My kids' birthdays are driving my crazy.
I have an issue with birthday presents. I have two 8 year old sons. One we adopted last year, Tyler. My own son, Marshall, has a Wii and a ps2 and my adopted son feels left out that he doesn't own a game system of his own. Marshall got the ps2 before Tyler even came to live with us and we offered a Wii to Tyler for his birthday as well last year but he didn't want it. Now he has full access to all the game systems in the house, including my 360 when it isn't being shipped back to Microsoft, but there isn't one that he can call his own. Fair enough. He was rather down he didn't get a gamesystem for christmas so my wife promised him he could get any system for his birthday in May. He wants a 360, all is well and good. ....
However, Marshall heard of this and his birthday is in February, 3+ months before Tyler's, and he is upset because he wants a 360 for his birthday as well. I'm at a lost as to what to do at this point. in a perfect world, Tyler wouldn't have learned what he was getting for his birthday. I am concerned if I get Marshall any console for his birthday, Tyler will be disappointed at losing what he has built up in his mind as an arms race even when he gets his 360. I thought about just buying them a 360 now and saying its for both of them to share but I'm not sure that will help. I would like to get away from the console arms race because having 3 360s in the house is a little crazy.
So, I need ideas for Marshall's birthday and how to handle the situation with Tyler.
My one idea is after Tyler gets his 360, just giving Marshall my 360 because I'm done with it for the most part. However mine will be my 3rd refirb from microsoft so who knows how long that will last.
Sounds like your kids need some firm discipline for their birthdays!
That's was really helpfull.
Good you took the time out for posting that.
I don't really have anything to offer (but I'll try not to be a prick about it). What I would do is probably too late... but for stuff like that, I probably would make the systems belong to the family or give them as presents for all my kids.
In our home all game consoles belong to dad - but the kids get to share and use them (not whenever they want obviously).
Of course you're allready past that and your situation is really special with a new family member entering the family at that age. But the only solution I can offer is to make new rules. Make game systems part of the family to be shared... unless you also want to give them individual tv's to play on (perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't assume they allready have complete entertainment systems in their rooms at 8?).
Difficult, but I guess getting a new brother at 8 allready means you've hade to make changes and do things differently. The only other alternative is accepting the arms race and buying 2 of each untill they're old enough to buy their own - and I certainly couldn't afford that (and even with low US electronics prices it seems a waste).
Also they're bound to have a lot of games they'd rather play together anyway - that's how kids use consoles - so one would sit unused most of the time.
I think getting them one to share sends the right message. It's an expensive gift, it's asking a lot for them to each have their own. Sharing is a good thing for kids to learn (right?), and having them take turns or play games together is good bonding. On the flip side, you won't (or shouldn't) have too many fights over it, because if they're really in that mood, one of them can just play on yours. You can also get them a bunch of games with it, which they wouldn't have if they didn't team up (although this doesn't apply if you have or would have bought the games for yourself anyway; possibly not with kids that age, but who knows?).
I wouldn't worry about the "console arms race." I'm obviously no expert, but it strikes me that you're probably putting deeper thought into this than they are. And in any case, like I said, I think that having them share one will give them an opportunity to bond rather than be rivals.
When I was a kid my parents had the same problem, and like others have suggested they gave us a console to share. We all got our own controllers with our names stamped/melted in though which was nice.
It also forced us to be nice to each other, because if we had friends over you needed to borrow someones controller. When someone wanted to be a dick it was a pain though.
Apart from DS'es the game systems over here are also shared. Just works out for the best I feel. They learn a lot from having to share as others mentioned earlier.
I do understand your situation and its a tricky one. I've no clear/easy answer for you.
Console manufacturers' business models are built around these kind of situations. :)
Actually that sounds way too complicated for me. When one of our puppy dogs is jealous, we just push him away, haha. Why not just tell Marshall to deal with it? He has two consoles of his own, and Tyler has none. Then give Marshall yours later as you indicated.
