Step tells a big lie about college


My stepson who is 23 now is in the service stationed overseas, and the last time he spoke with his father he told a real whopper: that he was going to our local college online, majoring in forestry, and when he gets out in 2 years all he’ll have left to do is his clinical. I was stunned because I strongly suspected it was untrue.

He spent time in boys prison for a crime and was with us 2 years after he got out at 18, graduated from HS at 20 and went in to the military. He behaved okay then but almost flunked basic math. The teacher gave him a D just for not dropping out. So, I’m thinking, yeah he’s got chemistry, physics, calculus, biology and all the rest knocked…right. But I didn’t say anything.

Just to make sure, I called the college and he is not enrolled and there is no online forestry program.

Should I just keep my mouth shut and hope it goes away? What I fear is that he will want to come back and live with us under the pretense of going to college, and will just twiddle his days away watching cartoons and sleeping like he did before.

I want to like this kid, but I don’t like liars.


Under FERPA regulations a college would not be verifying his enrollment over the phone to you.
You probably would not be too happy with me if I called you a liar, right?

Right now your stepson is not interfering in your life in any way, but clearly you have some issues with him and it looks like you are on a mission to do him in. I would say at most, why don’t you show some surprise and astonishment that this program is available to him and ask him the details. Maybe there is more to it than you are aware.


If he is 23, most colleges **won’t **tell you if he is enrolled or not. We’re talking privacy issues. There are federal, and often state, laws against the release of such information. A parent can’t even get his kid’s grades, even if the parent is paying for it. If somebody released that information to you, and he is not enrolled (not that he simply can’t tell you you one way or the other), that was a violation of FERPA, which has been in place since 1974.
Further, your stepson is 23 years old and in the military, and between Homeland Security and the Privacy Information Act, you aren’t going to be told a thing.

Based on this, IMO, it would be a very good idea to keep quiet.

I’ll also tell you the story of my mother, who, when I was 31, decided I wasn’t really employed because I took a personal day. She called work, and gee, they couldn’t find me. She told my father, as I was divorced, and they felt it was their business. I was able to prove to my father I did indeed work at the place, as I had a keycard and ID.

It’s a really good idea, if announcing such information, to make sure you have more proof than you would need in a courtroom.:twocents: I understand your feelings, as I have an adult daughter who has not been the best, and come up with more than her fair share of whoppers. Trust me, the whoppers come out in time on their own. Why make yourself the bearer of bad news? Let the kid get himself in trouble.

When he comes back, there are things you can do to keep him out of the house. One of them is ask for legal verification that he is indeed enrolled. This is simple, a notarized piece of paper which geives you permission to ask the school, and gives you a real name to contact. As a vet, he is entitled to GI Bill benefits in cash, which should mean he can afford his own place, or share a place with a roommate. :smiley:


How can he, a 23yr old in the military, live in your house without your permission? I’m reading other issues between the lines here…


I would suggest you and your husband sit down and decide what your rules are to live in you house.

Draw up a contract, have your son sign it. For example…

Enrollment in school, maintain a GPA of ____.

Part time job, pay his own car note, insurance, etc.


House curfew

Your house, your rules.


You’re right, of course, but note that in this case they didn’t say he wasn’t enrolled, nor reveal any personal information about him at all, so they didn’t violate any privacy legislation.

They simply stated that there was no such course there as the one he claimed to be taking (and to be honest, I knew a forestry student a few years back, it doesn’t seem to me to be the sort of course that adapts itself to online study anyways).

Of course there’s always a slim chance that OP misheard him and he’s doing something else or doing the course some other way or via some other institution?


They did say he’s not enrolled. I have called the college before on other matters, although it’s been a few years, and the registrar would tell me whether someone had graduated and whether they were enrolled. They won’t tell grades of course without a release from the student. Anyway, there is no online forestry program. As the dept secretary said, it’s much too intense to take online.

I did call another school here, a vo-tech, to see if there was some other program it could be, but no. Maybe his father got it wrong when he told me, but it sure sounded like he was saying his son was doing this NOW and in two years he’d be almost done - with a very intense 4-yr program with lots of science.

