Adult Stepchild moving back in... I'm less than thrilled

husbandchuckApril 22, 2010

Ok, so my almost 20 year old stepson is moving back in....

First, a little background: My wife and I have been together for 7 years, married for 5 years. She has two children from a previous marriage, My stepdaughter is 16, my stepson will be 19 in a couple of months. Uggh, where do I start? My wife left her ex because he was a controlling, emotionally abusive a$$hole (never any physical abuse, just condescending, over controlling, self absorbed, I could go on...). We live in Alaska and my wife and I absolutely hate it! We only live here because her ex lives here, and we don't want to take the kids away from their dad, but as soon as SD graduates HS, we're heading South! We have a set of three year old twins that we had together that are my whole life! My wife works, I stay home and take care of the kids.

When we first got together, I got along great with the kids. As my Stepson got older, he started getting more and more attitude, as his attitude got worse, he got lazier, and felt more entitled to whatever he thought he should have. Now, i know this is typical teenage behavior, but he took it to extreme levels. He would argue and fight just for the sake of arguing, when he argues, he just storms out instead of talking, he goes from normal to extremely angry and aggressive instantly. Over the years, he has been caught stealing from everyone in the family, once he took almost $200 from his then 12 y/o sister that she had been saving up for almost six months from cleaning the neighbors house and would never fess up, even after agreeing to pay it back, he still denied it. I kept noticing money missing from my wallet, not a little, but hundreds of dollars at a time. I went into our bedroom once and caught him pulling a $100 bill out of my pants pocket, when confronted, he would get extremely angry, even to the point of "squaring off" with his fists clenched at me and his mother every time we would confront him. Our DVD collection was slowly disappearing, as he would come home with new clothes, skateboards, etc. We never have had much money, so his stealing was more than just a nuisance, it would keep us from being able to pay bills. He even got caught shoplifting once.

Now, after he was caught and confronted a few times, the stealing did stop, but he never was apologetic and still would get extremely angry if it was ever brought up (like when he was asked about paying back his little sister). For about the last year before he moved out (he moved out about a month before his 19th b-day), he was IMPOSSIBLE to live with. He was angry ALL the time, he had the attitude that everyone was out to get him all the time. There was just a cloud of stress and anger that filled every room he was in. I felt very uncomfortable in my own home, it was just awful. We tried everything to make him happy his whole life (since I came in the picture) but nothing ever worked, nothing was good enough, even though he was never spoiled, he acted like a spoiled brat, get angry and throw tantrums like a little kid when he didn't get his way (even after he was 18).

He is unbelievably lazy. I can deal with the other stuff and chalk it up to teen angst, but laziness is something that was NEVER allowed in my house growing up, and it's something I just can't tolerate, especially when you combine it with an overinflated ego and sense of entitlement. He can't keep a job, then gets angry and complains "no one will give me a job" when he sleeps until 4pm, then walks into a place with his hat on sideways, his pants pulled down, piercings in his face and says "you guys hiring?" then brings back an application a week later. He has never even shown an interest in doing anything for himself, I swear the kid can't even boil water! I know that's a teen age thing, but I have worked in fine dining and gourmet kitchens for years and tried and tried to teach him, but he never wanted anything that wasn't instant...

He couldn't handle school, so he dropped out at the beginning of his sophomore year to do homeschooling, which my wife organized and did EVERYTHING for him but take the tests! He was never grateful, and still never did his part, so he quit that to. Ok, so I'm being a little harsh, he did go to training and get his GED on his own (after his girlfriend forced him to) and he is a phenomenal guitar player, which he completely taught himself. But all he ever did was play the guitar.

