Once again, we have overlapping conflicts with my 15-y-o DSS's out-of-state mom:
1) Months ago, she demanded that DH (who has sole custody) get a passport for DSS, so she can take him to Mexico this summer.
...A) For various (very solid) reasons, DH does not trust her to leave the country with DSS. True, DSS is old enough now to be his own advocate to a certain extent, but it's best to shelter him from potentially being forced to do that.
...B) Years ago, in mediation, DH made it clear that DSS will not have a passport or travel internationally while he's a minor.
...C) Mom has promised DSS international trips each summer since then. By the time she tells DH, "Oh, BTW, DSS needs a passport," she claims she - and her entire extended family - have already booked and paid for everything. Mom normally doesn't have much contact with her family and has made all kinds of terrible accusations about them. But I guess it's supposed to sound especially awful, if DH "ruins" 12 people's expensive foreign vacations, rather than only hers and DSS's. But DH has remained firm.
2) In our state, if kids don't take Driver's Ed before turning 16, they have extended waiting periods to get their licenses or drive with passengers under 18. We will eventually pay for DSS's insurance and help him buy a car. DH associates kids driving responsibly with them being responsible in other areas of life. He has linked our willingness to support DSS driving early
, with how DSS shows responsibility, mostly in school.
DSS's lazy academic performance does not reflect his abilities (as evidenced by how he blows standardized achievement tests out of the water). He, himself
has always cared about going to a top college and being respected as an expert in whatever he does, but (typical for his age, I guess), he has trouble seeing the correlation between his effort and accomplishing his goals. He expects to be "discovered" and for everything to come easily.
Last summer, DH offered to pay for Driver's Ed, if DSS got reasonable
grades. (I don't mean straight A's, although DSS would be perfectly capable of it.) DSS only exerted himself the last week of school and discovered to his chagrin, that wasn't enough.
This year, DSS turns 16 at the start of summer break. So he has asked to take Driver's Ed now
. The class costs ~$300. His grades were not good, last quarter. DH said he could pay for the class himself and, if his grades are reasonable this last quarter, we'll reimburse him. (After all, he'll be wanting to save up for his half of a car.) I think this is good parenting and am in total support!
Mom pays a hefty allowance into a bank account she opened for DSS, which he accesses with a debit/credit card. Months ago, he bought vaping supplies and DH confiscated his bank card. DSS says Mom has continued paying him, so he has plenty in his account to cover Driver's Ed. Yet, when DH took him to the bank to withdraw the money to register for his class, DSS emerged from the bank saying Mom (a co-signer) had put a hold on his account. He has complained of her doing that before - or of being broke because she cut off his allowance - to punish him for various things.
Later, DSS said he called Mom and - even though he explained why he needed the money - she told him getting access to his money is contingent upon him helping her convince DH to approve the Mexico trip and get him a passport.
not going to happen. But we're tempted to just go ahead and pay for his class. However, that would negate the parenting DH's trying to do. If DSS's grades don't improve, DH will never make DSS pay us back for the class. That's just not how DH is. He parents best up-front. If his parenting requires follow-through, he makes excuses not to do it. If *I* do the follow-through, or push DH to stick to it, DH gets defensive, like I'm attacking him and his kid. Our marriage just doesn't need that. So, if we pay for Driver's Ed, that's it. There will be no link between DSS's effort in school and him being able to drive early. And maybe DSS is making up the whole thing about his mom, to accomplish exactly that.
For Mom to use DSS to try to manipulate DH is entirely believable. That's how she is. But it's just as believable that DSS either doesn't want to pay for his class; or has spent all his money and can't
, and he knows the surest way to get DH and me to pay for it is to tap into our already-poor opinion of his mother. That, unfortunately, is how he
We also offer DSS money. But for a basic allowance, we expect him to do basic things like cleaning his bedroom and bathroom, getting his laundry washed, helping with the dishes...without being nagged. For extra money, he could do things like yard work. But with money for nothing
flowing from Mom, he's just not interested. At this point, he couldn't earn $300 from us before he needs to start his class.
If, in fact, Mom is holding DSS's own money over his head, to pressure him to fight with his mom against his dad, that's such a crummy thing to do that - again - we're tempted to just go ahead and pay for his class.
On the other hand, maybe this is a time for natural consequences?
>> If DSS's past stories about Mom cutting off his access to money are true, then he already knew
money from her was insecure. He could
have earned safer money, from us, by doing reasonable chores. But he didn't want to bother, while he had easy money coming in.
>> We would've sent him to Driver's Ed a year ago - or paid for this current class - if he'd earned reasonable grades. But he doesn't work at school until the 11th hour, when there's some incentive on the line. If he'd applied himself earlier, he wouldn't be in this position of scrambling around trying to come up with $300.
>> And it's not like he'll never get his license. He just won't get it early
If you've gotten to the end, thanks! Would you pay for the class?