Toddler Pageants Put Us $50K in Debt

Ms. Vicki
Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have a real life Toddler & Tiara living in my house. My wife has turned my 5-year-old daughter into someone I don’t even recognize.

The worst part is that during my last two deployments, my wife ran up a rack of debt because she travels with my daughter all over the place to compete in the pageants. North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Georgia -- you name it and she will take my daughter.

If you add up the hotel bills, food, the outfits my daughter wears, the singing and dancing lessons, hair and make-up, then you can see why I’m so angry and frustrated because I’m over $50,000 in debt! This is crazy, and I don’t know how to stop her.

To add to this situation, I don’t even think my daughter wants to compete in these pageants. I think it’s more about my wife’s inability to get a life, so she lives her life through our daughter.

My wife doesn’t work, and she doesn’t have any friends either. In her mind, she thinks people are jealous of her and my daughter. She also said that traveling around with my daughter helps her cope with military life and deployments.

I know the last few years of my schedule have been difficult, but I don’t want to be in debt. I don’t want my wife to be unhappy. I don’t want my daughter looking like a mature 21-year-old. It’s just not right.

At this point, my daughter would have to win more than $200,000 to recoup the money, not to mention the time that my wife has invested in pageants.

My wife won’t listen. She keeps saying it’s none of my business, but this can’t continue because we will be penniless.

I feel like I’m on the outside looking in, and I don’t know what to do.

Sincerely, Tiara Trouble

Dear Trouble,

This is a serious problem, but I don’t think this is all about the tiara.

Deployments can put a strain on marital relationships in a way that you described perfectly.

You said that you are on the outside looking in. You may feel like your family has continued on without you while you were deployed. The pageants could very well be a way for your wife to cope with separations and deployments.

In her defense, maybe she felt lonely without you. She felt like she was left behind because she doesn’t have friends and she doesn’t work outside of the home.

As a result, the pageants gave her a sense of belonging and something she could connect to.

Moreover, access to credit cards or other income to fund the venture could also give her a sense of power and accomplishment.

I think this situation should be handled gently, with the help of a professional counselor or therapist. You need to become more assertive and communicate clearly with your wife.

Right now, you are sitting on the sideline, but it’s time for you to be on the playing field.

You admitted that you have forgotten how to do this because deployments have kept you out of the family circle (making decisions). Your connection and communication with your wife have to increase.

I sense that you don’t know how to insert your opinion and you may not feel that you have a right to do so. However, you have to start somewhere.

Therapy is not a bad word because the therapist can provide couples with communication, and help strategize ways to improve intimacy and strong bonds between you and your spouse.

It will be a great time for your wife to explore what the pageants mean to her because I think they are more about your wife and not your daughter.

Check on base for the availability of marital counseling. If none is available, contact Military OneSource and they will connect you with a provider in your local community. The services are free.

In the meantime, I would start managing the household finances to avoid more debt.

Deny your wife access to your credit cards and other banking access until she agrees that she will not spend frivolously for your daughter to participate in pageants.

Lastly, it would be a good idea for you to get a copy of your credit report to check if your wife has established more credit in your name that could be delinquent.

This sounds like a tough situation but one that you can overcome. Keep in touch!

Sincerely, Ms. Vicki

Keep Up with the Ins and Outs of Military Life 

For the latest military news and tips on military family benefits and more, subscribe to and have the information you need delivered directly to your inbox.

Show Full Article