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Night Elf

Is this being a helicopter parent?

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Ds22 is bidding on an ebay item and said his top bid is $200. There are 20 minutes left in the auction and his bid is at $197.50. Someone will surely outbid him by that much. I wanted to bid more in the hopes he'll win the item. Dd21 told me to stay out of it that he'll need to eventually learn how to deal with disappointing situations and I'm not helping by continuing to help him. What say the hive? Should I increase the bid in hopes he'll win or leave it alone and let him lose?

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I think leave it alone. If he put his top bid in as $200, then changing it so that he spends more money than he wants to spend on the item isn't really helping him win. The system will automatically up it to $200 if needed and if someone outbids him, that's okay.

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DH just told me to leave it alone as well. Ugh, this hurts! I'm so used to trying to make things easier for my kids. Dd21 talks about me in counseling, for heaven's sake! 

Ok, I'll leave it alone. But the increments are $2.50 so he'll likely lose by that much unless the other 3 bidders are waiting until the last moment. I won't feel as bad if he loses by a lot, like $50. But if he loses by a couple of bucks, I'll be disappointed. I'm trying to be proud of him for at least trying to buy what he needs used rather than spending way more on a new item, but ebay is so iffy. He may learn he needs to increase his expectations.

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For another perspective, I would be so proud of my kid for sticking to the budget she set for herself and not going over just cause she wants it.  That's a great thing for young 20-somethings to be able to do.  

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Leave it alone. Try to think of it as a good thing that he's setting a budget, sticking to it, knows what he wants to spend on the item, knows what amount he has available to spend, etc. If he misses out on this item, unless it's some once-in-a-lifetime dream item that rarely comes around, there will be another one to bid on/buy elsewhere later, and he'll know, hmmm, I may have to spend $225 to get this.... 

It's nice that you want your kids not to be disappointed, and my oldest is only 21 (vs my youngest being that age, like yours) but I'm learning that they really do have to navigate these things themselves and interfering too much does end up hurting in the long run. 

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Well, okay. I do agree with y'all. He'll find something else and maybe at a lower price so he's not spending so much of his money. 

He bought an alternative at an electronics store in mid-April but this past weekend decided it wasn't what he really wanted. We couldn't find the receipt and he was willing to donate it to my thrift store. But it was $250! I didn't want him to lose that much money so we took it to the store and they were able to pull up his invoice and refund his money. Whew!

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And to answer the question in the header, Yes, this is one possible helicopter parent activity.

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My 19 and 21 year old sons both live on their own and manage their own money. I have nothing to do with it and only give advice if it is asked for, and even then they can take it or leave it. I can't imagine interfering with them learning how to "adult" unless it is a life or death situation. They are going to make mistakes. If the worst mistake they make is losing an auction on eBay by a few dollar because they were being too careful staying within their budget, I won't lose a wink of sleep over it.

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Think of it this way:  by stepping in and overriding what he's already done, you may undermine his efforts to become independent and able to do more things on his own. Learned helplessness is a real thing.  Is this some rare item that he absolutely needs for some reason and can't get anywhere else?   I would think also about why you are so invested in him getting this thing.

I assume it's all over now anyway.

Edited by marbel
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Yeah, this is helicoptery. For a 13yo, it would maybe be appropriate. But in their 20s? Why do you have any info about this at all, or access to be able to change a bid, or are involved in any way? That's full on grown up. I would have been very angry at my parents for messing with my finances at that age. 

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1 hour ago, Night Elf said:

DH just told me to leave it alone as well. Ugh, this hurts! I'm so used to trying to make things easier for my kids. Dd21 talks about me in counseling, for heaven's sake! 

Ok, I'll leave it alone. But the increments are $2.50 so he'll likely lose by that much unless the other 3 bidders are waiting until the last moment. I won't feel as bad if he loses by a lot, like $50. But if he loses by a couple of bucks, I'll be disappointed. I'm trying to be proud of him for at least trying to buy what he needs used rather than spending way more on a new item, but ebay is so iffy. He may learn he needs to increase his expectations.

 

This is how auctions work "It's -only $2.50" -- you have to realize that the person you're bidding against may really have been willing to go $50 more. It's just the automatic bidding process will only raise to one increment above the next highest bid.

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I know with his issues you've been a lot more involved than most parents typically are in his young adult years, but you need to let this one go.  This is just something he wants to buy.  He needs to make his own money decisions.  He can always ask for your help if he needs it, but you shouldn't step in just to make things easy.  

