Stepson Issues

DennisM330's picture

I am new to this forum and I am getting some counseling to help me deal with situation I have at home with my 22 year old stepson who is living with us. He has a lot of mental issues in addition to tourettes syndrome and me and others in my family have noticed how my wife babies him and does not allow him grow and become more independent. He lost a job last year due to having a panic attack and the company calling an ambulance after hearing him echo soms suicidal thoughts. They would not give him his job back after he requested coming back after originally putting in his 2 weeks notice. According to him, this was because of him being scared of his manager after his manager and a coworker said some threatening things to him about his disorder whereby he has verbal noises that he cannot control.

He later got another job about 2 months later and he quit the job after about 3 weeks saying he just did not fit in and someone has stolen his coat.

He gets SSI income of about 400 a month. He has lived with me for about 1 1/2 years and has not ever given 1 penny towards room and board. The problem with all of this, is that he bought a brand new car last year shortly after getting his first job and his dad cosigned for him. Prior to getting his first job, he was spending every bit of that 400 in SSI income and had constantly borrowed money off of me. He has a spending problem where he spends every penny he gets. After he quit his second job, he wrote to a friend on the Internet who send him $1,000 on month and $1,000 on another month. My stepson blew thru that money quickly buying clothes, cigarettes, eating out, and buying porn. My wife has had to call his bank several times to talk them out of overdraft charges when he overdrew the account. He also has addictions to porn and spends money on porn videos that he does not really have to spend. My wife had started keeping his debit card and credit card to better control his spending. One morning, he woke me and my wife up around 6:00 AM in the morning to ask for some money from his account. I was upset about being work up this early and told my wife. I never said a word directly to me stepson. She got mad at me and told me that my stepson did not think he was doing anything wrong and she did not like how I was being towards him. In the same sentence she told me he wanted some money to go out and buy some porn that morning. Am I wrong for being mad for being awakened so someone can get some money to go out and buy some porn?

He has maxed out the only credit card he has already. He does not have a job now and I told my wife his dad needs to come and get the car and trade him givng my stepson his used car until my stepson gets a job again. At least he will still have a car and will have no car payments to pay with his 400 in SSI. Otherwise, he will keep borrowing money off of us. I am paying half of my salary out in child support and alimony to my first wife and cannot afford to keep supporting my stepsons spending problems. My wife did get a job a few months ago which now helps but she has some bills too which I was previously struggling to pay when we only had my income to live on. She does not want him to lose that car so it seems to me the best solution is for his dad to come and pick up his car since he is the cosigner and give my stepson his old car to drive. His dad is reluctant to do that right now and wants to wait until April. In the meantime, I am concerned that my stepson will keep taking money from us. I am seeing a lot of debit card activity where extra cash is being taken out on trips to Walgreens and other stores, so I suspect my wife is slipping him some money here and there. We recently got a 45 rebate on a medical bill and she told me she gave him the cash. This seems to be contributing to my stepsons spending problems snd does not teach him anything?

I am at my wits end here. I have only been married now to my wife for 1 1/2 years. I accepted the fact the my stepson had tourettes syndrome, but I did not know he had this spending problem, and addiction to porn. My wife also recently shared with me that my stepson was gay. The bigger problem I see here is my wife keeps making all the phone calls for my stepson when it comes to issues with his car, his bank accounts, problems at the doctor's office, etc. I dont see where she is helping him by not allowing him to be more independent. She got mad at me after my stepson quit his second job and said that he was crying because he was concerned he let me down since I just bought him an alarm clock to help him get up for his job. I was disappointed because I did not feel 3 weeks was enough time for my stepson to decide whether or not he fit in on the job. I never said anything directly to my stepson, but I was quiet around him because quite frankly, I was very disaappointed him him. I am concerned here that she again is not letting him grow up and just feels sorry for him every time he cries.

We also sat down and gave him a chore list to at least clean up his own messes around the house. He was previously keeping his bedroom a sloppy mess. leaving dishes in the sink he dirtied for someone else to wash, leaving his laundry for his mother to wash, not helping out with the garbage, not cleaning up after his pet. We sat down with him and reviewed a chore list to address all the previous items and had expectations that he would clean up after his own messes. The only thing he has improved upon on his chore list is that he is keeping his bedrooom cleaned up a little better. But my wife keeps doing his laundry, both me and my wife wash his dishes he dirties, my wife and I empty the garbage in the house, and my my wife cleans up after his pet.

He also make a lot of noise in house at 2-4 AM in the morning having meals in the kitchen which shares a wall with out bedroom. I have told my wife on numerous occassions to please ask my stepson to be more quieter on workdays when I have to get up on the morning for work. I hear pot and pans clanging, the microware door being opened and closed, and the refrigerator door and ice maker constantly being accessed my my stepson. I was told to quit being such a light sleeper. All I am asking is for my stepson to be a little considerate of those of have to work in the morning and to be quieter when he is up in the wee hours of the morning.