Get him a stripper for his birthday and everyone's happy all around.
Seems like the best option.
Originally Posted by Morberis
I'm not exactly stern-minded when it comes to kids, but when they get a little too presumptuous/envious and lose sight of their present gifts it might be time to reel back expectations a little bit. Maybe time for a camping trip, or a visit to some of the more boring museums you can find.
I don't see what one son does with a Wii all his own, that system is built for multiplayer right? Ask them to share. Get your kid whose birthday is coming up a game both sons want to play, so they'll be forced to share the system. I recommend Mario Kart Wii. My 5 yr old brother had a blast with that when he stayed at my place a few months ago. He didn't even care if he was winning, he just enjoyed driving.
Wow... I would have never considered any console to be the sole domain of any one kid. Our consoles are hooked up in the living room - they are a 'family' thing. At the cost of a 360, it would be a b-day present for the both of em. You could give it at the 1.5mo point in between their birthdays to make it fair :)
Yeah, I'd take the sharing path, too. I'd have the honest talk with them that they should stop being possessive about these sorts of things... or just piss them both off and buy a PS3.
pawn all the consoles and get them an infinium lapboard to teach them a lesson.
How To Go
Hey needs his OWN game console?
Man, the times, they have a changed.
Walked uphill both ways to school, etc. i.e. my brothers and I all shared. Even toys!
Even as a guy who writes about videogames we only have one of each current console in the house for three boys under ten and one who turns 37 in less than a week.
Ok, I think my point might of not been clear. It's not that I'm worried about supply material goods. I'm worried about making my own kid and my adopted kid feel equally loved and avoid any appearance of favoritism. Tyler came into a house where everything belonged to someone else, and two consoles belonged to his brother. If I just put down my foot at this point and say everything is communal Tyler will ultimately feel less loved because the rules changed because of him (and also my wife already said he can get a 360 that will be his own).
In either case, in the future after these two birthdays we will only have shared consoles.
If it was me, I would still plan on getting Taylor a 360. Then, I'd just sit Marshall down and explain to him why Taylor is getting one, and why he won't be. He might be upset about it, but considering he already has two consoles, its something he'll have to get over. Anyway, its not like he doesn't have access to another 360 in the house, and you can always encourage playing together on all the consoles.
From what you've said, it seems to me that getting Marshall a 360 too would be really unfair towards Taylor, and only encourage more jealousy and possible resentment.
That's a tough situation. Not having ever been in that situation myself, it is hard to say what I'd do. Honestly, it wouldn't have occured to me that Tyler would feel 'less loved' because the rules changed to accommodate him - anymore than your other kid should feel less loved because he has to share with his new brother. Heck, a new baby changes the rules too (just takes more years for the results to really manifest though). I suppose my decision would be slightly influenced by the temperment of the kids themselves too... something only you and your wife will be able to judge.
The fact that promises have already been made counter to this though... doh. I wish you luck!
They should share. It should be impossible for them to have these childish jealousies over personal goods, and you shouldn't cater your behavior to satisfying it. Rules should change if rule changes are warranted, and if your kid doesn't feel loved enough, love him more.
You can't not tell someone "no", or otherwise let unrelated decisions degenerate into questions of which choice will make this or that child feel more or less loved, and by how much. If you allow it to become a competition, or treat love for your kids like something you can weigh on two sides of a scale, you will be miserable in the end.
Rob, I think you and your wife really should seek professional guidance on dealing with such disputes between the 'new' brothers. Sibling rivalry is normal, but it is decidedly unusual for an 8 year old to suddenly find himself, out of the blue, with a sibling of the same gender and age. This console issue may be merely a taste of what is to come.
Originally Posted by Rob_Merritt
I think its brave you two did this; when my wife and I looked at adoption we explicitly ruled out a child the same age as our daughter. But I think having a general idea of how to approach the inevitable disputes if vital going forward, and the input of a social worker or child psychologist is really what's needed here, not the input of a regulars at a gaming forum.
