Setting limits on gifts for adult step-children

southernsummerJune 29, 2014

My 29 year old step daughter got married nearly two months ago. My husband and I paid her medical insurance every month ($500) until she married and became eligible for her new husband's insurance on June 1.
Last week, she phoned my husband and told him that she was going to drop medical insurance because she didn't want to pay her own premiums. My DH fussed about it, but to his credit, he did not offer to continue to pay for her insurance.

Also, we typically write each step-child and their significant other a check for $350 each for Christmas--- ($700 per couple) but this year, DH and I have agreed to $75 per person, including the DH's new grandchild born in April, that we have only seen briefly twice. I actually thought that was too much, but it was a compromise decision. We still pay for my 32 year old step son's life insurance, but little by little we are disengaging. I don't ever expect to see or speak to any of these steps ever again. DH talks to them by phone once a week, and I am blissfully uninvolved. I usually phone or text them when my husband has health issues, for instance When I kept them informed during a major surgery last fall, but I will no longer be doing that.

My DH set out some dress shirts for SS to pick up at our home, but I sent my son to deliver them when SS is not an home. There was no reason for SS to stop by our home, when our son could drop them off.

I definitely do not miss the emotional roller coaster. Any communication with the steps is handled by my husband, which is his responsibility.

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Well of course the steps are going to decide it's All Your Fault that the gravy train has stalled at the station but since they clearly have already decided you're the b!tch from he!! I don't suppose that's going to materially make any difference for you. Well done.
I would, however, if your DH has any health issues, let them know by text or email (briefly) what's going on and if for instance he is in a hospital then let them if they wish follow up for details themselves. If he's well enough to be at home he can contact them himself. At least you've put the ball in their court and could not be faulted by outsiders for keeping them in the dark.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 11:42PM
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Colleen, I could text them if absolutely necessary, and since I have all of their phone numbers blocked on my iPhone, I won't receive any return texts or cell phone calls that I would have to deal with....the communication would be strictly one-way.

DH could notify them of anything they need to know ahead of time, however I wouldn't want them to come to the hospital. If they had wanted lines of communication, they should have established them. I may consider a one-way text, however.

I have been way too generous with these steps, and the gravy train is WAY over. I don't care what they call me, since I won't be available to hear their comments, and their whining doesn't impress me or anyone who matters.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 1:40AM
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Be very sure that your husband's 'paperwork' is all in order, will, power of attorney, medical power of attorney, physician's directive, etc.

Be sure that the bank accounts, life insurance, etc are secure from interference.

Should your husband become ill or incapacitated, or die, you must be sure that his, & your, wishes cannot be overruled.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 8:38AM
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Southern, Have you followed the Casey Kasem story? The adult daughter got a judge to allow her to take charge of her father , he had been married to his wife for 33 years, and wife did have PA...Casey sadly died soon after, wife not at bedside, but she was allowed custody of his body. His children had a Memorial, he has reportedly not been buried yet...Now Glen Campbells grown daughter wants custody of her fathers medical care..Glens long term wife has him in a nursing home, daughter wants him to come live with her, as she doesn't approve of a nursing home for him....Its upsetting to think that SKs could over ride you and DHs wishes, should DH become incapacitated...

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 10:15AM
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That's crazy.

Honestly, Im sure that my steps don't care enough to take care of their dad. They just want his money.

When my husband was recovering from surgery last fall, SD was calling every day, not to check on him, but asking when he was going to write the check for her May wedding.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 4:05PM
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When my step daughter called and asked to speak to her dad one evening, then again the next morning....I asked him what she wanted. He said "I can't lie to you, she wants money". The first time in 33 years I told him no to loaning his kids money. Later that day I went to the bank, switched the money to an account with only my name on it. I put my husband's name on it as POD so he got it if anything happened to me. That's really bad trying to get money from someone with Alzheimer's.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 7:02PM
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To've come a long way and I say that with the greatest respect! I am fairly new to GW, having joined the kitchen forum a few months ago while researching our kitchen renovation. Now I find myself in some of the other forums. I just saw your previous posts and cringed at the terrible behavior you endured at your SD's wedding.....the one YOU paid for.

It does my heart good to see your new resolve and the much deserved peace of mind you are feeling. And $75 from $700 per couple is quite the compromise. Congratulations!

A few years back, hubby and I told our grown children (his, mine but no ours) that we were no longer going to buy any Christmas gifts for the adults. Just the grandchildren. They all have families of their own to support and we don't need any more stuff anyway. No one seemed to have a problem with it. We tell our kids that our ultimate gift to them all is for them not to have to support us in our old age because we ran out of money. I also feel blessed that not one of them has asked us for a penny. Not even for a wedding. So it makes us feel good when we do something for them when we WANT to.

