AIBU or is this normal these days?

(187 Posts)
SultanOfPing Fri 08-Jul-16 23:01:56

I don't know if i'm completely out of touch, or if DH's ex and kids are completely taking the piss, so a couple of honest views would be appreciated... Basically, DH's ex wife has always been a bit 'grabby'. For the two boys, she gets about £150 more than the csa recommend - in total, close to £1200 a month for the pair of them. The £150 is made up of extra for clothes and dinner money. The two boys are 14 and 16, and the eldest is all set to go on to do A levels in September. A few weeks ago, he started hinting about new stuff for school. He asked for a leather jacket, boots, tshirts and jeans...we agreed on the jacket (it's not a cheap one that he's picked!) and two pairs of jeans. Anyway, the ex sent DH a text a couple of days ago...she's putting £500 of her own money (she doesn't work, so basically DH's/our money that we give her for the boys) towards clothes, footwear and books and expects us to match it. We have two young children of our own and, well, we just can't afford it. We rent a five bed house so the boys can have their own rooms, even though they only visit for a weekend every three weeks and half of school holidays. Anyway, as expected, DH's ex has gone mental. How DH is a bad parent, that he doesn't care, how he has no idea how hard it is for her (she actually left him for another bloke after carrying on behind his back for nearly two years and took the kids 300 miles away [and does nothing to help with visits]) and how he's going to alienate his boys if he's not careful. DH is stressing about it all because he's worried that he won't see his sons because they'll turn against him. Me? I wanna punch the bitch in the throat. Are teenagers really this expensive? Is this a normal demand for a 16yr old kid? We also give them pocket money that goes straight into their bank accounts, which they do nothing for (they don't help out in the kitchen or walk the dogs when they come up to stay, for example) and he has no intention of using any of that for his new wardrobe or books. This isn't the first time that she's asked for more money, and we always pay half (at least) towards uniforms and footwear - we also buy them everyday clothes, usually a couple of tshirts or a hoodie when i'm buying clothes for our two (2 & 4, so grow out of things quickly!). Are we being unreasonable by telling the boys' mum that we can't afford it (we'd have to get stuff on a credit card) or is it normal to fork out this much money? My friends all tell me that we do more than enough already but, well, they're my mates so possibly a bit biased?

zzzzz Fri 08-Jul-16 23:12:37

It's far more than my teens have. I would never go into debt to buy non necessary clothes.

The children should be helping when they are at home with you, if it is to be their home too. I'm not sure how it's become optional for them.

Tell dh not to worry that the children won't see him if he doesn't give them ££££s.

WorraLiberty Fri 08-Jul-16 23:15:36

One person's normal is another person's extravagant. I guess it depends on the income etc.

It does sound as though the kids are having an awful lot of money spent on clothes though, and imo that's not really necessary.

My now 17yr old DS got himself a summer job when he was 16 and worked in a school uniform shop, for the summer hols. He spent most of his wages on clothes and musical instruments that he didn't actually need, but really wanted.

Perhaps your dh should encourage his eldest to look for a part time job?

If the kids don't help out when they stay with you, that's yours and your DH's fault though, to be fair.

Cabrinha Fri 08-Jul-16 23:20:42

Why didn't he go to court to ask for a Prohibited Steps Order when she wanted to moving his children away, and ensure 50:50 contact?
Then he wouldn't be paying maintenance and he would have seen them more often.

No matter that she had an affair (and I speak as the cheated on party from my divorce) he has outsourced the primary care of his children to her, and that costs money. So I've no sympathy for the CSA amount, and as that's a minimum my heart isn't bleeding over an extra £150 which sounds like it's about 15% more. If it's too tight with his 2 younger children, he shouldn't have had more.

It's absolutely fine to decide on an as hoc basis though whether he can afford to buy them treats like expensive clothes - that would be the case if they lived with him too.

But don't even start with complaining about maintenance amounts - if he's going to leave the majority of care to someone else it's right that he pays for that.

Gingefringe Fri 08-Jul-16 23:22:33

Why can't she work?

Ilovemygsd Fri 08-Jul-16 23:27:48

Well I'm allocated £9 per week in child maintenance. That I hardly ever receive. My ds is only 9 tho and not into clothes n brands yet. But I would think 1200 is more than enough per mth. Full stop. I wasn't aware absent parents/part time parents were to pay for school uniform and clothes too. I thought that was included in the maintenance confused

SultanOfPing Fri 08-Jul-16 23:30:13

I have no idea how much teenagers cost, so thank you! As for the situation at home, it's easier to do stuff myself because every little thing I do/say/ask gets back to their mother and then DH gets it in the neck. We get on great, and both boys are good with their younger brother & sister (they put up with being climbed on, building towers and endless cbeebies!) but I've always got to watch what I say. DH has said to them that they need to tell him if there's anything they're not happy about, and they always insist that everything is fine, but things always get a bit twisted once they're back home. If I actually made them do the dishes, I hate to think what she'd do!

Onehellofaride Fri 08-Jul-16 23:41:13

That is more than enough to cover everything and anything you give them supplementary is a bonus. Maintenance is intended to cover loving costs including uniform, trips etc. He is completely right to say no if you can't afford.

Onehellofaride Fri 08-Jul-16 23:41:31

*living

Justbeingnosey123 Fri 08-Jul-16 23:49:08

With the 16 year old could your DH not suggest to him not the ex he will take him shopping for school with a pre agreed budget? Obviously no mention of why no involving the kids in finances etc but. It would a) give you DH and his son some 1:1 time and b) nothing can be twisted as his son would be there. Just a thought as they get older.