Now for the legal troubles... I mentioned before, he was arrested for shoplifting, but in his defense, it was a deli sandwich that he didn't pay for. They went a little overboard arresting him for that, but theft is theft, I guess. Two days after getting his license (there's a whole different can of worms, there, too. He didn't get his license until after he turned 18, he just never really had the motivation to get it. We were willing, but he would argue and not listen to us while we were teaching him to drive, which was not only frustrating, but scary as hell! So we gave up on that. Our state requires having a learner's permit for six months before you can get your license... he failed his permit test 5 TIMES!!! Of course he would get angry at the system, not himself for never reading the stupid book, then get extremely mad at us, for, I don't know, not agreeing or something. If you can imagine what a pain in the ass it is to go to the DMV on five separate occasions...)Ok, sorry, anyway, two days after getting his license, before he got his insurance, he rear ended somebody stopped at a stoplight. Luckily for him, the other driver wasn't insured either, so they drove to our house to figure it out... His dad ended up paying for the damages for him. A few days later, he got pulled over with pot on him (I'm not going to be hypocritical here about the pot, just the stupidity of driving around like a madman with it on him). I came to his rescue, he ended up with a $50 fine and like, 20 hrs of community service- a light slap on the wrist. The very next day after his court date- BAM! Same exact thing happened.... Again, the court was very kind, giving him a total of $500 fine and 50 hrs for both offenses. Fast forward another six months... got pulled over for speeding, he hadn't even contacted anybody about his community service, so off to jail he went... three days later, he came out, angrier than ever at the system, and just angry in general, but not at himself for being stupid. Fast forward another month... got pulled over for speeding again, guess what, still hadn't done his community service yet... again they were nice and let him go with the promise he was going to do his comm. service.

So, back to the issue at hand. During his short "vacation" he lost his job and his apartment. When he moved out, we left Anchorage and moved 45 miles away to a much smaller house in my hometown to save money.(Wasilla, maybe you heard of it? Nobody had heard of it until a couple years ago :) Long story short, even though we were willing to let him move in, there was just not enough room for two toddlers, a sixteen year old girl, two adults and him in a three bedroom 1100 squarefoot house. We offered him the garage, but ultimately, he didn't want to live this far away from his friends (I'm not even going to talk about them)so he decided to move in with his dad, who he really can't stand and he really, really hates his stepmom.

That was a couple of months ago, now he has had enough of his dad going through his stuff controlling everything he does and treating him like he's in boot camp (which, as much as I don't like his dad and understand it must be hell, it's probably good for him). So he's decided to take us up on our offer.... Crap.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the kid, I do love him very much, but I am just so done dealing with the attitude, even when he comes to visit, he can't be in the same room with his younger sister for more than five minutes without starting a fight. Like I said earlier, he just puts out stress all around him, it's very uncomfortable. since the original offer to stay in the garage, I have turned it into a shop and now run a business out of it, we rely on the income, so I can't give up the space. Now he's going to be camped out on our couch full time? My wife wants to put our twins in our bedroom with us and give him their room. Ugggh!

I know he's my wife's son and she wants to be there for him and I have worked my ass off over the years trying to get along with him, but we just don't mesh. I am very laid back and easy going, happy, positive and cheerful most of the time. He just disrupts the peace in the house, it's like being a prisoner in my own home, there is just no relaxing for anyone when he's around. I just lose myself and turn into an ugly person when I'm around him.

I voiced my concerns when my wife told me about him moving back in. I would never stand between my wife and her son, and of course, he is welcome, I'm just not happy about it and I think it would be better for everyone to come up with a different plan. So... now she's not talking to me, which has never happened in our entire relationship. We fight, but we always talk it out, we have a rule that we never, ever go to bed angry, even if it means staying up all night talking it out, which has happened more than once. Tonight, she went to bed angry and crying, refusing to talk to me.

I don't know what she wants me to say. I've tried and tried with this kid, and we even get along ok sometimes, but he NEVER gets along with his sister and I just can't see it working. Before he moved out originally, even my wife couldn't wait for him to move out, I know she wants to be there for her son, who wouldn't, but I don't think she remembers what it was like living with him, how the whole house had to walk on eggshells around him to avoid setting him off. Plus, to top it all off, our financial situation is very bad right now, we can barely afford to feed the people that live here now, I've lost 30 lbs in the last few months just trying to conserve food. (Ok, I'm actually kind of happy about that!) How are we going to feed a 20 year old boy that eats like a moose and still feed the babies?

So, sorry about writing a novel here. I know I rambled on a bit, but it feels good to put it in writing. Should I just suck it up and take care of family? It's only supposed to be for a couple of months until he starts college, but he hasn't even applied to any schools yet, and he was only supposed to be at his Dad's for a couple of months before he started school. Should I put my foot down and tell him to get his own place? He's already had a couple of apartments, he blows what little money he makes partying with his friends, then leaves because he can't pay his rent. I'm ready to pull my hair out over the whole thing.

Any advice? Anyone else in the same situation to commiserate with? A shoulder to cry on? Someone to slap me in the face and tell me to buck up?

Thanks for reading.....

