Is it wrong of me to ask my daughter to pay us back for senior year if she doesn't graduate?

I’m a mother of 17-year-old twin girls. When I was married to my ex-husband (not their father), he was abusive in every way possible, wouldn’t hold a job. It took me a long time to get away from him. During the time with him, we moved a lot, the kids changed schools etc, because I was the only one contributing to the household income, and I couldn’t do it all on just my income. During this time, my girls were strong; they helped me a lot, were honor students, all of that. This was their middle school years, 6th-8th grade. They started high school, we moved once more, out of district. Their school allowed them to stay, since they only had 2 years of school left, and gave them special permission. The youngest of the twins was showing signs of depression. I sought therapy for her. She sees a psychiatrist, has medication and sees a therapist. When the pandemic started and the kids went virtual, both of the girl’s grades started to drop. The oldest of the twins has since gotten herself together. She dropped AP classes and is focusing on her grade level graduation requirement. The youngest of the twins just doesn’t seem to care. They’re in talks of revoking her special permission, with 5 months left until graduation. No matter what I do or say, she just doesn’t seem to care. We have had meetings with the school, counselors, teachers. The school even tried an intervention for her where they sat me, her, the principal and all of her teachers down together. She has been told a dozen times by a dozen people that graduation is in jeopardy. She has a support system. Her grandparents on my side, her dads side and both step-parents are involved. As are her aunts and uncles, both parents and step-parents. So, am I an assho!e mom for telling her that if she doesn’t graduate, she has to pay her parents back for the money that we have shelled out for senior year? At this point, we have spent (for both girls) $800 for senior pictures, $200 on yearbooks, $120 cap & gown, $250 on class rings. Her step-dad and I spent $2000 on the rental for senior week. I want my kids to experience and enjoy everything possible during their very unusual senior year and keep it as normal as we possibly can for them. She was diagnosed with depression, social anxiety, OCD, and ADHD, but we are actively treating those issues. And she has no issue getting up and going to work, no issue doing what SHE wants to do.


If shes that depressed she wont care if you tell her she has to pay for senior year. Does her therapist ever say why shes so depressed? Maybe switch therapists. Is there anyone she really respect and confides in? Sounds like there is something else going on that you dont know about. What does her twin think is happening?

She is struggling mentally, she didn’t actually chose this. Covid screwed everyone. Don’t cause her more issues.


It is absolutely wrong. While kudos to you for being an active participant in your child’s life you have not walked a mile in her shoes. You listed a laundry list of very serious issues that she is dealing with right now and yet you’re more concerned with the cost of senior activities than you are for why your child may not graduate. You talk about all these people that are supports in her life like because she has them she shouldn’t be struggling but clearly you don’t know what its like to feel alone in a crowded room. Be her mom, not her landlord.


When kids change suddenly and drastically there could be drugs involved.
ALSO…a friend’s daughter went from honor student to not going to school. Parents went off to work & she would go back home. The school called the mother after the girl was absent for almost a month to see if she was okay.

When they confronted her, they found out she had been raped at a party and she didn’t want to face any of her friends in school that were also at the party.

So please know it could be many different things. .


Seems to me that something at work is filling her “need hole” inside of her that home and school aren’t. Like the way she is treated or the way the people are. This could be a good or bad thing. In my case, it was a very bad thing. When I did those things to my mother… she didn’t punish me financially. She had to trust me, offer advice, and pray I didn’t fall too hard. Shes about to be a “adult” in her head. You’re losing control and she’s happy about it because she seems angry and uninterested in anything but what makes the pain better (or worse sometimes. Depression is weird.) So, yea idk if taking money will make a difference to her. Itll just make YOU more of the enemy and whomever is filling her with what she currently wants at work (good or bad attention) they will be even more of a hero. Right now is when my mother treaded very carefully on how she tried to force things on me as I was pushing away HARD.

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You are wrong to want any money from her for the senior year.

My opinion is if she’s not going to go to school she needs to get a job. Do not make her pay back any money, but you can start charging her room & board and demand she get a job if she’s not going to school nor even trying.
Also, Get her a different councilor. The one she has doesn’t seem to be doing the job. Get her on antidepressants too!


