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My stepson is bone idle

(93 Posts)
stargazer2030 Mon 10-Aug-15 21:26:22

As the title says I think he is bone idle yet he thinks Iabu. He is 20 in November & just finished his 1st year at uni. He has no career plan, has totally changed most of his course to the easiest options he could.
He goes in another city and we are not wealthy by any means (not poverty stricken either but have 4 kids). He gets an accommodation loan and we give him £40 per week plus pay phone, contact lenses n other bits n bobs that adds up to about £200 a month
We discussed the fact that he would most likely have to get a pt job as we really struggle with that. He only does 16 hours z week at uni n is in Manchester so could have got something but hasn't!
He is back home for the summer and got the odd days cash in hand work here n there - nothing he can put on a cv or get a reference from.
He is the eldest and very bright so really wanted to give him the chance to go to uni but I feel he is taking the piss. He has got a 2/2 at the end of the 1st year which if he continues, coupled with no work experience is just a total waste of 3 years.
He has already said he doesn't want to be a grease monkey (like his qualified tradesman Dad ) or sit behind a desk (me)!
He just infuriates me (and dh too). Told him that we will feed n house him over the summer but if he wants a social life he needs a job.
Apparently I am a total bitch! Although dh gets really annoyed with him he gives in and gives him spending money or he taps his Nan! All his friends here are loaded according to him ( they all work) and all his friends at uni get their rent paid by their parents and live of their loan.
AIBU? Its not a step parenting issue as brought him up for over 10 years and would feel like this if he was mine. He grinds me down do be honest - how have we raised someone who is so lazy and got zero get up and go with no work ethic !

DoraGora Mon 10-Aug-15 21:40:55

Sounds as if you don't like him very much, to be honest. Lots of children don't do anything and their parents wait on them hand and foot, especially their mums! Adults even take their washing home!

You can't make somebody want a job or get one. If you're that unhappy, you either have to stop giving him things, get a refund from your husband! Or throw him out of the house, either way, it's probably better than telling him how lazy you think he is. Sounds as if he doesn't like you, either. And, I can see why.

On the whole, there's not much you can do about it. Sounds as if things are a bit miserable in your house. Some parents charge rent. That might be an interim solution for you, one step short of chucking him out and breaking up your marriage.

Good luck. But, if I was you, I'd cut him some slack. The work ethic is overrated, only fools and horses, and all that. Inheritance is the ticket.

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Mon 10-Aug-15 21:45:18

Cut him some slack? Why? He's a fully fledged adult! He should be paying his way. OP YANBU

NoNameDame Mon 10-Aug-15 21:46:16

Dora - you sound alike you've got some serious step parent issues.

Op you don't sound any different to any other mum, step or not.

Yes he sounds bloody lazy, he should get a job or else stop complaining about having no money. He's not some vulnerable little 7 year old whose needs trump everyone else's his parents should be starting to teach him that he now has some responsibility for himself and you won't just pay for everything at the detriment to the rest of the family.

I would stop the money or tell him you'll match what he earns up until an amount you can afford.

On MN though your prob always gonna get a bashing if you admit to being a step parent

BestZebbie Mon 10-Aug-15 21:48:29

It is very unusual to have a 'career plan' in the first year at Uni, unless you are signed up for a course with only one real outcome (and even then you still have to decide what kind of doctor/lawyer/electrical engineer/archaeologist/compsci etc you are trying to be).

Does he only have 16hrs a week of lectures but then get other reading and work to do in the rest of the time - it would be pretty normal for a "16hr" course to be expecting a couple of researched essays back each week, which rapidly takes up the time and mostly count towards the final grade.

It sounds as if you don't actually like him being at Uni at all and think he ought to have just got a job straight from school instead - did you go to Uni yourself?

AmeliaNeedsHelp Mon 10-Aug-15 21:56:49

The uni stuff all sounds fairly normal. 16 hours contact time plus essays etc means that his work may well suffer if he had a pt job. A 2/2 isn't the end of the world, though it's usefulness does depend on what it's in. It's also only first year, and often doesn't count towards the degree classification so lots of students don't work their hardest. Not everyone has a career plan at the age of 19, and at least he has a plan for the next two years (ie finish uni).

However, I would defo not be giving him spending money during the holidays. You pay the essentials and any extras are up to him. As for laziness - I do hope you're at least expecting him to contribute to housework? Cooking / dishes / putting a wash on is certainly not too much to expect from an adult.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Mon 10-Aug-15 21:57:15

Sounds not far off normal for a 20 year old to me. There's nothing wrong with a 2:2. No-one ever asks what degree you got - not even what subject for some jobs, just "graduate".