Edited by klmama
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My dad would think similar to you, he doesn’t want to see anyone disappointed. In the case of the eBay item, the natural consequences of losing the bid isn’t bad so I would think it is helicopter parenting. In the case of things like needed urgent medication, my husband had “nagged” the pharmacy on my behalf because the consequences are more dire.  My parents have to help my brother a lot more, the consequences are how we (relatives and friends) “judge” if it is helicopter parenting. 

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If you're willing to supplement his budget, set your own - "I'd like to help you get item, I'm willing to put up to $40." Don't change his bid or do it for him. Offer the gift you feel willing to give and then let him decide what to do... up his bid, try another seller, etc. Or turn you down.

But expect he's gonna use every penny of that extra $40 and consider it a gift. 

 

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36 minutes ago, MeaganS said:

Yeah, this is helicoptery. For a 13yo, it would maybe be appropriate. But in their 20s? Why do you have any info about this at all, or access to be able to change a bid, or are involved in any way? That's full on grown up. I would have been very angry at my parents for messing with my finances at that age. 

My ds has Aspergers and is probably more like a 17/18 year old. I still support him sort of scaffolding so that he can become independent. Yes, I do still help my kids a lot. I admit I'm a helicopter parent and I've gotten much better about it. I actually do not interfere in his finances. He makes his own decisions. He also pays for things on his own like medical, clothing, entertainment. He's living on his savings from his working a job in 2017 and I don't want him depleting that money. We have chosen to support our children while they are in college and I try to spend money on him to save his money as much as I can without going overboard. We spend a great deal more on his sister in college in another city. I actually intended to give him the money that went over his budget of $200. I wasn't trying to spend his money.

The ebay account is mine and the auction ended at a time he was still asleep. I offered to watch it for him. I didn't want him to wake up early just to watch that auction end. That seems silly.

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Since you poked in and looked at the situation, it may make sense to let him know and, if he isn't able to go online right now, offer to do it for him.  But it is his decision.  If he misses it, he misses it.  That's how ebay works.

But going forward, honestly I think it is helicopterish to monitor his bid, so I would stop doing that.

Honestly, I think it's kind of a bad idea to spend much time doing online auctions.  If this is a one time thing, then fine, but time is money, and focusing on online stuff can cause much bigger losses IRL.  When I shop on ebay, I just pay the price if it's reasonable or I make one reasonable bid.  If that doesn't work then I'm not meant to have that item.

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Just now, Night Elf said:

My ds has Aspergers and is probably more like a 17/18 year old. I still support him sort of scaffolding so that he can become independent. Yes, I do still help my kids a lot. I admit I'm a helicopter parent and I've gotten much better about it. I actually do not interfere in his finances. He makes his own decisions. He also pays for things on his own like medical, clothing, entertainment. He's living on his savings from his working a job in 2017 and I don't want him depleting that money. We have chosen to support our children while they are in college and I try to spend money on him to save his money as much as I can without going overboard. We spend a great deal more on his sister in college in another city. I actually intended to give him the money that went over his budget of $200. I wasn't trying to spend his money.

The ebay account is mine and the auction ended at a time he was still asleep. I offered to watch it for him. I didn't want him to wake up early just to watch that auction end. That seems silly.

 

Special needs are an extenuating circumstance. I have an asd daughter myself, so I understand that completely. This sounds more reasonable. 

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stay out of it.  I would be willing to advise a "$201.77"  as odd numbers like that have general been more successful for me than a nice round number.

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Even knowing he has special needs, I think it's still a step back situation. Unless safety, a much larger amount of money, something key to long term plans, etc. is on the line, then I'd try to back off. Like, it would also be inappropriate for most 20-somethings to get involved in solidifying a community college schedule or making sure a job application was properly filled out or something. For a special needs kid, that might be completely appropriate at that age. But something like this has no big consequences, so it's a way to practice that letting go for you and that real world learning for him.

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2 hours ago, Night Elf said:

DH just told me to leave it alone as well. Ugh, this hurts! I'm so used to trying to make things easier for my kids. Dd21 talks about me in counseling, for heaven's sake! 

Ok, I'll leave it alone. But the increments are $2.50 so he'll likely lose by that much unless the other 3 bidders are waiting until the last moment. I won't feel as bad if he loses by a lot, like $50. But if he loses by a couple of bucks, I'll be disappointed. I'm trying to be proud of him for at least trying to buy what he needs used rather than spending way more on a new item, but ebay is so iffy. He may learn he needs to increase his expectations.

that's for if you are submitting a bid, doesn't apply to automatic bids.  I once won an auction by $0.03.   because it was an automatic bid, and the person who tried to outbid me, did the minimum bid.  but mine was still higher.

frankly, If it's something I really want, I'll sit there and submit my max bid in the last 30 seconds.