Considering it’s clear you fully understand that your daughter is struggling with mental health issues the fact that you even are contemplating making her life more difficult by possibly asking her to pay you back just baffles me. You’re daughters have had almost no stability in their lives, depression and anxiety don’t just go away with the flick of a switch. It runs so much deeper than that. She’s been a twin her whole life and probably compared more often than she would like to her twin and that is unfair. She’s very much her own person with her own strength and weaknesses. Work is likely the one area she feels completely in control of herself. At this point if she’s struggling so much she should be seeing a psychiatrist and a counselor specialized in dealing with teens with depression and anxiety. You need to be made fully knowledgeable on of your daughters diagnosis and what that means exactly. I don’t say this lightly, I say this as a mother whose daughter struggled with depression and anxiety that resulted in a suicide attempt. Don’t make things any harder than necessary. Your the parent who was providing her with the senior experience don’t make her regret accepting these experiences from you.


I wouldn’t. If she is already struggling with mental issues, this will just add to her list of what to stress about. Instead encourage them about how far they’ve come and how much a diploma is worth the hard work. Let them make the decision to work hard for it, without having to stress about money. Just remind them that you love them and that it’s harder to go back to school, Than just doing it the first time. Try giving them a reward they will look forward to, if they do graduate. Like some cash, or a cool gift that will make it worth it…


Depression is debilitating at times, i advice that you stay focus on getting her help, Depression takes time to manage, perhaps talking to her doctor regarding the best possible next steps…Having her pay you back for her graduation isnt going to address the real issue at hand.

She seems to be struggling. All of you have been through a lot but not everyone can “get it together” as quickly as people around us. It would be horrible to punish someone for having a hard time struggling. Maybe she won’t graduate, and that’s something the she will have to come to grips with and reconcile when she is able and willing too. I don’t think telling your child to pay you back for anything is ok unless they are an adult and has asked to borrow money. I pray she gets the healing she needs and the desire to do better and I pray you all find a way to continue to help her, and are able to create some healthy boundaries.


Once I started working in high school I focused more on that than school and my grades dropped and I barely graduated but I did. I did all my work at the last minute just to get enough of a gpa to graduate, but I did it. If she hasn’t talked of dropping out maybe trust her she will do what needs done to get that diploma. Maybe it’s not ideal and you want her to graduate with a good gpa and all that but at this point she’s going to do what she wants to do. Put some faith in her that she will do what it takes to graduate, even if it’s the bare minimum. I still got into college and that high school job is what taught me work ethic. :woman_shrugging:t2: it is what it is, she will be fine. Parents always want the best but school is not everything.

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I wouldn’t have her pay you back, in fact I would get her a tutor and invest more to have her graduate.
The virtual learning may actually be a issue for her especially with attention issues. She may truly require extra 1:1 help.


Why would you ask her to pay you back? First thing she you should be asking her to do is quit her job. You said she has no problem going to work well obviously she needs to focus on school tf?

Maybe this comes from me being a child like that, or the fact that I am a mother now…but do not compare your children. Twins or not. Also you need to realize that something from years ago can affect kids. Having her repay you may make her despise you and make matters worse. Maybe she needs some 1 on 1 time with you, and you not talking about her failing. Build her up. Ask her how you can help, show her you love her. That can make a difference.

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I think you should consider switching her to home studies which is completely different from distance/virtual learning, it may help her get through her senior year successful. I have a sophomore who was mental health issues and is struggling to stay afloat during distance learning. I may be switching him over next year to play catch-up. I also do not think you should have her pay you back for anything, maybe just do the necessary things until things start improving.

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she obviously has mental issues that you are addressing, but at the same time it sounds like you re feeling betrayed because of all the sacrifices you have made more pressure on her wont help

You’re so wrong, you don’t even realise you’re making the situation worse. You know her issues but don’t understand them. To be fair, there’s no way you can. You’re adding an extra layer of pressure onto someone who is struggling to cope as it is.

Yes it is very wrong and very unfair to your daughter seems like she is struggling enough. Support her dont make things worse. You are probably the reason why shes being like this especially when you think it’s okay to ask your own daughter for money back for things like school pictures! That’s something a scruff would do


She’s feeling this way because as much as you were there for her she couldn’t handle the years of disfunction. She doesn’t have the head to think about how she’ll pay you back. Thats not the most important thing going on in her brain. From experience Depression is exhausting and hopefully she’ll find her way out of it. Just love her as much as you can without the added pressure. Good luck!!


she’s a minor. and two good luck with that she won’t pay u back just like she doesn’t do her school. if i were u i would focus on what u wont help her with in the future


A lot of times our children disappoint us. She is suffering from a mental illness. Give her a break and love her even more. Have you ever heard the song “Paid In Full”? It is from a mothers heart that her children owe he -0-.


Really!?! You are her mother, not a bill collector. Love her through this crap. Even adults are struggling.


If she was doing this as acts of defiance I’d say go for it…but she’s not herself…


Take 50% of all earned income until grades come up (hers to earn back) and sit right next to her while she completes every assignment. You’ll both be glad you loved her enough!


