Step Parenting Grown Stepsons

by Karen

My new husband of a year and a half has 2 boys, 20 and 22, who both live on their own. The 22-year old is going to school at a university and in his senior year.

The other son who is almost 20, dropped out of community college, got fired from his job and bounces around living with friends and spending a couple nights at different relative's houses, mooching off them all. He has a girlfriend who tags along, living with him where ever they go.

She has also stopped going to school because she was fired from her job and has no money to pay for school.

The two of them have gone around to family members, asking to live with them including their 2 dogs, both males, one fixed, the other not.

My husband and I told them that we would allow them to stay with us if they found homes for the dogs, since we have animals of our own and one of their dogs has a problem with marking his territory and I do not want the carpets ruined.

To add to the problem, this young man has lost so much weight, he is literally skin-and-bones. All my husbands family members have tried to get him to go see a doctor, but he refuses. (I think he is doing drugs.) Either that, or he is depressed.

My husband is worried but does not want to admit to himself that his son might be doing drugs. (I have no proof other than the weight loss, him not showing up to family functions and acting like he doesn't care about commitments and calling people back, etc).

Lately, I have noticed things missing from our garage. Some how, the dog food (in a Costco-size bag) is almost empty. I suspect that my stepson has been coming over when we are gone and stealing things. One time, we caught him in the act and he told us, "You said I could take it."

Here's the problem: my husband knows his son has a problem and hopes he will get his act together. I try to tell him to invite him over so he can talk to him and tell him how concerned he is with him, but he will not do it. He's afraid he will not listen, storm out and be mad at him.

If I make a comment about my stepson or ask if he's found a job, my husband gets bothered by this. I just don't know where the boundaries are. What is a step parent allowed to say and not say. It is hard for me to accept his behavior, should I just shrug my shoulders or say nothing?

It is hard for me (inside myself) to not think how this son needs to get it together, especially when my eldest is a US Marine, fighting for our country and my youngest is living here and is basically a good honest boy who helps around the house and for the most part, does what he should.

What are the limitations regarding what I can say about my stepson's behavior?

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Jan 27, 2009
thanks for the advice
by: Anonymous

Thank you for the info. I also suggested we have a family intervention which I know when it comes down to it, his family would agree to do. My husband doesn't think he could get his son to come to it. I have considered the video camera idea, but sorta feel like I am trying to point the finger. My husband would see this and be pretty upset, but on the other hand, he has also been commenting on his missing tools, so I think he is figuring it out....

Jan 27, 2009
Problem with Grown Stepson
by: Laura Ramirez

Hi Karen,

Your grown stepson's behavior is affecting the quality of your life and your relationship with your husband, so you have every right to make your feelings known. You have every right to object to his behavior?for instance, you do not have to tolerate him stealing from you. I don't care if it's just kibble for his dogs.

Your husband needs to confront his son, but first, I think you should have unrefutable evidence. Perhaps you could set up a video camera in your garage. When you're dealing with someone (your stepson) who lies and probably does drugs, you need to confront him with proof of his behavior.

Tell your husband that I said by failing to confront his son, he is enabling him. This will prevent him from becoming an adult who take responsibility for himself and his actions.

If your husband has difficulty with this, then I suggest that he learn how to deal with the behavior of his son by getting this behavioral program. Although I generally recommend this to parents whose children are still living in the home, this will help your husband learn strategies for nipping this behavior in the bud.

It's important that you both follow through on this. Doing so could mean saving your stepson's life because eventually, his behavior is going to get him into serious trouble and ruin his relationships with family and friends.

Hope this helps. Thanks for having the courage to share your story.

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