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To think we should play along with this for a bit?

(49 Posts)
PinkOrchid123 Fri 30-Jan-15 13:50:10

Child maintenance and teenage behaviour related.


My DH and his XW have two sons together. DSS1 is almost 19, DSS2 15. They have always been with XW on weeknights, at ours on weekends, though DSS1's visits are a lot less regular now as he's 18. He sees his dad pretty regularly, they call each other, Facebook, etc. though. No problem for either of them, just part of growing up IYSWIM.

DH and XW have a family-based arrangement for child maintenance in place where DH pays £350 per month, buys all clothing, pays for regular hobbies (sports, music lessons etc) and equipment related to these, and any school-related activities (tutoring, trips etc). The agreement is that DH will pay until DSS is 20 if he is in full-time education not higher than A-Level or equivalent (as per law). After that, he will stop paying XW, but support DSS directly in some way. I'm saying this because this post isn't about shirking payments, DH would not leave his son in the lurch.

The situation:

Since September, DSS1 has been at a local college at a level below A-Level, so DH is continuing to pay maintenance for him to XW. We've now found out that DSS1 has stopped attending this college / been asked to leave (not 100% sure what happened exactly - but he is definitely no longer attending).

DSS1 has not told his father. In fact, when DSS1 speaks to his dad, he's telling all these stories of stuff he's doing at college. He's admitting to not enjoying the course he is on, but says he still attends every day etc. It's highly likely that he is telling these stories so that his mum will continue getting maintenance payments. She's petrified of losing those. DSS1 is not very mature for his age and he would do this if he felt that he's protecting his mum from losing income.

If we call DSS1 on this, then in all likelihood he will become very distressed because he was trying to protect his mum, he won't want to admit to his dad that he 'failed' at college, and XW would kick off big, big, big time if she felt her payments were at risk, etc.

So AIBU to think that rather than calling his bluff and starting World War III, we should sit this out for a bit? WWYD?

ghostyslovesheep Fri 30-Jan-15 13:52:46

yes sit it out - she will lose tax credits and CB for him as well which is a massive blow

I thank god my ex has happily agreed to pay up keep for our children until they finish education - including HE - because I can't afford to (potentially) put 3 through Uni

PtolemysNeedle Fri 30-Jan-15 13:55:52

I'd talk to the dss and try and get him back into education or training of some kind.

Let him know that he has to be doing something productive and useful, or there will be no money for him. He needs to understand that the money is to support his education, and if he's not going to take his education seriously, then he needs to be out there earning himself.

I wouldn't just ride it out and do nothing - that basically telling him that it's ok to lie and disregard his Dad, it's ok to not bother being productive in life and that it's ok for him not to take responsibility for himself because whether he fails at college or becomes a work shy layabout, he will still be provided for financially.

wickedlazy Fri 30-Jan-15 13:58:42

I think your dh should -gently- tell his ds1 that he knows he isn't attending college any more, and find out why. He can reassure him he still loves him, is still proud of him, and that he can always go back and try a different course. It is not fair this lad should have to lie to his dad because of his mum. It must be hard for him.

As for the mum. I wouldn't say anything to her yet, dh could ask dss1 to tell her the truth is out when he has a talk with her, and play it by ear from there?

wickedlazy Fri 30-Jan-15 13:59:25

*talk with him sorry

momb Fri 30-Jan-15 14:00:19

SS1 is almost 19, so he should have taken his A levels last year surely? Why all the deceit when your DH should be on a 'supporting him directly instead of paying maintenance for him' type arrangement based on your OP? It's then up to him to pay his Mum rent/board if he's living at home.

Having said that, It does seem as if your DH doesn't mind and it may be easier to play along for another year. SS1's going to have to come clean eventually.

lljkk Fri 30-Jan-15 14:02:32

Can't you confront him and offer to give him the same money directly, anyway? He can then pass it to his mother or spend it as he sees fit (see it as much-appreciated support from his parent while he decides what to do next in his life).

