womanqaQ. I have a Christmas bonus coming up and my kids have been begging me to buy them new laptops because they've both done well in school this past semester. My problem is that I've been behind on the mortgage for two months and with so many people going into foreclosure and my credit going down, I just don't think I can afford to spend on anything else but the house. My kids will never forgive me and I'm afraid they'll hold this against me, and stop trying in school if I don't reward them.

A. Families are supposed to work together for the good of the family. That's one basic rule that parents should teach their children from day one. It seems like you are the one in a submissive role and your kids' opinions intimidate you. An unhealthy balance of authority takes time to develop, and it will take time to undo, but it definitely can happen. Your children should be caring and considerate towards their parents, and care about the risk of losing the roof over their own heads! For you to teach them this you have to start somewhere, and explaining your situation and refusing to bow to their demands is a good way to begin. They will try to manipulate your feelings, (they've been doing that already) but you taking back your role of loving, wise authority over them and prayerfully standing firm in your decision will actually cause them to respect you more.

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