My parents agreed to help my sister and I with college. I went to a state school and saved them a bunch of money. My sister went to a private liberal arts school that cost three times as much. Now she’s dropping out, and she’s convinced my parents to give her the equivalent of her last year of tuition as a “nest egg,” since they “would have spent that money on her anyway.” I think that’s completely unfair, and I resent my sister for manipulating my parents and them for giving in. How can I get over those feelings? I always play by the rules, and I feel like I’m being punished for it.


There’s a reason parents love falling back on that phrase, “You think this isn’t fair? Well life isn’t fair.” It’s because they’re right.

If you want to tally up what your parents have done for you versus your sister in dollars and cents, you’re right, they’re being “unfair” to you. But the other side of this coin is that you’re clearly more capable of navigating the world on your own than your sister is.

Just look at the facts: You chose college responsibly, while she went somewhere expensive though she clearly didn’t value that. You finished your education and are moving on to the next phase of life, she’s dropping out. You clearly have your shit together in ways she doesn’t yet, but also in ways she may never achieve.

In a cosmic way, your sister might be the one who got the short end of the stick; maybe because of her wiring, or maybe because your parents indulged her, she’s not nearly as capable and successful as you are.

If anything, that’s not something you should resent her for, it’s something you should feel lucky about.

Try seeing this problem not in the light of money, but in the light of your parents loving their children no matter what. Your sister needs help right now, and they’re in a position to provide it. They’re choosing to do so because they don’t want her to wind up in a bad place.

You don’t need their help right now, and I’d wager anything they’re extremely proud of you for that.

If you really can’t get over the money, why not go to your parents with a “responsible child” proposal: Ask if you can use a similar “gifted” sum towards a down payment (now or in the future) or further education. If they say no, tell them how you feel: You’d like to be rewarded for your good choices, and instead it feels like your sister is being rewarded for bad ones.

Or, better yet, stop focusing on the dollar amounts your parents can give you, and try to pay closer attention to the sort of support that really matters, the kind that made you the “good son” in the first place.