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trailsillustrated's avatar

Am I being unfair or unreasonable here? (Please read detail)

Asked by trailsillustrated (16488points) March 18th, 2010

My son lives far away with my ex. My daughter lives with me. Last year I traveled there and bought my son a $4300.00 race bike. After several months, my son injured his back (not on that bike but on another bike I bought) and didn’t ride for some months. The race bike was stolen. I have been told that it was taken from his home where he lives with his dad, my ex. They have a great big dog. I understand there was an insurance payment. I am being asked to send $2500.00 over to help buy a new bike. My now husband says no, it is their fault for not protecting the bike against theft, that we don’t know how much my ex really got from the insurance, and that it should be on him (my ex) to replace because it was his property and he is the adult and should have taken greater care to protect his property from thieves. Now my ex is angry at my son and wants him to sell his computer, game console and other personal items I bought for him and send the money to us because he feels like we are inferring that he did something wrong -like an insurance rip-off.I told my son not to sell anything. Is my present husband being fair here?

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23 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Man, that’s a mess. I need to clarify one thing. Your ex is making your son sell the computer, games etc., because it is a way of showng that it is not really about the money? Like he is proving he is not being greedy? I don’t think your son should sell anything.

How old is your son? Can he work to buy the new bike?

I guess you could look at it like if your son was in your home and something similar happened, would you replace it?

But, I have to say I can see your husband’s point of view.

trailsillustrated's avatar

My son is 14. If it happened here (and it wouldn’‘t- we have alarm and locks) I would replace it

JLeslie's avatar

@trailsillustrated Then I am inclined to say that your son should not be treated differently just because he is not living in your home. Unless you are saying that there is a pattern of carelessness regarding how he takes care of his things at his father home. Or, even a pattern of them coming to you to pay for things, and it has become very out of balance. Meaning you seem to be shelling out money all of the time when his dad is not.

Is the $2500 the difference from what they received from insurance and what a new bike costs? Why is that fully your responisibility? How come your ex is not paying half of the $2500?

But, I am not a parent, so it will be ineteresting to see what others answer.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@JLeslie that is ½ the cost of a new race bike, my ex I guess would pay the rest. But the thing is, we were not told or asked for the money till long after this happened. My son told me that they only got $500.00 from the insurance, which my ex kept. We don’t really know what’s true, and my ex saw an email that I had written to my son saying this, and that I thought how odd that the dog didn’t scare theives away, and what happened to the insurance money. thanks btw

unique's avatar

how old is your son?

JLeslie's avatar

Her son is 14.

unique's avatar

heh…oops! thanks @JLeslie

this has nothing to do with insurance or trusting your ex or the damn dog: you bought the kid a bike as a gift – you’re under no obligation to replace it.

plus, $5K on a bike for a kid? that’s crazy!

escapedone7's avatar

If I gave someone a gift and they lost or broke it, I wouldn’t feel responsible for replacing it at all. Just don’t replace the bike. Say you are sorry his bike got stolen, that must be disappointing. Suggest gently that maybe he should secure things better in the future, because once things are gone they are hard to replace.

Tell your ex-husband that you aren’t accusing him of fraud and not to punish the boy. The loss of the bike, is a natural consequence of not being responsible. He could have stowed it in a locked garage, used bike chains, or found some way to keep it safer. He didn’t. Fixing it all for him won’t teach him to be more responsible. Explain gently you just think letting kids feel natural consequences helps them grow up, the loss of the bike is a lesson in itself. Then tell ex daddy that if he feels different then he can buy the kid a bike if he wants. But if the kid has to earn it or wait for it , he will be much more likely to remember to lock and chain things, or stow it in a secure place,. in the future.

The reason the dog didn’t scare the thieves away, is because I suspect a very very high probability the “thief” is a friend of your son and has been there visiting the house, eyeballing things, and wanting what he sees. I seriously doubt it was a stranger climbing over the fence that had no idea what he was after. I would think it is almost certainly a kid that has been there a lot, pretends to be a friend, but was really wanting that bike when he saw it. I’ve known a few thieves unfortunately, because one of my brothers kept dragging in his party friends when I was younger. They didn’t work as random as you might think. Some are simply opportunistic. You might want to mention this to your son and let him have time to dwell on this. He just might have an “aha” moment.

I’m not a parent, nor am I a parenting expert. I don’t even play one on tv.

bob_'s avatar

Would you be sending your own money, or would your now-husband also chip in?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Encouraging irresponsibility?Not a chance.

bob_'s avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Can I borrow some money to go bungee jumping?

