20 answers

18 Year Old Step Son Dropped Out of School and No Job - Can We "Kick Him Out"?

I will try and keep this as short and on point as possible. The background is that my step son, now 18, has been living with us full time since he was 13 (part time before that). His mother is pretty much out of the picture, but in the past, when he's gotten in trouble with us (like grounded over something serious) he will run off to her house, spend a week or two there until things calm down and then just flounce back in as if nothing's happened. His mother doesn't care at all if he's in school, so that obviously created a lot of problems when he WAS in school. He got kicked out of his last school, then we got him in to another to allow him to finish his last year. He never went and this past January finally just "quit". This pattern has gone on for years and creates a lot of upheaval in our household. We also have a 4 year old by the way. Initially my husband had told him if he wasn't in school he wouldn't be living with us (we live in the city, so we felt it was just like giving him a bachelor pad to operate from) but my husband never follows through on his threats as he's guilt ridden and completely afraid that something horrible will happen if he kicks him out (also, knowing his mother, going there would only be temporary). So we told him he had to get a job and contribute - which of course he hasn't done. When this comes up and it gets heated and he runs off to his moms as usual. So - the other night it happened again - big fight, he admits he's taking advantage of us but won't do anything to remedy it. He stormed out and I went in his room and packed all his stuff up and told my husband to drive it to the mother's house...which of course he didn't. I felt bad, but at the same time I'm sick of this (it's been going on for about 4 years) and husband, daughter and I all have to share one room because stepson needs his own space. NOW I find out his mother is going to France for 6 weeks (at least) and she doesn't know what she'll do after that. (She says she's getting kicked out of her house and will be "homeless" - which is only true until she finds some idiot friend or guy to take her in). I feel like, well my step son is 18 - he alone decided not to finish school and so has to grow up, get a job and start dealing. Most people agree with this, but HOW do we make him do that without tipping him over the edge?! We don't have the space - we're stuck in a two bedroom apartment and I am being driven mad never knowing from one week to the next what is happening. Our daughter is starting school in Sept and I would REALLY like for her to have her own room (and I'd like our room back!) Would a deadline of some sort work? I have not helped him find a job as I felt he had to do it himself, but should I try and help and then tell him he has a few months with us to save up for an apartment and move out? I'm at my wits end. My marraige is pretty strained to begin with and this situation is what generally brings us to breaking point every few months. It's getting untenable. I love my step son (I've been with him since he was 3) - but I just think enough is enough. I know though if he were "my" child I would be handling things differently, but in fairness if he was my child he never would have gotten away with this behaviour in the first place! Has anyone been through anything like this? Any advice would be hugely appreciated. Thanks for listening....

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all this dialogue - some of it is hard to read, but I need to hear it. You're all right in one way or another. I actually said to him last time after I'd packed all his stuff up - "I'm not actually kicking you out, I'm trying to give you a kick up the butt!" He understands it, but he doesn't DO anything about it. I think I wrote to you all here to solidify what I knew, which is that he'll need some help, and a strict dose of guidelines and a deadline have to be in place. And I will get his father to agree on that at least. Then, when the deadline comes we can go from there. I am actually willing to help him out with rent as it would be less expensive for us to do that then rent a bigger place ourselves (which we can't afford). And of course I know that all it sounds like is "hey, your sister needs the room, get out!" - I'm well aware of that, especially because he own mother never keeps him in mind at her house in that way. I think I'll make a deadline of late summer - by then his mom should be back from where ever she's frolicked off to, so if there is any "drama" that can be some sort of fall back for him. He knows he can get away with this forever with his dad, but I think he equally knows I expect a lot more of him. He is, by the way, quite mature in certain areas - and well capable of taking care of himself (partially to do with his mother's neglect sadly)- but he plays in a band and they make money, but it's not regular cuz all the other guys are in school!. I may check out the military as well - he's mentioned it himself before, I just don't think he could hack it to be honest. But it might be the best thing after all.... Thank you all for your honesty.

Featured Answers

It sounds like he is the type of person who gets overwhelmed and then just won't do anything. It looks like laziness, but I bet deep down inside he wants you to be proud of him, and he wants to be proud of himself.

