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discipline step kids

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I am a step-mother of 2 kids: girl 14 boy 12. Before any of our family vacation, my husband & I give the kids some allowance to buy snacks/drinks/souvenir. The allowance come from keeping their room clean (make bed; dirty clothes in hamper; clean clothes to the drawer or closet, not on the floor. That are all I ask). Any mis-behaving, the allowance will be deducted. This vacation, the girl had $35 and the boy had $42. Because the girl mis-behaved the week before the trip, she clearly understood the consequent of her mis-behaving. During the trip, instead of spending their allowance for snack/drink/ice-cream, we ended up paying for ALL so (we believed) they had more than enough money to spend on souvenir. Before the trip, we made clear with the kids that the kids could only spend all the money they had. We went to the gifts store. The boy bought only the stuff animal so he had money left while the girl wanted many things. Her brother generously gave her all his left money and still she went over $30. Hence, we asked the girl to give up few of her things. She said she wanted them all and that she would pay us back. My husband was ok with it hence I got to be ok, too. When we got home from the trip, the girl did not want to pay us back so she called her mom. Not trying to understand what the problem was, her mom quickly accused us of using the money to control the kids and that we hurt their feeling. And on the sudden, the girl said that we hurt her feeling. The funny thing was that the kids were okay with the way their allowances worked until the girl wanted to buy many things and she hadn’t have enough money to buy. When she could not have things her way (asked us to pre-pay, promised to pay back and refused to pay us back) then she blamed us, especially me for not spending enough money on her, and that her mother bought her everything she wanted. Now, the girl wanted to go back to her mom's house b/c "the step-mother" made her feel uncomfortable. (The kids supposed to stay with us the first ½ of summer). She said she did not understand why we did not want to spend money on her. She said that her mom spent a lot of money for her and we did not spend enough. (Side notes: the kids stay with us every other weekend, ½ summer time; either one week spring-break or winter break and ½ of holidays in calendar. We are middle-class couple. Because my husband wants to spend more quality time with his kids, every year, the kids have 2 vacation trips with us on top of the vacation with their mom in which my husband pays ½ of the cost. The destinations are always at their choice. The girl requested to eat at the restaurants she preferred (for ex. Hash house a go go for breakfast (~$80/family of 4) or the Bacchanal buffet and the spice market buffet ($90/person); the surf shark; circus de Soule, etc…). This year alone so far, we paid ½ of the cost for her FL trip with her band; the trip to Baltimore with her friends, the spring-break to Las Vegas, The vacation to FL/theme parks and Beach, etc.) My basic principle (message I want her to understand) was that if you borrow, you must return. If you promise to pay, you must pay. If you mis-behaved, there is the consequent for your misbehaving. She must learn to appreciate what she has been given; and that she would not always have things her way if it's unreasonable. Parents was not for her to manipulate... She did not want to talk to me. Thus, before my husband took them back to their mother’s house, I could only ask her to take time to think about what we had been giving her; what she had compared to her cousins, her friends and other children. Whenever she wanted to come back to our house, I would always welcome her back. I also texted her 2 days ago to see how she was doing and if she wanted to go back. She has yet responded back to me. Am I asking too much? Am I unreasonable? Please advice. Thank you Tina Li

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