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Preparing for battle

Elizabeth's picture

Last year my husband and I nearly got divorced over SD (14). She has played volleyball recreationally for the past few years. Decided she wanted to play club volleyball because it costs more. This child believes you only love her if you spend money on her. Recreational league is $55, club volleyball was $600. I told husband NO WAY. I wouldn't spend that much on my bio-daughters, so it wasn't discrimination. He talked to her BM, and she agreed to pay for it. Or so he thought. I still said no because BM lives an hour from us and we would have to handle all transportation, etc. Club volleyball is a significant time commitment (several days a week and every weekend, November through April). He signed her up anyway. Then BM decided she was only going to pay for half, so we ended up footing the other half. I was not happy, and we ended up in counseling.

SD did play volleyball for high school (freshman B team, not a starter). Fine, whatever. Well, a couple of days ago she brought home a flier for club volleyball. Coaches said if you want to be competitive next year, you HAVE to play on a club team. In addition to every weekend time commitment (even though BM is supposed to have her on weekends), these clubs start at $600 and go to $1,400. I am NOT up to paying for this AGAIN, so I sense a major battle coming on.

Has anyone else had experience with this? How much is too much? We have custody 70 percent of the time and get NO support from BM. I feel like we are just a big wallet. (To top it off, husband was out of work for 18 months and has been in his new job for less than a yaer. We ended up paying last year even though we were in significant debt and had been borrowing from my parents. Needless to say, my parents were not thrilled to know their hard-earned money was being wasted in this way.)

Is there anything I can say to my husband that will make him understand he doesn't have to give his daughter EVERYTHING she asks for? If he knows of even one other kid who gets to do something, he thinks she should too.

Emma C's picture

Hi Elizabeth,

I'm new here, but I can relate to your dilemna. I have 3 stepdaughters, ages 19, 15 and 13. No bio children. The oldest is at college now, but we have supposed shared custody of the 2 younger girls. That said, they do not get along w/ BM and we end up w/ them at our house about 90% of the time, which is fine by me and I know my husband enjoys it. Somehow, however, what's ended up going along w/ this is we pay for about 90% of the girls' activities (soccer, volleyball, tennis, basketball, etc.). My husband used to try to fight w/ BM about it, but it just became more trouble than it was worth and the girls ultimately ended up suffering for it when BM would just not pay the school/club/whatever the fees. Anyway, I guess we're lucky in that we can afford all of this, BUT it still bugs me. How I have decided to deal with it is by maintaining separate finances from my husband. It's not ideal, and I know it doesn't work for everyone, but I think it works best for us. I still think BM should be chipping in more, but ultimately I know that it's not directly affecting my finances.

As for the other issue of giving kids EVERYTHING, I have no idea. I think my husband AND BM spoil the kids rotten, but it seems just to be the culture. I don't know if it's just this day and age or the area (metro DC) or what. I used to make comments from time to time about how that's not how I was raised (and I know it's not how my husband was raised!), but I've just stopped. I guess I figure that it's their right as parents to spoil the kids, but it does bug me when I see the girls acting like what I would considered spoiled brats. Don't get me wrong, they're smart, funny, generally kind, very smart girls, but there IS that bratty side of them, and it really irks me.

OK... off of my soapbox now and back to work Smile

Elizabeth's picture

That when SD played club volleyball last year, we had a three year old and a five month old. So it was not convenient for me to have him gone EVERY weekend, when the two young ones wanted to see their daddy. Plus I needed some help! (I work full time.) On the one weekend I had a commitment I couldn't get out of, he refused to take care of our two bio-daughters. And I couldn't bring them with me. He wouldn't ask BM to take SD to volleyball that weekend, he would rather inconvenience me than her. That's how we ended up in counseling and very nearly divorced. Our pastor even said he treats SD like she's his primary daughter and our two children like they're his secondary children.

My point is 1. Money is tight and $1,400 is TOO much for one child's activities. 2. BM needs to step up and be a parent, and 14-year-old SD is old enough to face the facts if she won't. 3. You cannot devote that much time and effort to one child's activities without taking away from the others.

Am I tilting at windmills here?

lcooper's picture

I think you are completely justified in your feelings about this. I would actually be more concerned about the time away from your other two children than the money. The two of you took on the commitment of having two children TOGETHER. It is not fair for him to expect you to take care of them on your own every weekend, while he plays favorites with his first daughter. I think it sounds like you still need some counseling. You both need to be on the same page when it comes to raising your children, and not just SD, but YOUR kids as well. They need to be a part of the equation and taken into consideration much more. Best of luck!

Elizabeth's picture

This weekend he said, casually, "Oh, SD wants to play club volleyball again this year." My heart just clenched. I asked what he had said. Of course he didn't tell her no, so that's the same as saying yes. Last year I flat out said no, but he did it anyway. We ended up in counseling and nearly divorced. How can I get him to see that this is not something he needs to give her? We are looking at $600 to $1400, plus him being gone every weekend from November through April. What about our two children?!