You are here

Adult stepson expecting support forever - advice wanted

Nellie's picture

Does any one have any experience or advice for dealing with an adult stepson that continues, at age 21, to request support from both his Dad (my husband) and his mother?

He graduated from high school almost 4 years ago and has not worked in 6 months. He has worked a little part time off and on (less than half the time) since high school but mostly he has lived with friends in casual couch surfing / garage etc. arrangements or with various relatives and never really been self supporting for any period of time before lapsing back into mooching mode. Right now he is living with his mother but wants to move back to our city and has been asking to move back in with us. I don't want him to move back in and so far my husband is respecting my wishes. In the past when we have agreed to let this stepson move in "temporarily" it has been difficult to get him to get a job and move out, and he does not respect the "drug free house" rule (he smokes marijuana and started doing cocaine last year - I don't know what he is doing now at his mom's, where he has been for the last 5 months). His last roommates kicked him out for behaving strangely - agression, hostility, bizarre acts - this was at the height of the cocaine taking. He has called all his friends in town and nobody will take him in any more. He has asked more than once to move in here - I worry that my husband will either cave in and say he can come to our home again, or start resenting me for trying to prevent him from coming here.

Any advice? Any one else out there with grown stepkids that won't get a job?

happy's picture

Although our situations are a little different, they are the same. My SS still lives in our home and has caused many headaches.. HE has no drive to work.. Well until now.. He has had many jobs in the 3 years his dad and I have been together.. I got him a job at my work about 9 months ago.. THis is the longest he has worked.. WOW huh.. But he has it good. Basically I have spoke to my husband countless times and my SS.. In June of this year him and I got into it b/c for some reason whenever his DAD alone gets on him about something it always turns out to be my fault. Well in June I had it him and I exchanged a lot of words.. he was moving all this getting a new job, my exact words were I don't give a shit.. So after we both calmed down I went to him and we both cried and I told him how I felt.. He understood and him and I are getting aling great.. he is working everyday that he is needed.. he has a different position then me so he is not here everyday.. he travels out of town a lot.. So he is doing awesome. But I am standing my ground. He gets fired or quits with out a job the free ride and place to live is over.

My advice to you is to put your foot down.
Your husband and his mom are not helping him at all, they are enabling him to be a complete mooch.. Its one thing to go to your parents for help time to time but to literally graduate and still think they owe you something. He will have to sink or swim. TOUGH LOVE.. My mom had to do it with my brother.. And if she hadn't he would be a 33 year old looser.. Sorry.. But kids now days expect to much from parents.. Parents owe, love, support and the ability to teach there kids right from wrong. They do not owe them a living.. None of that..
Your husband needs to be tough. And you are part of it.. It is your life.. I will always be there for my kids and help them but I will not take care of them.. Noone is taking care of me..
My advice is to stop giving money and ENABLING him to be a MOOCH..
Best of luck..

Anonymous's picture

My wife and I have been married for almost 14 years. We have 1 son together who is 10 years old who is a very nice young man. I met my wife who had a son from a previous relationship. (Not married) The boy was 5 years old then. Ever since he turned 15, it has been complete hell. Within the last month, 9/06, he's back in our home with all of his stuff, occupying my garage, and littered all over the house with more stuff (including his two cats). He had been living with his girlfriend off and on for almost 3 years. During those years, they made a baby. They had planned to marry, but things fell apart, too immature to handle commitment, etc... My stepson has moved at least 4 times in these 3 years. He has been working full-time now for nearly 2 years. Now my wife and I are playing childcare provider, cleaning up after him, and allowing him to use our cars to get back and forth to work. (His biological grandma gave him 10 grand for a car and he no longer has it) He was using his girlfriend's car during their live-in situation. He's been back almost two weeks, and I don't know how much more I can take. It seems like every other day I'm stuck watching their kid, feeding her, changing diapers, etc.. I work 3rd shift and I've given up sleep for helping him out. He's used our cars, hasn't helped out one bit with food, laundry, etc.. and he hasn't paid for any gasoline for the cars either! He works 2nd shift, and while I'm trying to sleep, there is noise, he lays the baby in my office next to my bedroom down in a playpen for a nap. She screams, cries, and keeps me up. His ex-girlfriend works odd hours, nothing the same. She calls my wife up and asks to drop her off so she can again spend the night with us because she has to work in the morning!! This is about 7/14 days now the child has been yanked back and forth from place to place, and I'm bearing the brunt of the burden. I feel like my own home that I pay a mortgage on every month is now under siege and has been invaded. I'm afraid if I confront him or my wife of how I feel, things could go nuclear. Before he moved out the first time, my stepson almost brought our marriage down. I'm also afraid that this situation is becoming a very bad influence on my own 10 year old. I'm stressed out and scared. What would you do??

