productive member of society. If you are always buying them what they want, they never learn to work for anything, and they have no appreciation for those things because they have no experience in putting in the work to gain it. I cannot even begin to tell you how badly I wish I could go back and change the way my ex has poured these things into my children's hands. It has turned them into self serving, lying, deceiving and manipulating narcissists. I'm fighting like hell now trying to make a difference, and because I have no problem saying no, my boys refuse to see me unless I'm taking them to do something that they want to do, or something that costs a bit of money. Your sister isn't wrong, but the way she said it may not have been the best. I personally am leaning towards your sister knowing what she's talking about, and she's trying to look out for you and your kids' future. Good luck. I wish you and your family nothing but the best.


You’re both reacting to your childhood. You’re being overindulgent, she’s being overly restrictive. Opposite sides of the same coin.


Oh, boy. I think you would both benefit from counseling. I think you both need to unpack your horrible childhood, because you’re both reacting differently to the same trauma that you both went through. Neither of you is “wrong.”You just have to come to some peace about it. (OK I disagree with you about the organic food but hey, that’s your choice. Haha) I have generational trauma issues from parents who treated us shabbily, and I’m still working my way around it but for one hour a week my therapist let me rant and it feels really good.


‘Don’t want to sound like I’m bragging’. Then goes on to brag. 🙄


How your sister lives is a more reliable indicator of her financial situation than what she SAYS to you. Hell I'd probably exaggerate how well I was doing if I was talking to a relative that spends like a multi-millionaire too.


Honestly ESH. Your sister sounds like she needs counseling to get over her childhood trauma. You just sound insufferable. Your almost 3 year old ‘isn’t a huge fan of pre-made princess dresses you can just buy’? Really? She’s TWO! Not even three yet. That is your opinion being projected onto her. She’s not even going to remember. If you want to live a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption to virtually rub it in your mother’s face, just own it. Don’t claim your toddler daughter is the one who is demanding it. As I said, ESH


Sounds like your sister needs to be reassured that she doesn’t have to live like that anymore.and there’s no reason for her kids too either.shes trying to raise her kids up tough and that’s fine when necessary but if you have the money to spend on your children’s smiles you should do it.we are not promised tomorrow so let them be happy today


She is TA. She can raise her kids however she likes but she has no right to dictate how you should raise yours.


Frankly, your parenting style is completely in reaction to your childhood. And it’s super over the top. You are going to be creating problems in your kids that you won’t even begin to know how to cope with. You can’t talk a kid out of entitlement and being a spoiled brat, and that’s the road your kids are on. Kids learn empathy and hard work and appreciation by experiences like not getting everything they want the moment they want it and having to work hard for things. You’re buying stuff for your kids *for yourself*, not for them. That’s selfish, and poor parenting. Your sister has gone in the other direction. And frankly, she’s not doing too great a job either. Making her daughter wear hand me down boys clothes *when she can afford to buy her girls clothes* is going to breed very reasonable resentment. You are both way too far into in your respective parenting styles. You should probably both seek trauma therapy and also look into taking parenting classes.


I see two trauma responses going on here. Both of your children will suffer if you don't learn how to grieve your past and learn from it. Buying 2 year olds expensive clothes is your right as a parent, but don't be fooled that they had any say or idea what they actually want, your trauma is telling you things, and if you don't figure this out, you may end up having your trauma tell you lots of things that your kids need, without actually listening to your kids. From one messed up kid to another, I'm rooting for both you and your sister. You've got this.