I feel like an outsider here because I can never say anything wrong about my stepson without my wife jumping all over me saying my stepson has never done anything to me, he is polite, etc. What should I do. It is getting to the point, where I am going to terminate this marriage if I have to. I have high blood pressure and cannot keep dealing with all this added stress.

h6not3's picture


It is sad that he has Tourettes syndrome, but I would bet that if you talked to other people who have this disorder, they wouldn't be displaying his other problem behaviors such as: porn, disrespect, and immaturitiy.

You have a right to put your foot down. And soon. It does seem as though your wife babies him, and soon he will be 23, 24, 30, 35...etc. You need to ask her...."When will this end?"

If you ask her if she is planning on supporting him for the rest of his life, what does she say?

I understand that you have only been married for a year and a half, but you need to get on the same page with your wife. There shouldn't be any money "hiding", or even supporting this child without your consent. You two are a team and she needs to acknowledge this.

Hang in there....talking about these issues have helped me out GREATLY!

Good luck to you!


BIOMOM's picture

If you cannot talk to your wife about these issues, perhaps you should not say anything at all.

Just don't give him money. Tell your wife you simply cannot afford it if she even has the nerve to ask you why.

If he keeps you up at night, politely get out of bed and move to the couch or another part of the house where its more quiet. If she asks why, explain that you need your sleep.

I know for me, when my kids are brats, (ages 17 and 8), IF my boyfriend DARES to say anything negative about them, I get very very defensive. I always feel, if I don't defend them, who will? So he decided to take a more quiet approach to things that bothered him. He wouldn't subsidize (spell check please) my income for me to hand gas money over to my son. Car insurance. Son's car? My or my son's bill. He did really good with this. He never shoved it in my face that he was teaching US a lesson. Just quietly sat back and waited....and waited....until I had enough.....

When I had to look at the situation without having to defend my son constantly, I finally saw how much I was being taken advantage of. I finally blew up! My boyfriend was supportive, but still offered no help. I had to face the fact that my son was becoming lazy and sponging off us. It worked.....

Just a suggestion....MY opinion and experience. Others may not agree, but I can only go by what worked for us! Good luck!


PS: The KEY to this lesson was that my bf NEVER NEVER NEVER was spiteful about anything. NEVER said "see, I told you so"....just very quiet and polite....

DennisM330's picture

Thanks for the advice.

I do have to at least ask my wife that she not let him use our debit card (she has a copy), because she is not asking me if he can use the debit card. I am seeing debits for occassional fast food, gas, car washes, and 10.00 here and there being taken out by him. This is really bothering me and my parents told me I need to say something to her.

OldTimer's picture

that perhaps it's time to sit down, very calmly, and physically show her the amount of money coming IN via your paychecks... hers and yours, and the amount of money going OUT... all the bills, the bank statements, etc. I would literally draft it out like an accountant. Go to the library, get a few financial accountant books- shoot get the Financial Accounting for Dummies if you have too, lol. Then to the office store and literally buy a ledger, you may even be able to find something online that you can print and use at home. Then sit down with your wife, but DO NOT get confrontational with it, just say... Honey, can you help me? I need you to read off some numbers for me. Just let her visuably see the money flowing. Paper does not lie...

I would also suggest that maybe it's time to seperate the income/ bank accounts. She has hers, you have yours, and set up a written plan of all the household bills/ expenses. Since you are (I'm assuming) the 'Head of the Household', draft a plan (together) that agrees that you take care of the household items, what those are, how much they are, with her contributing a percentage of her income towards those, how much that is, (many banks will allow a transfer of a percent or flat amount from one account to another per pay period, monthly, etc.) and anything that is outside of that, such as these little trips to the convenient store that she is willing giving SS- well, you're not resonsible for that, that's her responsiblity coming out of her own account, and the money that is being drafted into the HOUSEHOLD account is protected for the monthly expenses. Do not give her any access to the HOUSEHOLD account, period. I would also add that you should also focus on trying to set up a seperate savings account for your future too. 10% from her paycheck, 10% from your paycheck, whatever the arrangement you can afford, but BOTH of you pull money to pull together for your future that YOU DO NOT TOUCH, because that is for the FUTURE, retirement. I think you'll need it.

It's like BIOMOM says, she will have to learn the hard way, I'm afraid, but in the meantime, you have to set up some financial protection, otherwise you are heading for a real disaster.