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As a mom, I understand your wife's feelings. I have two sons ~ 20 & 23. The 23 left at 18 because he didn't like my rules, he came back several times because he couldn't loaf in any one place very long... but when I allowed him to come back, he ALWAYS had conditions! Had to find a job... spend his day looking, not sleeping all day. He had to do chores... more chores if he wasn't working because he had more time. He had to pay $50 a week. and he had to follow our house rules.. no staying up all night watching movies or playing video games, clean up after yourself, and he could only fix himself meals when we were preparing our meals. (He was welcome to eat what we were having but if he didn't like it, he could fix himself something else... but he could only do so when I was making dinner~ not after all the dinner dishes were done & kitchen was clean, because even though he had to clean up after himself, he is not very good at it so we'd end up having to do it over.) Consequently, my son CHOSE to not stay with me very long.. usually a few weeks & he'd find someone's couch. That's why he came back several times. We stuck to our conditions and he kept coming back, hoping we'd let him slide. He eventually joined the military and has matured a lot in the last two years. But, I am also going through it with my 20 year old son... having to stay firm & consistent with the rules. If they don't like it, they are "adult" age and can go do something else. You should not feel like a prisoner in your own home & suspect your wife agrees but it's her son & she doesn't want to turn him away, but maybe is conflicted because she remembers how bad it was when he was there before... I feel for her.

Oh yeah, if he is leaving Dad's because he doesn't like the rules or being told what to do, does he think it will be different in your home? I think this is one time you & your wife should get together with Dad & stepmom to have the same rules/expectations in both houses.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 11:28AM
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Has anyone ever investigated the possibility of mental issues? Some of what you describe sounds like not all is right with this kid. In your shoes I would make regular counselling for him a condition of staying.

1 Like    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 8:01PM
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I was wondering about drugs; not pot but hard-core drugs. Stealing hundreds of dollars, sleeping all day, being unmotivated, angry and aggressive, obvious lying (the denials) - all of those things would make me really question whether he's just getting high or taking something a lot more dangerous.

I wish you all luck; I'm really sorry but I can't offer any advice, just sympathy.

1 Like    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 10:18PM
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There is absolutely no way I would agree to SS moving back in under the conditions you have described. I am a SM and a BM and I WOULD NOT accept this behavior from my own child.

The problem is with your wife. She needs to understand that you are NOT helping someone by enabling them, SS doesn't like rules over at Dad & SM's house, so.....he thinks its going to be a free for all at yours?

Best advice from experience I can give you is... all rules of the house need to come from his mother, not you. You will be made out to be the bad guy, despite how poorly SS behaves.

1 Like    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 12:22PM
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I think it is usually too late to start parenting when they are 18-20-22. parenting starts same day you bring them home from a hospital. i don't understand parents waiting until kids are grown and then complain how they don't have motivation or don't follow basic rules.

saying that he might be having more serious problems than just being lazy.

at this point I think he might be on drugs or having mental issues. he needs drug test and doctor's appointment and regular counseling.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 6:23PM
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I agree with everything everyone else has posted. I just want to emphasize that YOU will be the bad guy in this scenario, Don't Do It.

Drug problem, mental issues or just plain laziness, this should be a no go for you. This one comes up enough where the path is clear. Your wife needs to handle it, not you, but as best you can, tell her no go.

This is a tough one and there are not a few people, especially stepdads, who post here about this. The experience is universal, problematic and marriage threatening.

1 Like    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 2:06PM
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I have not read all the replies, but here is my 2cents on the issue.

He is leaving his dads house because he thinks he will have it better at your house. He seems like the kind of kid to be content sponging off everyone and not doing anything with his life. If you move him in and give him the twins bedroom and support him you are only enabling him. It puts you in a bad situation and lets him do nothing with his life. My first thought is leave him where he is at and let him suffer (he is not being abused...just well monitered!)

If you HAVE to allow him to move back these are things I would do:

-sit down with your wife and make up a list of rules you can live with (no friend over, curfew, rent amount he should pay you, chores he should do, etc.)

-I would even go ahead and let him camp out on the couch instead of making him comfy in his own room (think of how hard it would be to sleep all day in the middle of the house with little ones running

-And make a plan. He needs to fill out college aps by a certain date, he needs to be out applying for jobs (and showing you the apps so you can see what he is writing that is keeping him from getting hired). Give him a date he needs to be out by.

And tell him before he moves in he needs to agree to these terms or he can not come back! Also let him know that he needs to treat everyone in the house with respect.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 3:15PM
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