paul_in_utah's picture

Butthead talking about college

Good morning StepTalk,

Well, I'm 5 days into a 3-month summer vacation sentence with SD17, aka "Butthead." She's actually kept to herself for the most part, which has been a relief. However, last night she started talking about something that really worries me: college.

As a bit of background, Butthead was sent to live with her "perfect" bio-daddy, Mr. Walking Anus, back in February. Seems that Butthead was cutting between 5-10 classes a week, was smoking pot, and was secretly dating gangbangers. This was so shocking that my DW was finally forced to pull her head out of the sand and address the issues, and she agreed to let Butthead move in with Mr. Walking Anus.

Butthead's grades were always terrible, prior to moving in with Mr. Anus. They've gotten a little bit better since she's been with him, but part of that is because she is going to a small school, which is not as tough academically as the school where DW and I live. However, she is nowhere near being "college material." DW and I have always assumed that Butthead would begin a career in the food-service industry after high school, but she occasionally brings up the topic of college, and did so again last night.

In addition to being a card-carrying “friend parent,” DW is also an Honorary Member of the Ostrich Society, an venerated order dedicated to never proactively addressing potential problems with rude, lazy, entitled children of divorce. As such, she constantly sticks her head in the sand, refusing to deal with problems until they reach a crisis point (see above). I’ve encouraged her to have a sit-down with Butthead, and set expectations regarding college, namely that we will not be contributing financially in any way. DW and I have been in agreement on this point for a long time, but she has never told Butthead about this (hoping that it would just “never come up”).

Of course, when Butthead started talking about college, DW made vague, generic statements of support, but gave Butthead no information about our decision. I’m very concerned that Butthead will expect us to pay for college, if she in fact goes. I’m even more concerned that DW will flip on me, and suddenly tell me that she expects me to contribute to Butthead’s college experience. Since DW no longer works, and I pay for everything, this would not be possible even if I was not philosophically opposed to enabling a 4-year “bong odyssey” for Butthead at the local college.

Now, hopefully this will indeed be a moot point. Butthead very well could get knocked up and drop out of high school, or maybe go into the armed services. Heck, she might even marry her current boyfriend, who is said to not be a gangbanger. My question for the peanut gallery, though, is this: What should I do about the college situation? Hope she doesn’t go? Keep encouraging DW to level with Butthead? Tell Butthead myself? This is something that worries me greatly, and obviously I can’t discuss it with DW.

HRNYC's picture

I would advise DW to speak to

I would advise DW to speak to her child's guidance counselor asap. DW needs to get a bead on what is going on with the kid. Are there junior colleges that she could attend while living at home? Does dad (with SM if any), earn so little SD could qualify for finanical aid?

paul_in_utah's picture

There is a local junior

There is a local junior college, but I think that SD feels it is "beneath" her. She might qualify for financial aid, but I'm not sure exactly what Anus and Mrs. Anus make. Butthead damn sure won't earn any "merit-based" scholarships.

Since I'm currently in the process of paying off DW's own student loans (to the tune of $35,000), there is NO WAY I'm going to take on loans for Butthead either.

Free-range parenting means step-kids never having to say they're sorry.

HRNYC's picture

DW needs to take some

DW needs to take some intiative. Like I said, speak to Guidance Counselor. If this kid did not have a stellar HS career, I dont know why she should think CC is beneath her. Many excellent students attend CCs. Many CCs have "articulation" agreements that facilitate transfer to a 4 year school. Many CCs have honors programs. SD wanting the "college experience" of dorm living, drinking, etc is just too bad. DW can not afford it.

smdh's picture

I think you need to be clear

I think you need to be clear and firm. "DW, I heard Butthead bring up college again the other day. I think it is imperative that she understand the financial requirements that come with going to college and help her navigate how she will pay. As we've discussed and agreed on, I will not be contributing to her secondary education and if she really wants to go, I want her to be prepared and understand what she needs to do to make that happen"

BigEasy1203's picture

My advice: sit down and talk

My advice: sit down and talk with SD17 about college. Make it perfectly clear that she is free to go, only that she will be responsible for ALL expenses. If she is somehow able to come up with the money, you will not assume any risks at all. If it ends up being a "bong odyssey" or she flunks out or whatever the scenario, it will be on her dime, not yours. Also you will need to hold firm with DW. You're being perfectly reasonable given SD17's history in school to not want to blow money on a strong likelihood of her flunking out.

