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Should we cut off college freshman?

ChildOfPot's picture

My husband and I have three daughters in college.  Of the three we've always had a lot of issues with his daughter (18).  In high school she pretty much refused to comply with any rules or bounaries given.  She would spend the night with friends for weeks on end refusing to come home (she went to school an hour away and we had to drive her to/from), struggled greatly in school with grades and attendance (once we bought her a car), was financially irresponsible, and would throw tantrums regularly if we tried to keep her home for even a night or told her "no" for any reason.  We wanted to ensure that she would be rooted to her schooling freshman year so we kept her car at home (two hours away) (also because she never managed to save a single month's worth of insurance) and told her she had to work on campus.  What has happened is that she has managed to take advantage of people to get rides back and forth  pretty much on a weekly basis and has been staying with high school friends in the city she used to go to school in.  Then she started dating one of her friends' older brothers (20) and is now basically living with him at his apartment or having him stay in her dorm room.. She has also started working at the city 2 hours from campus on the weekends so it's more convenient to stay at her boyfriend's instead of working on campus.  Despite spending so much time away from school with friends, she has only visited family once...yet she manages to call or text regularly asking for money, her car, or making demands about transferring schools.  The one time she did visit she refused to come without her boyfriend, and has already stated the same for the holidays "if" she comes.

We've just discovered that she's living with this man.  She is quite immature and not nearly emotionally intelligent enough to be in a relationship with someone a few years older than her, let alone living together.  She has a history of being obsessive over male attention, being impulsive, self harming, and suicidal ideation and has maintained that she wants to kill herself when she's alone so she must be surrounded by her friends at all times (apparently being surrounded by family isn't a treatment). We tried therapy in high school and at first she would attend, but she later refused to get proper treatment for her issues (therapist recommended mood stabalizers) or continue seeing the therapist.

She says that she has good grades now and has suddenly become very responsible so we shouldn't get involved in where or who she is living with.  However, 90 days at college isn't our idea of a life changing time period. She claims she's an adult now so she can do what she wants, and I'm not in the business of taking care of adults.  The biological mother is a deadbeat and supports her wanting to live with her boyfriend (she also was a HS drop out due to teen pregnangy with THIS daughter, abandoned her kids repeatedly, and has been unemployed since I've been in the picture). 

My husband can't seem to pull the trigger on the idea of cutting her off even though he's very disappointed and rightfully angry - she has a history of making him feel like a terrible father when she doesn't get her way so he's terrified that she'll hate him.  But this child desperately needs to learn responsibility and right now we're just throwing money at her so she can basically go on a 24/7 sausage fest with her older boyfriend and party with a bunch of high school friends who didn't go to college.  I understand that even if we cut her off she will continue living with this man.  And she'll probably find a way to pay for school - she is a master manipulator and gets others to do things for her non-stop.  In the end we can wash our hands of her antics and save a bunch of money.  It's obvious that nothing we do for her will result in her being thankful, respectful, or even get her to visit us without her boyfriend or friends so we're not really losing anything.  For what it's worth, we don't pay anything for my two daughters to go to school due to scholarships.

My two college daughters (19 and 17) are behaving well.  They visit often, have a lot of money saved up from working, follow our plans for college and discuss any changes with respect and gratefulness, and are living in their dorms (boyfriend free) as planned.  They are aware of the situation with their SS and have stated that I would never allow them to behave this way - and they're right.  If it were my daughter acting this way I would pull them out of school immediately or cut them off financially.  I feel that if I am investing my time and money into my child then if my child deviates from the investment plan I have a right to sell all stock - and my daughters agree.  In fact, they think they're being treated unqually since they are held to a higher standard.  In any other situation my husband will get enraged if he thinks any of the kids are not treated equally - but this one child of his seems exempt every time.

So here is the million dollar we stop paying her collge bills and keep the car we bought? Or, do we keep paying and "support" her as she makes some major life mistakes (which she'll probably make anyways even if we stop paying)?

ChildOfPot's picture

I have brought this up a couple of times.  His exes don't pay support (though ordered) and mine it always feels like my child support is going to take care of all of his kids. Because of this I have brought this up a few times - usually in regards to this specific daughter.  Each time he gets angry and says that if I separate our funds we might as well get divorced.  I think he's insecure because he's always struggled and I have my crap together so he sees it as a threat.  Do most stepfamilies combine funds?  This I am curious about.

Jcksjj's picture

Even if you have combined finances, your exes money doesn't go to your entire household, its court ordered specifically for your kids. That's not really you're income.