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2 hours ago, Night Elf said:

Well, okay. I do agree with y'all. He'll find something else and maybe at a lower price so he's not spending so much of his money. 

He bought an alternative at an electronics store in mid-April but this past weekend decided it wasn't what he really wanted. We couldn't find the receipt and he was willing to donate it to my thrift store. But it was $250! I didn't want him to lose that much money so we took it to the store and they were able to pull up his invoice and refund his money. Whew!

if he paid for it by credit card, more and more stores (especially larger ones) - can look it up according to the credit card.  one reason for me to use a CC.  I don't have to hassle return receipts (except for warranties.)

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25 minutes ago, SKL said:

Since you poked in and looked at the situation, it may make sense to let him know and, if he isn't able to go online right now, offer to do it for him.  But it is his decision.  If he misses it, he misses it.  That's how ebay works.

But going forward, honestly I think it is helicopterish to monitor his bid, so I would stop doing that.

Honestly, I think it's kind of a bad idea to spend much time doing online auctions.  If this is a one time thing, then fine, but time is money, and focusing on online stuff can cause much bigger losses IRL.  When I shop on ebay, I just pay the price if it's reasonable or I make one reasonable bid.  If that doesn't work then I'm not meant to have that item.

He hopes to find it as a Buy It Now. He wasn't thrilled with the idea of an auction but thought he'd give it a try since it was such a good old item in excellent shape and would fit his needs perfectly. He's just trying to avoid paying hundreds of dollars by buying new. He's got the money to spend but he'd rather not if he doesn't have to spend that much.

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25 minutes ago, Night Elf said:

He hopes to find it as a Buy It Now. He wasn't thrilled with the idea of an auction but thought he'd give it a try since it was such a good old item in excellent shape and would fit his needs perfectly. He's just trying to avoid paying hundreds of dollars by buying new. He's got the money to spend but he'd rather not if he doesn't have to spend that much.

 

Quite wise. Though there is risk buying on ebay.  I remember buying a desktop computer there that turned out not to be as expected (I realized after the fact they had worded their auction quite deceptively)  It was the late 1990s and I was in my 20s at the time. I don't remember if I sent it back or ended up having to eat the cost and recycle it.

 

Edited by vonfirmath

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1 hour ago, Night Elf said:

<snip>

The ebay account is mine and the auction ended at a time he was still asleep. I offered to watch it for him. I didn't want him to wake up early just to watch that auction end. That seems silly.

I understand about the special needs and extra scaffolding. I do it for one of mine too!  Re: the bolded - unless he has a serious need for sleep, either related to his special needs or something like shift work, I don't see anything silly about getting up early to keep an eye on an auction for a much-needed/desired item.  If he didn't think it was important to be up for the end, I wonder why it was important to you that you did it for him.

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IMO, there is a difference between supporting your children through college and sheltering them from consequences. I say this as someone with suspected Asperger's Syndrome whose parent tried to soften all those mistakes of early adulthood for me by "just paying the extra." I really wish my father would have stopped doing that sooner. That's part of the reason I don't get involved with my grown kids' money unless they will be homeless because of their decision. I will always make sure they have a roof over their heads and food to eat but I won't enable them to live outside their means or stop them from making disappointing but non-life threatening mistakes. Making mistakes is how you learn, with or without autism.

He set what sounds like a reasonable budget for the item, he stuck to it, and win or lose he gets to learn a lesson about adulting. Special needs or not, I think that is a fine lesson for him to learn at 22 or even a little younger. Unless he will spiral into a dangerous place emotionally from disappointment, I would be fine with natural consequences in this situation.

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I would do it in a second. I see it as no difference in picking up a store item that is going off sale before my kid can get to the store.

 

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I would've considered it helicoptery even when I was 16. (Not that eBay was around when I was 16! But that was the year I was making college plans--and the extent of parental help was coughing up a check for the SAT when requested and bringing in the brochures arriving in the mailbox for me.)

So if you consider your DS's maturity/ability level at 17-18... probably better to leave it, IMO.

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Night Elf, I think you're sweet. 

I know the auction is over by now, but I'm going to agree with @gardenmom5 and say that it's always better to bid odd amounts, a little over the maximum you want to spend. So, say, if I was willing to spend $50, I might bid $51.67. 

Also, it's definitely advantageous to put in your bid in the last few seconds, but I always use esnipe.com for that. It will automatically put in your bid for you at a time you specify. I usually choose 4 seconds before the auction's end. It's worked very well for me. It ends up costing about $0.25 per auction, I think. It's worth it to me for the money I save and the time I don't waste sitting by the computer. 