Supacase's avatar

I don’t think your husband is being unreasonable at all. You bought your son a gift. Regardless of what happened to it, replacing it would be buying him another gift. You would be gifting him with two expensive bikes. You are not obligated to do that.

Let me put it this way: Let’s pretend my husband has a boat. If my husband’s boat was stolen, we would not go out and buy another one just like it. We would take what insurance gave us and buy what we could afford with that amount or use the money for something else. It would suck, but we don’t have the money to essentially buy a boat and a half. If it was the main family car, we might have to dig into savings for a reliable replacement but a boat or a bike is not a necessity.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t treat your son or even that you shouldn’t if you have the money and desire. I am only saying that your now-husband has a valid point, IMO.

neverawake's avatar

you’re crazy in the first place for buying a bike that cost that much

hug_of_war's avatar

Don’t pay for it. It will be a life lesson for him and I think you’re sending a bad message saying if he doesn’t properly care for his things you are always going to be there to bail him out.

Supacase's avatar

I don’t necessarily think it is his fault or that he didn’t take care it. Someone made the effort to steal it. It isn’t like he blew the engine goofing around or anything like that.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@bob_ no my now husband said NO so I am considering taking money out of my forex account to pay the ½— he might get mad at me (my now husband) but that’s my money-he (my son) wants to ride competively and I think he’s good- His dad is blaming him, he feels really really bad and I feel like crying

unique's avatar

it’s a learning opportunity: you don’t always get what you want, and even if you do, jerks thieve.

thriftymaid's avatar

I think it’s an overreaction. If you want to help your son get another bike, and can afford to do so, do.

bob_'s avatar

@trailsillustrated Then send him the money. After all, it comes and goes.

mrrich724's avatar

I wouldn’t send it but not b/c of the dad, rather to teach the son a lesson. When I had my first bike stolen, my mom didn’t get me another one.

Lesson learned, nothing’s ever been stolen from me since.

Also, if someone broke into a house and took a bike, they know what the bike was worth. I think it would not be a good idea to buy another $4500 bike unless the property owner is going to spend a significant amount of money on security to protect it, or it’s just gonna happen again!

And to answer your question, you aren’t being unfair. That prick of a father is being unfair by telling your son to sell his stuff just because daddy’s mad that he didn’t get his way!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I understood the whole story up until “now my ex is mad at my son…”

Understood that this was a very special bike for racing, because you feel your son could benefit from that. Understood that he didn’t ride it for some months because of an injury—did he not even look at it? (I’m curious about the timeline—when was the theft discovered and reported to insurance?)

I also understand the things that you imply but don’t say: friction between ex and new husband; likely guilt at not being present more often in your son’s life, and the inevitable disagreements between ex-spouses.

If you want to send some of your own money to cover half the cost of a new bike, then your husband shouldn’t be the least bit angry. He can be ‘bemused’, shake his head and say nothing—or he can be ignorant of the whole thing. If I were you I would ask the ex a few pointed questions:

1. Where and how is the bike stored? After all, this isn’t a bike that your son is going to ride to school or to the grocery store. So it’s either in use in practice or race sessions, or it’s locked up, right? So how was it stolen? (This might not change my desire and intent to replace it, but I would want assurance that I’m not pouring money into a hole.)

2. Has your son thought about any of his friends who might fit the bill for what @escapedone7 suggested? Would he confront or accuse a likely thief-friend?

3. What was the insurance settlement, anyway? If you’re going to front half the cost of a new bike—and I gather that money isn’t the issue here, so you’re considering that—then the full amount of the settlement should go to you, and then you use that plus whatever else you think is fair to get to “your half” of the replacement.

4. And before you do any of that I would have a chat with my son about his personal responsibility for:
a) storing his things and checking on them occasionally even when they’re not being used;
b) letting adults know promptly when the thing turns up missing—and especially you, since it was your gift in the first place;
c) sometimes mommies and daddies don’t get along like they once did (I have a feeling you must have already had this talk; your ex sounds petty and vindictive, even if I give him some of the benefit of the doubt from only hearing your side of things), but that doesn’t mean you don’t love him—but you can’t keep making gifts like this materialize out of thin air, and
d) because of c) above, it is important for him to maintain some privacy in the communications you have with your son.

Good luck, dear.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@CyanoticWasp the ex wrote to me all outraged because he had seen the email I wrote to my son, the inference that he had something to do with it, but he’s over it because I am sending money. My son told me the bike was out back of their house and I guess not locked up. I saw on my son’s fb or on some forum that the bike was stolen from the exe’s office -???. This was almost a year ago. The ex wrote that the insurance was $500.00 and was used to buy a bmx bike, last week. Whatever. I have lectured my son and feel like there’s nothing more I can do. thanks btw

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