Stepparent should nudge, not kick, to the curb

Dear Amy: My stepson is 22 years old. He has a room at his mother’s house and at my house, but he mostly stays with his girlfriend at her place.

Still, he expects that we just “hold” his room with all his things hanging in the closet.

Part of this problem is obviously my husband’s “divorced dad” guilt. This is his only son, and his youngest child.

When my husband and I moved to a new home that we bought together I hoped it would change.

The son was really helpful after the move, but then disappeared to stay elsewhere.

I’ve taken to just not making him “comfortable” here, but that feels really passive-aggressive.

I’m feeling very resentful. He has a decent paying job in construction now and just can’t grow up!

Do I just sit and simmer? My husband and I have talked it over so many times and I feel it’s my husband’s place to make it happen.

Your advice?

— Stepped on

Dear Stepped on: You want your stepson to “just grow up,” but it sounds as if he is growing up. His path has been crooked, but if he is working hard at a full-time job, then I predict that his bouncing back and forth will gradually slow down until he feels secure enough (financially and otherwise) to land in his own home.

His girlfriend (or another partner) will likely influence him to put down firmer roots away from his bedrooms in his parents’ houses, but I think you should be patient for now.

My (perhaps counterintuitive) sense is that young men tend to start their adulthoods a little later than young women, especially if they have options.

You might help to inspire some new behavior by saying, “You really do need to call before you show up. It throws me off when you turn up and I’m not expecting you.”

Prompting him to call is reminding him that he doesn’t live with you, and so his presence in the home should be more at your discretion than his. It’s a small step toward liberation.

If he doesn’t land somewhere else within the next year, you and his father should give him a firmer push — not a shove, and not a kicking to the curb, but perhaps helping him to find an apartment that he can afford.

Dear Amy: When my sons were growing up, I tried to teach them how to treat women with respect (the way I wanted to be treated).

Funny, but mothers today don’t seem to care that their daughters should treat their husbands with respect.

My daughters-in-law have no inkling of how fortunate they are.

One has been so sassy with me it is shocking how disrespectful she is, but everyone is supposed to treat her as royalty.

She constantly plays the victim and treats me as her subordinate. The other daughter-in-law is a slob. Her house is a shambles. Sad!

Parents today seem to be wrapped up in their own advancements and ignore their responsibilities.

– Mom

Dear Mom: And what about those parents who taught their sons to passively tolerate such disrespect, sass, and sloppiness, to the extent where they will not even defend their own mother?


I assume that your sons do deserve better, but confident, self-assured, and emotionally actualized men tend to choose more suitable partners.

Dear Amy: I disagree that “Wondering” should tell her friend about her husband’s affair.

I told my husband years ago that he could cheat all he wants as long as I never knew anything about it.

Wondering’s problem is her problem to solve. But she should NOT solve it by ruining her friend’s life!

– Still Married

Dear Married: I appreciate your own choice, but if your husband ever had cheated on you and maintained a long and public relationship with another person (as “Wondering’s” had) I wonder if you would continue to prefer ignorance.

Knowing about infidelity is not always life-ruining, even if it ends the marriage.