2 Step "Kids" Living with Me That Seem to Have NO AMBITION Whatsoever.

Updated on March 29, 2009
A.D. asks from Arlington, TX
8 answers

Hi, I need some advice.

I have 2 step "kids" living with me that seem to have NO AMBITION whatsoever.

The boy is going to be 20 in July, dropped out of University, worked at Yellowstone for 5 months and now has a menial job working in a warehouse, making what I made 15 years ago and couldn't make ends meet. He pays NO rent and spends all of his earnings on fast food, entertainment, car insurance, health insurance, fuel and vehicle maintenance.
He has never been in any trouble, is very polite and everyone really likes him. But I feel like he is going to live here forever, and I am so ready for him to go. I'm really tired of his lazyness and messy room.

The girl will be 23 in November, and doesn't even have a driver's license yet. She is taking a semester off from University and thinking very seriously of not returning. She only works part time, about 3 days a week, spends all of her money on food, entertainment and health insurance. She has one maxed out credit card, and no drive to do anything. She also has never been in trouble, and has very little social life. Always in front of her computer when she is home. She has always been shy, but even taking Theatre at the University hasn't brought her out of her shell.

I have my hands full, running a wholesale printing business from home and taking care of 2 adult parents full time, and trying to make time for ME to have a social life.

I thought about charging the kids $7 per day rent, but my husband is the weak, non enforcer person that keeps saying "I'll talk to them". <-------- Insert eye rolling here.

I would welcome any advice.

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answers from Dallas on

Hi A.,
I am a step-mom too and I have a son that is fixing to graduate from high school. In our home my husband and I have always had rules that have to be followed. He is a good young man with the same problems of a messy room and at times not motivated to do anything. We have had to talk to him and asked him what is he going to do with his life. It seems when you ask questions and get them to start thinking they have more ambition to do something and getting them interested in some kind of activity that they like or might be willing to try. I know they are young adults but have you really sat down to talk to your step kids and really find out what might be going through their minds? Are you really listening to what they are telling you? Is their real mother involved in their lives? Have you ever had a good realtionship with them from the start? That is the key word for beginners. Just like all the responses that you have gotten I agree,you have to make them accountable for something. So, maybe they can help with your business, helping your parents by taking food,cleaning, etc. I agree you should pick a day and have datenight with your husband. He may never complain but you need to make time for you and him. As well, you need to have family day or night for you,husband and the kids. Life may be better if you took the time out to set these 2 days out for your family. Because when you said "I Do" you inherited the whole package. It's not like you didn't know he had kids. They too need to have respect for you as well.
There is home health out there that maybe your parents qualify for so you can get some help and that can at least give you a couple of hours to make time for yourself,kids and husband or make time to run your business better. FYI: Lipet Home Care, Inc. is a home health-###-###-####. You should involve your whole family in the business because this will give them the incentive that you too care about them as well because your willing to let them help you out. Maybe this might be the motivator that will help them to clean up their room, help out with shores,business, parents,go back to college,etc. Who knows this might be what they need but nobody has ever approached them or asked them. If none of this helps maybe you should seek family counseling from a professional out there just google it to get someone that works with families.

Sorry hopes this helps.



answers from Dallas on

Hey A.,
Having step-blessings may not always appear to be such but enabling them to do nothing is worse. If they are not held responsible to nothing that is what their lives will produce. My ultimatum would be (at that age) if you are going to live home you have to contribute financially unless you are going to school fulltime. The other only alternative is the military. There they would be taught responsibility and discipline and get paid while learning. I speak from experience as I have retired military and have two children serving. Stick to your guns as well as your words. Kids need that consistency.



answers from Dallas on

I think most young adults today are that way.
I have a 19 yr old with the same problem. She graduated last May. I have no advice for you but this is what me & her stepdad are doing.
I told her she has until May 1st to enroll in college full time & work part time or be out by May 1st. I've been collecting $200 every other week rent a couple of times from her (I catch her when she first gets her check) that she knows is put in a savings account to be given back to her when she moves out.
My husband swears she won't be able to make it on her own but I say we have to kick her out of the nest to help her fly.
Good luck!
She gets very upset with me with I try to talk to her about how much fun it is living on her own.



answers from Dallas on

Hey A.,

Here's a totally different approach. From my perspective, the only real problem is your belief that things should be different. (And the world, and the other folks who have responded TOTALLY AGREE THAT THINGS SHOULD BE DIFFERENT!!!)Your husband should have raised the kids differently; the kids should be something they're not (yet);the kids should pay rent. The advice I am reading to your dilemna is all supporting your view that things should be different. I apprciate folks seeing how hard it will be for you to enforce behaviors that 3 out of the 4 people in the house don't really have a problem with. So, what can you do? You are genuinely frustrated and you genuinely love your husband and his adult kids (I hear you reportig that they are pretty cool when it comes to treating you politely.)

Have you looked at your beliefs that keep you separate from them?

From your words I hear that you believe:

People shouldn't drop out of Universities.
My husband's children should pay rent.
He will live here forever.
He should clean his messy room.
She should have a driver's liscense.
She should not max out a credit card.
She has no drive to do anything.
She shouldn't be shy.
My husband is weak.

When I have these thoughts about my kids and husband, I am paralyzed with worry and contempt and "fix it." You are amazing to do so much for your business and your parents while you are carrying these thoughts in your head. I can see that if they just move, the thoughts go away. Problem is that they don't seem to be interested in moving. Makes sense that you would then plan to turn up the heat to get them to move out. Problem - more heat equals more rules and enforcement and big time tension with this wonderful husband, polite young man and shy young woman. So, what to do?

