26-Year-Old Stepson Who Won't Work


#1

Would it be wrong for me to gradually limit financial support to my unemployed stepson who refuses to look for work?

Continuous stress and anger are ingredients for mental and physical health problems. They are also the opposite of love - a priced Christian virtue. That is why I seek help and insight into a problem with our 26-year-old stepson. He has never held a job - as a matter of fact, he has never worked a day in his life! Dealing with him has caused me to experience stress, bitterness and anger on a daily basis. I realize that this is not healthy for me or our family.

My stepson went off to college, but never graduated. At great expense we had to bring him home because of his failing grades and lies that went on for five wasted years. We had paid his way the entire time. Now he lives at home and attends a community college. He has a plan to get a degree in nursing - but that means three more years of college because he takes a slow path of 12 credits a semester or less and wastes his summer. And, I have to pay for it. I pay for his cell phone, car insurance, gas money, books, tuition, food, clothes - everything.

I need advice on how to get this guy on track. He's already had counseling. He's bright - he can answer every question right on Jeopardy; and he has friends - he often spends the night at his friends' or stays with his girlfriend overnight (his mom gives him gas money) - but he won't get a job.

I would like to cut back on the financial support for him, because I believe that is the only way for him to accept responsibility. That will cause angst. I am afraid I will be seen as a bad and evil stepfather. I also don't want to act out of hate or anger. Would it be Christian and good parenting to insist that he begin to act like a man?


#2

He is using you and his mother because he knows you are both suckers. Gradually withdraw support? NO WAY. Cut him off NOW. You do not "have" to pay for anything. You are choosing to enable this bad behavior.

Here's how it goes:

"Son, we are discontinuing all financial support effective immediately. You have had our support all these years and have squandered it. You have 60 days to find a place to live. You have until the next bill comes due to find a job to pay for your various wants and needs: gas money, car insurance, car payment, cell phone, etc. If you do not have a job when the next bill comes, that service will be cut off. If you do not pay us for the car, we will sell it. We will no longer give you spending money. It is time you stand on your own two feet, pay your own way, and live on your own."

Then DO IT.

Cut off his cell phone. Sell his car. Discontinue this nonsense at once.

No you are not "evil" for doing so. You are actually "evil" if you don't-- his soul has turned away from virtue and towards vice, his conscience has been malformed. He is lazy. He is sinning through his sloth and his manipulation of the two of you and you are **enabling **it.


#3

I am not a parent, but I am a twentysomething that had a very humble beginning, and will tell you that as long as you foot 100% of the bill, he will keep taking you and his mother for granted. Do you live in a city where it is well connected with public transit? If you are, then he needs to start taking the bus. If there is no medical reason for your son’s sluggishness, then he should first try to find work on campus to pay for his incidentals.

Also, from a Catholic perspective, two unmarried people should not be staying under the same roof overnight. I think that your family should have a meeting with your pastor about this.

Not only is it good parenting, but also VERY Christian to teach your children how to become self-sufficient responsible men and women. There are many people (including myself) that wished we would have had the great fortune of having parents that could foot the bill for our educations.

Remember, though that the only way to approach your son about this situation is with charity. Please refrain from shouting matches. This will get you nowhere, and will strain your relationship.


#4

I agree. The parents must be firm about their stance, but also must do it with charity. It’s called tough love.


#5

Hello Rusyn0802.

The fact that it is made clear that he is your step son and it concerns a financial situation immediately draws negative attention from me. Of course, I do not know the details of your family arrangements but I will assume that when you married your wife you knew she had a son. Yet, you married her and the fact that she had a son previous to marrying you makes you responsible as a father for the son. Especially, if he was a child when you took the role. Even if he was a teenager or older - you and your wife are responsible. The point that I am trying to make here, Rusty, and unfortunately with limited information - I think is an important one. Ask yourself, would you have such a difficult time paying and supporting such a situation if he was your own son? Be honest with yourself.

What do you mean that he is not acting like a man? What is a man to you?

If he was having a difficult time with his studies, perhaps, it is smart of him to limit his work load so that he does well. Maybe, if he was not living under such stress he could work during the summer, but, I must say it sound like there is a lot of resentment and anger at home.

