Bad Mom Advice: Selfish Step-kids And Picky Eating Toddlers

largeWelcome to my weekly Bad Mom Advice column where I attempt to answer all of your parenting questions as only I know how — with zero degree in early childhood development, but with the experience of raising four kids and not having any of them in prison – yet! Plus, I back all my advice on numerous scientific research, which may or may not include me making fun of your dumb kid behind your back and drinking a bunch of wine! Welcome to Bad Mom Advice!

I have two teenaged step-daughters. Their father and I disagree on something pretty big – what we buy for them vs. what they should have to buy for themselves.We don’t make a lot of money. Right now, the girls have fancier make-up, clothes, bras, panties, socks… everything! than I do. I don’t buy myself hair product because it’s expensive, yet the girls expect me to shell out for their spray gel so they can scrunch their hair sometimes. They don’t want cheap shampoo, and I’m tired of them saying, “I lost my eyeliner, so I’ll need some more please.”When I was growing up, I got the essentials. Every year, Mom would buy me school clothes with socks (plain white ones), panties (usually the 10-pack Fruit of the Loom), two bras (one white, one black – although the black one was a huge deal), and one pair of shoes. If I wanted something beyond that, I paid for it myself.If I wanted different shampoo than what my mother used, I had to buy it. If I wanted special hair product, I bought it. My mother would have laughed so hard if I had asked her to buy me makeup.So… who’s right here? I’m feeling awfully resentful, because frankly, I’m tired of sacrificing. Does that make me a horrible mom? (For the record, I would feel the same way with my own kids – they just aren’t old enough yet. )


(Please keep me anonymous! I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)

Awwww, we will keep you Anonymous but we all want your husband’s Email address so we can give him the word on this! You are so NOT a terrible mom and I would be resentful too. It isn’t fair that the stepdaughters get the fancy stuff and you don’t. Why do you think Cinderella‘s stepmom is such a raging bitchface?
Target or drugstore gift cards so they can buy “fancier” stuff. The main difference in store brand versus high end toiletries is fragrance. And packaging. When my kids were little my husband took one of them to get their hair done at a salon. Like a 60 dollar haircut. FOR A CHILD. I lost my damn mind. Places that offer 12 haircuts see a LOT of customers, so they stylists get a ton of experience. A huge amount of their clientele is children. They are used to working with kids so they know how to cut kid’s hair. I would never bring my kid to an actual non-strip-mall salon to get their hair done. it’s stupid.I am an adult so I go to the nice salon where they give me a neck massage and Mimosas. Because I’m a grownass woman who works hard. I have some products I am weird about just because I really like they way they work on me, certain lipstick brands I like and foundation and all of that, but when I ran out of my typical Clinique face wash and my Philosophy moisturizer I bought good old Cetaphil at my local Walgreens and I LOVE it. I don’t think I will ever use anything else. It works like magic in removing my skanky old makeup and it costs something like seven bucks for a giant bottle. I keep hearing amazing things about E.L.F. cosmetics so I need to try those. They sell eyeshadow pallets for like three bucks a pop. Regardless, they should spend their own money on the bling. It’s that simple. It doesn’t make you a mean mom especially when money is tight.

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Toddlers are so stupid! It is so so easy to trick them. What you need to do is the muffin tin trick where you give them a wide array of finger foods all placed in cute little muffin pan liners so they think it’s some sort of buffet party. Will he eat a grilled cheese? All kids eat grilled cheese. Also, string cheese. If I kept parmesan in my house when my daughter was little she would eat the entire brick if I let her. Using teensy tiny cookie cutters to cut the slices into fancy shapes may help too. All kids at that age go through weird picky phases. As long as his doctor says he is thriving I wouldn’t worry too much. Offer a wide variety of foods and one day all he will eat are grapes and then you will have that to worry about! I also think giving kids choices and letting them help prepare their meals, even at a super young age, goes a long way towards helping them add more variety to their diets. Tell him he has to have at least three colors of things. Slice up some apples, sprinkle them with lemon juice, and stick them in a fridge container. Let him choose apples or carrots or sliced bananas in addition to his yogurt and bread. Never underestimate the power of dips. Most salad dressing can be cut with plain yogurt to make them less sodium-heavy and most toddlers love to dip veggies into things. Also, I notice with my kids that they will eat almost any vegetable if I roast it in the oven. They all hate Brussels sprouts but as soon as I roast them at 400 degrees with some balsamic and black pepper it’s like a giant tray of drugs. Same with cauliflower. I also never met a kid who didn’t LOVE caesar salad, I am not sure what it is but kids usually will eat that no problem. Especially when they add croutons themselves. I’m not taking about a traditional caesar with a coddled egg and anchovies, but just a simple one with lemon juice and garlic and store purchased dressing.   You could even buy one of those cheapy bag kits and let him add everything himself. He will be fiiiiine and one day be demanding you spend every minute baking him sea salt roasted kale like my monsters do.