If I were you, I'd do it in stages and help him ALL THE WAY. Like others have said, kicking him out won't do any good. You'll need to get his dad on board too. I know what you mean about the Divorced Parent Guilt. My husband suffers from it too. When his daughter doesn't do what should be expected, he goes all Divorced Parent Guilt on her and lets it slide.

I would give him some timelines and options. Why did he drop out of school? Was it too hard? Was he not interested? Did he just not have the follow-through? He needs someone to talk to him and LISTEN to him, not just make him wrong for dropping out and not having a job. What does he want out of life? He may not know, or have no idea how to get it.

I would give him a month or so, and then he moves out of his room and onto the couch. That should be an incentive to get his own place, but he's not homeless. You could start charging him a small amount of rent when he gets a job (to prepare him for what it's like when he moves out). Save the rent but don't tell him, and then give it back to him to use as a deposit on an apartment.

Go apartment shopping with him so he can get an idea of how much it will cost and what different price levels look like. It might also get him excited and motivated.

You're going to need to "hold his hand" but I think with love, patience and a little bit of a kick, he'll be getting ready to live the kind of life he wants!

3 moms found this helpful

Boot him or start charging him rent.

Bottom line is that he's an adult. He's dropped out of school, so he doesn't have a "job" anymore as a student (which typically comes rent-free). He needs to either get himself into a GED program (thus keeping the rent at bay) or get out.

Good luck.

More Answers

I'm having a total insomnia night so I have had the opportunity to read your prior posts about your step son. I actually feel bad for this kid....being shipped off to boarding school at nine years old for 4.5 years. Are you still living in Europe? It sounds like his mother is still in the picture if he is going there frequently and just a couple of years ago it was 50/50.

If you have been with him since he was three and is now eighteen, he is your kid and you have had influence. I couldn't give up on him, he sounds like he has completely lacked structure and co-parenting. I just don't understand not planning for space for the entire family.

9 moms found this helpful

I'm so sorry, V.. Both of the parents of this kid have failed him. Yes, that includes your husband. He has not made this boy toe the line where school is concerned. Your husband's handling of him has been totally ineffective. Allowing him to make you and your husband and child stay in one room while he hogs the other one has made him feel entitled and self-serving.

The only thing I can see is for you to leave and take your little girl with you. Tell your husband that when he has figured out what to do about this kid that doesn't include him living with you, that you will come back.

This kid will never get a job while he is allowed to stay with dad. The dad needs to show tough love and move this kid out. He needs to find college kids to live with and go work at MacDonalds. College kids live on bus lines and he can take the bus to work. After he figures out in a year or so that he screwed up mightily, he can study for his GED.

Yes, it seems to be that you are making your husband choose you over your son. But you know what? His son is now a grown man. You've done your duty towards this kid for his formative years and now he needs to get out on his own and learn how to take care of himself.

Then you come home with your daughter. Go to marriage counseling if you need to.

Good luck,
D.

7 moms found this helpful

Of course you can kick him out of the house. But is that really the right solution to a problem you have ALL created? Sure - he's got a crappy Mom who isn't there for him. And a wishy washy Dad who never follows through. But what about you? You've been in this boy's life for the last 15 years. How have you not taught him any responsibility? Consequences? He's not your biological child, yes, but did you really think that you could just let him surf through his childhood and one day he'd wake up as a responsible adult?

Sounds to me like this young man is immature, has no sense of consequences, and doesn't have any resources if you kick him out. So what would you be proving? That you can give your favored child her own room? That's not exactly a good lesson for a struggling young man. How about you sit your husband down and tell HIM to grow up and act like a parent here? Then the two of you come up with a plan - son gets back to school immediately, or signs up to take his GED, gets a part time job, does specific house chores, and keeps his room. Or, if he doesn't do all of that, he gets the couch for three months to give him time to come up with his own plan.

Abandoning someone because he's finally of legal age and is taking up space you'd rather give to your younger child is legal, but it's not right. You say that you haven't helped him get a job because you feel he needs to do it on his own. But think about it - does he have any idea how to get a job? Who would hire him? How will he earn enough money for his own apartment if all he has is an 11th grade education? Parents help their kids. Help him finish school, get a job, and move out. (in that order)

5 moms found this helpful

If you and his dad can't agree on a plan and follow-through, you can't do anything. Maybe you could give your daughter your room and move to the living room?