Sparkl3s's picture

Maybe if you separated funds he would HAVE to cut her off? Can he only afford to throw money at her to burn because you? Does he save for his retirement or is he going depend on you in his old age bc he was too busy supporting the ungrateful? 

Seperate bank accounts have worked out for us, we are both on each other's accounts but I don't spend from his without letting him know. If I do it's usually something we are splitting for our bio. We split large shopping trips to Sam's club. If my hubby didn't out earn me and provide his fair share to our household I'd probably hold resentment for all he provides above his mandated child support obligation. 

If I brought children from a previous relationship I'd use their child support money for them. Life isn't fair, some have and get more than others. 

ChildOfPot's picture

This is another reason he gets upset when I mention separate accounts, yet.  Without my money he couldn't have purchased the car for her to begin with and she wouldn't have been able to go to college.  So when I say I think we should do separate accounts, he hears "I am keeping your children from the things that I can give mine."

tog redux's picture

You aren't responsible for his children.  But I think you set yourself up for this by going in to "fix" everything for him. Now he expects it.

bertieb's picture

If I tried to keep him from buying his kids something, or if I think a less expensive version would be better he hears, " I don't love your kids or think they deserve something as nice as I would buy my own." I believe he sees how I treat them is a direct reflection of how much I love and care about him and our marriage. We have a joint account used mostly by me and he has an account he puts a few hundred dollars in a month and pays our car payment from, gives SS money from, and pays his own credit card bill. We probably should have worked out the details before we got married but he lets me spend what I want on my kids so I just try to ignore what he does with his.I'm the one careful with money so he doesn't have to worry about me.

mro's picture

Nearly completely separate finances here.  It has worked out great.  But we both agreed on this up front.  It might be more difficult to renegotiate your finances after you have been married for years, though I agree it's a good idea. You pay for yours and he pays for his.

How can BM NOT pay ordered CS?  I thought every state oversaw and mandated collection from the NCP.  Either way, I would most definitely not comingle your kids' CS income.  Its for them, not SD, or DH or even for you. It's for your kids' support.

ChildOfPot's picture

The state has suspended BM's license due to nonpayment of CS, but she's been unemployed for years mooching off of other people so they don't have a lot of recourse.  If she were a man she would have been arrested...but this is the midwest.

SteppedOut's picture

So, if you don't want to fund your husband and his daughter's lifestyle (sounds MUCH better with YOUR funds), he would want a divorce? 

So, he straight up told you that you are his sugar momma? 

Hell effing no. You SHOULD separate finances. If he is only staying with you because of your funds, you should send him packing! 

mskaye2012's picture

If you don't agree to fund my daughters way of life and assist me with enabling her I will divorce you. Is this the type of person you want to be married to where his ultimatum is pay or leave? Do you have the courage to call him on his bluff? If not, What are you willing to do if you are not willing to separate funds? 

ESMOD's picture

he gets angry about separating funds because he can't afford his half.  he can't afford to support his own child fully.  That's why.

You could still have joint bills/obligations.. but he should be shouldering his daughter's expenses fully .. and vice versa.  If you can afford to pay for both of your girl's educations.. that's on you.

If he can afford to pay for his daughter and wants to whether she is living with a boy or not.. that should be his option.. but he shouldn't be using YOUR money.


tog redux's picture

I would definitely keep the car - but as for tuition, has he seen her grades? Does he value paying for tuition even if she's doing things he doesn't support, like living with the BF?

Jcksjj's picture

I get that it's hard because it's his kid, but you're right. Shes an adult, you guys no longer have any control over her. It might make dad feel more secure to keep giving her money, but that's just enabling her, not helping in the long run.

Idk about cutting her off completely yet since shes just figuring things out as a college freshmen. Maybe more giving a reasonable amount to budget and sticking to it when she comes back asking for more and letting her sink or swim. And as for the actual college tuition, probably set some rules that are reasonable there too. If she has any student loans in her name too you're doing her a favor with that anyway because I sure wish I hadn't blown so much messing around in college.

I've seen this same story over and over. Either the lightbulb will go off and she will figure out that she needs to budget, or a different lightbulb will go off and she will realize she needs to find a new person to manipulate for money. If it's the second one itll probably be a way of life and you will eventually need to cut her off altogether.

Siemprematahari's picture

Each time he gets angry and says that if I separate our funds we might as well get divorced.  I think he's insecure because he's always struggled and I have my crap together so he sees it as a threat.

