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Over protective mom and a step-

StepDad5's picture

I’m at a loss for what to do and how to handle issues dealing with one of my step children. I have my own child, and he was no piece of cake raising. I dealt with many issues with him when he lived at home. So I’m not naïve nor do I lack understanding when it comes to raising a child. But my step son is causing some serious problems in our marriage.

Let me first say that my 20-year-old step-son is a great person with a heart of gold (most of the time but other times there’s a darker side). That doesn’t mean he has no character flaws and some issues that need to be addressed. I love the kid, but he seriously has his mom completely fooled when it comes to things he does or doesn’t do and he’s learned to play her like a fiddle. Every single time she will fold like a cheap lawn chair.

The kid’s history probably should be explained to help in any suggestions or guidance any of you have. First of all, their dad isn’t in my step kids' lives. He’s told them to not come back to his house (and they’ve done nothing to deserve it.) He is married to a real piece of work that doesn’t like kids. Anyway, my step son, Trevor, is the second oldest of my wife’s four kids. His older brother was very sweet, extremely smart, super athletic, and handsome kid – the kid has it all and a very hard act to follow. (I had a similar experience with my older brother, but my parents taught me to make my own way and be my own person. Never use it as a crutch.) Trevor had several challenges growing up. He was born with an enamel problem with his teeth and his teeth were frail and often breaking. They have an almost gray tint to them. He had a severe overbite and had to have his jaw broken to fix it. He is very fair skinned with ton of freckles. Also, he has a speech issue and stuttered badly as a child (and still does when he’s excited or lying) and was sent to a speech therapist when he was very young. On top of that, he was a huge kid when he was born and was always much larger than the other kids his age. He was at least a head taller in every kid in his grade. Because of his size, he was very awkward and was often falling down or getting hurt. As he's matured, he's learned to use the sympathy to charm his way or excuse his way out of every possible situations. This combination, in my opinion, created an over-protective mother and I can somewhat understand that. But now Trevor is a 6’5” 20 years old college freshman with a full beard and long hair, and a part time job.

The problem: For some reason, Trevor can get away with anything without any consequences. I generally don’t try to tell my wife how to parent any of her four children and she doesn’t tell me how to parent mine. We just don’t go there – unless it impacts the other spouse or our household. With Trevor, that is a weekly thing. He has a “don’t care” attitude about everything in life, and bounces through life without a care in the world. My wife says, “Trevor will live to be 100” and I will be thinking, “And everybody else will die earlier for dealing with the wake of impact he creates because of it.” You see, he’s figured out that someone will pick up the slack for him – most of the time his mom.

For over five years I’ve dealt with issues like missing tools (only to find them in his drawer in his room), leaving my battery charger or other tools sitting out on the driveway or in the yard when he got through with them. He’s taken ball caps from our bedroom, flashlights, socks, etc and never asks to borrow them. My rule is, “If you want to borrow something of mine, ask. I normally won’t mind at all, but I do ask that you put it back where you got it and how you found it.” Despite my continual pleas to do so, he continues to take things without asking and leaving them “wherever” – resulting in me searching frantically the next time I need to use something. He’s walked into is sister’s room on many occasions and taken her pillows from her bed, and socks from her drawers. From his younger brother, he has taken shorts because he hasn’t washed his own or socks for the same reason. All of this is a huge problem that should have an easy fix. I told my wife, “He just needs to stop taking things that doesn’t belong to him – period.” It finally came to a head (I thought) as my wife had a big plastic bottle full of coins in a spare bedroom. She wanted to roll the coins one day and it was gone. She asked every single kid, and none said they had seen the coins. My wife was puzzled and we turned the house upside down looking for this big plastic bottle bank. She had decided someone had come into the house and stole it while we were not at home. All the while, I KNEW without question who took it – Trevor. So I decided to look under his bed. There was the bottle – completely empty. Every single coin was gone. I brought it to my wife and set it in the floor. She asked me where I found it and I told her. She was very disappointed and basically told him (in a text) that she didn’t raise a thief and a liar. She won’t acknowledge that every single sibling mentions how frequently he lies and how obvious it is when he does. But mom quickly forgot about it and I thought for sure it would stop. It didn’t. I finally told Trevor that if he couldn’t abide by that rule, then don’t borrow anything I have. I have said things to his mom and to him multiple times. He won’t comment, and she won’t say anything to Trevor. Normally, she and I end up in a fight and I get accused of picking on him. I finally became so tired of this happening, I got on him once in front of his mom and said, “I’ve tried to be fair with you and was clear about taking my things. But you can’t go by those conditions– so don’t take anything else from me and don’t ask to borrow anything else I have.” Of course that caused major issues with his mom. I think she may occasionally mention to him or suggest to him to stop, but she never tells me she has. If she has, he’s totally disrespecting her also.

