Prom and a teen who moved out

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2013
Prom and a teen who moved out
Thu, 04-11-2013 - 10:32pm

I know Prom is the least of my problems but I want to do what is right. My step daughter is 18 and has psychiatric problems as well as being a cutter.

For Christmas, she recieved $100 from my parents so she could buy her prom dress. She was sorting her belongings and threw out 3 of her handbags into the trash because she no longer wanted them. She panicked the next day after the garbage was picked up because she could not find the $100 bill her grandmother gave her for Christmas. Then she stated she accidentally left it in one of the bags she threw out. Then she looked to me to replace the money. I told her she must save up that money and replace it and I need to see it in her bank account. She agreed. A couple of months went buy and she did not have the money. At this point, we all had an arguement over putting up a Craiglist personal ad. She packed her bags and moved into her boyfriends mother's house. This was about 3 months ago. Now it's Prom time. She called us to ask us to sign a premission slip. She still has her things at our place and the address for school. She is unwilling to sit down and talk to us about anything. We took her for her psychiatrist appointment and now that she's 18, she is refusing to take her meds.

She got her boyfriend's mother to pay for her prom dress. His brother paid for thier tickets. I asked her if she replaced the money her grandmother gave her. Her answer is no. She never told his mother that someone already gave her money for the dress. She told us that if we do not contribute to the Prom, his mother (whom we never met) will not meet with us. My step daughter feels that even though she moved out on bad terms, it is our responsibility to make her prom beautiful. She plans to move with thier family to another state after graduation.

Frankly, I have been out of work for a year due to pneumonia. I only started working again 3 months ago and we are still behind in our bills. Her father makes a bit more than minimum wage and her birth mom can barely keep her business a float and lives in another state. We all only get the occassional texts or Facebook posts from this supposed young adult.

So whose responibility is it to pay for her prom? Or is this a new one for the book of etiquette?

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Mon, 04-15-2013 - 7:29pm

If it's like ds's school was, parents had to sign a form if their student wasn't bringing someone from the school to prom

DS always knew fun stuff like that was something he had to pay for, since he'd had a PT job since 15.  If he didn't have the cash on hand that he needed/wanted, he knew to ask for big special chores (washing windows, cleaning gutters, cleaning the refrigerator thoroughly, mulching, weeding, landscaping, etc) to make some of the money.  If that was doable, you could offer that along with having her come home to talk, etc.  If not don't worry about it; she chose to leave so she's on her own.

As the others have said, keep telling her your door is open, but obviously if your dh isn't into caving, don't cause a riff as that's their battle, one you shouldn't get in the middle of unless you truly are aware of something unsafe going on.  JMHO.


Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Sun, 04-14-2013 - 11:34am

Sad situation for sure. For me, what it comes down to is, she's 18. She moved out of the house by her own choice. She's not taking her medication or going to her therapy. How can you sign a permission slip for her to go to a dance? Signing that permission slip makes YOU liable for her actions and lets be honest, at this point, you don't know what her actions are going to be. If she wants a permission slip, she needs to come home and talk to you like the legal adult she is.. plain and simple.  In fact, I'd go so far as to tell the school that you did NOT sign and form that she may hand in (in case she attempts to forge it.)

Look, I had a really great childhood and I still got mad at my parents (blamed them for my own failings) when I was 19 and away at college. I didn't talk to them for almost a year.... I didn't talk to them until I HAD to because they weren't going to pay for the next tuition installment until I did. I got scared, I couldn't possible earn enough money for tuition, I had to grow up a bit and go home and work it out... which, in my case, wasn't so hard. We have a fantastic relationship now. I'm not saying it'll be that easy for you. There are factors for you that weren't a factor for me. Still, you can't sign a permission slip and throw money at an adult who won't talk to you.

Invite her to dinner every Sunday. Be chipper and happy to see her if she does shows up. Don't give her money or stuff but make the house a welcoming place for her to come home to. That's really all you can do I think. Maybe do some counselling for yourself and DH... just to help you cope with all the hurt and frustration you guys are feeling too.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 6:26pm

Well, the way to not close the door on her, is to SAY, "You can always come home".  Giving her a fairytale prom is NOT a way to keep communication open.

I have a sneaking suspicion that you feel a little guilty for letting this mixed up kid walk out of your house, into a situation that sounds fairly creepy.  Advertising for a 3-some is not illegal as long as all parties are of legal age, and no money exchanges hands.  However you could make the argument that her diminished mental-emotional capacity allows her to be exploited.  But that is a discussion her FATHER should have had with her, and the police.  At this point, all you can do it make sure she is aware that she always has a safe harbor, altho it DOES come with certain responsibilities.