How manipulative of your H to mention divorce if you comment on separating funds. Whatever support your daughters get is from their father and should have no baring on his kids. If he's so insecure because he struggles financially, he should get another job or cut back on some expenses. He shouldn't put that on you.

If I'm assisting a child with tuition I expect to see grades to prove how they are doing. If I see none of the above all bets are off. If she's mature enough to go live with her BF, she can get her shit together and show documentation on how she's progressing in school (or lack there of ).

ChildOfPot's picture

I completely agree and it's been a point of contention between us.  We've only been married a little over a year and it's come up quite a bit. Most of the time I don't say anything but she gets me going.  I think that he's of the mindset that the children shouldn't suffer just because they have crappy mothers that don't help.  And I get that.  And I get that it's really wrong to have one kid get a lavish lifestyle and the other kid be impoverished (exaggeration for effect). We had this come up when we bought these three students their first two had nicer cars than his did because I had more money than he did - and his daughter brings it up constantly.  Currently we make similar amounts of money so it's not like one of us is a breadwinner.  But we do live in my house that I had before I met him and our combined funds do pay his support to one of the mothers.  So I'm not sure how to fix this situation.  I should have said I wanted it separate from the beginning and that was my mistake. 

ChildOfPot's picture

I am 99% sure that it will be the second lightbulb.  She has consistently used people for money, food, clothes, rides, etc. since she was younger.  Once I wised up I disengaged from her (which was easy since she never wanted to be around anyhow).  So I know that cutting her off altogether will eventually need to happen.  He can't seem to fathom it and says I'm heartless for thinking you can cut your child out of your life.  What he's afraid of is that we'll cut her off and then for the rest of her life she'll make him feel like crap by telling everyone that we cut her off and don't care about her - and he'll look heartless.  Sometimes I wish all of you StepTalk folks were my husband, lol - y'all get it!

tog redux's picture

But - you aren't cutting her out of your life, you are just cutting off financial assistance.  Which part of that doesn't he get? 

ChildOfPot's picture

Because she's so immature that if we stopped paying the tuition and kept the car that SHE would cut us out of her life..and he knows it.

Jcksjj's picture

Yep. If she stops to him because theres no more money coming that's her cutting him off. And it pretty much would tell him how she feels about him. Maybe he doesnt want to have to face that reality?

ChildOfPot's picture

I think you're absolutely right.  He definitely does not want to face the reality about the type of person she is.  This is a huge issue.

Siemprematahari's picture

What he's afraid of is that we'll cut her off and then for the rest of her life she'll make him feel like crap by telling everyone that we cut her off and don't care about her - and he'll look heartless. 

What's this WE business? This is his child. He can't control what she tells people and if she does bad mouth him it should open his eyes to his daughters character. You don't have anything to do with her, so why are you even part of the equation. She's his responsibility, not yours.

What your H is afraid of is that you won't supplement the money that he's lacking.

ChildOfPot's picture

We both came from blended families so I think we really jumped right in with the these are "our" kids and "our" family - instead of the his kids and my kids mindset.  Maybe when they are little kids this works..but I am seeing the error of this line of thinking with older kids for sure.  Part of the problem is that I do care about what happens to her.  And I really care about how disappointed my husband will be if she fails - especially if my kids excel.  I think part of this problem is that he's riding on her success to prove he's a good parent - and that's not healthy.  And I just realized it, lol. 

Sandybeaches's picture

I would continue to pay tuition. I would have your DH request that she show her grades to you guys each term. 

How old is she 18? 19? If she needs the car to commute I might let her keep it but under no circumstances would I let her be under your insurance. Even if she had no issues I am not a fan of kids on insurance. Too much for a parent to lose if something goes wrong but that is just me. 

I don't think taking these things from her will produce the result you would like. A lesson learned and she goes back to the dorm. Which is why I say if she produces proof of good grades let it play out. 

ChildOfPot's picture

She just turned 18 a few months ago.  We pay the insurance for all three of the college aged girls' cars - BUT, my two kids had to pay their own insurance for the first several months before college started and had to prove they could save money to continue to do so and pay for gas.  My kids succeeded. His did not, she never even got enough for a single month.  Now, she claims she's saved hundreds of dollars, in an account she just opened on her own (the one she had had dad as a joint owner so he could see) - but she doesn't want to use that money to pay the insurance payment or gas...she is saving it for a vacation with her boyfriend. 

