Home Perspectives Ask Ella Money doesn’t make you a mensch

Money doesn’t make you a mensch

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Dear Ella,
I love my daughter-in-law Jess, but can’t stand her parents. They’re extremely well-off. They have a huge house in the city, a vacation home in Florida, a cottage in Muskoka and they are always traveling and buying gifts for my grandchildren that I could never afford. I always feel like they look down on me, almost like they pity me. I’m a widow who lives on a pension with a bit of investment income. I manage nicely. When birthdays come around, I give things like books, or a toy – normal things.
At our holiday dinner, they announced they were taking my son, Murray, and his whole family on a Disney cruise over the winter break. I’m very happy they can enjoy a trip like that, but boy did I feel left out and inadequate. How do I handle this?
Wish I Had More Money

Dear Wish I Had More Money,
It can be challenging to bring together two families that have little in common.
The saying, “money is the root of all problems,” doesn’t really apply here though. Jess’s parents have done nothing wrong. They are sharing their wealth with their family. That’s what grandparents do.
Could they have been more sensitive, especially since you were sitting at the table and not invited on the cruise? I think so. There was no reason they had to make this grand announcement at that particular time and place. However, you have no control over what they do and say. You do have control over how you react and, maybe to a lesser extent, how you feel.
Jealousy is a very strong emotion. It can consume you. Don’t let this be the case here and refrain from making any passive aggressive comments like, “I hope you all have a great time.”
Murray is so blinded by the generosity of his in-laws that he hasn’t given any thought to how this made you feel. I’m sure this isn’t the first time this type of thing has happened and it probably won’t be the last. Perhaps if you have a good
relationship with your son, you could mention that it made you uncomfortable and maybe it will cause him to consider your feelings in the future.
As a grandparent, you do the best you can. Instead of money, you have heart. Use it. Spend time with your grandchildren. Read with them, invite them for a home-cooked meal, have sleepovers and play games. Take them to the zoo, the museum and the movies. Money doesn’t build relationships – love does. You don’t need money to express your love. Trust me when I tell you that they will notice.
Grandparenting isn’t a competition. Give all that you can of yourself. It’s a different kind of relationship, but no less rich.


Dear Ella,
I noticed something disturbing this week and wondered if I was the only one who was put off by stores asking me for a donation at the checkout. It happened to me three times in one day!
I was guilted into giving the first two times, but at the third checkout, I said “no, thank you,” and have been feeling regret ever since. I consider myself a charitable person, but I hate being put on the spot. I’m wondering if others feel this way, too?
Stop Asking for My Money

Dear Stop Asking for My Money
Checkout charities are a very successful way to fundraise. However, many people prefer more transparency when they give to charity. CBC Marketplace did a story on this topic. It said that 44 per cent of people feel pressure to give, 64 per cent refuse to give and other stats for embarrassment, inconvenience and anger emerged in the poll, as well. Most people would prefer to give to charity in their own way and not at the checkout counter, when they’re caught off guard. But that still leaves 36 per cent of people who do give. Multiply that toonie by thousands of customers every day and you have an extremely successful charitable campaign. Hopefully most of that money goes directly to the charity. Do what’s right for you.