Stop giving him money for all but the bare essentials - he doesn't need contacts for example.

YouTheCat Mon 10-Aug-15 21:58:17

My dd is 20. She's starting a degree in September. She has a crappy, zero hours job in a call centre, which she'll be keeping on unless she finds some other work. She'll be living here whilst doing her degree and paying something out of her grant/loan/wages towards her keep. I don't charge her anything yet as her work is erratic and she's only had 2 weeks work this summer. I have no spare cash to give her.

If she thought she could just bugger about all summer I'd be seriously pissed off. I don't think this is a step parent issue at all.

Theycallmemellowjello Mon 10-Aug-15 22:01:03

Errr yabu. If you're at a decent university (like Manchester) and doing alright you're going to be matching the hours of a full time job in terms of study. 16 hours of contact time a week is not the same as 16 hours of work a week. If he's done alright in his first year then he's not 'bone idle'. At my uni it was actually against the uni rules to have a part time job in term time as it would be too difficult to keep up with studies. It's normal not to have a career plan after first year in uni.

Having said that obviously it's a tough careers market out there and students with sense are getting the paid and unpaid experience they need to put themselves in the best position possible on graduation. If he seems directionless perhaps he could do with some supportive advice on how to decide what he wants to do or at least how to polish up a cv that might impress employers in various fields. Volunteering and positions in student societies are good as well as paid work and internships. But frankly I'm not convinced that you are going to give him that support so I guess just leave it.

As for the financial aspect, I think it's for your dh to decide if he wants to continue supporting his ds, presuming it's from his money. It's not really your decision to make.

Theycallmemellowjello Mon 10-Aug-15 22:04:21

Hm I missed the 2.2 part - but if he's struggling academically then he's perhaps stressed out and burying his head in the sand. Also it's not necessarily that easy to find a summer job - he may have applied and been rejected but be too embarrassed to say. The fact he's doing a few days here and there suggests he does want the cash.

AmeliaNeedsHelp Mon 10-Aug-15 22:05:45

Also, on finances - is he on the maximum loan + grant, or is it reduced because of how much you / your DH earn? I think when his income is lower because of what you earn it is only fair to top it up if you possibly can. It's shit that the government expect parents to still support DC at uni (especially when you have other DC at home), but that's the way students loan work.

MadamArcatiAgain Mon 10-Aug-15 22:06:11

He is still in fulltime education so I don't see how this is 'bone idle'

rollonthesummer Mon 10-Aug-15 22:06:21

If you're at a decent university (like Manchester) and doing alright you're going to be matching the hours of a full time job in terms of study. 16 hours of contact time a week is not the same as 16 hours of work a week. If he's done alright in his first year then he's not 'bone idle'. At my uni it was actually against the uni rules to have a part time job in term time as it would be too difficult to keep up with studies. It's normal not to have a career plan after first year in uni.

I agree with this; very few of us got jobs during term time-there was a lot of work to do, BUT everyone got a summer job to pay for socialising during July/August. How is he currently funding his social life?

stargazer2030 Mon 10-Aug-15 22:08:17

I am pleased he has gone to uni but am scared he is just seeing it as a way to defer working. His course would most likely lead onto some kind if management traineeship which he did have in mind but am worried he would be struggle with no work experience. I used to loosely work in recruitment and saw lots of graduates struggling to find work or getting a job they would have got without 3 years at uni and the huge debt.
He told me he has lots of free time - much more than he thought he would, to the point where he is bored a lot of the time. I am not expecting him to work 40 hours a week - more a part time bar job!
I have always worked from being about 15 (variety of pt jobs throughout college). To be honest I loved it, met loads of Friends and loved having money in my pocket and having financial independence.
I think a work ethic is really important and don't really see the point of doing a degree for the sake of it!

MaximiseProductivity Mon 10-Aug-15 22:11:28

He doesn't sound any different to most 20yo men IME

I was working hard at 20 but most of the men I worked with at the time weren't applying themselves at all, too busy drinking and chasing women. Once they did decide to work, a few years later they soon caught up.

A friend went through exactly what you're experiencing with his DS1 but he's now 24, and racing ahead careerwise - earns more than his Dad! Also a lovely charming young man, although you'd never believe it to hear his Dad talking about him a few years ago.