My advice is to get a good friend who is a good listener and question the beliefs that are causing the stress.

Take each of your beliefs above and ask a friend to ask you these four questions for each. Take your time and answer the questions without defending ("but") or justifying ("because").

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know it is true? What happens in the real world?
3. How do you react when you believe this thought? What happens in your body? How do you treat your husband, his kids, yourself?
4. Who would you be in your daily life without this thought?

Then turn the belief around to 1) the opposite
2)to yourself and 3) to the other and see if any of them could be as true or truer than the original idea. Give your friend three concrete examples of how each might be true.

So, if I beleive: He should pay rent.
The turnarounds would look like:
1. My husband's kids shouldn't pay rent.
2. I should pay rent (would you if a family member offered you a room, a business space, a helping hand?)
3. Rent should pay me? (doesn't quite make sense on this one - or does it? Try expanding the idea to the larger world.)

I also heard that you need more time for you to have a social life, with your printing business from home and your two parents (wow,you ARE amazing! - an 'off the chart" sense of initiative and sense of family duty) I have found that when I clear my mind of the "care" of the adults in my world/home, there is a ton of space for me. An easy way for me to get clear is to ask my self, "Whose business am I in?" There are only three kinds of business - my business, your business, and God's business. When I am in your business - what you should do, be, think, feel - then I am not here for myself. Thus, I have no time for my self and I begin to add more chores for myself as I take on your life.

When your stressful beliefs are questioned, they often fall away as you shine a light on them. With the judgements questioned, you can see these housemates with the love that I hear lurking under the judgements. You might even find the creativity to pay them to run some food to your folks or stuff envelopes in your very busy home business! Then, you can sneak out for a datenight with your husband!!!!!

If any of this makes sense to you, the technique and sample videos of people working their stressful thoughts this way are available at www.thework.com or in the book, Loving What Is. Maybe your friend can watch too.

Welcome to a world where your happiness is no longer dependent upon the actions of others - especially your husband's adult children. I'm excited for you and for your family.

With love and respect,



answers from Dallas on

I'm so sorry! Unfortunately, it seems to me that the only way to get any drive out of them is to stop letting them be teenagers! They are adults, they need to pay their way whether it be by paying you rent or living on their own. Did you ever see the movie Failure to Luanch? It was funny, but so true, why would anyone want to leave a place where the house is cleaned, food is cooked, pantry is stocked, electricity/tv/water/internet is paid for and you aren't the one paying for it! Sounds like the life to me! However, if your husband won't enforce it, it could cause real problems in your marriage and with your step kids. First, I'd tell them they need to pay rent. If they don't pay rent, you need to have consequences thought out...maybe you don't do their laundry, maybe you lock the pantry and they aren't allowed to eat anything, maybe you sell some of their clothes to cover the cost of their rent. One time of any of these consequences may be enough to make the point. But again, if your husband isn't on board, it's going to be very hard as the step parent to enforce any of this.

Another thought just occurred to me...have you talked to your husband about what he wants for his kids? Does he want them to be happy, independant, responsible, etc.? If so, then he needs to teach them that by requiring that. Maybe that approach would help him see how important it is for them to finish school, have good jobs, and be responsible for their own bills. He is really hurting their chances of being productive adults by allowing this behavior to continue.

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

Did the kids inherit this behavior from their father? Maybe you could lovingly let the kids know that they are going to have to start paying rent next month. Of course they are not going to like it, but they can know that rent elsewhere would be much more. Maybe let them know that if they are in school full-time with at least a grade of C, they can have a reduced rent.



answers from Dallas on

Hello A., I feel your pain. It sounds like you need to get the husband on-board or tell him "it is either them or me". You cannot do it all by yourself. If you have a strong relationship with your husband, he will support you to the bitter end and the kids will learn a good lesson from it. Don't let them run over you. They are working and making money so they need to learn to budget it while living out on their own. They can room together but living in your house and letting you do everything is completely wrong. I wouldn't trust them with my elderly parents since they aren't ambitious enough to try to take care of themselves. You will have to be the bad guy and decide what ever happens will be the best for you, not them. Their existance in your home is affecting your relationship/marriage and they will not do nothing about it until you put your foot down. Believe me, I have been there and they will thank you in the end.
Good luck.



answers from Dallas on

First of all, you're going to have to get a concrete plan made with your husband involved. Even if its something you come up with, he needs to agree and be there to enforce it with you. If he's not willing to take the first step, take it for him. Even if you are the one to talk to them to let them know the plan, he needs to be there as support.

Secondly, formulate your plan. Set deadlines for things to get done. For example, by August 2009 your kids must either move into their own apartments (maybe they could be roommates together) or start paying rent plus assist you with the house chores, your business, or helping care for your parents. And once you come up with your plan, you and your husband should check in with them...ask them how their apartment search (for example) is going. Maybe even keep a calendar up, checking off the days...they need to know you are serious and its not something that's just going to resolve itself over time.

Third, make sure you DO make time for yourself and for you and your husband. If that means shutting down the business early one day so you can go have a mani/pedi session or you two going out of town for the weekend, do it. You don't want to have your nose to the grindstone so much that you miss whats going on around you. We only have one shot at this life--enjoy it while you can.

Well, I hope this helps...just my perspective on the situation :)

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