I think it's mean to let him keep perpetuating this. It may do his head in to keep up the pretence.

elfycat Fri 30-Jan-15 14:06:44

How is this about money? Surely it has to be about SS and why he feels he has to lie. If it's his mother wanting money then he is a victim of low-level bullying (into the lie) and needs support. If it's shame at dropping out/being asked to leave then he needs your support.

The money aspect is turning it into a kind of game over who will tell the truth first (and I can see how that would work so not judging). But in the meantime what is SS doing? What are his plans? How can you give him support/advice if things have changed?

SoupDragon Fri 30-Jan-15 14:08:24

How did you find out and are you sure his mother knows?

Wrt the maintenance payments - if he doesn't have a job, he can't pay any board to his mother and hasn't suddenly become free to feed. Some kind of plan of action needs to be in place for getting a job, claiming benefits of some sort or starting afresh at a new college and playing along with the current scenario isn't going to help with that.

TywysogesGymraeg Fri 30-Jan-15 14:12:27

If he's not at college, what is he doing? We've told our kids that we'll support them as long as they're in full time education (including uni). If they chose to leave education, then they need to get a job and support themselves, and pay for their keep if they continue to live at home. Both are happy and see the fairness of this.

Your DSS is taking the piss out of both his father and his mother by allowing the situation to continue. He's allowing his mother to take money of his father to support him whilst he's dropped out of education.

He needs to either get a job and support himself by paying keep to his Mum, or get back into education and enjoy the support his parents will give him to so do.

Favouritethings Fri 30-Jan-15 14:13:08

How did you find out that he is no longer at college?

PinkOrchid123 Fri 30-Jan-15 14:49:13

Firstly, how we found out: We've been suspecting this since before Christmas, but we mainly know because DSS2 really can't lie. Both DSSs were here for the weekend and DSS2 was really uncharacteristically quiet. And blushed very time his brother mentioned college. DSS2 hates being told what to do... and told us that he was p****ed off with being told to lie the next time we saw him. We had a long chat with him - the poor lad was pretty upset. We downplayed the thing and told him we'd been suspecting anyway and would deal with it in due course, without involving him (DSS2). And encouraged him to stay out of it.

Does his mum know? Yes, absolutely. DSS1 is now spending every day at home, firmly installed on the sofa. XW is on benefits and has a few younger children, so she's also at home. Without wanting to sound bitchy, the lying is more of an XW character trait than DSS1's. She's very much behind this. (Oh my, this does sound bitchy. But I swear it's actually a factually correct observation... blush)

Giving him the same money directly - it's kind of an option, but DH has told DSS1 a while back that once he's not in education any more, he will support him financially on condition that he works in some way and does not spend his time on the sofa (XW not being a brilliant example on that front, etc...). DH did say that if DSS1 can't find a job, he would expect him to do voluntary work for at least 2 days a week - or else no money from daddy.

Argh, I'm stuck on this one. My personal opinion would always be to be honest, even brutally honest, but in this case, it's really going to cause WWIII. confused

PtolemysNeedle Fri 30-Jan-15 14:59:22

What's the alternative though?

I can understand you dreading the fallout that will arise from this, but to do nothing would be shockingly lazy parenting on your DHs part.

Something needs to kick your dss up the bum and make him go out and do something, it would be failing him to allow him to just languish in front of the TV for next few years.

FamilyAdventure Fri 30-Jan-15 15:05:58

I don't know. I understand exactly what you're trying to do, prevent a big fuss and protect DSS1 from being the one who "caused" it, but DH does need to be a father to him and needs to be talking to him about what he's doing instead of college and/or what he plans to do next. He can't keep pretending he doesn't know.

angelohsodelight Fri 30-Jan-15 15:18:47

Don't go along with it for goodness sake! How ridiculous. It's clearly affecting the other son, plus they are lying, plus the son can't sit on his arse all day long. What future is that crashing for him? Your sh needs to address this pronto.

lljkk Fri 30-Jan-15 15:46:22

If your husband truly believed that he should only support his son if in education or training, then to change now would be to collude with values and lifestyle that he doesn't believe is right. I don't see how you have the choice to go along with the pretence. WWIII may be preferable to playing the fool.

