As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/

Advice re: step-daughter, learning responsibility & getting a better start in life

jenuwinjenuwin Registered User new member
edited December 2014 in Help / Advice Forum
My step-daughter is off to a pretty bad start in life. 19 with an 18-month old son in which she's found challenging to care for. That may be another post. My most immediate issue is my husband, her father, has asked me if I would be willing to cosign on a loan for a car for her. This will be the third car we would be helping her with if I agreed. The first one died, in my opinion due to possible neglect on her part. The second one she totaled in an accident. She agreed in writing to pay us back for insurance we helped her purchase and never has. She needs a way to work. Which is a good thing that she's working, but I'm struggling with the fact that she's been driving without insurance and has not been responsible in each of the car situations in the past. One solution that was recommended was to buy another beater for her. We are still paying on the loan for what I think was the previous car. And presently her life is in such a state where I don't have trust in her whatsoever, drugs, alcohol & thugs, again, another issue. The bottom line is she needs a way to get to work to get money to provide for her son and potential betterment in education. I just don't know how to respond and I'm looking for advice. Any thoughts on appropriate and responsible solutions?

jenuwin on

Posts

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited December 2014
    jenuwin wrote: »
    My step-daughter is off to a pretty bad start in life. 19 with an 18-month old son in which she's found challenging to care for. That may be another post. My most immediate issue is my husband, her father, has asked me if I would be willing to cosign on a loan for a car for her. This will be the third car we would be helping her with if I agreed. The first one died, in my opinion due to possible neglect on her part. The second one she totaled in an accident. She agreed in writing to pay us back for insurance we helped her purchase and never has. She needs a way to work. Which is a good thing that she's working, but I'm struggling with the fact that she's been driving without insurance and has not been responsible in each of the car situations in the past. One solution that was recommended was to buy another beater for her. We are still paying on the loan for what I think was the previous car. And presently her life is in such a state where I don't have trust in her whatsoever, drugs, alcohol & thugs, again, another issue. The bottom line is she needs a way to get to work to get money to provide for her son and potential betterment in education. I just don't know how to respond and I'm looking for advice. Any thoughts on appropriate and responsible solutions?

    Don't co-sign anything for a 19 year old with no sense of responsibility and no job who may be doing shady shit. Your desire to help her isn't being reciprocated by an effort for her to help herself. If she is dealing with drugs and such, your concern should be for the 18 month old in this situation. She's an adult, her start in life happened a long time ago. You don't hit 18 and then suddenly get to participate in the world. If she is using drugs, and you know it for a fact, there is literally nothing you can do to "fix" this situation, and signing loans and giving her financial support may only allow this sort of thing to continue.
    Possibly overstepping and I apologize,

    It honestly sounds like you're being at worst used and at best put in a shit situation by your husband. Your adult stepchild is not your responsibility, and if he wants to give her bad faith loans, he shouldn't be asking you. If he has such crap credit that he can't co-sign the loans himself, there's no way in hell you should even be considering it.

    dispatch.o on
    RainfallHollerDisruptedCapitalistThegreatcowspaboollyDelmainCreaganarakis99EncXaquin38thDoecabsy
  • jenuwinjenuwin Registered User new member
    edited December 2014
    Thank you. Your sentiments are precisely where I'm coming from and feeling a bit guilty (or controlled). You have not been too honest. I'm too close to it (for too long) and need to hear it. We have stellar credit and are upstanding people. Since we're married, his credit is my credit. She has 2 jobs, I commend her for that, but they are poor choices for employment. Neither are close to home and minimum wage jobs are a dime a dozen near her house where she could walk and one of the jobs puts her too close to bad people and bad opportunities. Unfortunately my decision may have a long-term effect on my marriage, which, well, may be my answer in and of itself. And yes, the child is our absolute first concern. Thank you again for your insight. I greatly appreciate it.

    jenuwin on
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    There's a saying about loaning money to family/friends that I think is applicable here.

    Co-signing a loan is just a terrible idea, period. Even an "unofficial family loan" is a bad idea, because people can get very judgmental/guilty very quickly when it comes to money. As you no doubt learned from the insurance situation with her last car.

    If you have the wherewithal and want to help, then by all means just gift her whatever amount of money or help you feel is appropriate. Your car idea is a sound one. As long as you don't build in any expectations about reciprocation or how responsible she will be with said money/help afterwards, you can just wash your hands of the whole thing and know that you did as much as you could. Alternatively, doing absolutely nothing is also completely appropriate in this case.

    This may be taking it a step too far, but at this point I would be concerned that your husband is putting you in the position of being "the bad guy" in this situation if you do end up saying no. If you don't really have a problem with that, then cool. But if you don't want to be "the reason" that good ol' dad can't help out his daughter, then it might be a good idea to talk about it up front and clear the air. You saying no should mean that you both are saying no.

  • GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    I'd say get her a junker and be done with it. I have spent more than $800 for a car once in the last 9 years and that was very recently. I have rarely been without a car as well, though I cycle them often. It also helps to just do the work on it yourself, and I am certain she is more than capable of doing a lot of the maintanence of she really wants to with a Haynes manual or something similar. If she can put on the work for a throw away car then consider the loan. No need for a nice car to get from point a to point b. That's just a luxury you have to earn.

    Incidentally I have never had to re-register a car and honestly don't even know how. I average a car ever year and a half or so, but it is what I have needed to survive. Not the soundest strategy, but it will show if she is serious, and when inevitably the cost of parts for a self repair exceed the value of the car then talk loan.

    Darkewolfe
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I'm just going to put my thoughts here.

    The problem is that if she doesn't really want to do these things (keep the jobs, quit the drugs, better her education, etc) then money given to her toward those ends is wasted. However, between not knowing what's in her head, the baby, your relationship with your husband, and his relationship with his daughter, this is an incredibly complicated situation that anyone so far outside as we are will have a really hard time giving useful advice on.

    Just keep that in mind. It's super easy for people here to tell you all the reasons you shouldn't do it, but as a parent I also understand the desire to help your kid out even when it doesn't make sense, and that's probably what your husband is going through, not only with his child but also his grandchild. Of course he's asking you because you're his wife and you need to be involved in the finances, but of course he wants to in the first place because it's his daughter.

    I know that if I ever remarried I would want the person I ended up with to know and accept my son for who he is, because that's part of knowing and accepting me. I guess I'm having a little trouble digesting the idea that you married him without understanding that he has a difficult daughter and that helping her out when she needs it may be a priority for him when things come up.

    I definitely see where you're coming from on this, and while you say your credit is good I don't know your financial situation at all; for all I know springing for a beater might be outside what you and your husband can handle, in which case you should probably sit him down with the books and show him how strapped you'll really be if you do this, what you'll both need to sacrifice, etc. Your post comes off like it's less that, though, and more indignation that you guys are buying yet another car for someone who clearly has no idea how to care for one. And that's fair, but it's probably not how he's looking at this.

    Another thing to consider is that, unless you are in the minimum wage bracket right now and know, those jobs might not be as common or easy to get in her area as you think. Just because there are a ton of McDonalds in an area doesn't mean the chain isn't saturated with applications right now. She has two jobs, and especially when you have to work more than one job it's not so easy to just find another depending on schedules and how long you've been at each job. And when you really need money, the job you have is so, so much better than nothing, which is what you will likely end up with if you quit before finding another.

    If you guys can afford it and you have a good relationship with your husband, I would consider giving her one more chance if I were you, but being very clear with your husband that this is the last time you're willing to do it. IF you can afford it, let him feel like you're supporting him and both taking care of his daughter and grandson. It sounds like she's trying; you don't hold down two jobs if you aren't. If you'd rather not and your relationship with him isn't all that great anyway, you should consider what that says about what YOU want from HIM.

    Maybe this isn't what you signed on for when you got married and that's fair enough, but I don't think what he's trying to do is unreasonable either, assuming he's not asking you to drain your personal accounts without contributing anything. It's just not that black and white and anyone who tries to tell you differently is either telling you what you want to hear or is so far removed from/disinterested in the situation that their advice won't be worth much to you anyway.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    GnizmoIrukatynicCptKemzikLostNinjafinral38thDoecabsyPure Din
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Sure, give her another chance, but that means a junker, not a nice car.

    What is this I don't even.
    dispatch.oEnc
  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    What's the alternative here? Is your thought that it's time to give up on the kid? That's going to be a pretty tough sell to her father, I would imagine. Your posts read, to me, as if there's an undertone of "should" to them. This woman should be able to do X, and she should make Y decision, and because she's not doing that we should write her off. If you try to look at it instead from a viewpoint of "what can we do to get her to a point where she can support herself?" you may be able to have more productive conversations with your husband. If helping her out in this way is going to enable her to maintain bad habits that are eventually going to make things worse for her than if you cut her off now, that's maybe a more compelling argument for not helping out his kid. If she currently has two jobs that she'd have to quit if you don't help, you may not be able to make that case. There are definitely reasons not to do it, but I think when it's somebody's kid those reasons need to be "if X happens then Y will happen" reasons and not "deserve" reasons to gain any purchase at all. Without emotion or judgment, show that it's not going to help and you're throwing the money away, or that it's actually going to make things worse by enabling something self-destructive.

    sig.gif
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited December 2014
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Sure, give her another chance, but that means a junker, not a nice car.

    Just don't do a loan. There's nothing wrong with trying to keep her on her feet, I guess. You had an agreement in writing and she didn't pay you back. Buy her a junker. Make sure you talk it out with your husband and establish some expectations of her behavior moving forward. I suspect in 4 - 6 months more issues will present themselves and it will be good to have had a talk about the what if's now.