Nellie's picture

I would suggest that you start a new topic under this adult stepchildren section - your question will just get lost in my original posting.

As for your problem, I would suggest that you sit down with your wife and have a talk. Choose a time and location where you will not be interrupted. Be nice, not authoritative. Poor a couple glasses of wine. Start by telling her that you love her and care about your relationship with HER. Leave SS and grandchild out of it for a while. Tell her that you are concerned about the relationship BETWEEN YOU TWO. Then start gently discussing how the changes in your household have affected THE TWO OF YOU. Try to keep the converstation focused on the effects of the changes on you two. Do not criticize SS, and realize that your wife would love and try to help SS even if he was a mass murderer. Also she probably loves the grandchild like all grandmothers do. Tell her that it has been hard on you because... (reasons - sleep deprivation, lack of personal time/space etc.) and tell her that you imagine it has also been hard on her because (reasons - whatever they are - extra laundry, work etc.) Gently say that things cannot continue like this - that SS needs to be a man and get his own place with friends or something, and that childcare for grandchild needs to be worked out by the child's parents. Ask her how she thinks SS feels living in your garage - wouldn't he like his own place? Letting him stay with you enables him to be dependent and keeps him from feeling like a man.

Good luck. I would also recommend a counselor. A counselor can say the obvious, like "a 20 year old needs to support himself" and she will probably see the wisdom in that, if you say it, she will reject it.


Anonymous's picture

Your are contributing to his irresponsibility and keeping him young by letting him get away with this behavior. He should have taken that $10,000 and gotten and apartment fro him and his dysfunctional family. I would give exactly 90 days in a written contract to move out. If he refuse, call cops and have hime removed. If that does not work, you pack your bags and leave! If you own the house or condo you are living in, sell it move. Leave his biological parent to deal with this basket case.!

Anonymous's picture

I don't have any suggestions, but am very empathetic. I've been in a 6 year relationship and I have custody of a 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter who came with me as a "package deal". We decided to get married after finding out that at ages 44 & 42 we are expecting a baby. This news came a few weeks after my hubby informed me (without talking to me about it) that his 24 year old son was moving in with us to save rent money to put towards going to college. Well, it's Sept 1 and no college and 9 months of aggrivation and freeloading on my SS's behalf.
I think this transition could've been easier for me if his son was younger and more open to "family" environments. This is not the case. I feel like I have no privacy, and none of the household rules that apply to my children are respected by him. Not even the simple act of turning lights off when you leave. (I pay the electric bill) Everytime I suggest to my husband that SS get an "adult" apt to share with a buddy where he can do what he wants, my hubby gets very angry. He feels his son should be welcome here along with my children. He also is worried that SS will be jealous of our baby (his first sibling). Sound ridiculous to me. SS lost his mother at age 12, and is very immature. I try to be understanding to his plight, but still in all, it's time to be a grown up. I can rear children but not grown men. Any suggestions or just Email me if you'd like to. Thanks

Anonymous's picture

If he has done cocaine, he cannot be trusted! His biological parent either need to concentrate on the marriage or go play save a grown person. If the biological is going to play save the adult child, pack your things and just leave and let them have each other because life is to short to deal with somebody's else's drug addicted adult child. It will cause resentment and anger fueled by bitternees in the relationship!

