Post # 1
My daughter is going to be married and her Mother whom I have been divorced from for eleven years, does not contribute to anything with regards to her or her sister, whom my wife now and I have raised these past eleven years. We paid for everything from Prom dresses to oh what the heck, everything was provided by us. Her mother is now on her fifth marriage another bankruptcy and always tells them she does not have the money to help them with college or to come visit them (a two hour drive in one case). Yet, she talks bad about my wife and I to them, saying the money we make is not everything, yadda yadda yadda. Now my daughter is going to be married in Hawaii, we have paid for the hotel for her sister, since she too has recently graduated from college, the minister, another 1200 dollars for the dinner after the wedding on the beach as she would love, and numerous other things. My daughter asked for more money recently to cover additional expenses and we questioned her about her previous statement of she has it all under control and does not need any help from anyone, she also claims we have not helped her financially during her time in college, mind you we paid for an alaskan cruise for all 5 of our adult children and only required five hundred dollars from her then boyfriend, now fiance. We also recently gave her five hundred dollars no questions asked. She feels we are extremely rude, arrogant, etc. to question her finances after we received this last request? Am I wrong to feel like her step mother and I are only an ATM to her? She did not allow my wife now to help pick out a wedding dress, etc. But did allow her to her joy to plan a reception dinner after the wedding, this really hurts her feelings, she has been their emotionally and financially since we have been together and really should not be treated this way. If I say anything to my daughter I am accused of being controlling and arrogant and she doesn’t want to talk to me at all anymore, of course she will talk to my wife now (which leads to the ATM feeling, since she does make a six figure income), but she is not involving her in this wedding as a real mother would have been involved. What in the heck do I do?
Post # 3
You definitely need to talk to your daughter and let her know that you are more than willing to help her with her wedding, but that you are NOT an ATM. Let her know that the two of you really love her, but, from experience, don’t say mean things to her about her mom (I’m not saying you do, but I don’t know all the details). I’m in a similar situation with a "dead beat dad" and my mom is always bringing him down, but the view you have of a person as their child is just different than the view you have of a person as their (ex)spouse. It’ll only make her resentful towards you for being negative about someone she loves, regardless of if you’re right or not. She’ll learn about her mom’s true tendancies at her own pace.
Anyway, give her a limit on money (as most parents would do, and as my mom did) and tell her she needs to spend it wisely because while you love helping her out, you don’t have an unllimited supply. If she goes over, you can’t bail her out (and you have to mean it!) Besides, if her mom has bankruptcy issues she needs to learn how to spend her money wisely because it looks like she has a bad role model there! I’m very sorry you are in this position and I wish you the best of luck.
Oh, and let her know that since you are contributing financially to the wedding, tell her you AND your wife would like a role in helping to plan it. Tell her you are just as excited about the wedding as she is (even if you aren’t) and you and your wife want to be there for her because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity (hopefully you won’t be planning another wedding anyway!)
Post # 4
I agree that a conversation is in order.
But saying you’ve been generous in the past is irrelevant. You offered that cruise as a gift, but you don’t get to use that as collateral. That’s a moot point. It’s also not relevant at this point if you did or did not help her with college. If you did help her, and she doesn’t recognize that, you won’t gain any favour with your daughter by pointing that out while trying to become more involved in the wedding.
That being said, you need to let your expectations known. If you’re paying for big parts of it, you have every right to ask to be involved. But if it’s $500 plus the hotel rooms, and it’s a $50,000 wedding, then she may not let you become involved in the finances. But if it’s a smaller budget, so what you’re contributing is a significant portion, you need to get involved so you know what to expect.
But ask respectfully. If she makes good money, then if you are threaten to withdraw funding if you’re not involved, she could easily refuse your money and refuse your involvement in any manner.
Make sure you have this conversation before the next time she needs money. Let her know that you’re hurt she doesn’t involve you and your wife more in the wedding process.
And what your ex says about you is something you can’t control. It was already said not to retaliate by making any bad comments, and you probably already know that.
Good luck! I hope you can work it out and become closer to your daughter, and not end up feeling bitter.
Post # 5
I think that maybe talking to her and setting a firm budget might help. If you say "here is how much we are willing to give you, and we expect you to justify the expenses" it could really eliminate her just asking for $500 here and there. Setting a reasonable budget really helps when the parent is contributing. My mom told me exactly how much I was allowed to spend and where, and I really appreciated having the guidance. If I spent money myself on the wedding, I gave her receipts and she reimbursed me. It’s worked out really well so far, and our relationship is one of those rare mother-daughter relationships that didn’t suffer during wedding planning.
Post # 6
I echo the previous comments–it seems the best principles of wedding budgeting are setting forth expectations and communicating early and often.