To get back to the original issue, in my home, when one of our kids came to us and said, "I want ... to go to prom, to go to college, to move out, to get a car, to get married, etc, etc... our reply was "How are YOU going to make that happen?"  They had learned from an early age, that asking for something did not result in the check book getting whipped out.  It resulted in a discussion about finances, responsibility, and deferred gratification. 

If it was an idea we approved of, we would contribute to the cause, up to an agreed upon amount, as our circumstances allowed.  If we didn't approve, or circumstances did now allow, we did not contribute.  There was no animosity,because everyone understood that saying, "I won't contribute to that", did not mean "I don't love you".  My kids were and ARE still welcome to come back home and regroup, if things don't work out.  But we have not, and will not, subsidize bad decisions. 

And since both my kids are ADD/ODD/OCD+, they have had their fair share of bad decisions.  However, a REASON for a bad decision, does not EXCUSE a bad decision.  They still have to suffer the consequenses of that bad decision, and pay the piper.  That's the only way they learn.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2013
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 1:27pm

It's a crazy situation. She moved in with us when she was almost 17. She said she wanted to get to know us before she’s too old and will be on her own. Birth Mom and Dad do not speak to each other so I have been the mediator between them. Birth mom lives 1900 miles away from here and she has not spoken to the BF mom at all. She told her daughter that she should come back home with her father and I.

My stepdaughter is a cutter and bipolar. Even with her issues, she has an A average in school and had a job. She used public transportation to get around and also did a lot of community service hours that got her scholarships in several universities. I was the one who took her to doctor appointments and saw to it that she gets everything she needs. She seemed to be happy until she got together with this boy.

He does not go to her school; he failed out of HS and does not have his GED. They met on a dating site. She broke up with him twice over the last year. In total they dated about 6 months. She fought with us everyday since I went back to work. She said she cannot be alone. She used to text me through out my work day complaining that she needs to be around people.

We live in a large apartment complex, over 500 units. It has a pool and a community area but she wouldn't leave the apartment unless one of us was home. It doesn't make sense. I have dealt with challenged kids for years in a school setting but nothing like this.

Her father feels we do not need to do anything for her since she moved out. She keeps saying she will come home when his family moves so her legal address and her belongings are still with us. Now that changes every month. They were supposed to relocate since last year. I keep asking her to come home. She refuses to speak with her father and only communicates with her mother on Facebook as far as I know.

As for her grand exit out of our home, the boy put up a personals ad for my stepdaughter looking for another partner for their relationship, complete with a sexy picture of her in the ad which opened with a line of how she’s lonely. We told her that the ad was not acceptable behavior and she needs to find another place to do that. With that, she called her boyfriend and she told his mother that we have thrown her our and because of that she might not be able to finish school. She also told this woman she might harm herself. Yes, I called the school they are allowing her to finish even though she moved out of the school district.

As for the permission slip for school, it doesn’t make sense to us either especially since she’s 18. He needed one signed by his mother even though he’s over 18 and he doesn’t attend school. I think it’s more so they can track each person by name if there’s an issue.

As for things she wants. She has a way of back-handed mentioning things during a conversation. Of the things she mentioned: Shoes, a tiara and a pair of pants or a tux for her date. She also spent a great deal of time talking about hair, nails and makeup so I suppose she wants those things too. We have never hid our finances from her so she has known that we can’t ‘shower’ her with a lavish prom.

She has a habit of losing or breaking things: earrings, bracelets, glasses, make up, watches to name a few. So when she lost money she was told at that time she would have to replace it with the money she earns at her job.  It was a feeble attempt on my part to teach her to value the things she either earned or was given.

I did try and speak to the boy’s mother on several occasions. She will not return my calls. During the whole time I was with her, the boyfriend constantly texted her. I tried to get her to see her father so we can all have dinner and talk. She refused saying his mom is cooking dinner and she needs to be ‘home’.  I feel I’m being kept from my stepdaughter.

Here’s my dilemma: if she’s in a dangerous situation, I do not want to close the door on her it can lead to a worse situation. Or do I let her go and hope she comes to her senses on her own?

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 04-13-2013 - 12:14am

The minute the girl moved out, I would have called the boyfriend's parents and said, "She has a home, and support.  She CHOSE to leave it.  Are YOU now prepared to support her, pay for her psychiatric care, and pay for the pregnancy care, delivery and support of the infant that is sure to come from this setup?  Because apparently, your son does not even have enough money to pay for the prom bid."  That would have gotten her home faster than any discussion with the girl.

At this point tho, my take is--over 18, you moved out, you support yourself.  You want a permission slip, prom money, anything else from us, you come home, go WITH US to counseling, and take your meds as directed.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Fri, 04-12-2013 - 10:49pm

"So whose responibility is it to pay for her prom?

Since she is an adult then technically it is her responsibility. Add to that the fact that she chose to move away from your home and the privleges and perks that went with living there. Plus you and the other parents are all facing financial hardships right now so its not like anybody has a lot of disposible income for this.