Ask Dr Phil. To me this sounds like a you problem and not a kid problem. Her problems stem from your family dynamic, past and present. Covid hasn’t helped and is probably a huge contributor to the problem. None of us are qualified to tell you what to do but if your counselor isn’t guiding you then find another one.


In my opinion, yes, it would be wrong to ask her to pay back what YOU personally tried to do for them to “keep some normalcy”! I think it would be different if you had previously made an agreement and stipulations for them, that "I’ll pay for this and that IF you’re passing and IF you graduate, BUT you will have to pay me back for everything if you’re failing or if you don’t do what’s needed to graduate! I had that with my son who just graduated last year! Our agreement was that if he kept his grades up, WE would pay for his prom stuff, class ring, jacket, HS trip, etc, ONLY as long as he was passing, and would pay for all his graduation and all the memorabilia, pics, grad pack, party, etc, but also ONLY if he graduated! Sadly he was in a double up program to earn his Associates degree at the exact time he earned his HS diploma, and he did “ok” with his HS classes, and barely floated by for his diploma but didn’t do well enough to take advantage of getting his degree, so we DID do all the promised HS stuff, but he failed his part of the agreement so he got no grad party, or help from us in his “college portion” of “memorabilia” stuff! We had a full, previous agreement, rules, and boundaries for everything and he KNEW what his end was! But his was also just so to lack of effort/ care, not mental, emotional, or physical deterrents!

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Is she serious? OMG. I can’t. :man_facepalming:


Having a adhd senior this year I absolutely think it would be wrong to ask for it back. My son could care less about school but he said he would graduate for me and make me proud bc its been a total struggle w school due to his adhd and now this pandemic and virtual learning However we are his parents and its our responsibility to pay for those things…whether he graduates or not I’d never expect him to pay me back. That’s what parents do.


Can I just say? I love this idea and I love you :heart:
You’re a fantastic mother for getting her all this help and fighting so hard for her!!! I know as a mom of two boys with neurological diagnoses it is NOT easy! You’re handling this beautifully! Children with diagnoses like our kids need to understand there’s massive consequences for inexcusable behaviors. They need to be constantly reminded of this more so than other kids because their brains function differently and their sense of punishments aren’t the same. Things have to exist in extremes for them or they don’t “get it”.
Well done mom!!! :hugs: wish I could hug you and get you a glass of wine!

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no. be on her side thru this

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Getting a therapist and medication does not magically make her problems go away. Be her mother!! Love her instead of the money you think she should pay back. Life is so difficult as it is!


Thats a hard situation. My daughter also had to deal with my ex-husband (not her dad) being emotionally abusive to her for ten years. I was finally able to leave when he did the unimaginable and sexually abused her when she was 14. It only happened once and that was the last straw for me and jail for him. Before that he always compared her and his daughter who was a year older and constantly told my child to be more like her sister. My daughter has been through different types of counseling and is on meds for depression and anxiety. She also has dyslexia. This year she has passed every class, just by a bit on some but still passed and is headed for graduation with her class. My advise is to go easy on her. Push for her to graduate, even if it is with just passing grades. A D- still gets you that credit. Don’t compare her to her sister because I’m sure she has done that herself her whole life. The reason she doesn’t care is probably because of her depression. I had a lot of depression and didn’t graduate with my senior class. I dropped out and moved away from my parents when I was 17. But, after I had my daughter at age 20 I had a major wakeup call. I hot my GED and 2 college degrees after that. If she doesn’t graduate try not to be too hard on her. Set goals to get her GED. I dont think the extra stress of telling her she will have to pay you back for all her senior stuff is going to motivate her to try harder. It will probably just cause a wedge between you and her and make her resist school even more. I wish you all luck. Please try and be someone she can come to with her problems and not someone she is going to see as against her or mad at her or disappointed in her. Being a teenager is hard, especially a twin, especially dealing with coronavirus and depression and probably many other things she keeps to herself. Maybe graduation in 2021 is not how her life is going to go but she is surely learning a lot of life lessons right now.

Yes you absolutely are an asshole mom for even considering to make her pay you back for all of those things. You don’t pay for things for your kid to graduate you pay for things because you’re a parent and it is your responsibility to take care of your child. Obviously she is not handling the abuse very well and you are attributing to her not handling it very well. Grow up be an adult be a parent and put your child in front of your own damn ego. And you better pray that nobody calls CPS on you because this is damn near child-abuse and you should be investigated. And I’m saying that as a sex trafficking and domestic violence advocate. You’re lucky I don’t know what your name is or I will be required by law to report you.


