I have no sympathy
For SD17's current stress level.
A little bit of background: BM is a NPD idiot whose main focus is getting all of the positive attention she can. She uses her kids for personal attention (either bragging on them or to get sympathy for how haaaard it is to be a parent) and likes to try to live vicariously through SD17. When BM had custody, DH received demands for money at the beginning of SD17's junior year for: a letterman's jacket, senior photos, class ring, senior trip, car, insurance, prom, homecoming, etc. DH declined to contribute to any of it. Now that DH has custody, (BM "couldn't handle her" anymore) SD17 has a clunker and is on our insurance, and I'm getting her senior portraits, but she didn't go to homecoming, doesn't want a ring or jacket, probably won't go to prom... It was all BM trying to redo her own life.
BM also has a history of promising things and then reneging. Last year, SD17's 'senior trip' was supposed to be BM flying her, her BFF, and the rest of her family to Hawaii. That fell through because BM can't afford it, (on a six-figure household income) so now BM has offered a cruise to Alaska. (DH and SD17 live in the PNW) BM is paying for this through gift vouchers a friend of hers offered.
SD17 is stressed out because she doesn't really want to go, but she is incapable of saying no to BM. I have zero sympathy. The girl will be 18 in two months, and lives 2000 miles away. The only contact is phone contact. I keep telling her that it's time to start asserting herself, otherwise BM will continue to try to run her life. I'd tell you all about the college issue, but that's another blog. DH and I will help her set boundaries, but we won't artificially impose them; at this point, her relationship with her mother is her own to take charge of.
This girl needs some assertiveness and resiliency training. Both DH and I are baffled on how to get her to grow a backbone. Any suggestions?