26 use to sound like a big number. It doesn’t anymore. In the nineteenth century people used to get marry much earlier and did not spend so much time preparing for a career. However, in our time, people typically go off to study at the university and the studies could be prolonged to a Ph.d which could bring the person to that age with no problem. Not to mention the post-docs. Your wife’s son is studying to be a nurse and did not do well at the university - let him finish.

Peace,

Abba


#6

[quote="1ke, post:2, topic:208787"]
He is using you and his mother because he knows you are both suckers. Gradually withdraw support? NO WAY. Cut him off NOW. You do not "have" to pay for anything. You are choosing to enable this bad behavior.

Here's how it goes:

"Son, we are discontinuing all financial support effective immediately. You have had our support all these years and have squandered it. You have 60 days to find a place to live. You have until the next bill comes due to find a job to pay for your various wants and needs: gas money, car insurance, car payment, cell phone, etc. If you do not have a job when the next bill comes, that service will be cut off. If you do not pay us for the car, we will sell it. We will no longer give you spending money. It is time you stand on your own two feet, pay your own way, and live on your own."

Then DO IT.

Cut off his cell phone. Sell his car. Discontinue this nonsense at once.

No you are not "evil" for doing so. You are actually "evil" if you don't-- his soul has turned away from virtue and towards vice, his conscience has been malformed. He is lazy. He is sinning through his sloth and his manipulation of the two of you and you are **enabling **it.

[/quote]

Totally agree, I speak as the parent of three grown sons the youngest 29 I can honestly tell you that I would NOT support any of them in the way you are, cut him off now like Ike said!


#7

I understand your advocacy for the son, but remember, he is living for free (getting a free salary) as it is. He most likely is not motivated to actually prepare working in the real world to support himself.


#8

Oh, barf.

This young man has taken advantage of his mother and step-father, has never worked a day in his life, and refuses to grow up. He’s in “perpetual student” mode because it’s easy.

It’s time to stop enabling this young man to remain an adolescent. 26 is high time to take responsibility and start paying your own bills. (I’d have made him do so the minute he flunked out of college…)


#9

Actually the idea that people used to get married earlier is a myth, for the most part. In some instances it was certainly true, but in many others it certainly was not. In some Catholic populations, Irish Catholics in particular, the marriage age for males was surprisingly high, at least in their early 30s.

Additionally, up until after World War Two unmarried men and unmarried women tended to remain at home with their parents until they married. If they left home, fwiw, they often lived in boarding houses. The labor saving domestic machines that make it possible for a single person to live alone have really only come about in the last 50 years. Prior to that, as there was little that was easy to cook, easy to wash, etc., single people couldn’t often live completely alone and work at the same time.

What was different, however, is that childhood wasn’t prolonged endlessly and irresponsible behavior on the part of adults tended to be less supported by parents. Adult children might very well have lived at home until they married, but even in towns and cities they often started working much earlier, regularly, than they do now. And in rural areas they’d effectively been working since they were children.

Somewhere along the ways, in particularly since the mid 60s, our society became so rich that non working was tolerated, college education became the rule for many populations, not the exception, and a perpetual juvenile period became accepted as normal. Added to that the “sexual revolution”, the “Playboy” mentality, and the pill, separated sex from procreation, and therefore responsibility, and people came to be very self centered in terms of sex and what it means. This lead to a breakdown in social structures to the nth degree. While not to criticize the original poster here, but the term “stepchild” itself has become so common that we no longer even consider whether this is a child born out of wedlock, with the poster later marrying his mother, or whether his birth father and mother are divorced, or whether there was a death involved of the original father. This makes a difference, because if it’s one of the first two, this “kid” views this stepfather as somebody with no real authority anyway, rather than as his natural parent whom he knows loves him, or as a person who came in and married his mother and accepted the full role of father, as the original one was permanently absent.

Again, I’m not condemning the original poster, only pointing out the difficulty here. And that difficulty is not really fully tied to this guys return to his mother’s home, so much as it is to his living in a world where he can get away without working, where he probably views the house as his mother’s, not his “parents”, and where he doesn’t have to worry about ever getting married and having adult responsibilities, as he can milk the cows for free.

Tough situation.

Well, fwiw, having no experience in any of this at all, I think the mother and stepfather, but most particularly the mother, needs to give him the message that the adult world has arrived, and he needs to get a job, get a life, and get s moral grounding.

Easy for me to say, of course.


#10

I maintain my position.