I think the hardest part of parenting is to realize you have done your very best to help create a strong independent person who is ready to take on the life of an adult, but, at thisi point she has to accept consequences and pay the price of her mistakes. You willingly spent all that money on expenses without having a firm understanding that she would pay you back if she didn’t make the right decisions- you may want to consider that, just as you wouldn’t expect her to pay you back for all your efforts to do what you could to help her along. If you decide not to make her repay you, you must certainly have a serious conversation with her so that she understands your limits as you move on…

No you can’t ask her to pay you back. You chose to spend that. And Stop expecting her to be like her sister. Not graduating isn’t the end of the world either. She can get her GED. Now that being said in my family kids over 18 that don’t go to school do have to pay rent and contribute to continue living in the family home. (I recommend putting that money into a savings account she doesn’t know about to gift to her when she gets her own place) You cant back charge her for what you spent but going forward if she’s done with school then there’s real world responsibilities.

Wow! You really want to do this to a teen with depression issues? Buying these items is a parent’s responsibility - not the teen’s. Just help her, as much as you can, so she can graduate and move on.

I feel this day and age kids are coddled entirely way too much and are diagnosed with everything under the sun giving them an excuse to behave the way they do. I moved around a lot as a child. 2 kindergartners, 2 third grades, 2 fifth grades, and 2 high schools. Each time out of state where I had to make new friends, didn’t always get to see my family, etc. My husband also moved around a lot as a child but was able to stay in the same district. One move I did show some depression and set back. My parents were there for me but didn’t coddle me. I sucked it up and it made me stronger. Same with my husband. I say yes your daughter should start having some repercussions for her behavior especially since she doesn’t have any problem making time or getting up to do the things she wants to do.

So…let me ask you this…are you going to pay her back for every time she was forced to move, leaving behind friends, having a sense of stability, only to have it yanked away…again and again and again? Each time, expecting her to maintain her grades, deal with an abusive step dad, having to watch her mother struggle to put food on the table? Hmmm…I think you still owe her.


The “oldest of the twins”???


Welcome to parenting. There are no refunds & you don’t get your money back. She’s facing a difficult part of her life & you really want her to remember the only thing you cared about was money. Yep it sucks but that’s just the way it goes. I’m out $5000 on a kid who only had 3months of trade school left. Some day she’ll have kids too & then it’ll sink in.

I feel like you are getting a bad wrap dear. I personally wouldn’t ask for the money but I feel your frustration. Yes things are hard on her but to me sounds like you are trying like crazy to help. As the parent of a recovering drug addict it can be exhausting and hard on the whole family. Depression is horrible but like a drug addict they have to find the strength to want to work to get better, all we can do is support them. In today’s world everyone has trauma in their life, this world is crazy. You don’t always get over it but you must find a way to get through it. I wish you much luck!

You need to reconize that mental illness and the treatments for them can reallllllyyyyy kill your motivation to do anything. Treating mental illness bus not as easy as hopping on medication and being done. So many of those meds make you numb or worse before you find one that actually works. Asking her to pay that back is ridiculous. She’s a kid that needs more help

I think it’s wrong for you to ask to pay back any money.

  1. You are the parent and you carry the financial burden. That’s just how it is. You chose to pay for all this senior stuff, which is fine, that’s what parents do, but if she doesn’t graduate she shouldn’t be left with the burden to pay it backs. She’s obviously dealing with enough. Which leads me to my next point
  2. I’m a high school teacher and I see this all the time. Seniors, who are otherwise great students, all of a sudden failing classes. They’re sort of self-sabotaging because they’re not ready to graduate. They have been in school for 12 years and their life consisted of people telling them what to do and had all this structure. Now, after graduation they will have all kinds of freedoms and responsibilities, expectations to get a job, college, no one will tell them what to do - that’s what they see and they all of a sudden feel scared.
    So they push their graduation back.
    Even though it sounds bad, in their mind they just want more time.
    And usually there isn’t much you can do.
    I have had many talks with these kids, and usually it just helped to get them to graduate a semester later, and not a year later.
  3. Add any mental health issues, and it’s just plain wrong to ask for money. And it’s a lot of money for a teenager.

Give her all the support you can. If she graduates next year, she’s not going to get senior pictures again or whatever is associated with being a senior. She already had that and that’s her “consequence”
In the end no one will care that she graduated a semester or a year later they will just care that she graduated. But the additional scars you may be chasing will be permanent

You have to take some responsibility for her failures as well since you are the one who brought them into the world and then brought hell into their lives. I don’t feel she owes you anything and it’s pretty messed up that you do after what you put them through in their lives and you should just suck it up.