My SD17 has made very good grades throughout high school and I have already told the DW that the vast majority of the college expense will be on the SD. We simply can't afford it (she's going to an expensive art school -- which I find very foolish to spend so much money on a degree is rated as one of the least useful). She will be expected to get scholarships and/or loans and grants to fund her school.

paul_in_utah's picture

It's funny that you said that

It's funny that you said that about art school. That is what my DW's 35K degree is in, and she has never once used it.

Free-range parenting means step-kids never having to say they're sorry.

Toooldfor this's picture

Oh Geeze! I have a male

Oh Geeze! I have a male version of Butthead! Drooped out of highschool with BM's blessing. Finally got a GED after two years of floundering. BM wanted Butthead to go to college, but of course had no money to contribute (spent all her money on new house, two new cars and a new boat - actually offered this up as a valid reason to not contribute!). DH, also a card carrying member of the ostrich society, asked to use money from my BS's college account to pay for one semester of community college for Butthead. We were fortunate that BS didn't need the money because he had EARNED multiple scholarships. Long story short, Butthead stopped attending classes after two weeks, but we did not find out until a month later. Too late to get a tuition refund!! My advice to you, keep your money!! If your Butthead wants to go to college, let her get a summer job and earn her college!!

Disneyfan's picture

Maybe wife is having second

Maybe wife is having second thoughts about HELPING(not paying 100%) her daughter with college. If so, she may be planning to go back to work in order to HELP SD and BD pay for school.

If the three of them can up with a plan doesn't involve you paying, then more power to them.

Delilah's picture

Paul - completely understand

Paul - completely understand your concern and worries over the lack of communication from your DW to sd, you have already laid out bare what you are not willing to do. Your DW knows this. However, for the sake of your sanity I personally would do the following:

Wait until an opportune moment arises with just DW and you, where you can guess that DW wouldnt go apopolyptic on you. Then tell her "DW hunny, I have been feeling a bit worried over SD's expectations regarding her future, specifically college and how she expects to fund that herself. We have already said we will not be able to afford to finance this ourselves, but does SD know this? Just so you know I do think she should be told so she can plan as that decision is NOT going to change..."

Then drop it. You know she hasnt told SD, but you dont need a massively slagging match in order to get this message across. Feign innocence but clearly and firmly send her the message you will not capitulate on this.

When or if SD does come to you and DW with her hand out, expecting you to dig into your pockets then you can direct her to DW while saying "SD hasnt your mom spoken to you about this? I thought she had. I am already paying your mom's debts off to the tune of thousands and with mom not working, we just cant afford it. You will either have to fund it through scholarships or working yourself."

(You know DW will not have spoken to her about it, but by saying the above you are clearly demonstrating you had no part in the lack of communication from DW's side and you are also firmly ensuring you have a *real* reason to fall back on should either DW or SD start. After all its not YOUR fault DW has thousands in student debt (heehee)).

In the meantime, sit back with certainty that you have drawn a CLEAR line in terms of what you will do and wont do. Its up to DW to adhere by this and choose to do the right thing in giving SD a heads up. Either way NO ONE can FORCE you do or pay for anything (feel safe in this knowledge and remind yourself of this when you feel stressed), and should DW begin a terrorising campaign towards you when she realises she is NOT flavour of the month with SD, when she lets this cat out of the bag, then remind her of your conversations (calmly) along with the fact you are already paying DW's debts, paying for sd and supporting everyone (ALONE). Then walk away. No further conversation or arguing is warranted, as by entering into discussion you are inviting negotiation on this subject, where there is none. Evil

LRP75's picture

Well Paul in Utah... From

Well Paul in Utah...