I also think that there is a serious lack of information to give informed advice. Where is the father? Is he an orphan? If so, how did his father die? Are there siblings? Is the home of the original family? What is causing his dependancy and insecurity? How long has Rusty been the stepfather? What is the young man saying regarding this matter? What is the mother saying? Why the lack of respect regarding his manhood? Where is this coming from??? etc…


#11

It would be doing your family and your stepson a dis-service to keep paying for him. He needs to face reality – any person over sixteen should be able to financially support themselves and if they live at home; pay rent no less than a few hundred dollars a month.

I am speaking as someone who at sixteen was fully financially independant; and that was in the middle of the recession five years ago. Pamperring someone is a cruel thing to do; they will never learn to work for themselves; and it damages you in the short term; and them in the long term - it also robs them and you of independance; self respect; dignity and happiness.

If he want’s to take a slow route through college then he should pay for it. As far as practical advice goes I would stop all payments to him; and for him - including phone; car etc; immediatly and tell him to find a new place to live by the start of September or start paying rent.

You have to be cruel to be kind. If a baby was content just sitting down and having everything brought to it it would never learn to walk; the same is true for your son.


#12

[quote="Abba, post:10, topic:208787"]
I maintain my position.

I also think that there is a serious lack of information to give informed advice. Where is the father? Is he an orphan? If so, how did his father die? Are there siblings? Is the home of the original family? What is causing his dependancy and insecurity? How long has Rusty been the stepfather? What is the young man saying regarding this matter? What is the mother saying? Why the lack of respect regarding his manhood? Where is this coming from???? etc...

[/quote]

Well first he is not an orphan, he lives with his Mother, and step father, what does it matter where the father is? or what he died from if he did die. What do the number of siblings matter? The rest of your questions are just immaterial and of no importance, we are speaking of a 26 yr old MAN here who seems to think he can live his life by freeloading from his Mother and Stepfather, Whatever disrespect is being shown here is by the son to his parents. They pay all his bills paid for his schooling and he is still freeloading. In that regard Rusty is right, why does he not start acting like the 26 yr old MAN he is, and earn respect.


#13

[quote="Abba, post:10, topic:208787"]
I maintain my position.

I also think that there is a serious lack of information to give informed advice. Where is the father? Is he an orphan? If so, how did his father die? Are there siblings? Is the home of the original family? What is causing his dependancy and insecurity? How long has Rusty been the stepfather? What is the young man saying regarding this matter? What is the mother saying? Why the lack of respect regarding his manhood? Where is this coming from???? etc...

[/quote]

All fine points.

I think my real point in commenting doesn't even pertain, really, to this question. I've been thinking on this sort of thing recently, and what I'm really saying is that, as a society, we really need to think of how we got here, where are we going, and why?

All the time we hear of "my stepson", or we read of kids who live with somebody so remote from their actual parents that its' shocking. Or worse yet, the parents had kids because they were treating their sexuality like a toy. I am not saying that this is the case here at all. What I am saying is that the consequences of ignoring the purpose of marriage is really catching up with us. But we appear so far gone, we don't even realize it as a society.

Again, I'm not saying that's the case here. I don't mean to suggest it is, and we don't have the facts that would support it.

But what I am saying is that perhaps the day has arrived when we hear some person we actually know tell us "I don't understand why Johnny just divorced his second wife and won't pay for his baby by the girl he was living with when he was a teenager (not the situation here)" it may be time to reply "that's what you get when marriage and morality were never instilled".

We sure have a long ways to go to fix where we are, or so it would appear. Of course, by God's Grace, perhaps not.


#14

Its tough being a parent but its even tougher being a step parent. You have give him some tough love and also have his mother on your side the whole time.....if she wavers your in trouble.


#15

[quote="Rusyn0802, post:1, topic:208787"]
Would it be wrong for me to gradually limit financial support to my unemployed stepson who refuses to look for work?

Continuous stress and anger are ingredients for mental and physical health problems. They are also the opposite of love - a priced Christian virtue. That is why I seek help and insight into a problem with our 26-year-old stepson. He has never held a job - as a matter of fact, he has never worked a day in his life!

[/quote]

Not even a paper route when he was 12, or a summer job at your or his father's place of employment during his teen years? How on earth did this situation come to pass? :confused:

You and his mother need to sit down and get yourselves on to the same page, before doing anything else.