EmmaR - so sorry to hear of your husband's diagnosis. She should be ashamed of herself. Although it seems somebody who would do that HAS no shame.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 7:58PM
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BTW I have mixed feelings about the Casey Kasem thing with the kids taking over. We're on the outside looking in, so not sure we'll ever know the true story. I think the wife had a few "issues" of her own. Point being I think we all might want to double check our health care directives, living wills and anything else we don't want left to chance or subject to an argument over our true wishes. I pull mine out from time to time just to see how I feel about the decisions I made years prior.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 8:07PM
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Agree Jean Kasem has issues, with the hamburger toss, to be sure...But the fact that Caseys daughter could prevail on taking him away from his wife of 33 years really makes me sad, not even being there on his deathbed.Makes you lack confidence in any directives that you have, that they could be challenged and overturned.Totally think there is much more to the story than we ve heard, and that we ve not heard the last of it either.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 11:29PM
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I like the idea of only giving gifts to grandchildren, but I know that DH would never go for that since there is only one grand child and two step couples.

I am very glad to be disengaged. Ultimately, I am sad it never worked out, but glad that I am no longer beating my head against a brick wall.

Regarding Kasey Casseam, I think one of his wife's primary concerns was avoiding photography in his debilitated state. He had a form of Parkinsonism, I think and must have looked very frail. She didn't want him to be remembered that way.

It blows my mind that a court order trumps a POA. My husband and I both have living wills, and I expect them to be followed. Sometimes a nursing home is warranted.

I have a friend with awful adult steps, who served prison time, etc.
When her husband died of leukemia a couple of years ago, she had two visitations at the funeral home... One private visitation for herself, her family and her friends, and a second visitation for the steps and the public. It went very well.

Also, I have a friend who was widowed several years ago after a twenty year marriage. The ex wife arrived at the funeral home dressed in full mourning attire, all black, with a black hat and veil, and stood at the front door greeting people as they arrived. Unbelievable. They had been divorced for over 25 years.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 11:34PM
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"The ex wife arrived at the funeral home dressed in full mourning attire, all black, with a black hat and veil, and stood at the front door greeting people as they arrived. Unbelievable. They had been divorced for over 25 years."

I have this very fear about DH's ex-wife. She has acted as if she and DH are still married before. I could also see that if DH were to pass away, at least one of DH's children refusing to attend his funeral unless Mommy Dearest was allowed to be present...I just try not to think about it.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 3:46PM
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When I was younger & my school days, whose routine was reassuringly constructed of reason & facts, were fresher in my mind & in my habits, I always thought that, if you could just *reason* with people, just discuss things with them, they'd see logic & common sense & say "Thank you for showing me how to not make an a$$ of myself".

but I was naive & people are nuts.

About 25 years ago, I had a neighbor who married her boyfriend, & when they split up, she refused to believe it.

When he got the divorce, she said that it wasn't a 'real' divorce, & that he & she will be re-united in heaven.

I don't know what St Peter's gonna do about the 2nd wife & the kids...

Meanwhile, this neighbor is sitting by the phone waiting for him to come to his senses & call her & beg her to forgive him & let him return 'home'.

which, of course, she would do.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 6:32PM
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Yikes, Wry and Summer, I have that same fear, the EX Black Widow showing up and causing havoc...Same deal, they haven't been together for over 15 years, and you would think the divorce happened yesterday..If my Sk says he wouldn't attend if his mother is not allowed, I d say we ll miss you!!!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 7:43PM
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They really do think they are still married. I don't think it's just a fantasy. They convince themselves that their second marriage is just a whim, and that nothing has really changed. That was exactly the issue at my step daughter's wedding. It was as if my children and I had never existed. When we first married, ex called him regularly to fix her sink, borrow neckties for costumes, etc. There was that time that she and my stepdaughter "toured" our home when we were out of town. Ex was the one who filed for divorce. Why can't they move on?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 7:55AM
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Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, the guys keep the delusion going.

I once, briefly but not briefly enough, dated guy whose ex called him for every little thing.

It finally dawned on me that he liked it & that he responded to her every whine in order to keep her whining.

He had her on a string that he could pull in any direction.