Dawn's picture

maybe he needs drug rehab if he is still using.

Does he have any ambition to go to school? If not college maybe a techinical school? Maybe the military?

I wouldn't let him move into my house if he is on drugs!

Your husband needs to see that continuing to support him isn't helping him. He does need help but it may have to be the tough love type.


SympatheticBioDad's picture

I have to agree with Dawn. I also don't have any adult stepchildren (or adult children for that matter), but it sounds like he needs some professional intervention.

Giving him any support other than getting him clean and independent is only supporting his current condition. If you let him into your house in his current condition you're asking for trouble and disappointment.

Help him get clean first, assuming he's willing, and then consider helping him find a job, a place of his own to live, etc. Whatever you do, have strict rules and be willing to enforce them. Having rules without enforcing them is a waste of your time and completely ineffective.

How did he become this way? Bad parenting? Bad environment? It sounds like he's completely dependant on others, not to mention the drugs.

BTW, sorry for not commenting earlier. It's easy to read someone's post and just not comment because you don't have an answer. I have to remember that this site is for people to ask for help. Even if you don't have an answer we should all at least show our support. I'll try to remember that. Smile

Nellie's picture

He has tried junior college 3 different semesters. He finished one semester and dropped out the other two. He is on academic probation at the moment and cannot register because he checked out some library materials and never returned them and has a few hundred dollars in fines. He says that he wants to go to school but his words frequently do not match his actions. He says all the right things "I want to go back to school" and "I'll get a job" but when the rubber meets the road he never delivers with actions to back up the words. We have in the past supported him while in school (paying school fees, books, his rent and bills, food money etc.) but we are a little gun shy about that one as he has pretty much squandered our help by dropping out. We also gave him a van which was paid for and paid the insurance and registration forward for a year so he would have something to start out with for a job and he didn't work much at all and eventually sold the van for money.

My husband is not pushing me about letting him move in although it is very hard on him to say "NO" when stepson asks to move in. He gets quite upset and choked up when we try to discuss it. The stepson has run out of friends willing to let him live on their couch, and his real mom is the only relative left that will let him live with them. He presents on quite a pitiful situation and it tears my husband up. However the drug use and his confrontational and strange behavior has left me quite scared of him and since my husband travels a lot, I don't want to be alone with him. I would be totally willing to support some drug rehab but I don't think he would attend. We tried to get him to go to a 12 step marijuana program and he just blew it off. I don't know if he is still on drugs as he has been at his mother's for about 6 months. She doesn't communicate much.

I have no idea why he is like this. I raised this kid in my home since he was 8 and his real mom suggested he should live with us. However, despite my long term parenting of him he is a total mystery to me. I have another stepson 2 years younger (this stepson's real brother) and also 2 kids from my first marriage - these kids had the same parenting and the other 3 are all in college and doing great.

I know it is easy to blame drugs but I totally think that this stepson's inability to stay in school and unwillingness to work and support himself are due to drugs. I think the day will come when he starts pressuring his 3 siblings to take him in. Then I will really be at a loss what to do.

Anonymous's picture

Do not let him move in because your house will become a dysfunctional wreck. Let him live on the streets to deal with his own addiction!

downtrodden's picture

Go down to your local military recruiting office and get information for all forces. Discuss this with your husband and offer it to the stepson as a way to earn his own way in this world. If your husband continues to support his son, then shame on him. He is teaching his son to be weak and parasitic. What would that kid do if both parents weren't there to support him? Time to cut the apron strings.

Nellie's picture

Thanks for the idea about the military. I actually think that would be a great thing for my stepson. I know plenty of folks that say they were drifting and without direction in life and the military really turned them around. I think the military gives the recruits discipline and direction and helps them understand that they have potential and ability - two things my stepson certainly has if he would just use them!!