From this side of the Peanut Gallery:

In the event that the college issue is pushed to the realm of "reality," personally, I would be the person to sit down to "help" fill out the FAFSA. On the surface, it would appear to be a completely altruistic move on my part. However, in reality, my efforts would be entirely self-serving: to make sure that the FAFSA was filled out accurately and correctly based upon ALL incomes involved. No hanky-panky with the Feds please.

Then, when the results came in that she didn't qualify for a "full ride," I would present to Ostrich Mom and Anus Dad financial information, for price comparison, from the local community college AND from the 4-year University your SD would "qualify" to attend. I would then purely enjoy as sticker shock sets in. I couldn't imagine Ostrich Mom and/or Anus Dad are seriously willing to take that big of a risk on a child that has consistently proven herself to be too irresponsible for college.

Regardless of what option they choose, I would REFUSE, REFUSE, REFUSE to put MY signature on anything. Period. Since your DW isn't working, that leaves Anus Dad footing the bill. If that's how he wants to spend his money... *shrug*

Someone would have to put a gun to my head to make me sign anything to be financially responsible for her to attend college. Absolutely would NOT happen. Seriously. I would not care about what an a$$hole I appeared to be. I wouldn't care if WWIII broke out over it. I wouldn't care if my spouse refused to talk to me - or if my spouse threatened me with divorce. I simply would NOT sign for anything. F*ck 'em.

P.S. All student loans are through the government now. A Student cannot get a private student loan. Period. The only financial aid anymore is either Pell Grants or some form of scholarship. Gone are the loans with delayed accrual of interest and/or repayment. The government did a major over-haul on how this is handled. Please do research on it. These changes may work in your favor.

Just sayin'...

I don't cater to crazy.

paul_in_utah's picture

That is something to think

That is something to think about. I'm just concerned that by merely filling out the FAFSA, DW will think that she has locked me on contributing. She has a way of "interpreting" things....

Free-range parenting means step-kids never having to say they're sorry.

LRP75's picture

Then tell her in the

Then tell her in the beginning that you are still NOT paying for anything, but that you are willing to help in other ways?

Present all the facts to them, then let them hang themselves. Still don't sign anything.

I don't cater to crazy.

LRP75's picture

^ could be right about that.

^ could be right about that. Certainly depends on the dynamics.

Personally, my concern is that someone would get it in their head to "fudge" the FAFSA. The Feds don't look kindly on that kind of stuff. And considering that MY information (either willingly or unknowingly) will be on the form, I'd want to make sure I wouldn't be charged with and held accountable for fraud down the line. I get the feeling that proving that it was done "without my knowledge and/or consent" would be a difficult task. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I'm sure the Feds really wouldn't give a f*ck.

I don't cater to crazy.

LRP75's picture

I wasn't aware that the

I wasn't aware that the change was for Graduate students only. Thank you for that clarification. I had a feeling I didn't know all of the details of the changes, thus the reason why I suggested research.

And yes, it was a government take over for student loans. If a student walks into a bank and tries to get a personal loan, and the bank even catches a *whiff* that the loan would be used to pay for schooling and/or support the student during school, they can't/won't do the loan. I know, because I tried. Private student loans no longer exist.

I don't cater to crazy.

HRNYC's picture

You are wrong. Basic types

You are wrong. Basic types of finanical aid.

1. Federal -- some grants for low income, and loans (about 5.5 per year, even with no need). Subsidizied interest if need -- NEED based on income of CP, plus spouse if any.

2. Some states have grants -- NY and CA -- based on income of CP and spouse if any.

3. Institutional (eg the college) aid. Two ways to go on this. Very selective schools, like Ivy League, give generous aid, still need based, but income can go up to middle class, but includes BOTH parents and spouses if any. Less selective schools will give aid to get kids with better GPA/SAT/ACT to come there.

doll faced sm's picture

P.S. All student loans are

P.S. All student loans are through the government now. A Student cannot get a private student loan. Period. The only financial aid anymore is either Pell Grants or some form of scholarship. Gone are the loans with delayed accrual of interest and/or repayment. The government did a major over-haul on how this is handled. Please do research on it. These changes may work in your favor.