What exactly does she want you to pay for?

I wouldn't let her blackmail you into paying for something if you want to meet the bf's mom. Frankly I'm surprised that she let your dsd move in with her and there was never any communication between her and you--or did she talk to one of the bio-parents? I think it would be good if somebody contacted her to make sure that she knows your dsd's history and issues; and ask that she tell you where they move to. Its possible that she heard some stories about "horrible parents" so it might help for her to see that you are not ogres. 

"I want to do what is right" I'm not sure what is "right" in this situation, what is your definition of right? Forget about the $100, its gone the same as if it had been stolen. Yes it was through your dsd's carelessness and if you had refused to pay for the dress you would have been justified, but she found somebody else to pay so now the $100 is a moot point. You are not responsible for reimbursing the bf's mom even if dsd said that you would. If you want to pay for anything towards her prom, then do it because you want to, not because she demands it or because you feel guilty that the bf's family paid for the expensive items. If grandma wants to see a picture of the dress that she thinks she bought, have her deal directly with dsd.

Just wondering, why does she need parental permission for prom? Is the school aware that she is 18 and not living with her parents? And she didn't just forge a signature LOL? (like my dd would have)

My dd moved out at 18 also not on good terms so I do understand some of the conflicts that parents feel. The bottom line is that once they turn 18 they are legally adults so they can make their own decisions good or bad; and our legal responsibility for them ends. Whatever we do for them after 18th birthday becomes "at our pleasure" meaning we don't have to do it but we choose to or not, often based on the teen's attitude and behavior. I do think that you are fortunate that your dd found an adult to take her in...knowing that she is safe and has food must really ease your mind. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Fri, 04-12-2013 - 9:34pm

Dear Jeanne,

Welcome to our corner of the village.

And gentle hugs to you.

I agree with what the ladies above have said.

I would do what I could financially. She should know very well the financial constraints of her family.

When it comes to mental illness, I have SUBZERO experience. Something I would worry about is that she hurts herself in some way.

What comes to my mind is the recent suicide of the 27 year old son of Pastor Rick Warren, which has been well covered on the national news. The son had battled depression and other mental issues for many years. I was stunned when the news commented that 1.3 % of all deaths are due to suicide. That is getting up their close to auto accident numbers.

I think the reason this one has touched me more now than it would have a couple of years ago is because about a year and a half ago a second cousin’s son killed himself during his senior year of high school. A very bright kid, being courted by MIT and Harvard, who killed himself moments after being rejected by a girlfriend a year older and already in college via text messaging. I changed this boy’s diaper, bounced him on my knee, saw him at family reunions, and grieve at the loss. Strange as it may sound, hardly a day passes without me thinking of him his parents, grandparents. The word “devastating” does not do the subject justice. Lots of people hurting over this third cousin of my girls, as I’m sure the Warren family is hurting.

My point is that we want to all be aware of the hidden needs of those around us and do all we can to love them, help them, protect them.

I would make sure your stepdaughter knows that her family loves her and there is always a place in your home for her to return home to and medicine is her friend.

All the best to you and yours,


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 04-12-2013 - 10:20am

I am also unclear about what she wants you to pay for.  could you afford to pay for her to have her hair done or her nails done?  Then you could give her that money.  did she tell her BF's mother that you would reimburse her for the cost of the dress or give her some money?  If she did not consult with you first, then that is her problem.  Frankly I seriously doubt that an adult would refuse to meet with you if you didn't give over some money.  I would try to call the mother on the phone directly to discuss what is going on if you want to do that.  I also think you should stop talking about her "replacing" the money that was given to her--the money is gone, so it's her loss not to have that money, but it doesn't seem like she needs it if someone else paid for the gown anyway.  And how was she going to replace it?  Does she have a job?  I'd think that it would be difficult for a MI person who is not taking their meds to hold down a job but that is not really your problem now.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 04-12-2013 - 10:11am

That is a new one for the etiquette books, for sure.  I think the key lies in your first paragraph:  "I want to do what is right."

My philosophy on giving to the kids has been:  give up to the point where giving more would mean they were taking advantage of me, or where giving more would fail to teach them a life lesson.  Financially I *can* give a lot but morally I want them to be happy with "enough." 

If the BF's mother has paid for her dress and the BF's brother paid for the tickets, it's unclear to me what else she wants.  I might be inclined to contribute something but not more than I could realistically afford.  If that's zero, then it's zero.  If she wants to exercise her "right" at age 18 to ignore wisdom and not help herself by taking her meds, she needs to accept the corresponding "right" to pay her own way for the things she wants.

Prom isn't a "right."  It's a privilege.  If you can afford to give her one last privilege, you might feel ok about it.  If you think that's taking advantage of your kindness, then don't do it.