    I'd have to know more about how many hours she's working to say two jobs is hard. I've known plenty of people who claimed to work two jobs, but one was 16 hours a week and the other was one Saturday a month.

    dispatch.o on
    V1mCreaganDarkewolfe
  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    How would your husband feel about buying her a beater, with the understanding that any future help will be offered in the form of money spent on the grandson, or rehab/therapy if his daughter asks for it?

    Money spent on the grandson provides the daughter an opportunity to practice being an adult. If you buy the kid clothes, she doesn't have to, and then she can use the money which she would have otherwise been forced to spend to start an emergency savings account, or to pay for her son's education, or something. It's indirect money in her pocket.

    Geth
  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    Why can't he cosign?

    Here's what I'd do: Get a car that's fucked, like has some primer colored panels and classic 70s whiskey dents, but a straight frame. Put good tires on it and fix the shit that makes it safe to drive. Recommend a subaru outback approx 2007, they are four wheel drive, safe as fuck, practical, and also hideous rolling birth control.

    Put her on a program where her car payment to you is 100 or 150 bucks. Then just take it when you collect it, put it in a mason jar, or bank, if you weren't raised in abject fear of the Illuminati like I was, and when she pays it for six to eight months, go trade that one in on one with six fewer dents. Do this until the depreciation starts making it a wash and she should be in something about 4 years old in a few years. You're only out the first infusion of one used car, which is less than you'd eat if she fucks up on a car loan. Also, maybe the third time or so she's made the payments faithfully, you can "arrange" that trade in to be an unusually good deal from yourselves or a friend or family member, even if it involves helping out a little extra on the sly to get her into something nicer without her feeling it was a gift.

    A way to make sure you get paid is if one of her jobs has direct deposit, have her shoot the 150 straight into your holding account for the car money. You never feel payments that never hit your main account.

    As far as insurance, wrecks, DUIs go - she's probably a bit indifferent to her own status, and still has some teenage invincibility thinking...but...

    I covered court for a TV station for quite a while, and I've observed a phenom with things like 19 year old single moms with no insurance where they get away with it about 5 times because of Life Problems, and then one day the judge looks down and says, "This is your sixth time in here. You're gonna do some jail time."

    I'm sure she's incredibly attached to her kid, that's sort of how people are wired. Might impress on her that even a weekend in jail, while not scary to her, is handing her kid to her ex or her ex's parents or the gubamint.

    You also need to have a frank talk with your husband revolving around presenting united fronts and the fact that you will not tolerate being undermined or told you aren't a "real" parent if you're deeply fiscally involved in ways that transcend the necessary and basic.

    I would also consider exploring the father and the other set of grandparents as potential contributing or responsible parties.

    DarkewolfeV1m
  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    I have 2 brothers that fit the description you provided for your step daughter. Basically terrible decision makers, so I have been witness and participant to this situation over and over again for my whole life.

    The last straw for my parents was when they helped my 40 year old brother get his license and a new car. They went to court with him and paid all his outstanding fines, paid to reinstate his license, lent him money to buy a used car. Two month later, my brother was arrested for DUI and since he could not use the car he stopped paying on the loan and abandoned the car in my parents driveway. When my dad later sold the car, my brother came looking for the money as it was "his car".

    So here is the question that I have for you... What is the long term plan? Because right now you are just putting bubblegum in the dam.

    I understand you love her and the baby is an innocent bystander here, but you're enabling her behavior by helping her without holding her accountable. What happens when she wrecks the next car, or when she gets pregnant again?

    Talk to your husband and find out what he plans to do. If he intends to help her out every time she gets into trouble and take you along for the ride, then make sure you know that is the long term plan and make sure you are happy with it before you go any further.

    I don't know what the answer is for you, there is no good solution if the person in question doesn't want to change.

    Pacificstar
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Honestly, at this stage I think it would be fair to put the conditions upon her to determine if another car would be found. Since she wrecked the last one and it still has an outstanding debt on it, what I would do is the following:
    • Itemize the debt from the previous car, see how much is left on the loan and what your monthly payment on it is.
    • Make a payment schedule that requires teh daughter to pay a portion of that debt each month (probably not all of it given where she is in life, but enough to where it is something she has to plan for and arround without breaking her ability to care for herself or her child)
    • Make any future loan conditional on meeting our those payments every month for six months, with retaining the vehicle conditional on ~continuing~ those payments each month until the debt is satisfied.

    This way she is having to take agency for her actions, she has a trial period to show if she actually is serious about it, and also has the added benefit of forcing her to use mass transit for half a year (minimum) so that when she gets the car at the end of the agreement she will better appreciate what it actually means to have a car.

  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    Another solution, honestly, is to not have her working for 10 or 12 an hour and paying out 50%+ of it for childcare, but rather offer her community college (while living at home).

Sign In or Register to comment.