This statement came as a shock to me since I used to work for Sallie Mae. They have some serious friends in high places in terms of government and policy making, so I went to their website real quick and clicked on the "learn more" link under student loans. Private loans are most definitely still available. What was done away with was Federal Loans (stafford subsidized and unsubsidized, for example) being allowed to be originate by private lenders (i.e. Sallie Mae). All Federal education loans are now through the gov't. (The Federal Direct Lending Program). But yes, private loans are still alive and kicking, and yes, you can still defer payments until after graduation. Interest will accrue during this period, and prior to the loan going into repayment, that accrued interest will be capitalized into the balance of the loan.

Teens: "What can we do; where can we go?" Go home; mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities; your parents do not owe you fun.

LRP75's picture

This confuses me, I was told

This confuses me, I was told by my bank that Private Student Loans do NOT exist and that if a bank even catches *whiff* (the banks words) that the money will be used for school, they can't grant the loan.

I am really confused... Puzzled

I suppose it never really mattered to me. I received Pell Grants, institutional scholarships, Tuition Waiver (I'm American Indian) and a Tribal Scholarship.

I suppose that I am no expert on student loans as I am graduating with zero debt. I just thought I would try to see what would happen - for cost of living expenses because one of my scholarships would only reimburse 50% for the summer semester. (long story).

I withdrawal all of my previous comments about financial aid. Clearly, I don't know what I'm talking about. I'll admit it. Shocked

I don't cater to crazy.

imaSmom's picture

Hey, can could you send me

Hey, can could you send me some info on the last portion of your post regarding the government overhaul. Thanks.

The freedom, the strength, the will to do as I damn well please.

LRP75's picture

On another, perhaps related,

On another, perhaps related, note:

When my DH told me that he didn't want me to discipline his kids. He feels that I am too "stern." I told him the following:

"You are absolutely 100% within your rights to request that I don't discipline your children. I will respect that request. HOWEVER, that does NOT mean that I am going to be some hapless victim of your bad parenting and their horrible behavior. There are certain behaviors that I absolutely refuse to put up with. By that, I mean that YOU better do something about it, or I will - regardless of your wishes and regardless of whether or not you like the way I do it. (Then, I told him what behaviors I would not put up with and how I WOULD discipline them if he didn't). You do NOT get to decide how I and/or my property will be treated. You do NOT get to decide how MY money will be spent when it comes to your children. You do NOT get to call the shots about how MY time will be spent when they are here. You can strip me of my power to discipline your children, but you cannot strip me of my power over my own life."

Ironically, he is so terrified of my way of discipling his children, he is actually trying to parent them and get them under control. He knows me well enough to know that my yes's mean yes and my no's mean no. I don't make idle threats. Am I stern? Hell yeah I am. The proof is in the pudding: MY son would never dream of behaving the way his children do. Ever.

I get the sense that your DW has attempted to disable you just as my DH tried to disable me. I let him have power over his kids - just not power over me.

Stand firm ST brother.

I don't cater to crazy.

paul_in_utah's picture

Souns like my DW and your DH

Souns like my DW and your DH could be fraternal twins.

Yes, indeed, DW has "disabled" me with respect to Butthead. Like you, I was "too stern" when attempting to discipline SD, so I am no longer allowed to do that. As noted, DW's "laisse-faire" friend-parenting worked like a charm, based on the shitty grades/pot-smoking/dating gang-bangers/cutting classes.

This summer has really turned out to be a challenge. I am usually gone all summer for work, but for some reason I have been stuck here, and have had to deal with SD. Ughh.

Free-range parenting means step-kids never having to say they're sorry.

LRP75's picture

I would be hard pressed to

I would be hard pressed to not slit my wrists if my SKIDS were going to be here all summer.