Also, I have a pickup truck that I’ve had for 12 years and I’ve let all three of her boys borrow that when they didn’t have a vehicle (due to them being in the shop or when they’ve wrecked their vehicle (all three have). It has over 300,000 miles on it, so I’ve tried to baby the thing to make it last as long as possible. Because they all have cars, if they need to borrow the truck the rule is to ask and get permission before taking it. Sometimes I have plans or I’d just put gas in it for when I get home, only to come home to an empty tank or the truck missing. I have caught Trevor on 3 separate occasions using my truck without permission or asking. He just took it. Now I have two large dents in my tailgate, one on my bumper, and a long scratch down the side. Of course, nobody knows anything about those.

As Trevor has gotten older, he’s started working out and it has helped his self-esteem… only TOO much. He’s always talking about his abs, spends hours looking at himself in the mirror, and requires special conditioners and products for his hair and beard. He requires two family packs of chicken breasts each week and two gallons of milk for his protein shakes. He cooks chicken no less than 4 or 5 days a week and leave a mess in the kitchen. Normally there is a dirty skillet, bowl to cook rice in, a plate, a cutting knife to cut up the chicken, a cutting board, and eating utensils. I’ve told him to clean up his messes and asked his mom to make him clean up his messes when he cooks. I’ve begged for chores (something we had when my son and her oldest still lived at home) but she refuses to do so. I clean the kitchen 90% of the time, and find myself cleaning up twice as many dishes as we had when we had 5 kids living at home (we have two now). Trevor also uses the dryer as an iron, which a lot of people do. The problem is, he won’t throw a shirt in for 5 minutes. He will turn it on 30 minutes, run upstairs and take a shower, fix his hair, get dressed before returning to the dryer to get his clothes. He will often leave whatever clothes are in there, thus re-drying everybody else’s clothes. We are practically drying at least 7-8 extra loads a week because of this. I have no idea how much this adds to our electric bill.

Another thing Trevor does is he comes in and leaves his nasty gym clothes on the kitchen table where he eat. For me, that’s disgusting and I’ve mentioned over and over it needs to stop. But mom doesn’t address the issue at all. Trevor has no chores, doesn’t pay any rent or utilities, his mom is paying for his college. He is making his car payment and works part time at the gym he attends.

Yesterday, I got up and went to church but the rest of the family slept in. I drove to my mom’s after church (about 20 miles away) and worked at her home for a couple of hours. All this time, Trevor was at home lounging. In the afternoon, we went to buy our weekly groceries (about $400.00 a week) and Trevor announced he was going to the gym. My spouse told me that Trevor was “cooking dinner” for us. When we got home (around 7:00 PM) and unloaded groceries we waited for Trevor to come home. At 8:00, we decided to go ahead and eat since it was getting late. Trevor walked in at 8:30 and started preparing food. We explained that we had eaten already, but quickly learned this his Girlfriend was coming over and he was “cooking for her too”. I realized it wasn’t about cooking for “us” – but his mom thought it was the sweetest thing and bought it hook, line, and sinker.

What Trevor has learned is that if he becomes Eeyore, or plays the “whoa is me” card, she immediately jumps in to save him and will make up every excuse under the sun to justify why. He also tries using humor, self-deprecation, or uses the “I love you mom” or “you will help me because we both know I’m your favorite and because you love me.” From my viewpoint, it is a conniving ploy and isn’t innocent at all. Though he plays off like he’s unaware of what he’s doing, his mom is actually sold.

Maybe I’m being unrealistic, but I honestly don’t believe that I am. I believe, as my spouse, she should take the issues (she knows they exist) and address them with Trevor. He needs to grow up and start acting like a 20 year old instead of someone that is five. Thoughts?

fairyo's picture

My thoughts are this man/child should be out in the big wide world supporting himself. Far from being unrealistic your DW needs to stop encouraging him to be a lazy dependent good-for-nothing. Good luck with that though.

sammigirl's picture

I understand totally; my YSS was 20 years old when DH and I married, 33 years ago. Same story as yours; both BM and DH were still enabling YSS. He wrecked our vehicles (3 total), ran up our phone bill, laid on the couch doing absolutely nothing. YSS didn't have a job, just made a career of swindling everyone out of $$$$.