I'm not trying to be snarky or a troll. It's just that sometimes we need a hard whack up side the head. Here's yours!
Originally Posted by Rob_Merritt
The above two quotes were taken directly from your OP. THAT is the main source of your problem. You have to make these boys equal in your own mind so that you adjust all of your outward signals to communicate this to the boys. The problem has nothing to do with game consoles.
Originally Posted by Rob_Merritt
My mother-in-law, age 74 today, was adopted at age 12. During the time of her childhood, foster/adopted children were treated "differently" than children who were still living with birth parents. She has always felt inferior because of her 'adopted' status. Her older brother was the only person in her family to treat her as an equal. To this day she still has major personality issues because of it.
You have two sons... period. The only distinction between the two is their names. Never, ever, for any reason make any other distinction between them.
"This is my adopted daughter, Margot Tenenbaum." Royal always referred to her this way.
edit--but yeah, I'd expect that's just background rather than pointing at the Tenenbaum treatment. I also don't much believe in backseat-parenting (beyond the obvious like, hey, stop lighting your child on fire), but it does seem to me that letting the kids get into a console-equity arms race is a bad precedent to set.
Last edited by Drastic; 01-14-2009 at 08:46 AM.
I really don't think Rob was trying to put a distinction between his sons other than giving background on his dilemma.
If one of his son wasn't adopted, he won't be trying so hard to balance gifts for both his sons. it is because one of his son was adopted that it's even more important for parents to demonstrate that they are fair.
Just an outside opinion, if you start doing the "If I buy A a foozle, I must buy B a foozle as well" thing, you'll spend twice the cash, and teach the kids that sharing is dumb when they can just guilt you into getting them their very own foozle. Foozles are serious business.
Just so you don't thingk I'm being judgemental, I gave my older Daughter a DS, my younger one is able to use the DS, and wants one of her own, but she knows it's not going to happen any time soon. We're not doing it to be mean, it's just that we don't want to set the precedent that they both get 1 of each thing their sister gets. That, and spending all the money is just plain irresponsible. Not to mention that a 4 year old with a handheld that fragile is just asking for a broken toy, and an unhappy kid.
Here's what I'd do:
Originally Posted by Cubit
Get Taylor a 360, since that's been promised.
Talk to Marshall. Tell him he can have a 360 for his birthday, but, in order to get it, the existing consoles (PS2 and Wii) become family consoles. That way, he has his choice. It's not perfect, by any stretch, but it deals with the current dilemma while also setting the precendent for communal consoles in the future.
Also, the whole "own son" and "adopted son" was poorly worded (biological son and adopted son might have been better), but the fact that Taylor is adopted is key, for the reasons Rob identified -- he came into a house where there were already rules and possessions, and while we may not like those rules, it's often hard to change the rules of ownership midstream (see Russian Revolution). I don't think Rob was trying to show a level of differentiation in how he thinks of his sons, but to clearly identify them in a way that also explained why the difference did matter in this particular case.
All that said, Rob, congratulations and good on you for adopting. I recall from the one time we met that you and your wife were foster parents, too, right?
I don't think that Rob was trying to CONSCIOUSLY put a distinction between his sons, but I'm completely convinced that his SUBCONSCIOUS still carries that distinction. It's the subconscious actions, the one's we don't recognize, that will do the most harm.
Originally Posted by idrisz
If his subconscious had processed the idea that these two boys are both equal sons, then his posts on the topic would have been much more disjointed. The idea that there is a distinction would have been uncomfortable and foreign, and this fact would have manifested itself in the writing. His two posts were very "stream of conscious"... like most posts on a message board... and as such the distinctions between "adopted" and "my own" flowed too easily into this stream of consciousness.
Let me applaud Rob_Merritt and his wife for I have a great deal of respect for anyone who would bring another child in their family and give the child a good life and a fighting chance at a fantastic adulthood. I'm not being judgmental in my comments; I'm only pointing out the facts as I see them. Rob did say that this adoption is quite recent, and I don't think there has been enough time for all of the ramifications to have settled into his subconscious yet.