When he was 19, he went to live with his mom for a few months. Shortly after he arrived there he announced that he was planning to join the military. He got a lot of support from all his relatives, including myself, even though I had obvious concerns because of Iraq. But he never did sign up with the military. Lots of times he says things and doesn't follow through. From my perspective (understand this is my perspective only) it seems like he comes up with things to get people to get off his back about getting a job, and allow him to live with them and provide for him and not kick him out. For example saying "I'm not going to get a job right now because I am planning to... (fill in the blank). The blank is something like "travel around the country in my van and play guitar in bars" and "go visit my mom" and "join a band that travels" and "go visit my grandmother" and "enroll in junior college next semester" and "join the military". He has at one time said all of these things. He says that he is going to do them in a couple weeks... stretches to months... It certainly keeps anyone from having the immediate expectation that he should be getting a job. I don't know if he does this on purpose, sub-conciously, or if it is just a coincidence.

Anyway, if stepson moves back to our city I will certainly bring up the suggestion of joining the military again - I think it would be great for him.

SameBoat's picture

He's been coddled long enough, probably too long! As you point out, excuses are accepted, and nothing changes. That's everybody's fault. He's still mooching because it's easy, and he knows it still works, even though it's getting harder to con everyone. You don't want him to fall so far he self destructs, but he needs to get hit between the eyes with reality, and the only place that still offers that, along with little chance to fail, is the military. But even the military isn't just taking deadbeats and wanna be losers. He'll have to be pushed, not cajoled, tricked or begged... forced to join. And hope he doesn't intentionally blow his opportunity. It's a whole generation that just doesn't have any social conscious. My 23 year old stepson is the same way. GED, job... did well until he just wouldn't get up to go and got fired. Trashed two cars Mom bought, drives her new one. Talks about trying to find a job, but spends most of the day at home, or hanging with his other unemployed friends. Boot camp may be the answer. You can't live his life for him, and buying into the excuses is just enabling a parasite. Tell your husband to be firm, but fair. Grow a spine and be compassionate, but tough. No folding! Don't waste a human being by being weak... Tough love.

Anonymous's picture

I agree. The son needs treatment and the military will probably not take him. Look at a family intervention with a therapist facilitating. He goes in for treatment or boundaries are set tighter. The rest of the enabling family needs treatment too: likely won't happen. Chemical dependency/co-dependency issues usually run in families . . .
At the least, have you and your husband go to a chemical dependency counselor who can help and advise you about the son and help with your family issues.
Enabling the son supports his current lifestyle. Forge a tighter, loving bond with your husband and it will help you both weather this. Mostly likely the son will be a chronic situation that you don't want to undermine your marriage.

Anonymous's picture

He will have to hit rock bottom before he will be willing to make any changes. As long as he can get someone to support him, he will not take responsibility for himself. When he has no other options for a place to live in the wintertime other than a rehabilitation center, he will finally go into rehab. He may actually see a need to clean himself up or he may stay in rehab just long enough to convince someone that he has turned over a new leaf and deserves help. His argument may even be that he will end up turning back to drugs if relatives don't make life easy enough for him. If he started doing cocaine, he may never stay clean, never be the person you knew again, and end up dying young from drugs. Sorry to be so blunt, but cocaine is nothing to mess with.

Don't expect him to grow up just because he's chronologically an adult; here's a horror story for you. I have a forty-three year old stepson who still demands to be supported. He's a grandfather a couple of times over now, yet he has never been without support from Dad. My now retired husband continues to support the professional moocher against my will. Supporting moochers consumes all our extra money (most of which I earn) and leaves me feeling hopeless. Our marriage suffers.