Like I said in the OP...I don't think it will produce a result either.  But it will save us a lot of money that we can put towards the other kids that still live with us.  Also, I feel that doing this would change our mindset - like, ok, she's an adult, she's paying for herself - let he do what she wants.  I think that's what we really need.

Sandybeaches's picture

"Now, she claims she's saved hundreds of dollars, in an account she just opened on her own (the one she had had dad as a joint owner so he could see) - but she doesn't want to use that money to pay the insurance payment or gas...she is saving it for a vacation with her boyfriend. "

I would give her the car and let her figure out the rest. If it is registered and insured to you go over remove the plates turn them into DMV and cancel and insurance and let her figure out the rest. 

I am not sure about your finances but it sounds like you make most of the money??? If that is the case stop whatever payments you want to. But if it is shared income it will be kind of hard to say as a couple you will pay for your kids and not his too IF and I do mean IF she is doing well in school.

And with that said better She gets an education so she can support herself someday so she doesn't come back at 30 broke and on the streets.  Just saying. 

notarelative's picture

I would not pay for second semester until I saw first semester grades. My kids knew this was non negotiaable. 

If he couldn't compel her to come home during high school, there is no chance of controlling where she sleeps now that she is in college. Dorm or boyfriend or high school friend - her choice.

Extra money would be a no from me. You have a dorm room and a meal plan. If you want more, get a part time job.


ChildOfPot's picture

Even the meal plan was an issue.  We bought the "required" mealplan that you have to have when you live on campus and she spent all of the money from her part time job on fast food instead of using the meal plan! 

Thumper's picture

What is UP with parents footing the bill it this generation right after the BOOMERS?  that have created this crazy stuff.

We were out at 18---sharing a place with 2 to 3 other girls. ALL working are rears off to pay for rent, the lights, food, car insurance. Then guess what we paid our own STUDENT loans too. Our parents didnt do it for us. ... It was hard. IF we were invited to eat at home on Sundays with a basket of wash in tow, we were grateful to the max.

Go ahead...give her back the car, continue to pay insurance and student loan while she shacks UP with lover boy. Dont forget to pay her cell phone too.


Sorry your going thru this. Crazy huh?





ChildOfPot's picture

I agree with you 100%.  I was on my own and enlisted at 18 myself.  I'm close to 40 and am still paying off student loans. So I am all about fending for yourself and embracing the struggle.  She is the only college kid that we really have to coddle with the finances.  Mine are paid for 100% already and they have proven that they can handle paying it themselves.  I made them buy everything they needed for school out of their own pocket so that they appreciated the value of a dollar and took care of the items they bought. I think that he knows that if we make her do things on her own that she will go as far as she can off of other peoples' dimes and then just give up and spend the next ten years making sandwiches where she works.  He doesn't want to have her fail.  That is the real problem here.  Your post makes me want to hide money in my mattress, lol

tog redux's picture

My parents paid for both my undergraduate and graduate educations and I very much appreciate it. I am Gen X, they were - I dunno, the Silent Generation?

It's not a new "coddle your kids" thing.

Merry's picture

My parents paid for my undergraduate education. I was anything BUT coddled. I had temp jobs during school breaks, and a summer job. After my freshman year, I also worked part time at uni.

You bet my parents saw my grades. They were always good enough to avoid any discussion of them not paying. They did NOT always approve of my activities, but that wasn't tied to financial support. I suppose if I really went off the deep end things might have been different.

ndc's picture

I don't think there's anything wrong with parents who can afford to do so paying for their children's educations, as long as the child is doing his or her part by getting good grades, contributing what the parent has requested and making normal progress toward a degree and a career.  College is ridiculously expensive these days (a credit hour at our local community college is twice the price of a credit hour at my mother's private college back in the day), what a student can borrow without a co-signer is not enough to pay for many schools, and debt in excess of what a student can borrow without a co-signer can be crippling to a new graduate.  The problem isn't parents helping their kids with an education - it's kids not being appreciative, not holding up their own end of the bargain and not taking full advantage of the gift they're being given.  

BethAnne's picture

An alternative tactic would be to start taking money out of your joint account equal to what your husband pays to his daughter and splitting it between your two (or keeping it in a separate account in your name only with the idea of gifting it to your daughters when they graduate or if they need it in the future). - After all that would only be FAIR 

MissTexas's picture

when mom doesn't pop out her "$afety Net" responsibility happens. What's good for your 2 is good for his ONE. Either she's an adult, or she is a child, but she can't be both. An adult assumes ALL responsibilities of their adult lifestyle. She can't cherry pick when and what she wants to apply to her as an "adult." Either she is an adult, or she is not. There's not a happy medium. It's like being a "little bit pregnant" either YOU ARE, or YOU ARE NOT.