MrTiddlestheFatCat Fri 08-Jul-16 23:51:18

It really does sound like a lot, but I don't think there is a 'normal'.

The money that he gives her should be allocated for uniform etc. Why all of a sudden do they need so many new clothes?

I would reply saying that you can't afford to match that amount, and have already bought XYZ for them this month (and the maintenance should already cover it!). I would also ask for a specific list of what she 'needs' to buy so you can see the actual cost, and perhaps agree on a couple of small things to buy off that too.

Going into A Levels, he should be fairly mature, and old enough to know what he himself needs. Ask him to write the list when he's at yours if that will make it any more reliable. At that age, I would also have understood if my Dad and StepMum had sat me down and said they couldn't afford x amount, but still wanted to help out so took me shopping for a few bits.

SultanOfPing Fri 08-Jul-16 23:51:30

Cabrinha - DH's ex threatened all sorts during their divorce, and he decided that it would be better for the kids to go along with everything. He couldn't afford a solicitor for any legal proceedings, as he was paying the rent on the family home and rent on the flat that he had to move into. With hindsight, he agrees now that he should've fought harder but to what end? The boys were too young to understand what was going on, so he thought it best to go along with what she wanted. It wasn't that he left care of the children to her - she threatened to take them away (her parents live abroad) if he tried going for joint custody. That's all in the past though, it's just that she always wants everything her way and will make things bloody difficult if she doesn't get it. Unfortunately, the boys are going down the same route.

MrTiddlestheFatCat Fri 08-Jul-16 23:55:13

Then again, if everything gets back to their Mother, ignore the last part of my post , as any mention to them about money may get twisted and cause lots more trouble.

Justbeingnosey123 Sat 09-Jul-16 00:00:07

I think it's really important to separate the boys from things, you don't know what they are expecting vs what is twisited, when what you are getting is coming from his ex. I can only talk from my experience as a child of divorce, as the kids get older you can rely on them more, as I said he can take them shopping for the extras as you both decide you can afford as long as it's not done in a way that blames the ex it might be a good way forward for you all.

SultanOfPing Sat 09-Jul-16 00:00:17

So the general feeling is that i'm not being the wicked step-mum of the North by denying my step-son a new wardrobe for his new school then? Phew! We have offered to take the eldest shopping for a few new things, but his mum has said that she'll take him...

Ilovemygsd Sat 09-Jul-16 00:02:40

Ye bet she did.... Primark I bet, n pockets the rest. She sounds like a grabber tbh

MrTiddlestheFatCat Sat 09-Jul-16 00:08:19

Not at all OP.

I would say make a list that he keeps, you take him shopping first and cross off some things, and then leave the rest for her. Say that's all you can afford and that the maintenance has always been higher than recommended so that she can choose whatever they like clothes wise and for extras that they want, and therefore you can't contribute anymore than you have already done.

missymayhemsmum Sat 09-Jul-16 00:09:19

At 14 and 16 some of the money should maybe go into a clothing allowance the child controls himself?

SultanOfPing Sat 09-Jul-16 00:11:15

Justbeing... DH tries dealing with the boys as much as possible, and he'll only hear from his ex every month or so. Whether their mum is acting on her own agenda though, or if she starts on DH because of what the boys have told her (we don't know who does the embellishing, her or the boys), we don't know. DH has tried talking to the boys and explained that they need to come to him about any problems (they have a really good relationship) but they maintain that everything is fine. They certainly seem happy when they're down, and seem to understand that we basically have four kids to provide for, but it all seems to get a bit muddled once they get back home.

Justbeingnosey123 Sat 09-Jul-16 00:11:20

Try the offer direct to the son it seems the issues are with the ex so you are completely reasonable to cut her out where possible if he refuses then at least in the future if it's ever used against you, it can always be said you tried everything. But no it's not unreasonable to have a max amount you can afford for things and not getting into debt to please people.

MrTiddlestheFatCat Sat 09-Jul-16 00:12:22

And although I think its 'normal' for a 16 year old boy to ask his parents for some things, what he has asked for sounds excessive really. He sounds like he has no real understanding of money, and does not expect to have to spend his own on things he wants. It does nothing to help kids at that age to have so little understanding, because in couple of years, he ought to be managing everything himself.

SultanOfPing Sat 09-Jul-16 00:17:04

Missy...we tried that one and failed miserably! Mum point-blank refused. The eldest gets £30 a month from us, and £20 from DH's mum so isn't doing too badly though - definitely more cash to flash than I had at his age! Bloody hell, that's probably more than I have to myself a month now...

SultanOfPing Sat 09-Jul-16 00:19:19

Thank you, Tiddles! DH and I both know this, but getting DH's ex to see this? Not so easy.

trafalgargal Sat 09-Jul-16 00:29:01

How can a stepmother with teenage stepsons who visit regularly "have no idea how much teenagers cost"?

minatiae Sat 09-Jul-16 00:35:19

hang on, she's giving $500 and asking you to match it, so that's $500 each for clothes?

$500 is more than I spend on clothes for myself in a whole year. I'm not short on money by any means, but can't justify spending loads on clothes unless it's a piece I will be wearing for the next 10+ years like a good coat or something. I buy good quality stuff from charity shops mainly and probably spend about $200 a year on clothes. I used to spend way more until I discovered second hand clothes, and they're often way better than Id have been able to afford new. Unless this is clothes that are going to last them years instead of lasting a year or even a season, it's a lot of money. If she wants to give them $500 she should go ahead and do what she wants, it's her money, but no way should you feel obliged to give the same amount.

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