My advice to you--CUT HIM OFF NOW!! If you don't, you may end up supporting three generations of moochers! Cutting him off is the only thing you can do to help him. It may save his life. It may improve his future children's lives. Take care of yourselves.

lessey65's picture

I had to put my foot down about the money I earn. I told my ss and DH that it was up to ss's bioparents to help him if they wanted to financially. I am willing to help with the day to day help--driving him to work and making sure he has food and remembers his laundry, etc. I have already put my biokids thru college b4 this marriage. It's up to them to figure it out about the ss. If they can't afford to do what he would like them to for the 21 yr old felon, oh well, let him reap what he sows. My kids knew if they got into trouble I would listen, love and advise, but they were responsible for their actions. They are now all on their own, successful and wonderful loving adults now. SS needs to be forced to know what he can do on his own.
"pushed out of the nest" so he can learn how to fly on his own.

Anonymous's picture

I'm new to this site and boy does this topic ring a bell. I have a stepson who is 24 and has been in very many rehabs. He never does the work and we end up supporting him both in and out of rehab. The good news is he is no longer allowed to live with us. His Dad keeps saying it's the last time, but his son has his number and 'this time it is going to be different.' That's the bad news, and like one poster said above, this can end up being a chronic problem unless the parents say no more. The adult children do it because they can.

Now the good news. My son had a run down the same road. He's very smart, but had zero motivation and always mooched off us. I finally said no more and meant it. He decided to join the military. He told me he wanted to have a productive life, but coudn't do it on his own. I just knew he'd get kicked out because he could never get out of bed until noon! Well, he's in Korea right now about to make sergeant. He is married, responsible and has a baby on the way. I know it doesn't work for everyone, but the army has made a man out of a big overgrown boy.

The hardest thing to learn about adult children (especially with drug problems) is the only control you have is over your own behavior and boundaries. You can't even control your husband's decisions. You do, however, have a right to sit boundaries in a loving, but firm manner. For me that finally meant refusing to allow this grown drug addict stepson staying in our home with my thirteen year old daughter. My husband respected my wishes even though he still thinks his son wants to get well and he still wants to help him. It is so hard to give up on one of our children.
I suggest you hang tough in sitting boundaries and that includes finances if helping the stepson hurts your family. It doesn't hurt us financially (it just makes me crazy:)) to help him, so that's how we work it.
I do agree that this type of help is enabling and it is really no help at all. Why get it together when one doesn't need to?
Good Luck to you and remember, your husband's soft heart is probably why you fell for him in the first place. He'd do well with some Al-Anon meetings if he is open.


ACopsWife's picture

Get him help for his drug problem, and everything falls into place!! Make no mistake, you cant make him get treatment!! They have to want it, and i mean really want it. It doesnt sound like to me that he really wants help, or he even thinks he needs help!! Hes old enough to take care of himself. Dont get me wrong, everyone needs a little help in the beginning, to get started on making their own way in life. But you and your hubby have already given him a chance to get started by buying him his own van. Thats all he needed to get a job, and make his own way. He blew that!! If he wouldnt have a drug problem, id say help him again. But, until thats cleared up hes only trying to find a home to live in, with all bills, food paid so he can live in a lap of luxury, and still do his drugs. I deal with this alot on my job. As an EMT i see alot of adult children on drugs living with parents, being enabled to continue, because they are so afraid for their child to be on the street, with no home, doing drugs. My husband see's this alot as a Police Officer. If they bring drugs into your home, then you are also responsible, if he gets busted. You also have to worry about drug dealers, knowing where you live!! Believe me when i say do not want this!!!! I bet the cocaine you are refering to is actually ICE or Crystal Meth, the symptoms or behavior you describe is that of Meth. That drug is the single most destruction of peoples lives. Cocaine is very expensive and most drug addicts without a job, cant afford that. For you and your husbands, and possibly other children living in your home, dont allow this into your home. 99% of drug addicts just dont stop taking drugs, it takes hitting rock bottom for them to quit. I would never want to be in your predictament, its very sad to watch your child go through something like this, and its even harder to turn them out on the street. It takes a very strong person to do that. Hes still young and there is a chance, if you can get him clean. The more drugs he does, the more brain cells he looses, and they dont grow back, and they just get stupider and stupider. I really wish you luck. If you do allow him to return, id really watch his actions, and find a website that has symptoms on drug use, or ICE use, and compare your findings. Good luck sweetie, i hope everything works out for your family.

