Relationship Connection: My irresponsible daughter wants me to pay for her wedding

Question

Our 28 year-old daughter lives at home with her five year-old son with my husband and I. She wants us to throw her a wedding with her boyfriend. Problem is she has a mediocre job, he lives with his mom still, and has a job. I’m against spending money on a wedding without a plan for their future. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. Am I wrong?

Our daughter has never been married. But I think planning for a wedding is premature. Please respond.

Answer

There are no rules that require you to pay for your daughter’s wedding. Yes, there is the traditional custom that the family of the bride will foot the bill for the wedding, but context is everything.

It sounds like it’s more important for you to help your daughter prepare for her future marriage than it is to throw a party. While it’s common for many newlyweds to start out with very little, your concern seems to be that they will continue forward with very little and waste resources on the wedding.

If you feel it will enable your daughter and her boyfriend to continue expecting a free handout without trying to improve their situation, then allow this to be an important educational experience for them. While getting married is an event, learning to build a thriving marriage and family takes dedication and foresight. You’re clearly worried this piece is missing.

While you can’t decide for them how they’ll plan their lives together, you can offer to help where you feel comfortable. If they want something more extravagant, then encourage them to help contribute.

Weddings and receptions don’t have to be expensive. If they aren’t aware and resourceful about their own wedding, chances are they won’t be resourceful about their finances after they’re married. Set a limit that won’t leave you feeling used and resentful. Stick to that budget as a way to protect your relationship with them.

If they are entitled about the whole thing, then it won’t matter how much you do for them. If they are gracious and mature, then your efforts will be received with gratitude.

If they were more responsible, would you spend more money? If so, then let them know how their level of personal responsibility influences your willingness to help. Let them know you are concerned about perpetuating a pattern of entitlement.

If their level of responsibility has no bearing on your financial contribution, then just stick to your budget and drop the drama. They are both adults and if they want to get married, then they will get married.

There are plenty of ways you can support them in their wedding and reception without having to break the bank. Be clear about your own limits and motivations for helping. As you stay open and honest with her about the kind of involvement you can offer, you will be supporting her in the most authentic way.

Stay connected!

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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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11 Comments

  • Randolph Schiller October 22, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Tell them to elope (Mesquite, Vegas, whatever) and you’ll write them a check for what you would have contributed to a small wedding.

  • Koolaid October 22, 2014 at 9:00 am

    The behavior of entitlement seem typical of the youth around St George. They act as if everyone, particularly their parents owes them everything. I think it comes from the parents who raise their children to be selfish, self-centered, greedy brats who expect the world to revolve around them. Maybe the parents should act like parents of boyscouts and pressure the church bishop to pressure other people (aka calling) to provide and perform for these adult children.

  • Mary October 22, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Aren’t children products of their upbringing ?
    If she has a mediocre job & wants mommy to pay for a wedding at 28 years old . . .
    Isn’t that a result of her upbringing ?

    The better question is . . . when will mommy change and require this adult – child to behave better ?

    Mommy could offer to pay for schooling in lieu of a wedding or . . .
    Go the ‘$200 worth of foods from walmart ‘ plan for a park / picnic wedding since odds are the couple will be living with mommy After the wedding .

  • Visiting Anthropologist October 22, 2014 at 9:21 am

    A bigger question might be “Where are they going to live after the wedding?” Seems there’s a whole lot of enabling going on in this scenario. Use the money to pay for some education for the daughter to get her into a decent job and out on her own first.

  • Harveyn October 22, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Pay for your own wedding.

  • Dana October 22, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Tell her to move out and pay for her own wedding. You are under NO obligation and DO NOT ALLOW her to make you feel guilty about it. That money that she wants you to spend on her will do more good for YOU in a retirement fund.

  • Koolaid October 22, 2014 at 11:47 am

    The parents should buy them some birth control as a wedding gift.

  • anon October 22, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Do they have their bishop’s blessing to go ahead with the wedding?

  • lissy October 22, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Ask your daughter to make a wedding budget. Discuss what she really needs and doesn’t need. Then write out a check for that amount. For a savings account. For her son. That she cannot access. Because she obviously cannot make good decisions and that little boy will be the one neglected. And he will see other men in and out of his mothers life after this one. Some parents are literally too dense to make good decisions for their children. This is where grandparents step in. My parents gave me $1000 for my wedding. I paid the rest. And it was beautiful. And fun. Kids here are spoiled though. Regardless if their parents can afford it. THey are co dependent. Besides, even in their 70’s these people are still trying desperately to impress and one-up their high school peers. Seriously.

  • What what what October 22, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Koolaid plus comments = abortion should be monitory for those folks. You know the ones.

  • bishpoul October 29, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    We need to have someone hold the Washington County Assessor office accountable.
    How about a new county commissioner? Their abuse of authority is criminal on how
    they treat the public. This is bad government.

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