Dealing With An Adult Child

beridanNovember 30, 2008

My oldest son is 25 yrs old and the father of at least one precious little girl approaching 5 yrs in age. My wife and I have been the primary caregivers of this child for the last three yrs. The girl's mother is not well-suited but is willing to try to take care of her of her daughter but it is not a safe environment at all for the little one. My son is not willing to make any sacrifices at all for his daughter and is relishing in the fact that his parents have legal guardianship (this, for the time being, relieves him of his obligation to pay child support).

My wife and I are more and more frequently at odds over this situation. I believe that my son has an obligation to assist us in the financial load having a pre-schooler has placed upon us; she states to me words of agreement, but the reality seems quite different because we can never move forward together on legal pursuit of child support.

I consider my son to be a "dead beat dad" since when he does come around, he comes empty handed, and his visits consist more of him catching up on his sleep than developing a meaningful relationship with his daughter. He leaves my home with satchels of food for himself and his live in (prepared by my wife) but he never contributes as much as a can of coke. Now, he has the audacity to leave instruction on what extracurricular activity his daughter should be engaged in (at our expense of course) and, frankly, I am sick of him!

So what's my question? Is it an act of kindness and "christian witness" to continue to accept his activity and respond with what seems to me as a doormat or does this seem like unreasonable and unacceptable behavior on his part?

I feel like an enabler and a sucker. My wife believes we are doing the right thing by setting the example.

What do you think?

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I'm on your side on this one. You are doing your son no favours by letting him swan through life contributing nothing but DNA. Clearly the example you have set so far isn't working so it's past time to set another one. Otherwise when you finally go on to your reward he is going to founder and go under since he will have had no experience of behaving like an adult with no-one to run around after him bailng him out of his messes.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 9:35AM
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I think you need to set boundaries with your son, that is the only way he will grow up. Personally, I know it's expensive to raise a child, but unless you are hurting I wouldn't ask or hint about child support. For a couple of reasons; you are her legal guardian, which means you are responsible for her financially, emotionally, and physically. Another reason is I would set boundaries with my son as far as requests regarding anything to do with my granddaughter, like, "you are not her guardian, I am; so I make the rules. I am the one who is completely responsible and you have no say. Then see if he comes to visit. Personally, I think your granddaughter is very lucky to have such wonderful grandparents, and anything or anyone who doesn't fully appreciate either one of you should not be allowed to visit. Children get vibes and it sounds like they are not good when your son visits...set the boundaries, I think it will make your home much more happy and peaceful.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 9:36AM
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What a sad, complicated mess. And I'm afraid it's well beyond the "set a good example" stage. Doing the right thing and setting a good example are still important -- but they're not nearly strong enough measures to 'fix' your son's broken sense of responsibility.

I'd schedule a few long meetings with your wife, a counselor, and a family law attorney to sort things through. Questions you and your wife need to be able to answer (and agree on) include:

Questions to work through with the counselor:
- Do you want to assume permanant, total responsibility for this little girl?
- Are you able to? Financially, healthwise, emotionally?
- What other options are available, given that neither 'parent' sounds like a decent choice?
- If you do want to raise your granddaughter, what type of involvement do you want your son to have? The child's mother?
- What type of 'parental' involvement would be best for the little girl, given that both of her biological parents are immature and irresponsible?

Questions to work through with the lawyer:
- Legally, what is your current position?
- How strong a case do you have for the type of custody arrangement you want?
- What type of legally-relevant evidence or documentation exists that the parents are unfit?
- If you were to file for child support from either/both biological parents and they chose to fight it by seeking custody, what would likely happen?
- And assuming they're both in low-paying jobs, is the money you might be awarded even worth it?
- Should you try to adopt your granddaughter?
- What legal rights do the biological parents have now, given that you are the legal guardians?

I'm sure there are many, many more questions. But with some work, you can organize them and begin to systematically tackle them so the situation won't seem so overwhelming.

Good luck with this, and bless you for caring enough to do the right thing.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 10:37AM
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