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Dear “OH CAROL:”
My ex and I have been divorced for 10 years and have a 16-year-old daughter together. He now lives several states away from us. He’s getting remarried and called her to tell her that if she wants to be in the wedding, that’s okay with him, but she (meaning me) will have to pay for her plane ticket to get there and for her dress to be in the wedding. I’m furious. I’ve always had to chase him for the child-support he owes and now he’s putting our daughter in the middle of this. Should I just pay the bill and button my lip – or what?
With a Teen Daughter in the Middle
LOVE ‘N LIFE’S “OH CAROL” ANSWERS:
Dear ‘With a Teen Daughter:’
I really had to sit with this one for a long time because it hit home. Not quite the same story but enough similarity to hit the same nerve.
My ex told our daughter on a Sunday that he was getting married that coming Saturday. The timing couldn't have been worse. She had just started High School a week before, which as you know, is a tough and scary time for most kids. She had less than a week to digest this information and it absolutely affected her for many months (years?) to come. He and his wife-to-be expected me drive her to their home (for their backyard BBQ 'wedding') and she (the wife-to-be) was annoyed when I said no. I told her that I didn't feel comfortable coming to her house and meeting her for the first time on the same day she was marrying my ex-husband. Her response was "you don't have to come in". Needless to say, I did not drive her. I was able to get her a ride with our dear neighbors. It was not a happy time for my daughter. She told me later that she sat alone in the corner of the yard crying and her father didn't even notice.
Not knowing the relationship between your ex and your daughter my gut reaction is for you to say NO. You stated that he "now lives several states away" which implies to me that he moved, not you, and I'd like to know why. Why did he think it would be alright to move away from his child, and so far away that it requires a flight to see each other? I am guessing that he hasn't seen her in a while and that visitation is a joke.
This wedding situation is his responsibility not YOURS! If he wants his daughter at his wedding, he will find a way to have her there and buy her dress. How dare he put the onus on you! Why on earth would you want to (or be expected) to pay for her airfare and a dress for her to wear to HIS wedding? Sounds to me as if you are very lucky to no longer be married to this doozy.
I tried my best to not include my daughter in my adult issues with her father. There are times though, when I think it is fine to let her be privy to certain things. I would advise you to sit her down and tell her that you would be fine with her going to her father's wedding but he is placing a huge financial burden on you, which isn't fair. If your heart hurts a little that he is re-marrying, I think it is okay to share that too. You may no longer love him or want him but it still stings a little when they find someone else. "You would cry too if it happened to you" (thanks Lesley Gore)
Let your daughter know that you have those feelings and that it is a smack in the face for you to be put in this position. You might want to avoid saying things about her father like "If he really wants you there, he will find a way" yada yada yada ... because ultimately what your daughter will feel or hear is that he doesn't want HER. Kids always interpret these kinds of situations to their own detriment. They think they are not loved, or unwanted, or it is their fault. I can see how she could easily interpret this the wrong way. Again, I advise you to speak to her from a financial standpoint.
I would also love to see you confront this idiot. Is he kidding? Not only is he selfish and inconsiderate to expect you to pay for this he compounds it by telling your daughter this rather than discussing it with you first?! What is he thinking by saying that "if she wants to be in the wedding"? Being in a wedding party is something one gets asked to do... not, "if you want to be in the wedding SHE has to buy your ticket and dress".
He put you in the position to be the bad guy because he doesn't want to spend the money to have his daughter at his wedding. So, you are the one who has to say no and disappoint your daughter. This is HIS wedding… HIS responsibility. My guess is that you have a hard time standing up to him. Why else would you be asking me if you should button your lip and just pay the bill? This is not even a debate. JUST SAY NO! He is bullying you. It is time to put up your hand and protect yourself! Find a therapist that can focus on self-empowerment and make an appointment today! Please let me know how this turns out.
Yours 4 love,
EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to serving as “Oh Carol” for After Fifty Living visitors, Carol Ziegler is a dating coach and an "online dating" expert. If you need help writing your dating profile, or would like assistance selecting possible dating partners, consider utilizing Carol’s fee-based services. Carol, who was a professional matchmaker for many years, can also guide and coach you through the process. Like to know more? Email her at OhCoachCarol@gmail.com.
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