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Adult stepson, please give me some advice

(55 Posts)
SmilingSadLady Fri 11-Nov-16 04:48:19

I have two DDs and two adults DSSs. We have a good, but not close, relationship.

Three weeks ago, the younger stepson, who is 21, came to live with us. I was unhappy with the way this was arranged. He graduated this year, got a good degree but no plan as to what next and spent the Summer, until October, travelling. He then said he had "no choice" but to come and live with us.

We live in the countryside, close to a City centre, but there is a decent commute. We are a drive away from the train station. My husband and I commute each day (on different days, we work part time and share the childcare). He chose not to get up early enough to come in with either of us, but often expects a lift from the parent who has done the school run. Again, in the evening, he times his return too late or too early to come back with either of us and then communicates that he needs a lift or money for a taxi. This is usually either at bath time or when only one of us is home (the other at work) and the children in bed.

He wakes up after us and usually comes in late. He texts, very politely, asking me for "supper please", or "supper would be nice". Previously we cooked an early tea for the children and then ate as a couple. Now I am either doing bigger meals with a lot more carbs that are easily repeatable when he gets in. He is fit, runs and is eating voraciously. It has had a big impact on our weekly grocery bill. He does not contribute financially.

My understanding was that we would be supporting him during his first job. I did not expect money from him and would rather he saved for his own accommodation. However, we did expect, and we made it clear, that we expected him to contribute 'in kind', by walking the dog, doing light housework (we all share this, but have a weekly cleaner), assisting in the garden.

He has taken the dog out twice when he is out for a run, at his convenience. He does not cook. His room smelled so bad after he had been with us for a week, that my husband asked him to air it and stop drying his sweaty running clothes on the radiators. My husband then did his laundry and he was piling up dirty clothes. I felt he should do his own laundry.

We spoke to him about his room and about the house in general, reiterating expectations. He was arrogant and rude to my husband and called me unstable, not to my face but so I could hear him.

He then made a point of washing his breakfast things but will only load or unload the dishwasher if he is asked and asked again. My two DDs do much more to help and my older DD (5) has noticed.

Each weekend he has been away and come back and told me about cooking with friends (he claims he cannot cook when we ask him to), parties etc. We asked him to get a part time job as his current job is a part-time unpaid internship. He opted for a weekend only contract, is away the next two weekends and has whinged about how it will impinge on his social life.

Two days ago I had bad news on a medical diagnosis which came 48 hours after other bad news. I had my young DD with me in the appointment so couldn't ask everything I wanted and my DH was working very late at an evening conference event which he was chairing, so we hadn't had a chance to talk in detail.

DH sent his son a text, to say I'd had a rough day and asking him to be supportive. That evening when DSS came home, he made a public call to his brother, with the door open, screaming and swearing at the top of his voice, for over an hour, complaining about me, my DH, my DDs, saying the youngest "shits everywhere" (she is in nappies, she does not shit everywhere). I was scared the little ones would wake up and also felt hugely intimidated by his swearing and screaming and accusations. He then walked up to me and said "good night" as if nothing had happened.

The next morning, he ignored my DH who told him he had crossed a line. He then became so verbally abusive, my DH was worried about the DDs, who were crying and scared. I took them to get them ready for school and nursery and things escalated so much that my DH called the police. The police said we had an arrogant man child in the house and that we should ask him to leave for a few days while we work out what to do. This is the first night. I have been up since midnight, in tears, shaken, not at all sure what to do. I feel like a complete failure as a stepparent.

My little girls were looking forward to their brother coming. They thought he would play with them, read bedtime stories, just as he has done when he has stayed for visits and holidays.

I think it would be good for them to see that things can go wrong in families and put right again, but I also felt frightened of him and don't ever want to feel like that in my own home. I'm very distressed about what he said about the DDs as well. He was really vile about them.

And...our expectations of him basically being a good flatmate and pulling his weight are so mismatched with wha the expects from us.

Please be kind to me. I have had a horrendous week and am exhausted.

SmilingSadLady Fri 11-Nov-16 04:51:45

I forgot lots of things. After we asked him to air his room, he left all windows wide open when he was away over the weekend, which would have allowed access from outside. So I went into his room to close them. He is angry I went into his room.

We have an alarm. He often does not set it and does not lock up properly. Back doors, side doors etc are often unlocked. We gave him a spare set of keys but he doesn't take them out with him, so one of us has to be in to let him in.

hesterton Fri 11-Nov-16 04:59:30

It sounds a nightmare. You poor thing. No wonder you're upset.