Also, I assume there is way more history going on here (as there always is, with any post, but particularly here, where you and your daughter’s mother are divorced, and remarried, etc.). So take this in stride, given that I know nothing more than what you have posted here. When I read your comment about involving your wife "as a real mother would have been," it reminded me very much of the situation in both my life and my FI’s life. His mother passed away more than 11 years ago, and he does not like his dad’s wife. His dad is constantly trying to forcefully create a relationship between them, and it really irritates my Fiance. I have a comparable situation with my dad and his wife.
Relationships with step-parents and within mixed families can be a wonderful thing, but they’re also complicated. Sometimes it’s natural to think of a step-parent as a real parent, and other times it’s not… maybe in your situation, with your daughter and your wife, it’s not. I am sure your daughter would appreciate if you respected that and just appreciated that they get along for the most part (as it seems). And, perhaps your daughter’s mom is adding pressure to the situation, or maybe your daughter just feels added pressure. Perhaps her real mom would have felt offended if your wife participated in shopping for her wedding gown, or in an effort to not rock the boat, maybe your daughter just thought it would be better that your wife not be involved. There could be a thousand reasons. I don’t know the answer, but I humbly suggest that you either back off and let it be, or else have a talk with your daughter (keeping in mind this issue may involve issues far more complex than wedding planning and money).
Also, if your wife is feeling taken advantage of, maybe she should speak up? If you try to step in on your wife’s behalf, it may escalate your daughter’s negative feelings toward you.
As for the ATM issue, this may be applicable: a friend of mine always says–you teach people how to treat you. Perhaps, over the years, your daughter has learned that she can treat you as an ATM. It’s not to late to change the dynamic of your relationship (though it may be difficult).
Post # 7
All of the above posters have great points. I believe a long and open discussion is in order. You need to really tell/show your daughter how you feel. She may not even realize that she is treating you and your wife like an ATM, especially if that is how she has always been given affection. The talk needs to be between the three of you. Good luck!
Post # 8
When there are children of divorce and remarriage this seems to be a muddy area. Some kids may perceive that one parent is favoriing their kids and that the stepparent favors their kids.
As far as the cruise goes, it was very kind and generous of you both.
I would have a set budget and use a "calculator" approach and as a team tackle the finances of it together.
She may feel still somewhat wierd about things, despite a long and loving relationship with you. My son is with me, but still feels sorry about and worries he’d upset his dad (my xh) for this or that. They feel some allegiance always towards the other parent. It’s natural (read tons of books on this). So this is why she may feel awkward or react wierdly with your wife and try to still please her bio mom.
I would show even more love and support to her, explain that a wedding has to have a budget, just like she and her Fiance will have to have a working family budget that they will live upon when married and living out on their own as adults. This could be very positive and help your relationship grow even more!
Let her know that she can love and honor her bio mom at the wedding. That she (your wife) loves her and wants to spend time with her and would be so happy to help in picking out things, go on errands with her, etc. It is NOT betryaing her bio mom in doing so. My son at first felt wierd when he thought about me ever dating. But my guy is so wonderful and loving and we’ve worked dilligently to break through any barriers and my son accepts him 100 percent. He still sometimes feels guilty about this or that with his dad (his dad has done very interesting things I won’t mention..insert roll eyes icon here)
Post # 9
So sorry, Dad. I’m sure it can be tough trying to deal with children (adult or otherwise) coming from a divorce angle.
I have to say, I think your daughter is showing the signs of a spoiled brat. But she is certainly getting a pay off here. And so are you. She treats you improperly, as her father. But she gets a pay off knowing that if she acts sweet when she needs something, you’ll give it to her. And your payoff is that for a time, she’ll act nice to you. And I’m guessing there is some guilt in there from the divorce.
I think now that she’s a grown up, you need to have clear financial boundaries. She’s likely to be angry for a time. This is probably where the reaction of you being arrogant etc comes from. She’s probably not used to being told no.
As for her relationship to your wife, I’m sorry, but you can’t force it. It sounds like your wife has good intentions of wanting a motherly relationship with her, especially since it sounds like her bio mom is not fufilling her role. But just because you chose stepmom for a wife, doesn’t mean your daughter will choose her. Perhaps her mom is saying bad things, which she shouldn’t. But her mom behaving badly, unfortunately isn’t an automatic default for your daughter to turn to your current wife. Also, you mentioned having been divorced for 11 years, but also that you’ve been with your current wife for 11 years. If you’ve really been with your current wife almost as long as you’ve been divorced, your daughter might have some unresolved issues (ie. you dated too quickly, tried to simply replace her mom, didn’t care enough about the family that you moved right on to another woman.) Just a thought???
Good luck with your daughter. I think if you haven’t had a good heart to heart, not simply about money, but about the two of you, it might be time. Maybe your wife can do the same. Hopefully getting married, and becoming a mom, someday will straighten your daughter out. It’s not impossible. 🙂 But I think she’ll keep treating you like this unless you put your foot down. It’s just how willing you are to take her anger or silent treatment or whatever.