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Adult Stepchildren Issues - Opinions/advice appreciated!

christined717's picture

Hi All - Newbie here - first post - I'll try to be brief.

I have 2 adult stepchildren - ss is 25 and sd is 22. I have a 13 year old daughter living with us, and my husband and I have been married for a year and a half. My daughter and I moved into their house after we married.

SS lives here. Very quiet - hardly ever see him. He works full time and makes about 22k a year. Pays no rent, only has car payment and insurance. Husband makes his lunch for him for the week. My issue with him is that he seems to have no intention of ever moving out. He doesn't have ANY money whatsoever which I can't figure out. This month, he almost had his car repo'd and dad made the payment for him (a gift not a loan). He does nothing around the house at all. I've asked hubby to ask him to chip in with the chores - all I asked was for him to vacuum the downstairs and hubby told him (reluctantly I'm sure cause he never, ever asked anything of either kid) and it was never done. Just ignored. Even though he lives here for free, has his lunches made for him and gets bailed out when he needs it, he has never given my husband a card even for father's day or for his bd... That annoys me too and I am wondering if I should just SAY something to my SS?

SD is working and moved out to Philly. She got an apt. that is too expensive for her, and when I brought this up, it was largely ignored. Now I find out she's asking dad to pay her parking fees - $175 monthly. She texted him late last night (when we were in bed) and asked him to put the money in her account. This is the first I've heard of this. I feel that she too is lazy and spoiled. When she lived here, hubby never asked a thing of her, and though working, she would go to him for money, a car, or whatever.

Hubby doesn't tell me about these things. I find out indirectly and have pointed this out to him. I feel that he should tell me when these issues come up, but he probably doesn't want to hear any grief. I feel resentful. I feel that if adult children are asking for financial help, they should be held accountable as to WHY, and help them figure out a way to support themselves. SD goes out partying and shopping, but she can't afford to pay her garage fees? I am sure if she has any other "emergencies" that dad will be asked for "help" ... he is never asked for a loan - just freebies.

What do I do? I feel as soon as I bring these things up that the wall goes up with the hubby. I don't bring it up a lot because I don't want to seem a "nag". Hubby is wonderful to me and my daughter, but I feel that kids need to show some responsibility, and apparently, he feels differently.

Do I talk to the "kids" myself? Do I suggest that hubby and I talk to them together? I don't feel that hubby and I are on the same page at all, and I don't know how to get there. I've been patient, but my patience is running thin. I feel that he should be up front with me and that he should demand accountability from them. Am I asking too much?

Thanks for letting me vent!

Chris's picture

Hi Chris,
I am new here too and in almost the same situation as you. We have been married for 1 & 1/2 years too. My Husbands 16 and 19 yr old boys live with us.The 19 yrs old does nothing around the house, and only works 4 hours a day. I work full time. I hve no kids of my own. The 19 tr old, leaves his dishes everywhere in the house. Shoes coat, hat puts down anywhere. Makes a mess of the kitchen and never cleans up. I am expected to do his laundry. He stays out until 4 am and up at 12 pm every day. His dad tells him he has to help. He says ok but never does anything. My husband is a softy. He just says I need to be the adult and do it. Be a role modle. He treats me great, but lets his kids walk all over me. I don't know what to do. Please, let me know if someone gives you great advice I could use some too. My husband has bought the 19 yr old 3 cars in 1 12 yrs because he does not take car of them.
Thanks for listening. I would love to help you. Just wanted you to know your not alone.

Anne 8102's picture

Find out what the going rate is for maid service (call Merry Maids, get an hourly rate) and whatever amount of time you spend cleaning up after your SS, bill your husband for it. If he doesn't pay it, just go out and spend that amount on YOURSELF!

Do NOT do his laundry. Ever. If your DH wants to do it, fine. Let him. But it's not your kid, not your job, not your responsibility. He's an adult. Let HIM figure out how to get his clothes clean.

Whatever items he leaves strewn all over your home, you ask him ONCE to put them away. If after five minutes he hasn't done it, you come along with a big garbage bag and collect them. Ransom them for the amount he owes you for the maid service.

As for DH, next time he wants to get laid, you tell him you're too tired from cleaning up after his ADULT CHILD to put out.

~ Anne ~

"Adjust on the fly, or you're going to cry."
Steve Doocy, The Mr. and Mrs. Happy Handbook

Angel's picture

your husband is holding the right cards. The house is his & because of this, you do not have the advantage.

