Friday, October 16, 2015

Opinions requested

I am throwing this question out into my blogging world in hopes of getting some feedback on this dilemma.

Many, many years ago my sister happened to say to me “wow, two daughters. That’s two weddings you’ll have to pay for.”  Our girls were babies at the time but as the fiscally responsible parent I started savings accounts, earmarked for weddings.

My daughters are now in their early 20s and both have serious boyfriends.  I have been able to save a substantial amount for each of them and they have each been told that there will be a tidy sum they can use for their weddings, honeymoon, a down payment on a house, or a nice nest egg should they choose not to marry.


We do not like Beaner’s boyfriend. Well that is not entirely true.  We like him.  He
s gentle and treats her well. But he often forgets commitments and stands her up. And it is quite obvious to everyone, except Beaner, that this is not a healthy relationship.  It is very out of balance with him being a needy little boy in need of a mother rather than being a life partner.  My daughter, do-gooder that she is, may not mind taking constant care of him now, but we are quite sure that it will get old very fast.

And so here is the dilemma:

Should she choose to marry this man (and we sincerely hope she won’t but she is always talking about it) do I still give all this money, knowing (okay assuming) that it will not last long?  To me it seems like throwing 20 years of savings away, or blessing a marriage that is not healthy.  But on the other hand, I don’t think its right to say that such a gift has strings.  

What say you?


  1. So hard to say for someone else. However, I don't know how you could not give her the money if she decides to marry him. She knows the money is there, and if you refuse to give it to her she will have no other choice but to take it as harsh and unfair judgment. My daughter was married twice. The first time she married a sweet but clueless guy who we always referred to as her "first husband" - from the moment she decided to get married to him. We spent a ton of money on that wedding. It lasted 3 painful years. She learned a lot. The next time she married a man who was a better choice. We contributed some money, but they mostly paid for it themselves. Perhaps she will choose to have a small wedding so that she can buy a house instead. At least then the money will last. But ultimately we cannot control our childrens' future. I cannot tell you how much I wish we could.

  2. Sometimes the best things in our life are our mistakes and the lessons we learn from them and so it may be with Beaner and this relationship. You cannot control her destiny, only walk with her towards it and even though it might not be the healthiest of relationships, barring outright abuse, well, the money is hers and she can use it how she wants. Were it me (and my kids are only 8 and 11, so take this with a grain of salt...) but I might try to steer her into using it for something like a house down payment so it doesn't just go to "waste" on what will most likely be her first wedding.

  3. These days I do feel that too much emphasis is placed on the wedding day and not enough thought goes into the marriage years. You could use some of the money for pre-marriage counseling. It could give your daughter a clearer picture of what she is headed for and, should she still choose to marry him, it will give them a better foundation to begin their lives together.

  4. I feel for you... but as others have expressed... if you saved for both... I think you must give the same to both.

    Also, in terms of strategy... I think you have more leverage expressing concerns to your daughter while also being fair with both... than you do by withholding the money... because that is how it will feel to her... like you are doing a power play, withholding, in order to control the outcome... which truth be told, would be what you are doing.

    It's very hard and painful to accept that we cannot control the lives of our loved ones (and ourselves!). We can, however, have influence. And we have the MOST influence when we truly love them, treat them fairly, and acknowledge and respect their power.

    Our anxiety, as parents, makes our children, whether four or forty, turn away.

    Also, all of us, no matter what our age, need a refuge, need security, need unconditional love. We are so powerful as parents in this regard.

    When we express displeasure or concern to our children about their choices, we always run the risk they will look elsewhere for the security and approval they crave.

    This creates a balancing act for us. How do we express our concern - as sometimes we must do, it would be irresponsible not to - but in such a way as to not drive them off?

    We don't have full control over this, of course.

    I think that expressing these concerns in as respectful and detached a way, as possible... is our best hope.

    I feel for you. I put my family through a lot through my own choices. My own daughter is still a teen.

    Much support and wisdom to you.


  5. maybe it's time to reframe the financial gift. your girls are now young adults. you could provide this money to them without a specific purpose: an investment account, an annuity, or a cash gift in their names only where each can decide how and when to spend what and where.

    you could do this as part of a conversation with them about your intent. you could be honest without being specific that marriages don;t always work so you've rethought your desire to not just celebrate their potential weddings, but to offer a sound financial footing for them each if that's how they choose to use your gift.

    as for the wedding itself, maybe you could decide on an amount that is acceptable to you to go toward that purpose, but it would have to be for both. i don't think it would be wise to differentiate.

    does this make sense? i understand your concern and i know it's certainly not just a financial concern, would beaner want to know your feelings? you know her. it might be time for a preliminary gentle over-dinner talk….

    love love

  6. I like what kj had to say. It's hard when you don't like where your children are going. I thought that once my children were grown it would be easier but now I see that it's harder. My step daughter lives with an ass, an ass of her choosing. Nothing I can do about it, just hope that she will see the light.

  7. I read this Friday morning but was unable to fashion out the comment due to having scoot for work. My comment though, would have looked much like those submitted, so not much to add. I know the situation is different this morning and so I will hold up what ZC said...balancing act. Parenting adults can very much be like walking a tightrope.

  8. Chiming in late here, and without anything cogent to add. I agree with the general consensus. You will have to give her the money, since she knows that there's a 'wedding account'. But, you can definitely try to steer her decision toward something that makes fiscal sense. And, come on, neither of your daughters are fools. I think an honest discussion of economic reality would be appropriate. Suggest that an inexpensive wedding and a house down payment offer a better start than a big blowout of a wedding/honeymoon and nothing but a flash drive of memories.

    Good luck with this one, 8. It is so hard!