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  • Emmali Lucia

    I need some bad friend advice and I need it stat.

    I’m going on vacation with my best friend, we love each other dearly but she’s the pickiest God Damn eater I have ever met in my entire life! I can’t have gluten, and she refuses to eat:
    I think she doesn’t like tomatoes

    But I think she’ll eat chicken. Should I just make mixed veggies with chicken every day? Or maybe just let her run free in the grocery stores and get what she wants and make her make dinner for us, but then what happens when she inevitably poisons me? Lol

    • Alex Lee

      Chicken is a good start. Plenty of directions to take chicken:
      Mexican – corn tortillas are gluten free

      Asian – same with rice-wrappers (watch out for the soy sauce)

      Italian – use a basil garlic pesto instead of a tomato-based red sauce. Bonus if you can find a gluten-free pasta to go with.

      There’s always bacon.
      Does fish also include shellfish or mussels?

      Eggs / frittatas – this is like a quiche but without the glutenous pie crust. Ham, eggs, cheese, possibly some asparagus go into this.

      Hope this helps

    • Chelsea

      Tell her you don’t feel like dealing with meal planning on vacation and want to get it over with now. Set a rough menu and make a rough shopping list. Then, offer to do the shopping yourself so that you can buy gluten-free versions of everything.
      And, just in case, take charge of the first dinner and make a huge portion of mixed veggies with chicken, so that in a pinch you can eat the leftovers.

    • Eve Vawter

      You guys are young and on vacation. You should eat french fries, booze, and the souls of young men.

    • Emmali Lucia

      But none of those are gluten free! D:

    • Paul White

      Isn’t true potato vodka or wine gluten free? I know that it rules out a lot of the hard liqours but surely ther’es SOME gluten free hard booze?

    • Emmali Lucia

      Oh there’s TONS of gluten free alcohol, when I hear booze I think of beer.

      I can have white or spiced rum, good tequila, potato vodka, corn bourbon, wine, brandy, grape vodka (Ciroc is supposed to be delicious, I haven’t tried it yet), there’s a whiskey made of sorghum, there’s also a potato gin out there, many of the apple ciders, there’s also a fairly large specialty market for gluten free beer in Oregon since we have close to 70% of the nations breweries here

    • Paul White

      I don’t accept anything under about 30% ABV as alcohol.

    • KatDuck

      There’s gluten in young men’s souls? Though, considering the average YM’s diet, I guess that makes sense…
      Damn. Going to have to eliminate those from my diet. Any idea on the gluten risk in sugar daddy souls?

    • moonie27

      How about you each just feed yourselves?

  • Momma425

    I’m not sure how old the teenage girls are- but it is never too early to get kids to start thinking about a budget.
    The mom needs to sit down with the dad and come up with a reasonable monthly budget for the girls’ clothes, beauty products, etc… Then, give the girls the money, and let them get what they want. I can guarantee that when they only have $20 to spend per month or whatever, they will stop losing eyeliner. And if they don’t want to switch to cheaper shampoo, they can get it, but that is going to mean that they are going to have to get jeans and underpants at target, not the Gap. If they run out of money, too bad so sad. Don’t give in or give them more- whining means grounded so nobody can see the fancy ass sh*t you insist on using anyway.
    Then, the girls learn:
    -The value of a dollar, because they are doing the shopping and get to see differences in cost.
    -They can learn for themselves what products are worth spending extra money for and what products are not.
    -They can learn how to balance a budget, which trust me, comes in handy when they go off to college or graduate from college and don’t have dad/mom there to hand them money whenever they need it. These are important skills to learn at a young age so that if they mess up now, it’s using V05 for a few days and going without mascara. If they mess up their budget later, it can mean messing up their credit scores, defalting on student loans, or missing rent payments and have more serious consequences.

    • Paul White

      that was exactly what I would say.
      I mean, there’s no reason to restrict your kid as much as the Anonymous Mom in the question was as a kid, unless money’s tight. But there’s a huge middle ground between “Sure, have 100 dollars of cosmetics a month” and “Welp, hope those bras work all year.”

    • Emmali Lucia

      There’s honestly no reason why bras can’t work all year if they treat them well. I have maybe 5 bras that I wear and I’ve had one of them for about two years now, wear them for no more than three days in a row, wash in delicates and hang to dry. If you buy good quality and it’s the right fit you should be good for a long time

    • Simone

      I’m sure Paul found that very helpful :)

  • ted3553

    I have run into the very same situation with my teenaged step daughters and what I started doing is that when they “need” something like make up or hair product, I give them an amount of money that I feel is suitable and they go buy what they “need”. It stopped them picking out the most expensive makeup or product there is-this way they actually look at prices. I also have no problem telling them or my husband that I work and therefore I can buy more expensive product if I want. When the girls pay for it, they are more than welcome to shop at Sephora.