He definitely should tell you when his children ask for money & you should be able to talk about it. He should respect your feelings. You two are a team now & his adult children should not be asking for money. Unfortunately, it sounds like he will continue to provide $ to them until....
You two need to REALLY talk & put your cards on the table. Don't hide your feelings----say exactly what you are thinking and feeling & see what he says. He should not avoid the truth (hiding his giving money to them) because it is lying.

Mystery23's picture


I think you got to speak to your husband. I live with my dad abd stepmum for 4 years and the both made sure they sat me down and said to me I got to find a job. Which I did they worked out how much I should pay them every month. What was fair considering what you would pay in your own place. I think both you and your husband should do the same. De also should not make him his lunch for the week he treating his son like a little boy. He is a grown man with to arms and legs and tell your husband he needs to use them. I can't believe your ss does not help out round the house. I would be told to at least tidy my room. i did help out washing up and other things. You husband should not help them out all the time because everytime they need money it will be well daddy got it.

With your sd he can't keep paying for her parking fees either.

My dad was like this with me he would help me out with money all the time. There really is nothing you can do about it and if you get funny about it he will just hide it from you. My dad hid alot from my step-mum and let me say you might know about this stuff but he probably paying for alot than you know about. These two do need to grow up and stand on their own two felt but they will alway come to their father for help. Money their dady will give them but he should discuss with you but maybe he feels you will get upset. To be honest if your daughter was that age would like him helping her out with money all the time? When I moved back to my mothers he still use to give me money but then I had a agency job and when I said not he got funny. If you skids started to refuse him money and said said well thanks for the offer you helped me out so much they he will upset and not need. You got to be careful how you go about this its alright him helping them out once and a while but not all the time. Even though your husband will treat it as loan well this is what he may tell you but he might say to his daughter or son don't bother pay me back its alright.

I knew my step-mum would be angry and plus I don't like him hiding it if he is going to pay for things for me I prefer it be out in the open and all these secrets. My step-mum is though a jealous woman and she is very insecure so this is why he does not tell her. There is really is nothing you can do to stop him helping his kids. Don't even bother talk to them either as you will be looked at the wicked witch stopping there dad paying for things for them or helping them.

Anne 8102's picture

I disagree with the "the house is his" comment. You're not a guest. You're his wife. You live there, too. It is YOUR home, as well as HIS home, regardless whose name is on the deed. You have a right to equal say as to what goes on IN that home.

I think your SS most definitely should be contributing to the household by paying rent and helping with chores, but more importantly, he should be looking for a place to live. He's an adult. By all means, say something to him. This is another adult taking up space and not picking up after himself in your home. If you are at all affected - doing his laundry, cleaning up his messes, etc. - then you have every right to bypass your DH, go to SS directly and demand that he pick up his slack or move out.

As to DH giving them money hand over fist. This one is a tougher call. Is any of YOUR money going towards these kids? Does your husband's misguided generosity impact YOU financially in any way? I get that it makes you mad, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about whether or not you feel a direct impact financially from him handing out money to his kids. If you are personally and directly impacted, then yes, talk to him, talk to his kids, tell them all it needs to stop. "Help" means being there for an emergency. "Help" does not mean supporting them financially indefinitely. If you are not personally and directly impacted, then don't say a word, stop caring about it, detach and let it go. If your DH wants to live out his life as a sucker being taken advantage of by his adult children, then fine. That's his choice.

REMEMBER... His kids, his problem! As long as it doesn't directly impact you, you are not required to give a rat's ass! Smile

~ Anne ~

"Adjust on the fly, or you're going to cry."
Steve Doocy, The Mr. and Mrs. Happy Handbook

sparky's picture

Our kds are older too and we do still help them, but we can afford to do that. Affordability would be my main concern. If he can afford to help his kds that makes a difference. You said yourself that he has been so good to you and your daughter so it sounds like he is like that with everybody. As far as the house goes if he can afford to help his kds then he can afford to get Merry Maids to clean the house bi/weekly and that would be advantageous to everyone living there. Do I want the adult kds to grow up and move forward, absolutley. But I also know how the deal works in the long run and so does he. His kds were here before I got here and they will be here after I am gone, if we don't make it. Sometimes I think the parents are strectched a little thin trying to make everyone happy.

christined717's picture

First of all, thank you all so much for your responses!