He is so out of order, it's hard to know where to start. Suffice to say, you and your dh have done the right thing having him removed. You need to protect your girls and I would go as far as refusing to have him back until he has clearly sorted himself out.

hesterton Fri 11-Nov-16 05:00:51

Not hard to imagine why you were the only place he had to live...

What do you think has caused this drastic change in him? Does he get on with his mother?

SmilingSadLady Fri 11-Nov-16 05:06:15

Thank you. It's lovely to know I am not alone in the middle of the night. DH and DDs are asleep and I've just sat up worrying and crying.

As far as I know he gets on with his mother. She and her DH have recently bought a new house, which has probably unsettled him. But it's no excuse, is it?

hesterton Fri 11-Nov-16 05:14:21

Not at his age, not at all.

He may be feeling his dad owes him another childhood - and that at 22 he should be able to relive his years of being catered for , driven about and looked after as number one to make up for the years his father was in his life less.

But it would be doing him no favours to pander to that.

How often did you see him when he was growing up? What age was he when his parents split?

hesterton Fri 11-Nov-16 05:16:12

It may be of note that he chose when his father was being particularly caring towards you to really kick off. Is he jealous of you?

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Fri 11-Nov-16 05:18:41

That is awful! He is SO out of order. I've no real experience or advice other than don't let him back. Or if you do, at least not until there are very very firm boundaries and expectations and consequences. Also, please don't feel like a failure. This is entirely his fault and you should NOT feel like it reflects on you as a "bad stepmum". Be kind to yourself.

How is your DH dealing with it all? It must be horrific for him too - but then again he is able to sleep so maybe not too bad.

SmilingSadLady Fri 11-Nov-16 05:20:56

You're very insightful. He may feel cheated out of a childhood. His parents had separated several years before I met DH, so I haven't thought of him being jealous of me, but I suppose he is.

I thought he might be behaving like our toddler as he is jealous of her?

hesterton Fri 11-Nov-16 05:23:54


But he is an adult and is being abusive. He can't be allowed to get away with it at the expense of you and your children.

I do hope it is resolved in some way soon which leaves you and your girls feeling safe. flowers

SmilingSadLady Fri 11-Nov-16 05:51:05

Thank you. I think I have a plan. DH and I will agree some rules and consequences and I won't take him back unless he agrees to them.

I still feel torn about taking him back at all. His arrogant attitude really rattled me.

BratFarrarsPony Fri 11-Nov-16 06:01:12

I just got as far as him texting 'supper please' before I ran out of patience for him. tbh.
Do not let him back at all.
He is 21 not 12.

Thatwaslulu Fri 11-Nov-16 06:30:18

My DH had sole custody of his sons for most of their childhood and I moved in with them when the oldest was 18 and the youngest 12. We then (very quickly and unplanned) had our DS. Within a few months we decided to move out of social housing and buy our own house; my DH's plan was that a 3 bedroomed house would be perfect as the oldest was nearly 19 and could stand on his own two feet, so the two younger boys could have a bedroom each. It all went to plan and DSS1 moved in with a friend and we moved into our new house with DSS2 and DS.

After a year, DSS1 had fallen out with his friend and moved in with his mum and her new husband. He was so vile to his stepdad that his mum kicked him out and he came to live with us again. I had always got on brilliantly with both boys so wasn't too worried as long as it was temporary while he sorted himself out, as he was sharing a room with his middle brother sleeping on an airbed.

Unfortunately DSS1 has no work ethic and refused to find a job. Eventually after 3 months I took him to every agency in the city and he secured a warehouse job but only lasted a week. He then claimed he couldn't do manual work because of his heart problems, which was plausible as he had a pacemaker fitted as a baby and spent most of his childhood in and out of hospital, and subsequently hadn't been in education continually and had no qualifications. This made it hard for him to get a job.

DH was furious with him for not contributing and treating our new home like a doss house. He would help with the baby, but did no housework, washing, cooking and contributed nothing financially, while we both worked full time. DH had it out with him and told him he had to sort his life out. He started to pay a small amount of board.

I started noticing things going missing, like money from the top of the fireplace, or his younger brother's computer games. My engagement ring also disappeared but I am naturally untidy and thought I had misplaced it. Then one day my DH went to the cashpoint and found out account had been cleaned out, and when he got home his army discharge papers had gone.

We think DSS1 sold the discharge papers to someone wanting and fake ID. The board he had been paying had come from the money he had stolen and things he had pawned. DH kicked him out and it was really hard for his brothers - especially our DS who had started toddling round after his big brother and cried for him. I felt awful because he had nowhere to go, but DH didn't want the other two boys seeing such bad behaviour tolerated. He phoned the police and had him prosecuted.