And as a stepmom I have to say, and please forgive me, but he has lived with you full time for 5 years, you've been with him since he was 3, his mother is pretty much out of the picture...he may not be a child you bore, but he is your child.

In answer to your title question, yes, you can kick him out, he's of legal age, his father is no longer legally responsible for him. All it would take is a call to the police telling them you've told him to leave and he won't. Which brings me back to what I first said, you and your husband would first need to agree. If the two of you can't get on the same page I don't see a solution, in reality your stepson knows nothing will be done, his deadline already passed.

5 moms found this helpful

I'm sorry - I had a hard time reading your post.

I got through the first three lines and my head hurt.

He's 18. He's a legal adult. He chose to drop out of school. You need to check with a lawyer to find out your legal responsibilities for your state.

In my book? He's 18. He made adult choices. Go out into the world, young man. It's called tough love and he needs it.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful

while i agree with you 100% about the 'get a job or beat it' scenario, you cannot do anything without your husband's support and cooperation. you need to start there. it does no good to pack up his stuff and then expect his dad, who has not agreed to this step, to do the next one.
get on the same page with your husband, or this is going to rip up your marriage.
good luck!
khairete
S.

3 moms found this helpful

It sounds like he is the type of person who gets overwhelmed and then just won't do anything. It looks like laziness, but I bet deep down inside he wants you to be proud of him, and he wants to be proud of himself.

If I were you, I'd do it in stages and help him ALL THE WAY. Like others have said, kicking him out won't do any good. You'll need to get his dad on board too. I know what you mean about the Divorced Parent Guilt. My husband suffers from it too. When his daughter doesn't do what should be expected, he goes all Divorced Parent Guilt on her and lets it slide.

I would give him some timelines and options. Why did he drop out of school? Was it too hard? Was he not interested? Did he just not have the follow-through? He needs someone to talk to him and LISTEN to him, not just make him wrong for dropping out and not having a job. What does he want out of life? He may not know, or have no idea how to get it.

I would give him a month or so, and then he moves out of his room and onto the couch. That should be an incentive to get his own place, but he's not homeless. You could start charging him a small amount of rent when he gets a job (to prepare him for what it's like when he moves out). Save the rent but don't tell him, and then give it back to him to use as a deposit on an apartment.

Go apartment shopping with him so he can get an idea of how much it will cost and what different price levels look like. It might also get him excited and motivated.

You're going to need to "hold his hand" but I think with love, patience and a little bit of a kick, he'll be getting ready to live the kind of life he wants!

3 moms found this helpful

ETA:

Another option is the military. An old coworker of mine did this with her son. He was starting to head down the wrong path, so she told him go to school or enlist. He enlisted with the marines. He did 4 years overseas and stayed in. Now he's a recruiter in San Diego, has his own apartment, a wife and two sons. This is a great option for someone who needs some direction/discipline. It'll have him out of your house and out of trouble. Win-Win!

Original:

This would drive me to the point of divorce.

You should give your husband an ultimatum: "If you want to continue to let Johnny live here rent free, I will leave and take Sally with me. If you want me and Sally to stay, we will draw up a timeline for Johnny. He will have 30 days to get a job. After getting the job, he will have 90 days to save money so that he can get his own apartment. If on August 1, he has not moved out as per the agreement, we will remove his stuff from the apartment and change the locks. Once he has moved out, we will be moving Sally into his room, and he will not be allowed to live here again"

If you don't do this now at 18, in 10 years, he will be 28 and still mooching off you guys, and your daughter will be 14 and still sleeping in your bedroom. Ridiculous!

I saw an episode of Dr. Phil about this just the other day. A mom was dealing with the same issues with her 25 yr old daughter and the daughter's live in boyfriend. Neither were working! Dr. Phil asked the daughter if she spent all day every day looking for a job. Well, of course she didn't because she didn't have to. Mommy took care of her. Your SS could find a job at Target, or the mall, or a fast food restaurant to start. Then while working that job, he could spend his days off trying to find a better job. And if he can't, he'll have to take a second part time job in order to pay the rent. He will quickly realize that he should have stayed in school and gotten his diploma.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

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