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Should I pay to repair something that my daughter "broke" while in my brother's care in his home?home

Sticky family situation that seems like an easy answer: yes, pay up! But, here's the bigger picture: My kids and I were visiting my brother's home recently. My brother offered to watch the kids for awhile so his wife and I could have lunch. We returned to find that my 7 year old daughter (while playing with 2 other kids, and thinking she was backing up to a chair) sat on the edge of their coffee table, causing the leg of the table to break. This particular table is very special to my sister-in-law, like has an acrylic base and a glass top, so not an easy repair. She just sent me a bill for over $1,200 for the repair to a "like new" condition. (To buy the same table, new, is $1,500.) (If it were my table, I would have quietly not made a big deal of it....and would have used an acrylic epoxy to glue the leg back on ---not a "perfect"fix----but usable and would have saved dignities of all involved.)

It's not that I don't want to contribute to the repair of this table. As a matter of fact, I GAVE her a pricey item that I intended to sell (but that I knew her daughter wanted) and asked her if it would make up for the damaged table...I thought it did, but turns out, not! Now, I feel completely conned by her demand that I pay for the entire amount. After all, the table has been precarious in her home for 16 years and many times I have seen it be an issue with kids and dogs around. How do I know that the leg wasn't weakened and that any movement on it would have caused it to snap? Should I pay for all of it when the children weren't in my care? (In my home, I don't let kids play around some of my household items (my antique armoire, chandelier), cause I know the replacement values. Also, if a child were to break something while in my care, I wouldn't make their parents pay.

This situation has me totally frustrated on many levels. For years, we have given our treasures (timeshare rental, jetskis, boats, etc) and time (childcare, petsitting) FREELY to them. Now, I realize that they take none of this into consideration --only count every penny of something they believe I am "Responsible" for because it was "my daughter" who "broke it." (Interestingly, I realize now that I am mostly the one giving...) If I do pay, then how do I navigate this relationship in the future? My husband says we can no longer visit in their home, as he will worry that whatever goes wrong will be billed to us while we're there.... And they can no longer come to our home as he will worry about their "greedy ways" should something occur while they're on our property (lawsuit, etc).

This is just awful....and right at the holidays....please help me with your perspective.

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Asked by Anonymous at 7:37 PM on Dec. 9, 2010 in Relationships

Answers (18)
  • I would want you to repair it if your child broke it. Yes accidents happen but you must take responsibility.

    Answer by ready4baby2011 at 7:39 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • I would never ask someone to pay for something that a child broke. I am sorry. At the same time, I would never pay for something that expensive that my child broke. LOL! Tell her to send the bill to your child and tell her the child can pay for it when she starts working......

    Answer by m-avi at 7:42 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • First of all it was an accident and how do you know she wasnt bumped by one of the other kids? I would pay for half but no more. It's a damn coffee table not a family heirloom. Second you gave her an item to make up for it. I would take that crap back, sell it then give her the dang money if shes being a turd.

    Answer by Misteh at 7:42 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • I agree with ready4baby. If your son broke a window playing baseball youd have to pay for that. So its really the same thing. Family or not. Id pay it and not let your kids over there alone anymore. Accidents happen and as family I dont think Id make someone pay for it but it depends on the item i guess and the relationship. Just pay it and put it behind you. Also you cant compare a gift to this. It was something you gave them and shouldnt be held as collateral

    Answer by Steph319 at 7:43 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • yes, fix it. you can explain it any way you want but in the end your daughter broke it and you should want to fix it. It doesn't matter how or if it was an accident. sorry, I think it is an easy answer, pay up:)

    It sucks that it cost that much but you should pay for it and it will be a good learning experience for your daughter to see you take care of the responsibility.

    Answer by sue118 at 7:43 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • Actually, since your brother was the one watching the kids, he has some responsibility....that's why kids are left in the care of an adult, so that someone is responsible for them. I think I'd pay half......and if you were giving the daughter the item in payment, possibly deduct for the item you gave her daughter (although I think I'd let that go). I doubt if I would ever leave my children there again.

    Answer by ohwrite at 7:47 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • It's an awful situation. Seriously, she is partly at fault for letting kids play around something SO nice. I have a 10,000 painting but if a friend's kid hurt it, I wouldn't ask for 10K. Absurd. That said, I would do this: Pay her (can't believe your brother doesn't step in but) what the repair place recommends and call around and find a place cheaper. If it can't be found cheaper doing your own research, pay the amount and ask for the bill/receipt.

    This is a deal breaker for me. I wouldn't hang out with them anymore. It's sad but your husband is right and given how generous you've been in the past, you are being used. That part, is on you. You can now control this w/o the excuse of "it's family" we should share all our stuff. To hell with that. Good luck, terrible place to be in.

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 7:47 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • if i was u and i did pay for it i would take the table myself where she wanted it to be fixed at to make sure the price is right i wouldnt just hand over the money. how u know they arent trying to get some money outta u and they just glue it thereselves it could been all set up

    Answer by BellaDiamond at 7:50 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • Why would you have a $1200 table in a house with kids anyway??
    I'd ask around myself to find the lowest price to repair it. Don't hand over the $

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 7:57 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

  • Just because you have given them expensive gifts doesn't give you the right to decide that you shouldn't have to pay. That isn't why you give someone something, so you can "use" it later. Maybe you wouldn't make her pay for it but that isn't how she feels, if you can't pay it all at once just explain that to her and ask to pay it in installments.

    It's a bad situation but if it were me, I'd pay, then I would do just like your husband said, don't invite them and don't go there, who knows maybe they will realize it and apologize or even give the money back.

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:58 PM on Dec. 9, 2010

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