14 years on, DSS2 and DS don't speak to DSS1 any more. We tried to maintain contact because they are brothers and I thought it was important, but they both can't get over what he did to us (and to both boys, as he stole from them both).

This is a really long post but I just wanted you to know that sometimes you have to be tough and while it is awful to do it, you have younger children that need a role model. That can't be someone who scares you all and is lazy and unpredictable.

SmilingSadLady Fri 11-Nov-16 09:53:11

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It sounds horrendous.

I really want to make a decision that is good for everyone, probably why I feel torn.

SandyY2K Fri 11-Nov-16 16:42:48

I agree with the police about his arrogance.

He should leave and only return with a full apology to you and his dad. He should still apologise even if he doesn't come back, as his behaviour was outrageous.

You aren't a failure as a stepmum. He's a failure at being respectful and grateful.

This is not your fault, so don't think for one minute that it is.

SandyY2K Fri 11-Nov-16 16:45:47

He was at Uni for 3 years. ... didn't he cook once in that time? He's just being lazy and taking advantage.

BratFarrarsPony Fri 11-Nov-16 16:50:47

Most people go to uni and then eg move to London with friends, or continue to enjoy their new found independence in some other way...

Honestly your DH sounds good, but if ur stepson was shouting and screaming on the phone in an abusive way, ur DH should literally have gone in , taken the phone off him and told him STFU.

Footle Fri 11-Nov-16 17:06:27

Brat, if you read the thread you'll see that the stepson chose a time for his call while his dad was out.

BratFarrarsPony Fri 11-Nov-16 17:08:07

REally sorry, was skim reading.
Well the DH should have read the riot act to the son on his return.
Possibly thrown him out.

nooka Fri 11-Nov-16 17:20:12

It sounds absolutely horrible. Poor OP and her family. For things to get so bad that her dh called the police shows that things have gone seriously wrong and I would be very hesitant to have the step son back at all.

I am sure that there are reasons why the stepson is behaving so badly, but while he is young he is an adult and he should know perfectly well that his behaviour is totally unacceptable.

OP you could invite him back with firm rules, and then enforce them but I wonder if they will work. It sounds as if he was deliberately pushing every boundary possible. In an ideal world it would be good if he could live somewhere else while his dad tries to work with him to find out what on earth is going on in his head. Maybe there is stuff under the surface that is making him very unhappy or some mental health issues (its a prime age for some things to emerge) but that doesn't mean he gets to abuse and frighten his family (or anyone else for that matter).

nooka Fri 11-Nov-16 17:23:07

Brat did you just not read the OP? The dad did tell his son he was out of order the next morning which led to such a nasty argument that the father ended up calling the police. The son has been thrown out. I'm not sure what else you think the dad should have done in this situation.

BratFarrarsPony Fri 11-Nov-16 17:40:56

oops sorry I will get my coat....

swingofthings Fri 11-Nov-16 17:44:59

The police said we had an arrogant man child in the house and that we should ask him to leave for a few days while we work out what to do
That's what they concluded after meeting him for only a few minutes? Well doesn't that says it all? It sound like they were spot on.

Honestly, I can't believe that you would have accepted a text with a 'dinner would be nice' and you would actually go ahead and leave him a meal. If anyone sent me such a text, be in husband, grown up kid, or even my 13yo, I would text right back with a 'indeed, are you cooking it because I'm not'.

Sounds like that kid has been spoilt rotten for years and it is more than time that he faces the real world. Time to tell him that he isn't welcome any longer until he shows some respect for the people who love him.

WhereYouLeftIt Fri 11-Nov-16 18:00:21

"The police said we had an arrogant man child in the house and that we should ask him to leave for a few days while we work out what to do."
Actually, I think it goes far, far beyond being an arrogant manchild (which he certainly is). It's not thoughtlessness or cackhandedness or laziness. His actions were actually very deliberate and designed to cause the maximum damage. He wanted to cause upset to both you and his dad.

Do not let him back into your home. The idea that he will stick to rules because of possible consequences is frankly laughable.

AcrossthePond55 Fri 11-Nov-16 18:18:22

DH and I will agree some rules and consequences and I won't take him back unless he agrees to them.

Before you do this, you and DH need to decide the likelihood of him actually living up to any agreement. Because chances are that he'll agree to anything to get back into the house and once there it may not be easy to get him out again.

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