It's true that getting a first job is a bit like learning to walk - the child has to feel the need - but it's also like learning to walk in that it requires the supportive hands and encouragement of the parents. What was going on, when he was 12 and it was time for someone to arrange a casual job for him at the local newspaper?

What was going on when he was 16, when typically fathers arrange a job for their sons at their place of employment, to give it a try for the summer?

Those were the ages when he was to be told, "You are doing this, whether you like it or not." After a while, when he gets used to having a pay cheque of his own, he then becomes motivated to find his own jobs, using the experiences gained up to that point as his resume material.

Now that he is 26, with no work experience of any kind, simply cutting him off and throwing him out isn't going to miraculously provide him with work experience and job skills. He's going to need the helping hand that should have been there for him at age 12 and 16.

Yes, he is freeloading, and yes, that needs to stop. No question about that. The question now is, how is he going to gain the skills he needs, to be able to start supporting himself?


#16

If you don't feel like you can completely cut him off, set up a contract with him. He has specific things he must do and there are specific consequences for not doing them. For example:

Task: Register for 15 hours next Fall semester
Consequence: Loss of cell phone

Task: Find a part-time job by October 1, 2010
Consequence: Loss of car insurance and gas money

Set the consequences and absolutely stick to them. If you slip even once... giving him until October 2, 2010 for instance... you've lost the effectiveness of the method and you're enabling sloth.


#17

I have to admit I'm a little bit curious as to how this situation would be reversed if your stepson was a stepdaughter.

Clearly he needs to learn responsibility. Spare the road, spoil the child... it's time to teach him some hard lessons (don't beat him! But take away ANYTHING that is non-essential to living for him...).

My stepfather supported me until I was 24 (I had a job but only part time). He never batted an eye. In fact to this day if I chose to move back into their home and quit my job he'd gladly support me... however, my brother was kicked out of the home at the age of 16 (by my mother, not my stepfather) and by age 20 my stepfather refused to help him financially at all... to the point my mother would sneak food to my brother when he'd run out.

Only you know our situation. Speak to your wife... pray... either your answer is to ween him off gently (by removing ALL non-essential privileges from his life and requiring him to pay for anything he does not absolutely need to exist), cut him off completely (and thrust him unprepared into the world - he hasn't had a job all his life! Whose fault is that?) or let things continue as they are and hope in three years he magically smartens up (which could happen but if he hasn't learned responsibility yet...?).

Anyway, I don't have kids... but I've been a kid and I really wish my parents had been harder on me... a lot of my youth wouldn't have been wasted then.


#18

I agree that a gradual transition is preferable and more realistic. The exact details can differ. Your biggest problem is that he has not worked at all and you know his effort has stunk. I actually get the feeling if he was trying harder or at all, you are pretty flexible about what you are willing to allow. I would personally not go to drastic. Just my view. Father of 5 etc
First thing, he HAS to get SOME kind of job. You know this situation. Trust your instinct.


#19

[quote="Abba, post:5, topic:208787"]

point that I am trying to make here, Rusty, and unfortunately with limited information - I think is an important one. Ask yourself, would you have such a difficult time paying and supporting such a situation if he was your own son? Be honest with yourself.

[/quote]

Abba,

First, thank you very much for your comments. Your comment that I quote above is the same thought that I have many times. And that is why I posted here, because I want to make sure that my future actions are taken out of concern and wisdom and not anger. There is a lot going on here, and it would be impossible to relay every bit of information. I think I provided enough, however. But did I mention that we are now in financial distress because of these past, present and future college costs and extra expenses? Expenses that we have borne for the last eight years.

But the reason I believe a gradual suspension of funds would be proper is because I feel that he has to "learn" how to get a job, work and support himself. The longer he waits to get into the job market, the harder it will be for him. He has absolutely no job resume now. Employers want to know about past work experience to judge a person's character. When a job applicant is near 30, and has no experience, that will set off red flags. I think he has to start working or volunteering asap to have something to show future employers.


#20

I do have a stepdaughter that is a year older. My wife was much harder on her growing up, while the son could do no wrong. In fact, I thought my stepson would become an engineer or doctor, while my stepdaughter would struggle. He took harder classes, had better grades and SAT scores. But the opposite happened. She developed into a strong and assertive woman, finished college in four years at a major university, is employed, and is happily married to a wonderful man who I am proud to claim as a son-in-law.


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