It is hard when you can see everything they're doing "wrong" but I think mums need to know/believe that boys do mature later, even if (I suspect) we're not allowed to say that on MN.

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Mon 10-Aug-15 22:14:38

I agree with you OP- there are far too many teenagers pissing it up at 'uni' spending their parents money. Not all- just some.

itsbetterthanabox Mon 10-Aug-15 22:15:52

He's not doing nothing he's at uni. Just because lectures are only 16 hours there's still a lot of reading, outside study and constant assignments and presentations due. My course was low contact hours but I had a lot to do.
It's sad uni costs so much and the loans are so shit now because having a job does impact negatively on studies.

Theycallmemellowjello Mon 10-Aug-15 22:16:56

Hm well if he is saying he has loads of time but ended up with a 2.2 and nothing else to show for it then I think something has gone wrong, yes. But I think you're approaching it in the wrong way by telling him he's lazy and setting himself up for failure and also by making it about money (although I get that that's important). Honestly, he sounds like he's struggling - he needs support. Have you encouraged him to speak to tutors in order to find out how he can get to where he needs to be academically? Encourage him to speak to them earlier next year, rather than sitting around bored and not doing his academic work then doing poorly in the exams. And maybe it's time to chat with him about what he does want to do - not an office job or manual work - but what? Then help him explore what he needs to do to get in a position to achieve it. Finally, apart from telling him he needs to work have you offered him any support in the job search? Polishing the cv, writing a covering letter, where to approach, approaching places for unpaid work if paid work is not forthcoming.... These are things that can seem obvious to older people but might not be to a stressed out 19 year old.

TwinkieTwinkle Mon 10-Aug-15 22:21:22

Something about your post is just off putting. I've never commented on a step parent/child thread before but this one left me uncomfortable.

From the title I expected to hear about a 20 year old doing nothing with their life. Not someone complaining that after the first year of uni their step child hasnt planned out their entire career plan. Did you go to uni op? Do you understand the lectures and tutorials are only the very base of the work you need to do? I certainly wouldn't describe someone who is at uni 'bone idle'.

He probably should try and get a summer job but to be honest, if your attitude is anything to go by, he's probably not just to stick it to you. You really do sound so resentful.

rabbitstew Mon 10-Aug-15 22:48:11

Was he like that when he was at school? It seems a bit harsh to say he's got zero get up and go as you make it sound like an incurable trait. He just sounds like a fairly normal, immature 19 year old boy who isn't quite sure what he wants to do with his life, to me, and who still hasn't worked out how to deal with the new freedoms that university offers. Yes, he needs to know that continuing the same attitude to work into the next two years and getting a 2:2 is neither likely to be particularly impressive to an employer, nor to to give him the skills necessary to set up his own business, but he is unlikely to react well if he thinks the comments are deeply personal attacks on his character and entirely negative, rather than expressed with love and genuine concern.

stargazer2030 Mon 10-Aug-15 23:41:54

Thanks for some of the comments. It has turned into a battlefield with both of us digging our heels in. Very frustrating but I need to back off and leave him to it. Being like this isn't working and just grinding us both down.

AmeliaNeedsHelp Mon 10-Aug-15 23:56:07

OP I think it's hard the first summer when you're both trying to get used to new roles. He's been living away and is used to pleasing himself, but to you he's still young and it's your house. My mum claims it was the hardest part of parenting - finding the balance of support / guidance for a young adult while being respectful of them making their own choices.

Stepping back sounds like a good plan. Hope it gets better soon!

Kiwiinkits Tue 11-Aug-15 00:23:23

Totally normal for a 20 year old (male) to be like that. So he's not the only one pissing his parents off ATM.

FWIW my husband was a total lay-about lazibones at uni. Got crappy grades, did nothing but drink and muck around. Now he's the most hardworking and successful person I know. My brothers, both the same.

Moopsboopsmum Tue 11-Aug-15 02:22:49

YANBU. He needs to get a job both term time and holiday. I was at a central London RG uni and had to totally support myself as my parents were broke. I had 3 part time jobs during term time, a full time job in holiday time, except one summer when I had saved enough for a holiday. He is lazy, stop giving him money!

paxtecum Tue 11-Aug-15 06:48:57

It might be 'normal' but it is lazy.
I had a summer holiday job from age 15.

It must be quite galling to watch him spend his summer doing sweet FA whilst you are working to enable his life style.

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