The other thing that I'd like to add is that perhaps it's time to attend a financial class... together. Many colleges have adult short courses and offer financial courses. See, I used to have a really bad debt problem, but I incurred it through my ex who used my credit cards online, because of that, I regretably brought my debt into this relationship. My DH helped pay for some of it, while I paid for the rest of it- and still am chipping away at it. But, he did so under the agreement that I had to attend one of those community adult financial courses that the college nearby holds. Of course, I rolled my eyes, thought 'how stupid! I don't have a spending problem...I have a debt problem. It was my ex who did this to me, blah blah blah" stompping my feet all the way, spittering and mumbling how irrating and upset I was at him. etc etc. But he went with me to help 'ease the pain'. And I have to tell you... I'M GLAD I DID IT! I learned sooo much, and am quite responsible for my money now. So, perhaps it's time to take the family to school?

OldTimer's picture

another thing, it may be helpful if you can go to family councelling? This way, you can have a mediator to help with some of the issues of addictions and how everyone can cope with it all on their part.

Anne 8102's picture

Have you considered getting separate bank accounts and then not letting him or her have access to YOUR money? Money matters are a real killer... but maybe she's not really seeing the amount she's dishing out to this kid. Once she sees it being sucked out of HER account, it might flip a switch in her head. I like your idea about the car. I think that's the fair way to go.

~ Anne ~

holeekrap789's picture

The first and foremost thing that WILL NOT get you the results you want is to point out to a mom what her 'handicapped child' is doing wrong or bad.
I am a bio mom of 7 kids and three of them are handicap...1 with SSI. I can tell you, and I think most moms here would agree that a mom fighting for her children is one of the harshest things in the world for any one to face.
Now add Handicap to that, not only does the mom feel bad for the kid and the challenges they have but they also feel guilty for the things they may have done to cause the handicap and for the way they are or have handled it throughout the kids life.
The ONLY thing that reached me where my kids were concerned was concern for their well being by the adult that was bringing up the issue.
For example, in your case, maybe you should go to mom when there isn't an immediate problem and say "listen I have been thinking about this and I am very worried about____(SS). If for some reason we are not here for him tomorrow or ever again, God forbid, a car accident or something, Does he have what it takes to keep him on his feet and living the best life he can?"
"If he doesn't, then what can we do to teach him to be independent, IF NECESSARY?"
Let her figure it out. Give her guidance and suggestions but let her be the one to feel good about what she is doing to "help" him.
These are necessary living skills for anyone and parental responsibilities for any parent no matter what the child is facing.

In the meantime separate your accounts and make them yours, mine, and his. Tell her that this is to be able to go over with SS what the different an proper ways to handle an acct is. That each acct will be gone over as a family each month(if you don't mind this kind of scrutiny), So SS can ask questions about handling finances and learn from both of your examples.
In the meantime he is not spending your money on his wastefulness and she can choose how much of her money she wants to waste.

Remember the most important thing here is that as far as she is concerned you are doing everything FOR HIS BENEFIT.
Not only do I have handicap kids but I also work for a state operated group home for mentally disabled adults. These are some of the things that I/We use and I see success with,so they will hopefully help you a little too.
Good luck. Issues like this can tear a family apart and even more so when a parent has different emotions child because of the matter how old the kid is.

Lisa Dawn

dynodon's picture

if you could find a woman to marry and take care of him you and your wife might have a marrige otherwise don't punish yourself life is not fair and you have to make it that way.

Rags's picture

IMHO there is a big difference between fighting for a child and facilitating failure.  Your DW is leaning heavily in the direction of facilitating the failure of her manipulative port addicted special needs adult son.

Cut them off from the money required to support the voluntarily serially unemployed Skid. Special needs or not.  He is using his condition as an excuse. That it blatantly obvious from your description of the situation you are all currently in.  He needs absolute clarity that he does not quit a job without already having another.  His mom needs clarity that her failure to cut the umbilical cord is doing this adult Skid a huge disservice.

No money, no SKid.  He will figure it out if he is cold and hungry because of his own choices.

I was 16 when I became disabled with a federally recognized disability.  Employers get federal credit for hiring me.  If I voluntarily disclosed my disability.  I never have disclosed my disability to an employer.  I certainly have never hidden it. But I have never used it for leverage.  It chaps my ass when others with my disability use it to avoid their work responsibilities and those responsibilities are put on others.  I have been asked several times over the years if my disability prevents someone from performing a particular duty.  I always play the facts. "I am doing it aren't I?  No, this disability does not prevent someone from XYZ or LMNOP.  That person is playing a bullshit card to get out of something they don't want to do.  Your don't want to do that job, and neither do I. But we are both doing it and I have that same disability."

As much as any parent takes exception to someone criticizing their child, both the parent and the kid need to have their noses rubbed in the truth.  Special needs or not.  If someone is playing bullshit games by using their disability to avoid responsibility, it cannot be tolerated by anyone else.

IMHO of course.

In my first career as a restauranteur I had several special needs employees who lived in adult group homes for those with developmental disabilities. They were some of my hardest workers and would try anything they were asked to do.  As a "disabled" person myself and having employed them for a number of years, I do not have much empathy for your manipulative SS and little to no respect for your enabling bride or your manipulative Skid.

Good luck.