Ginger - Thank you for your kind words :). I can say to you that there is no way I would clean up after the 19 year old or ever do his laundry. If his dad cleaned up after him like that before you came, then he should continue or back you up and stay on the kid until it changes. As far as buying cars every time the kid ruins one - that would annoy me to no end. I don't know your financial situation, but I feel that even if you are "wealthy enough" to do something like that, it is wrong. Adult children that show no responsibility should not be coddled. My SS doesn't leave our house a mess but his room is a disgusting pig sty that smells. In your situation, since you are "expected" to clean up after SS, I'd certainly feel that you could and should say something to your SS. Maybe pull out the vacuum at 10 am so that it wakes him up, and then tell him TODAY is cleaning day - and here is what you need to do. My SS has actually told me that he KNOWS his dad is too soft on him, and he actually wishes that his dad would expect things of him! Does he do anything of his own accord to help out? NEVER! lol - So in my case, I feel it's up to his father to teach him - not me. I've told DH of the conversation - and he just can not bring himself to ask anything of his kids.

Angel - Thanks for your reply - I feel the same way - That hiding is the same as not telling the truth. Especially in a case such as this. I DO have the disadvantage - but as time goes on, I feel more and more that this is "my house" too and that any limitations I put on myself are my fault - my husband has made me feel in every way that this is OUR house - except that he doesn't seem to be able to change as far as how he ran things and what my expectations may be, and it's my job to get him to understand and to come to a mutually satisfying conclusion - that is where my problem lies.

Mystery - thank you SO much for responding - it is really nice hearing from a step-child and your perspective was very insightful! I do feel that if the parents present a united front that everything can be sorted out - it's getting to that point that is hard - step families are used to doing things the old way, and sometimes it's hard to teach old dogs new tricks lol...

Anne - your responses are excellent - thank you. You sound like you've "been there done that" and are a strong person! I will outline a bit more to clarify my situation, and would appreciate very much your opinion...

As far as my SS - I do not pick up after him. He stays invisible in the house - in his room every second that he is here - he doesn't go out except for work or drinking on the weekend. He does his own laundry. His room is a sty though - and he doesn't ever wash his bedding - I can SMELL the stinky pillows and sheets when his door is opened. He never, ever does a thing. Doesn't ever give his dad a card even for father's day, bd or xmas. Even though he makes over 20,000, he doesn't have a pot to pee in. There are continual bounced check notices from the bank. He will never move out because for some odd reason he doesn't have 2 nickles to rub together even though his only expenses are car payment and insurance. I've asked DH many times - WHY???

Well this past weekend (after my last post) - I talked to DH. I told him that he can do what he wants as far as "helping out" the "kids" with money, but I do feel that he should tell me about it. I also told him that SS should have SOME chores (I mentioned the vacuuming thing and his reply was "he's not a vacuuming kinda guy!".. what the hell!!!!!!! So I said OKAY - then he should take out the trash every week, shovel the snow when it snows, and mow the lawn. He sort of agreed to the trash thing but this week - guess who was taking the trash out? DH of course! I also told DH that I wouldn't ask questions as far as handing out money goes as long as it wasn't affecting US - but in return I thought he should tell them to clean their rooms - and that his daughter had moved out but left her room a sty as well - she's not living here, but we have to leave the sty as a shrine??? Nothing was done or said. He gets real quite and lets me talk - then agrees with me but I can tell that he doesn't really (we've had these conversations before) and I pressed him - telling him that even though he's telling me yes, I can see he doesn't MEAN it - and if he disagrees - let's get it out in the open NOW. Well he then said that really - he's always kept the house clean and done EVERYTHING and that though he likes HIS (our) room clean - how the kids chose to let their rooms go is their thing - we just close the doors and ignore it. I told him that I felt he was making a mistake in continuing to coddle grown children, and he said he's never been a parent to grown children before (but I guess he's not open to any suggestions either) - he takes my opinions as a knock against his parenting style. He just says that our styles are different. Well YEAHH - but does that mean that either of us is totally right or wrong? He does their taxes, year after year - and I suggested that maybe he should SHOW them how to do it (since they are just too lazy to even think about attempting to do such an easy task on their own - they only have to file EZ forms for crying out loud!)

His daughter, who moved out 2 months ago, has YET to file a change of address with the post office. I emailed her the link even. Her bills come here and her paycheck as well and he has to take care of that!!! He deposits her check and I'm ASSuming that he's shipping her mail off to her - who knows!

We've had snow on and off this past week - it was never removed (hubby got a promotion and is extremely busy at work and doesn't have the time he once had to take care of every, single thing) and now there's just ice everywhere. I am not talking about feet of snow, just a few inches here and there - if it was taken care of when it should/could have been, we wouldn't be skating in our driveway. Hubby was leaving for work this am and oops - HE forgot to take out the trash last night - so he had to rush out to get it to the curb in time this morning. He obviously has no intention of asking anything of his little babies and it's driving me NUTS!

