Giving your kids everything they want all the time is spoiling them, but letting them buy things they need or want occasionally, especially if you can afford it, is not. The latter should not be considered a problem!

An internet user asked, “Am I a jerk? My wife and I got into a huge fight over a budget on the way to back-to-school shopping at the local mall.

She insisted we needed to adhere to a strict budget, I said we should get whatever the kids need/were drawn to. She hopped out of the car and walked home. I went shopping for 7 hours”.

What’s your take on the matter? Let us know in the comments section!


Child suffering from quarrels between parents in the family at home. Domestic violence and Family conflict concept. Sadness little girl against blured of mother fighting father with quarrel at home.
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The Original Poster (OP) is the breadwinner for their family and his wife stays at home. She is a few years older than OP and OP has always struggled with feeling like he reports to her.

She denies it strongly, but OP still feels that there is a power imbalance that she benefits from (even after 15 years of marriage).

OP’s Financial Status

Attractive man with long hair and beard holding 20 israel shekels banknotes smiling happy pointing with hand and finger
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They’ve done well over the years and have a net worth of $2m+. OP has a great job and they make $300k+/yr. OP’s wife is very frugal and not only doesn’t like spending money herself, but shames/pressures OP when he does.

She grew up in a poor family and spending doesn’t come easy for her.

“Not the worst problem to have in a spouse, I know!”, says OP.

What Happened When They Were Heading To The Mall?

toxic couple fight
Image Credit: Tirachard Kumtanom, Shutterstock.

But let’s hear OP out. They were heading to a large local mall with all of their kids to do school shopping when the topic of a budget came up. She was insisting that the budget for each kid should be $100.

OP suggested that they should be more flexible and get what the kids need + what the kids might want/be excited by.

“Why am I working as hard as I do if I can’t spend the money on my kids from time to time?”, asks OP.

The Laundry Excuse

3. couple fight
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They do not spoil their kids and back-to-school is pretty much the only time they get new stuff for their kids. She then changed tactics and claimed that it was her who does laundry and the kids already have enough clothes, so OP would have to do the additional laundry that would inevitably come with more clothes.

OP dugged in and said that since he is the breadwinner, and makes all of the money, he should have the right to spend it on his kids how he sees fit.

What Happened Next

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OP has never once in their entire marriage tried to control or restrict how she spends money, but she does it to OP all the time.

OP’s wife snapped and said “Fine, you can just go with the kids then and spend to your heart’s content. I don’t want to have anything to do with it.” and got out of the car at the next stop sign.

What Did OP Finally Do?

zoo girafee kids father travel
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OP begged her to get back in. OP turned around the car and gave her several opportunities to get back in and he offered to give her a ride.

She refused and literally walked 6 miles back home alone. OP was quite shocked that she would do that but proceeded to the mall where he spent seven hours shopping with the kids getting lots of great stuff for school.

OP definitely didn’t go overboard and spend like he was a celebrity, but they focused on getting what the kids needed with a healthy amount of things they wanted as well.

“Am I a jerk for digging in and insisting on spending however much was needed on my kids?”, asks OP.

$100? Does She Think It’s 1993?

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“$100 for back to school? Does she think it’s 1993? You can barely get one outfit for $100 nowadays. Not the jerk.

You guys do need to get on the same page though. Your children are watching you fight. Does she maybe have untreated anxiety?”

That’s Not What ‘Spoiling’ Means!

Image Credits: Roman Samborskyi, Shutterstock

“Not the jerk. As a teacher I would like to say that one of the most useful ways a parent can support a child academically is with good quality stationary.

For example, I have seen kids who find handwriting difficult, struggling to get the ink to flow well from a poor quality pen. Having everything they need working well removes a barrier to learning.

Throughout my kids’ school years I regularly asked them if anything needed replacing, or if they needed anything I had not thought of. Finally, supplying things for school could never be classified as ‘spoiling’.”

That’s Not A Valid Excuse!

looking angry, annoyed and frustrated
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“Growing up poorly doesn’t excuse her controlling, living on breadcrumbs and manipulative behavior. You make the money, you spend it.

You worked hard for it and your kids should be able to enjoy the wealth of their family and enjoy a happy and secure life. Not the jerk.”

She Needs Therapy

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“Not the jerk…she needs to get into therapy for her money insecurities…she doesn’t sound like a bad person but if you are sitting with 2 millions in the bank, back to school shopping with a $100 limit per kid is ridiculous. Hell! A pair of jeans at Walmart starts at $15 bucks…”

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