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6 hours ago, marbel said:

I understand about the special needs and extra scaffolding. I do it for one of mine too!  Re: the bolded - unless he has a serious need for sleep, either related to his special needs or something like shift work, I don't see anything silly about getting up early to keep an eye on an auction for a much-needed/desired item.  If he didn't think it was important to be up for the end, I wonder why it was important to you that you did it for him.

I'd do it for my DH, why not my son? Good grief.

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I have 2 high schoolers and no way would I do this for either of them unless it was something we really needed in the house for their health or schooling.  They would be welcome to set an alarm if they wanted to watch an auction early in the morning.   $200 is a lot of money for one of my kids that are living rent free to spend and I'd want them clearly thinking through that and being 100% responsible for it.  I think your daughter is right.

My oldest has been slower at executive function and I have provided supports for really important things.  Doctor, dental, vision appointments, college application calendars and organization, teaching him how to use google calendar and setting up reminders for himself, etc.  

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28 minutes ago, Night Elf said:

I'd do it for my DH, why not my son? Good grief.

I would not bid more than my dh set as his budgeted amount. And I would definitely wake him up to let him decide whether to bid higher. 

My relationship with my son is very different than the one I have with dh.

Our ds is an aspie too, and still needs scaffolding. When I am getting involved, I try to ask myself whether what I’m doing is helping him move forward or whether my actions are mostly for my personal comfort. For instance, ds still needs help prepping for a job interview. Helping him moves him forward. His identity was recently stolen and we had to help him navigate the steps to take.  One step was filing a police report. I went with him, but he did all the talking. Then he went alone to get the report and followed the steps to shut down the bogus account.  It was hard to let him do all the talking because he didn’t recall every fact they were asking him. And hard to let him handle closing the account because the fraud representative was not nice. It would have been easier for me to handle it, but it’s not about what makes me feel good. 

Hope your son finds the item soon, and at a good price. 

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35 minutes ago, Annie G said:

I would not bid more than my dh set as his budgeted amount. And I would definitely wake him up to let him decide whether to bid higher. 

My relationship with my son is very different than the one I have with dh.

 

This exactly.

There is such a huge difference between a husband and wife relationship and a parent/child relationship. There are plenty of things I would do for my husband but not my child and things I would do for my child but not my husband.

My husband buys things on eBay pretty frequently, mostly little electronics parts to fix things and tinker that are significantly cheaper on eBay than we can get them locally or even somewhere like Amazon. We agree on a budget for our desired purchases after bills at the beginning of the month. I don't even look to see what he bought because chances are I would have no idea what the tiny electronic part is. I just asked dh what he would say if I decided to up his bid to 125% of his max bid that he wanted to pay for the item so he wouldn't lose the auction and he said, "If my max bid amount was $200, then that's all that item was worth to me and I didn't want to pay $250 for it. I'd probably ask what you were thinking paying more than I wanted to pay for the item and more than we agreed upon for purchases on ebay."

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3 hours ago, MercyA said:

Night Elf, I think you're sweet. 

I know the auction is over by now, but I'm going to agree with @gardenmom5 and say that it's always better to bid odd amounts, a little over the maximum you want to spend. So, say, if I was willing to spend $50, I might bid $51.67. 

Also, it's definitely advantageous to put in your bid in the last few seconds, but I always use esnipe.com for that. It will automatically put in your bid for you at a time you specify. I usually choose 4 seconds before the auction's end. It's worked very well for me. It ends up costing about $0.25 per auction, I think. It's worth it to me for the money I save and the time I don't waste sitting by the computer. 

or the cortisol rush...

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I think either “helicopter parenting” or perhaps “enmeshed” parenting.  

I think your dd21 is correct that you should stay out of such things unless ds22 asks for your suggestions, or unless it is a potentially life and limb situation that you think he’s unable to deal with due to his special needs.  

I wouldn’t be involved with some thing like that even if the child were younger unless — opposite situation, I thought they might bid to an unaffordable level.

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Oldest DS is 14. I would do it for him under the same circumstances I would for DH, a friend, a roommate, etc:

1) He asked me.

If he asked me, I would, if:

1) There was a reason he could not (school, work, night shift so sleeping), AND;

2) It was reasonably convenient for me to do so (I’d be awake, near a computer, available at the time).

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13 hours ago, Night Elf said:

I'd do it for my DH, why not my son? Good grief.

LOL, I wouldn't do it for my husband either, unless there was some reason it made more sense for me to be the one up early watching an auction.  But if it was something he wanted, and he had no compelling reason to stay in bed?  Nope. 

I get it that you were probably up anyway. And I think you are a very nice person - nicer than me, no doubt, and I mean that with no snark, seriously - who cares deeply for your family. I care for mine too, it just doesn't come out in the same ways.  

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