People are nuts, & it isn't always the ones who look the part.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 8:38AM
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DH initially responded to his XW's phone calls. Generally they involved a manufactured crisis involving one or more of their adult children. The last time he did this, I warned him that she was creating drama, that the conversation would quickly turn to him, the divorce, how could he do this, yada, yada, yada. We were supposed to go pick out carpet together for our new home; instead, he went (in good faith) to discuss the "crisis" and I went alone to make carpet choices. I did not expect him for several hours: however, he almost beat me home. It only took her about 15 minutes to shift the conversation from concern for their child to "how could you do this." At that point, he walked out and never responded to her again in the same way. If there was a concern about one of their kids (all adults at the time), he dealt directly with them. When he no longer reinforced the notion of a crisis, they quickly stopped occurring.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 4:27PM
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ADULT children should be able to deal with their own step
problems...The Ex s that insert them selves, UGH ...YES problems...Let s see, I ve dealt with, mom going BLIND (no). Tainted food being sent, to make me or DH sick, fake ,broken bones, ( NO )Lets do wedding invites together (NO)....Numerous contempt of court, just to gaze at DH in the courthouse, we HAVE to celebrate holidays in OUR house without your wife...Worn so thin with this nonsense...You must have a STRONG DH to get past this stuff...

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 11:37PM
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When they stop creating reasons to interact, then they have to let go, and they are not ready to do that.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 2:30AM
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Well said southernsummer. Some people avoid drama at all costs and others are drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 1:11PM
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True, but what they don't realize is that dysfunctional and codependent people are drawn to drama and conflict, while healthy people are repulsed.
That's whyy husband left, and more of the same will not draw him back.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 12:11PM
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I am probably going to get a boo or hiss but I am not sure why a sane ex-wife couldn't attend her ex-husbands funeral. Remember at one time there was enough love to marry and create a family.

I think there may be much more to the Kasem story then we are privy to. I am sure I am not the only one who is on both sides of the wife thing. Now that my children are adults and my ex's SK's are adults finances are really getting diverted. At least with child support my kids were getting some thing. My ex is the main bread winner in his home. She stopped working as soon as she could. My children raised by me are very independent and financially secure. Her children are not. They are now "helping" hers out. I know if my ex dies before her my children will not see a Penny. Do not get me wrong, I expect her to live off their accumulated funds but I suspect my kids will be out of the will and all the money go to her children.

I fortunately, do not have any of those issues with my SK. It was not so years ago though. The issue was not with SK but mom not having enough money and backing out of things all the time.

I for one love that my SK is an adult and I love the time we spend together. Once a parent though always a parent and there will always be reasons for interaction.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:06PM
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The key word is "sane" ex wife, and I totally agree with you. But when the stars align..., ex wife plus fantasy that she is still married to my husband plus emotional family event plus alcohol plus microphone or stage ... the results are disastrous.

If your ex husband is supporting his step children, there may not be much of an estate left. In any case, it is your ex husband's responsibility to be sure that his affairs are in order. I hope he has done that.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 5:05PM
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The reason Ex will not be attending DH s funeral should he be first to go is that HE doesn't want her there..Neither do I.....DH has left instructions on what SKs will get in his will, but I m sure one of them wont be happy..Since he provided both with a college education to be able to take care of themselves, he is more worried about providing for me in old age and possible illness. On one of our first few dates, SK said , in front of me, Mom says she s going to take all our money and not let us come to your funeral...This was a healthy , mid 40 s man at the time...Sane BM would never drum that nonsense into a teenagers head and PAS a kid so badly.. We have avoided her like the plague for the last 12 years. She still thinks she calls the shots in our life...Another delusional BM that thinks she still married to him. Although I must say since the kids have gotten older she has less of a chance to interfere..They have aged out of CS, so no more trumped up court cases to just get a look at him..I have the feeling she wants an opportunity to get him alone and thinks she can get him back, even after all this time...Sane, she s not...

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 1:54PM
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I know someone who is always taking the ex to court. The only ones getting hurt are the kids. She is very demanding on the ex and his family and can not figure out why no one supports her. She is so stringent on visitation that she keeps screwing herself.

As for my situation, you can just guess who is the loudest when the alcohol starts flowing. I am so glad I only have to see the ex and his honey at the occasional grandchild birthday party.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 7:58PM
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"The ex wife arrived at the funeral home dressed in full mourning attire, all black, with a black hat and veil, and stood at the front door greeting people as they arrived. Unbelievable. They had been divorced for over 25 years."

My suggestion is this:

If your husband predeceases you, tell the funeral home director at your first meeting with him/her that your husband's ex-wife is NOT to be allowed to be present at any of your husband's memorial events. Let the staff handle that issue so you don't have to deal with it.

If ex-wife somehow manages to slip through the cracks, and shows up anyway, immediately point her out to the staff, and have them politely escort her out.

If any of her children don't like the idea that their Mommy can't be part of the memorial events, they can stay home, as well.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:16AM
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