sohaun41's picture

I can't even imagine having to go through this, but I have watched it many times, even in my own family. My father and his wife fought constantly over two of her free-loading, drugged up sons. They were miserable for years. They are both now dead and it's really sad to see how miserable these boys made them during the last years of their lives. If nothing else is working, cut the ties now. Life is too short.

Anonymous's picture

I was not given the choice to allow my SS to move back in AGAIN - my H got my SS a job, and just casually informed me that he was moving back in!(Long story). Well, the job lasted 2 weeks, he couldn't get up in the morning. That was 3 months ago. He is disrespectful, spends his days with other pot-smoking losers, and he has stolen from us. He portrays, and sees, himself as a victim, it's everybody else's fault. He is my H's only child, (I don't have any). H is getting better at saying what he means, and setting limits, but SS only has to cry about his former SD and H gets weak. Currently, deadline set to get job or he's out, guess what, no job. H has decided that if he goes to counseling and seriously looks for a job, he can stay for . . . another month? - year - forever!? I don't know. Anyways, I'm considering moving out because the house is so stressful and tense. Sorry to babble, DON"T LET HIM MOVE BACK IN!!!!!!!!! If he really wants to move back to your city, let him save up the money, while living with Mom, (if he is currently working) then H can help him find an apartment of his own.

f4444's picture

look,I know it is hard for you but, think a little and ask this question to yourself:
Do you really can stand this stepson for the sake of his father?
if you cant tell your husband honestly and I am sure he ganna get this

usb flash drive

JennyMae's picture

I have the same issue in a way with my sd20. She lived with us once before and TERRORIZED me. I mean crazy stuff. Hubby wouldnt kick her out even after she broke into our room (which I had locked because of her stranger behavior) and trashed all my stuff, cutting up clothers and pouring bleach all over everything. it was crazy but as I said, hubby still wouldnt make her leave. So I moved out and left them to be miserable together. He followed me a week later. She is a high school drop out, on probation for credit card theft, and has had no job since turning 18. Her mom kicks her out pretty regularly and she couch surfs and lives with her current boyfriend (whoever it is this week) going back to her moms for showers and to eat until eventaully she has moved back in and mom lets her stay again. Until the next time her mom gets pissed at her and kicks her out. This happened again a few weeks ago and she is living with her on again off again boyfriend for now but she wants to move back in with her dad and I. I put my foot down. NO. DH told ME he wouldnt let her move in but he hasnt told her yet. HE says he will if she really asks again but he hates to do it and is trying to do everything in his power to get out of it. (wont you miss your boyfriend hunny? Will your probation officer even let you move out of state?) I want him to hurry up and just say NO to her because, like you, I am afraid he will change his mind. He cries when we talk about "his little girl living on the streets" but I have no sympathy. If she would GET A JOB or GO TO SCHOOL she wouldnt have to live like a transient crack whore. I wont lie on here, although I would never admit it anywhere else. I am also anxious for him to say no to her because it will make me feel a bit better about everything she did to me last time she lived with us. "No, you cant live here because yoru behavior last time you lived with us." Nothing else will ever make her sorry for all she did to me, but that might make her regret it at least a little. Probably not but it will still feel kind of good to hear him say it to her. Petty? Maybe. But stick to your guns, tell your DH the same thing I told mine. If he/she is here and I even SUSPECT anything illegal going on I will call the cops and turn him/her in so fast it will make their head spin. The fear of his son going to jail might be enough to keep your DH from caving.