I don’t really want to say anything, but this seemed especially bad. The step has told little stupid lies in the past but this seemed really out of line. I’m happy he’s managed to stay in the service for 3 years because I was afraid he’d get an early-out. I’m pround of him for that.


I would just let it go away. Why does it matter to you?

Don’t worry about his moving in with you. Deal with it IF he asks to move in.

Does he lie to evade responsibility or criticism? Does he lie to get attention? It’s probably best just to let it go.

Do let him know that you are proud of his military service.


I stand corrected, and they almost certainly shouldn’t have even told you whether or not he was enrolled. I’d double check with his father and him to make sure you get the straight story before assuming he’s lying. And whatever you say afterwards, start by saying you’re proud of him for staying in the military.

As for the poster who said to let it go - absolutely not! If he is indeed lying, this is major stuff - NOT the sort of thing your husband, surely, would be happy you hadn’t told him. Neither would it, in such a case, be in your stepson’s own interests to let it go, he would need to learn that lies will most often be found out, one way or another.


He is an adult, living away from home, and will learn the consequences of his lies when he has to explain why he isn’t a forester. Now, if his father is “financially supporting” the supposed online degree program, a condition should be proof of registration and passing grades, as with any tyoe of financial aid. This should also be the case if the man (son) wants to live at home while he continues this program.

I, too, think that there is more to this.

I think that letting it go (not giving it any attention) would take away any appeal of lying.

Her husband will learn soon enough if his son is lying. The OP has no proof that theson lied, she simply didn’t believe what he said, and went so far as to investigate (snoop) to prove the lie. The son will also have to live with having dissapointed his father, if he is lying.


I don’t fault her for investigating the situation. Obviously, it wasn’t that great the first time around, and she has reason to fear the child-man will return home with a uniform and GI Bill to impress Daddy, and try to take up where he left off.

I have to agree with you though, ks60.

I can understand the OP not wanting her stepson to return from the military, and resume his position in front of their TV. I can understand wanting to protect a husband from his son’s actions and behavior.

I can’t make the decision for her. But having made a similar decision for a devotee of the Sci-Fi Channel, to the point where we seemed to have Sci-Fi in our house 24/7, and little effort was being made, and some other stuff not related here, AND having my husband not always believe me- The truth comes out. It screws up somewhere. His dad will find out in due time.

There is also the possibility in the military of taking college classes through other means and applying them toward a course of study at a local community college. Back 20-some-odd years ago, when I was in the Navy, I took courses at a variety of colleges, and a transcript bank kept track. With so many accredited online colleges today, general education courses are fairly easy for military members to pick up and bank.

My husband, currently being a professor, is also a Navy vet, and likes to work with young vets. Our adult daughter managed to serve three of her four years in the Navy (No, she didn’t do much there). So I am not just pulling this information out of my fantail, insofar as colleges in general and military interaction with colleges in particular, goes.


wondering why a mid-20s guy would be coming home to live with his parents if and when he gets out of the service, but that may be my own cultural blinders. why would any adult child with a history of lying and cheating his own parents and self-destructive behavior be invited back into the home and enabled in these behaviors in any case? Parents of adult children do not need to do anything when the children behave in this manner, except allow them to experience the consequences of their actions.


It’s just a feeling that he will ask - or Dad will suggest it himself. Housing is expensive around here like it is most other places and he’s never held a real job other than military. When he was in HS I tried to get him interested in being a cart guy at WalMart or something his father turned his nose up on his behalf. The son is kinda immature developmentally, which got him into trouble to begin with. He did tend to make up little silly stories and excuses. And the family in general has an attitude that saying = doing.

Just the fact that he’s been in the service 3 years is great, great, great, considering his past problems. That’s the best thing he’s got going right now.

I think I will just file it away until I hear more. It was just so outrageous when I heard it that I was speechless. :eek:


Maybe he’ll re-enlist…keep thinking good thoughts!


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