So, basically, again, I've ended up where I've started off. This has quickly turned into a "pattern" - me getting frustrated - TRYING to talk to DH - him agreeing (but then turning quiet which I feel is hostile - this weekend wasn't much fun let me tell you) and nothing EVER changes!

Mystery23's picture

Hi Christine,

I think you should tell him you are going to leave because you feel your doing everything. Maybe you should go about to your relatives for a weekend and then maybe he will get fed up with doing everything. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

My dad told me once my step-mom said I am the only one who does washing up other than her.

Your husband will get fed up bailing out the kids in the end and you got to say to him that he got to support you with rule and stuff in the house. Tell him if his son won't help you want him gone or something.

Anne's picture

I've been a stepmother for 32 years. I seen it all and done it all. You have two options--you can stay or you can go. It all hinges on how much you love your husband. And, I'll tell you what, I loved my husband very much, however, it wasn't enough. We're still together, but the marriage has been damaged. We still enjoy each other's company and go about life quite well. Having said that, I can't stand his kids. They don't like me. It has never been discussed--in 32 years--but it is very much there.

For years and years, I did everything for them. I made sure they had wonderful gifts for Christmas--never actually celebrating Christmas, of course, at Christmas because that was reserved for the ex-wife. What I found out after 32 years is, they don't care how much you do for them. They are never going to like you. They will be respectful when your husband is around, and but that's about it.

If I had it to do over again, would I? I don't know... I do know that I'm tired of fighting the good fight and making them all comfortable and happy when they are here.

When I go to their homes, I see no pictures of our side of the family--no pictures of us or our children (their half brother and sister).

Here's the answer, "There is no answer"...

Jane's picture

TO; Anne (not verified) on Tue, 03/18/2008 - 2:18pm

Your situation mirrors mine so much except mine is 18 years to date. I felt relieved to know that I am not alone in this sad plight. The sad thing is I still keep hoping that one day they'll come to accept that I've always meant well even though deep inside and every now and then they'll have their own way of letting me know that it won't be happening, ever. You're definitely right - there is now answer!

freespirit44's picture

Hi - I agree with Mystery 23. Her answer is simple but powerful. It is never a good thing to get a divorce. But setting boundaries via giving an ultimatum is a good thing (for you). You must set some boundaries and just leave if everyone continues to ignore them and take advantage. Go to a relative's or a friend's house. Tell your husband you are going to return when some changes are made. And please stick to this. It sounds like he loves you very much and is toast in the presence of his children. I wish you luck.

cali_stepmom's picture

OMG! I feel like I wrote these posts myself. I stumbled onto this website tonight in my desperate attempt to find answers to the unanswerable questions. I have only been married two years. I have known / been friends with my husband for ten years and dated for three years before we got married. SDs are 29, 25 and 21. I, like most of you have been trying to "do the right things," but after all this time am still unsuccessful. My husband however, is very supportive of me. He obviously loves his daughters, but he refuses to let them call the shots and tell him how it's going to be. He won't make any decisions, particularly financial ones without discussing it with me first (and herein lies the real problem). I have a 24 year old son but have no issues integrating my husband into my son's life. I consult with him on ALL things regarding my son. My son loves him and respects him. He understands that my husband is only trying to do the right things. My SDs resent the relationship my husband has with my son. It's all making me crazy because I truly cannot understand what the real issue here is. Probably the greatest hurt I have experienced for a very long time was a letter the youngest SD sent to my husband. In this letter,she told him that he needed to spend time with his "real" family. I was not part of that real family and neither was my son or any of my extended family. Why would anybody say something so hurtful?

I am just glad I found this website. It helps to know I am not alone and that there are many others who are going through or have gone through similar issues. Thank you!

cc13002's picture

I have seen myself in the above posts. I have a 32 year old SD, living in San Diego with her new baby and Marine husband, and she, baby and 2 pit bulls that sleep with her are coming to live with us this spring when he leaves for his tour of duty overseas.DH has never told her no and she expects him to pay for everything. The reason she is coming to live with us, instead of staying on base where rent and utilities are free, is so that she can save HER money to buy a house when he gets back from his tour. We're even buying the $450.00 airfare for her to come home this Christmas and that's not part of the many gifts plus $500 cash she expects every year.DH has a son who has a good job and rarely asks us for anything, although we just paid his $4000.00 legal fees for a DUI, not a loan, a gift. DH is getting close to retirement age and we have very little money saved. I don't know how we're going to make house payments, etc. for the rest of our lives!!! He refuses to talk to me about any of this. She is OFF LIMITS for any discussion. How do I handle this elephant in our lives???