When it's one of the two, they are much more manageable and my DH is a much more effective parent. Put the two kids together and all hell breaks lose. Ever watched an episode of Super Nanny? Multiply that and you can just imagine my hell. The only difference is that the kids on Super Nanny are usually around the age of 5 when they act that way. My SKIDS are twins, aged 10, and they act that way.

Their first day in our new home consisted on them going into the neighbors yards; pissing on the neighbors trees; running out into the street in front of cars; screaming foul language at one another and their father; throwing rocks and sticks into the street; and when the SD was having a tantrum: Sitting in her fathers car laying on the horn.

Oh yeah, I was MORTIFIED.

One time, I was outside doing yard work when a neighbor was walking by. She must not have been home on that weekend, because in our introductory conversation, she proceeded to ask me if we had any children. I told her no. You see, I saw she had younger children with her. I'm afraid that if I tell the neighbors with kids that "we" have kids, they will think the kids can play together. Shocked

I don't cater to crazy.

bi's picture

and that's why my ex only

and that's why my ex only last thru boot camp! cuz he isn't made of what it takes to succeed as a soldier! what makes me sick is how even now, 9 years later, he still tries to get respect and refers to himself as a "veteran" when all he did was go to boot camp. never left the country, never went to war, never did a damn thing. but he was in the Army and is a "veteran" who deserves to be bowed down to for what he did for this country. Barf! meanwhile, 18 year old kids are getting killed doing what he only pretends to have done, and he was 26....

"I don't hold grudges. I remember facts."

paul_in_utah's picture

That's a good point. I only

That's a good point. I only mentioned the military because Butthead has talked about it on occassion. Based on your comments, as well as what I have heard elsewhere, I think that her chances of getting into the military are slim. Not zero, but slim.

Free-range parenting means step-kids never having to say they're sorry.

doll faced sm's picture

^^This. Another option is job


Another option is job corp; they're good at helping troubled young men and women.

Teens: "What can we do; where can we go?" Go home; mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities; your parents do not owe you fun.

paul_in_utah's picture

I have actually considered

I have actually considered this. That is the ultimate End-Game. There are only a handful of items that could possibly push me to the edge:

1. Butthead gets addicted to hard-care drugs like meth or crack.
2. Butthead kills someone raching cars.
3. Butthead gets pregnant.
4. Butthead or SS20 try to live with us after high school.

I guess you could add "DW expects me to contribute to Butthead's college" to that list.

Free-range parenting means step-kids never having to say they're sorry.

Disneyfan's picture

Why would it fall on you? SD

Why would it fall on you? SD isn't your kid.

There isn't anything stopping mom from getting a job.

I would die laughing if DF expected me to help pay for his kids to go to college.

stepmomfromhell's picture

""1. Butthead gets addicted

""1. Butthead gets addicted to hard-care drugs like meth or crack.
2. Butthead kills someone raching cars.
3. Butthead gets pregnant.
4. Butthead or SS20 try to live with us after high school""
1) addiction of a skid is grounds enough for divorce in my books
2) killing someone while racing a car, same as above.
3) I'm so pro-sterilization of skids, any skid having children at any age should be ex-communicated and banned from family relationship with BF or BM.
4) this is one reason I talked my DH into having OSD take custody of both SSs and she can deal with their education and future college.

Things change in a very BIG way once parents remarry, skids shouldn't think that they will assume that they have the same rights as if their parents were still married. 50% of skids rights to family are removed.

MissLynnnie's picture

I actually am a little

I actually am a little envious of you Paul, as you live in state where you have a choice whether to pay or not. As I posted on my blog, we are in NJ, supporting a D- partying, ADD, non working, lazy 21 year old spoiled brat and will forced to for 2 1/2 more years, unless we want to emancipate, which will cost 7000 and we could lose if the judge thinks the kid is "trying", and we could be ordered to pay more. So we figure it is easier just to pony up for 2 more years for this arrogant kid and just have a sense of finality about the whole fiasco. (He recently called his mom and said he needs more money--and he is not working or going to school)

So you do have a choice. Why on earth does anyone think you should foot the bill for this? Don't do what my husband did and just hope everything will work out as events unfold. Draw your line in the sand beforehand and make it clear what you will and will not do. A failure to plan is a plan to fail.