  • AlexMMR

    I thought my mom had a pretty good solution to this issue. She wanted me to have the freedom to buy clothes when out shopping with friends, but didn’t want me buying a ton of crap I didn’t need, so I had a monthly clothing budget that was generally enough for about 2 items at most mall stores. How I spent that was up to me.

    Maybe every month you should give them gift cards to Target or something, or those prepaid Visas, and they can spend that how they wish and not bug you for more. That automatically sets a budget and puts the responsibility to live with their choices into their own hands.

    • KatDuck

      That’s what my parents did (though with cash rather than a card – I was raised in the olden days) and it worked almost too well. I was a total miser with my money and was able to pay for my first semester of college with my savings. Score! Sure, I wasn’t terribly stylish, but it was totally worth it and, as an underpaid adult (sigh, recession) I don’t feel at all deprived – I know what I can skimp on (conditioners) and what I need name brands for (shampoo, unfortunately.) Still thankful for that part of my parents’ wisdom.

  • Rachel Sea

    If money is tight, then the whole family needs to be on a budget. Dad is doing those girls a major disservice by not teaching them how to manage money. I say give each girl $20 a month to spend on luxuries, and see how fast they switch to Suave.

  • Ginny

    This kids have the life. I’m fifteen and the only things my parents pay for are my school supplies/fees and Kleenex since I always get bloody noses. I pay for my own clothes with my own money, I even buy my own dinner 70% of the time because they’re off working their butts off to keep us in our house and pay our bills. I work for all my money and I paid for a very good amount of what I own. I would love to not have to buy my own clothes, but my parents raised me to manage money well and teach me how to save. I know what’s important and what isn’t.

    • Eve Vawter

      Now I wanna start a kickstarter to buy you all the kleenex :(

    • Ginny

      XD. No, no, I have plenty of Kleenex!

    • evil stepmom

      I want a fund out there for Ginny. Every time one of my stepkids “needs” something I wouldn’t even buy for myself, I’d like to take part of that money and give it to Ginny!

  • Rose

    To the first q: Give those teens a cap on to how much $ you give them! Then if they use it up in 1 week, guess they’ll have to pony up for their own nail polish.

    2nd q: SMOOTHIES! I puree up a bunch of spinach, freeze it into ice cubes, then take one out and mix it into a smoothie with other fruit. Can’t taste it, I swear. I also will defrost one and mix it with applesauce and pour it into a reusable pouch. My son lives off of cheese, fruit, and rice chex. I hate having to ‘sneak’ him stuff, but I also want him to ingest some sort of vegetable.

  • JAN

    I have a child who doesn’t eat cheese in any way, shape or form. He never has. He eats plenty of other foods but refuses cheese, and yes, we’ve had him try different types and different ways but no joy. Since I’m a cheese lover I have wondered where he came from! My point is some people, including kids, don’t like cheese.

    • moonie27

      I hate cheese. Have for as long as I can remember. The smell makes me want to gag. (Though I liked peeling open the Kraft singles packets when I was a child.

  • KAytEvens

    I am 32, mom to a young son. It doesn’t feel like that long ago I was a teenager with my hand out. But I have something to say that one might not expect…. I *WISH* looking back, that my mom had taught me some financial responsibility.

    . I wasn’t a spoiled brat… I had to buy my own first car, AND wasn’t even allowed on their insurance. I didn’t get GAP jeans unless I wanted ONE pair I found on clearance, and that was ALL the new clothing for a while. But even though I wasn’t spoiled, I certainly wasn’t given direction, and now my financial state is a mess.

    I overdraft bank accounts like I’m trying to keep the banks in business. My home is in foreclosure, I have horrible credit (couldn’t buy a new car if I could afford it!!). Despite working hard, I can’t ever seem to remember that I’ve got an electronic debut coming out, or that atm’s have fees, or that a check written last month CAN bite you hard a month later… Its not just spoil them rotten OR teach them to be good with money. Just because you say no or set a limit, doesn’t teach financial responsibility. There’s more to it than that. Kids have to learn the value of a dollar, how to work for it, how to balance a bank account, what credit means and how easy it is to hurt yours… And so, so much more.

    Absolutely get the kids involved with buying their own products, set budgets and limits. Get them a student bank account and teach them how to use a debit card or check book responsibly. Let them over draft and pay the fees once. Make sure they know it means no lunch, no makeup, no mall trips for a few weeks…. Start ‘em YOUNG.

    • Kaytevens

      Oh, and P.S. Do explain that money is tight and you work for what you have, so you can have nice things once in a while. If they want nice things, they can wrk for them too. If not a job outside the home…make sure you aren’t giving them a budget unless they are doing chores for it. All you’re obligated to do is feed, clothe and house them. That doesn’t mean sushi, Abercrombie and a luxury 5-bedroom pad. If they don’t like what you can easily afford (hey, thrift stores have GREAT cheap finds…) then they can get jobs. Watch how fast their spending slows to a crawl!!!