PinkOrchid123 Fri 30-Jan-15 15:48:43

Fair enough, I needed to hear this. I suppose I was hoping DSS1 would see the light himself and come clean... That's just wishful thinking.

It's so tricky as we've been through many, many rounds of World War III. Actually, we're probably up to WW XVII by now or something like that - and DSS1 may well choose to stay away from us completely if we try to put on pressure. We've had a few episodes of that over the last couple of years and things are just so nice and easy right now that we don't want to rock the boat again.

To be fair to DH, he is talking to his son about alternatives to college a lot (like I said, DSS1 does admit the course isn't for him). We've helped DSS1 write a decent CV, printed a million copies of it, offered help with job interviews, are advising on how to go about finding suitable jobs, have filled out job application forms with him, have supplied contact details for all kinds of career counseling services and offered to go there with him. But I think DSS1 is just telling DH what he wants to hear, and he is refusing to attend any appointments together with DH. The answer he gives is either, "I'd prefer to go on my own" or "I've already done that" or "Mum is going with me". It's really hard to get close enough to be able to help.

So with that in mind, how exactly do you kick your son's arse when you don't see him on a daily basis? Any ideas?

lljkk Fri 30-Jan-15 16:03:15

The DSS1 is an adult, I don't think you can or should kick his arse.
Can make clear you love him and will support him in other ways.
I guess my worry would be about backlash on the DSS2. What strategy can you take to protect relationship with him?

PtolemysNeedle Fri 30-Jan-15 16:10:03

You cut off the money so he starts to feel it for himself! His mum might start making some effort to help him if her money is stopped.

Caronaim Fri 30-Jan-15 16:32:47

He needs to get back into college, or find a job. he can't be just left raking in money based on making no progress into any career himself. it is colluding with his work avoidance, at a time in his life where the opportunities are disappearing fast, and life long habits are forming. You are doing him no favours at all to let him get away with it. Time for some tough love!

Favouritethings Fri 30-Jan-15 16:45:25

Perhaps dh could say he tried to contact ds via the college (couldn't get hold of him on his mobile) and was informed by his tutor that ds had withdrawn from the course. That way neither ds is at blame for dh finding out.
Bit naughty, but not half as naughty as xw is being!!

FamilyAdventure Fri 30-Jan-15 16:46:41

TBH I don't think DH is doing anyone any favours by supporting a layabout and teaching him that it's OK to lie for financial gain.

Quitelikely Fri 30-Jan-15 16:55:07

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. I would stop the money and I bet the mother will soon be on his back to get a job so he can start paying board.

He's nearly a grown lad. He should be mature enough to have a relationship with his dad not based on money.

PinkOrchid123 Fri 30-Jan-15 17:13:00

We will definitely not tell DSS1 that DSS2 told us - we were already 80-90% sure that the college thing wasn't happening any more before DSS2 told us anyway. The stories from DSS1 didn't quite add up and... ah, I don't know, but you could kind of tell it was all a bit too fake. It's just so sad that he's being told to lie and that he's decided that that's what he wants to go along with. Grr.

Tough love coming his way soon I think.

PinkOrchid123 Fri 30-Jan-15 17:16:28

Favouritethings I like your idea. I was thinking along similar lines. Alternatively, DH could find a reason to go round on a day that DSS1 is supposed to be in college... or something like that. We shall discuss. Though I think we may not need to be specific in how we know.

I wish she mum was sensible enough to put pressure on DSS1 once this comes out, but fear she will more likely kick off about DH and create trouble between DSS1 and DH. She's often done that in the past, like, "Your dad doesn't love you, he doesn't even want to pay maintenance for you", etc.

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