Pull the financial life support plug, all the while remembering this sick dynamic/enmeshment between your man and his kid were in place long before you met him. This is a predictable cycle many DH's fall into with these SD's. Their "fear" of being written off is ludicrous, because if they loved their fathers to begin with, none of these head games would be happening. Who plays mind games (mind manipulation) with someone they profess to love?

Phoebe333's picture

I would definately separate finances. My dh and I each have our own savings and checking accounts and retirement accounts. He has three daughters, I have no biokids. He uses his money for his kids. I use my money for my nieces. We also have joint savings and checking accounts. We were married when his daughters were 18, 16, and 12. He wanted to see their college grades, but that didn't happen. Since, I wasn't involved in the financial support for them, I tried to keep out of it. When I went to college it was a given that I would show my Mom and stepdad my grades. But then, I did a pretty good job so it was a matter of pride. 

Let me say this, not everyone is ready for college.  A lot of people drop out in their freshman year. It takes some folks longer to mature and become responsible. Let the chips fall where they may. She may have already dropped out and you don't know it. 

Again, I suggest you set up your own savings and checking account. Put the money needed for joint expenses in the accounts you already have with him. You need a serious heart to heart with him about money. If he's threatening divorce, maybe it's not worth the effort to work out this relationship.  My husband is very cheap. He used to ask me to reimburse him for my share of joint expenses less than $20.  I'm so glad we have separate accounts. I wouldn't have it any other way.  

ndc's picture

YOU need to cut off your funds. There is no way I'd be paying for college for a stepchild when I'd only been married to her parent for a year and when I didn't control the circumstances under which that money remained available. What your husband does is up to him.  If he wants to pay for a kid who is shacking up with her BF far from campus who hasn't opened the student portal for him to check her grades, he can take out loans.  If she's not going to be taking advantage of her campus and her program by being there, she doesn't need to be at a sleep away university; she can attend the local community college.

This situation is going to cause a lot of resentment on your part. I would separate finances asap. If your husband really thinks he might as well divorce you if you don't make your funds available to him and his, then let the marriage end, because that means he's just using you.  Better to know sooner rather than later.

tog redux's picture

The whole situation seems frought with peril.  She came in, took over parenting and paying for everything, wants boundaries set on the kid, but won't set boundaries on DH for fear he will divorce her (as he threatens when she talks about separating money).

Aniki-Moderator's picture

When SD23 wanted to go to an expensive school, my DH never asked me for a penny. Even after I offered to LOAN him the money. Nope. He told SD23 that if she wanted to attend that particular school, she would need student loans. 

OP is NOT repsonsible for one damn dime that supports the skids in any way. Her H's choices:
1) Foot the bill himself.
2) Have his kids apply for student loans and he pays the difference.
3) Tell his kids they're on their own as he cannot afford to pay for college. 

Harry's picture

She can pay for it herself.  I would not support her and BF so they can play.  They can work like everyone  else and play all they want.   Let her keep the car, put it in her name. 

If BF is more important then school. There nothing you can do about that.  But I would not support her in it .

CLove's picture

1. Dh and I have separate finances. SD13 is too young for us to be in your situation (yet), but I am grooming her to want to go to college and better herself. We also discuss financing options and possibilitites. DH doesnt have an issue with separate monies. We each pay our half. I buy SD13 things if I want to. No obligation. When she is with us, he buys the majority of the food, he provides her entertainment and he pays her phone. Previously I paid half her phone and entertainment. I have backed off a lot. Emotionally I am still there, but financially not as much.

2. You are under no obligation to provide for this child. I think that it is wonderful of you to do so. She has an opportunity at a bright future and to better herself, and is fluffing it away. She is not ready, in my opinion and she is manipulating your DH, who is in turn manipulating you, into her support.

She should give him access to her grades. HE needs to be the one paying. She quit her financial aid job - well YOU do not need to pay. I certainly will not be paying for SD13's higher education, and I am ok with that.

She sounds like my SD20, who goes into rages when she doesnt get her way. Threatens suicide etc.when asked to clean her room. Has no job, etc. certainly isnt going to college. She lies and steals. Yup. And the BM dropped out of high school. She certainly doesnt value higher education.