One morning, I had enough! When everyone sat down at the breakfast table I said quote: "YSS, you WILL NOT do the following things EVER AGAIN: drive our vehicles, use our phone, sit yourself at this table for meals or live under our roof, unless you are fully employed. At that point you will cook your own meals, clean your room, do your laundry, and pay your own bills; there is absolutely not one more penny going to you from us, beginning NOW." The next morning YSS moved out.

YSS53 has been out of prison 3 years now, after spending 15 years in State Prison for theft, hot checks, fraud, ID theft, you name it....he still does not stay in our home longer than approximately 1 hour to visit DH, maybe twice a year.

Take matters into your own hands; but make sure it is in the presence of your DW and anyone else living under your roof; therefore, there is no misunderstanding on the boundaries and house rules.

My SD and her DH were present, when this round table discussion came about; she has hated me since for 33+ years, but they have never lived with us, so she sticks up for YSS (her brother). Whatever, it's all my fault, but I can take the heat.

My DH has never said a word about this meeting and has never crossed my boundaries, concerning YSS. This was after he picked his jaw up off the floor, after my rules were stated. Don't discuss and fight with your DW, just catch everyone by surprise and do it with everyone present.

Take control and don't back off. I think you will be surprised how much your DW will respect you for letting her off the hook with her son. Then it is your fault, such as myself. No problem.

ps: I allowed my DH to help with my bio sons; I appreciated his rules for them and they respected their Stepfather (DH).

ESMOD's picture

Ughhhh.. your wife is crippling her son. She should have higher expectations because you know what? You "borrow" something that doesn't belong to you in the REAL world... you go to jail!

Seriously now. She can't possibly see how covering for him is good for him in the long run.

It's time for a very frank talk with your wife.

I love you honey.. I honestly don't want to say anything to hurt you, but the things that SS is getting away with are going to really bite him in the tail end one of these days. When he takes something from his job, his boss will be less than understanding and is more likely to fire him if he is lucky or charge him with theft. I know you love him and want the best for him. That's why it's so important that he learns to be a more reliable and honest citizen. Do you really think it will be healthy for him to be living in our basement when he is 30? You need to help him develop the habits and skills that will make him successful, not a liability to society. That's your job as a parent and right now, he is running all over you.

notasm3's picture

Yeah Trevor is a disgusting ahole - but your wife is the real problem. She's the one enabling him to be so revolting.

Your wife is probably not going to step up and correct this problem. It's going to be up to you to kick ass (as in Trevor's).

moeilijk's picture

Almost of those problems with Trevor are for your wife to deal with.

As in, "Honey, I can't find my power saw. Can you take a quick look to find it or give me $300 to replace it?"

"Honey, there's a bag with gym clothes on the kitchen counter. Will you clean it up or shall I just toss it all in the garbage?"

Etc, etc. Never ever have a discussion about the choices you've offered, just enforce them to the extent you can.

Keys to the truck? In your wallet.

I can see you're way past your limit - as most people would be. I would have to end this relationship totally to reset the playing field. You're dealing with an equal now, another adult.

I imagine you are afraid your wife will choose Trevor over you. That's what you have to confront first.

Then you have to decide if you also will choose Trevor over you.

It's really hard. I don't envy you at all.

Rags's picture

"Let me first say that my 20-year-old step-son is a great person with a heart of gold (most of the time but other times there’s a darker side).",,,,,, here we go again with the wonderful person who has little that is wonderful about them.

This seems to be a common affliction for far too many STalkers. It pains me to read those opening words about the incredibly wonderful spouse, kid or Skid then read the following invariably non wonderful list of crappy characteristics of the "wonderful" individual.

First you need to quit deluding yourself on the wonderfulness of your toxic Skid. I get that you love him. That speaks highly of you ... however.... tolerating his crap is doing he nor anyone else any favors.

I suggest that you sit your bride down and give her the directive that no more of Trev's crap will be tolerated. He is not a child. He is a 20yo man and until he is held accountable for his crap he will not progress. If your DW will not step up and parent Trev then she can bite her tongue and have your back while you do it. If she doesn't like how you do it she can step up and get it done before you have too.

My bride and I navigated this with my SS and the step up and get it done before I have to methodology helped she and I to effectively partner in parenting a young man approaching adulthood. He recently completed his first 6yr USAF commitment and signed on for 4 more with the intent of making it a career. There were times when neither my bride nor I were sure that he would survive to viable adulthood. Fortunately him mom and I never aligned on killing him at the same time. One or the other of us wanted to give him a bit more time. It worked out wonderfully.

Good luck.