As I said before, my post wasn't to be trollish, but was intended as a friendly whack up side the head.
Your the parent, they're the children.
Game systems should not be "owned" by any one child just expressly for this reason - to avoid this problem. They should be considered the same as the TV in the family room - something that everyone uses and has to be shared.
Lay down the rules and that's that.
Beautiful. This seems like a great compromise in both cases, Rob.
Originally Posted by Aleck
Yeah, that's the rule in my house as well. Makes it easier to yank permission when needed and to demand better treatment for the consoles themselves.
Originally Posted by Hanzii
Rob, you may need to back off the console promise to avoid the arms race. I notice you didn't mention the availability of TV sets, is there a TV set available for each boy to have his own 360 setup, or are we going to have to take turns on the TV? If so, sharing a 360 makes sense since sharing a TV is necessary anyway.
However, you're running the risk of creating resentment about having a present co-opted by the competition. My boys aren't the same age, but they certainly are competitive and are constantly on the lookout for advantages the other ones might get that they don't have.
It might work to give the newly refurbed 360 to the boy whose b-day has already passed, aling with a lecture about being more clear about what we want during the proper time period to express our preferences the next time around. Then, a 360 arcade for the boy whose b-day is coming up. That keeps the outlay to $200, and if he wants a HD, there's always next year, Christmas, or earning money through chores, grades, etc.
If the refurb already has a hard drive, that could go a ways towards making the boy getting the established system happier with the situation.
Originally Posted by Grifman
Seriously, buying stuff like Xboxen for the birthdays of 8 year olds... and them focusing on value of goods converted to love already... you and your wife gotta head this off with both kids. Your family has changed, you're all gonna share, and you guys pull both kids into plenty of group fun stuff. I'd suggest board games, but I'm biased on that count.
Don't wait until "after this time." Make the family thing work.
I don't mean this to sound judgmental. Adoption is a great thing. But with an instant new family member, you've got a tougher challenge than most of us. This battle goes too deep to let it play out in materialism at age 8.
Your issue isn't about video games at all, and probably shouldnt have been posted in this forum. But regardless as a father of 2 very competitive boys that are close in age I feel your pain. And Im sure the additional wrinkle of having one adopted makes it very tough.
You have made some very rookie mistakes in promising anything for birthdays and letting one child know what the other one is getting. Crazy bad mistakes. Realize (as im sure you do) that both kids have a lot of anxiety about being loved and accepted by you. Its a situation every child deals with to varying degrees and Im sure half the board has some latent siblings jealousy about stuff like this. But your situation is much deeper.
My advice is to get out of the reactionary business. It is a sand trap that you will never escape from and it will only make things worse. Break with everything that has come before and start new. Hotly contested item like consoles have got to be either family gifts, or gifts to both of them, not to a specific kid.
I suspect that Marshall enjoys that their favored toys (the consoles) are his and lords it over Tyler. Not in a mean way, but in a way that every 8 year old boy would. When feelings are hurt and they feel territorial the ownership claims come out. Tyler meanwhile will always lose that fight and feel like a secondary citizen for it, like hes a guest at Marshall's house.
In the end I think you have to get Tyler the 360 and tell Marshall that he isn't going to get one. Stress that you will already have 2 360's in the house and you dont need 3. That Tyler will share his just like Marshall shares his Wii and PS2, and it will be nice for Tyler to have a console of his own too.
Make no mistake, it will hurt Marshall's feelings horribly. He may even act out for a little while. An 8 year old wants to win all the battles, and doesn't really understand why he cant have his way all the time. But in the end it will work out.
Make lots of attempts to do things together with the boys and to do things with each boy alone. In time it will work out. Try not to get caught in these kind of situations again.
edit: in general the above advice about consoles being shared is good if given from the beginning. But you cant go back and tell a child that his things are now shared.