I agree you should "help" fill out the FAFSA and make sure all the info is accurate. FAFSA is very strict and any intentional inaccuracies are illegal and punishable. I am paying back a 22,000 loan for a library degree I just completed now so that is how I know about FAFSA.

BTW I have an art degree from the 80s and I was a successful designer for a long time--design work is a big commitment and you have to be willing to work hard at it.

Jmom's picture

Sorry to hog your blog Paul,

Sorry to hog your blog Paul, but I wanted to thank everyone for their responses. I have been going around and around with this for a while now. I have a BS12 and a SD12 so they'll be in college at the same time. I grew up in a single parent household and had to work to pay off my student loans so I know how all of this works. I am encouraging my BS in the basics such as stay in state and don't pay out of state tuition, keep your grade point average up and do volunteer work. I know he's only 12 but you can never start to early Smiling.

Here's the other side to that coin. SD12 is being encouraged to go for the gold. I think they (DH and BM) have named every Ivy League school they could think of for her to shoot for. SD is smart but not that smart. They are encouraging her that going to school in state is for losers. I just don't know what to think. My family and I are saving for BS12 without DH knowing about it. Good luck SD. DH and BM don't know jack about saving.

I have disengaged from this kid and one of those reasons is this whole school thing. I think in my mind if I don't participate in whatever she's doing now they can't expect me to participate later.

Orange County Ca's picture

I don't see anything left to

I don't see anything left to do. If your wife suggests you spring for some money you already know the answer.

If your dear step-child complains --- well who cares what she thinks?

Get a nice snub-nosed 38 rovolver in case gang banging boyfriend wants to get involved.


I've observed humans for 70 years and dogs for 10. I prefer the dogs.

imthewife's picture



Here's how it rolled for my SD19.

I took control of it all, because DH (the high school educator) and his loser ex wife (barely graduated HS) made ZERO plans.

I filled out the FAFSA. The FAFSA will only want the information from the parent she has lived with the last 3 years or so. This is federal so this is for all states.

She will probably not get enough for a full ride unless idiot dad is a poor, broke SOB. However, she will get about $5500.00 in LOANS.

These loans are to be in HER name. So when you fill out the will leave off you and DWs info (and this is correct since she lives with Dad). FAFSA will NOT want your information.

All you may need is his SSN and you pop that in and FAFSA will get his tax return for you.

Once that is decided, then she can pick a college and atend on her own loans.

I would NOT pay a dime for her college...she has missed that boat in the academics department.

My SD earned straight As through HS and she is at a community college out of state and we are NO LONGER FOOTING THE WHOLE BILL. We have forced her mom to pay 1/3, SD 1/3, and us 1/3. SD is working 2 jobs this summer to pay for it.

NO child should get a free college teaches them nothing. However...I am old school and think that kids should earn it all (I know...I am a BEAST). My DH doesn't like this much.

Why is DW not working? She should be contributing to the household...if that's your arrangement, fine. However, anyone who brings a kid in from a previous relationship should be in the workforce....ESPECIALLY if the have $35k in student loans to pay off. you are way too nice...maybe I could get my DH to pay off my loans that earned me the degrees that help me pay for his dumb procreative mistake! That would be awesome!

imthewife's picture

I am the stepmom and I am

I am the stepmom and I am stuck doing all the college stuff. I kinda took control because I flat out refuse to finance Miss Princesses college education while she doesn't have a job and I work to pay for it all.

I do the FAFSA in her name. She gets about $5,500.00 a year in loans that are IN HER NAME. We will not be paying them back.

FAFSA will only want her dad's info since she has lived with him the last few years. They do not want anything financially from the parent they have not lived with. If that were the case, my SD would have gotten a full ride if I could have included her loser, disabled mom who hasn't worked in almost 10 years.

Do not pay a dime for this kid's college and set it straight with DW now. And...BTW...why is DW not working? She needs to pay off her student loans.