Disrepectful Young Adult

Updated on March 11, 2008
A.R. asks from Coalinga, CA
9 answers

I have a 19 year old step-son who is disrespectful to adults including my husband and myself. He has smoked illegal substances in our new car, taken the car at night and not returned until 12 noon the next day,talked back, and told us he is an adult so we can't tell him what to do. I'm at the end of my rope because my husband, his biological dad won't punish him for anything!!! He just let's him do whatever he wants. My husband even bought him a car and he continues to use our car because he doesn't like his car. We never bought our other older kids a car!!!! He pays for nothing including food, rent, insurance, cell phone, clothes, & gas. Help!!!!!!!!!!!!

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answers from Chico on

Hi A.,

You have your hands full. You have a young man on your hands who sounds like he is very good at keeping people off balance. You will find this in people who are off balance and out of control of themself.

Your step-son may be a "legal" adult, but he acts like an eight-year-old. You may not be his mother however, you are the reigning female authority in the house he lives in. You are within your right to demand being treated with respect. That goes for your husband too. He should insist his son treat his wife with respect.

With the others who have responded to you I must agree. Let the boy experience some "adult" treatment. He needs a job and to pay part of his living expenses while under your roof. The rest of what he makes he needs to hand over to you or his dad to be put away for him so he can eventually move out.

Without mutual respect there will be no rest or peace.

My prayers are with you,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I think that nothing will be resolved unless you and your husband can come together on this. I have a step son and we have had some issues, but my husband would never allow his son to be disrespectful towards me. If I feel he is taking advantage or being disrespectful I bring it up and we talk.

Maybe you could have a conversation about responsibility and how letting his son do what he is doing, will only make him an irresponsible person. Setting boundaries for our children shows them we love them and that we care about the person they will become.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Hi A.,
I have young adult children around the same age. I would tell you at 19, if he is living in your house exhibliting these types of behavior, you are well within your right not to allow him to live in your house. He is an adult. I know you may think or feel that he has no where to go.

We had a similar situation (not quite as serious)my son refused to work only wanted to do his music and hang out with friends. That is not the real world.

This is what we did, we told him in order to continue to live with us as an adult, he had to do certain things -- and if he did not do these certain things, he would be evicted. We told him he had to 1) pay rent (a small amount) -150 per month, this meant he had to work a few hours per week. 2. Clean up after himself 3. Do assigned chores as memeber. My son did not believe that we would put him out. Well he did not live up to his end of the deal, so we gave him a two week notice (as agreed beforhand). Our son CHOOSE to leave, it was very hard for me, because I did not know where he would go. Well he moved in with a friend and actually pays rent and keep his room clean! Amazing!!

Althought it was hard. We had to do it, because that is how the real world works. Its 2 years later and we survived! At 19 your son is still adolescent, but an adult just the same, don't short change him by allowing him to exhibit behavior that anywhere else would never be tolerated. It hard, but tough love is needed. Good luck! TTW, i agee with all the comments so far!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

Since you say your husband will not punish HIS son, you have no power except for the illegal activity. You can and should call the police. You should inform your husband and step son that you intend to call the police if he uses illegal substances in your home or car. I know that this must be extremely frustrating for you.

Step parenting can be extremely difficult when the bio parent doesn't give their children boundaries, this is usually because of guilt. However, this type of situation is what breaks families up. I'm sure that you love your husband but you need to make a decision.
If he is not going to change his parenting, the only choice you have is to leave him or stay and try not to get emotionally involved with his bad parenting decision which you have no power over.
Good luck, that is a tough one.
Hugs to you,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If your stepson insists on saying that he is an adult than he should have "ALL" os the responsabilities of one. The ideal scenario here would be for you and your husband to make a united front and (at least temporarily, if not permanently) tell your stepson that he must move out of the house and be responsible for his own "adult self" (which to a certain extent he is). The problem I see here is that you mention your husbands lack of discipline, and unfortunately if this boy has grown knowing no discipline at all, it may be just too late, unless you take drastic measures like kicking him out, stop paying for "his" bills (cell phone, insurance etc.) And being firm with your decisions. I don't know how long you have raised him too. This makes a big difference sometimes in the way a child sees you, meaning that unless you have been part of his life from very early on, he may think that you, as a step parent, don't have any right to tell him what to do.
So speak to your husband, and do this together, if he loves you and his son truly, he should know that he is just making a bigger loser out of his boy if he countinues to provide no boundaries for him. If he doesn't do this I am afraid to suggest that you should run the other way....Changes sometimes are very difficult to come by, but if this doesn't change it is very possible that it may get worse.
I truly hope it doesn't!

Good Luck!

S. C.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Dude, he is 19 years old.

Well, you could boot him for his own good.

I know, I was 18 when I was kicked out (for less cause!) and have completed a b.a., Master's and am currently in a Phd program. I certainly didn't suffer from having to become a mature adult.

Another option: send him to do some traveling abroad. Having to fend for one's self while still knowing you have support and love and assistance, can be really beneficial and help a kid grow up. There are volunteer programs that go abroad for a variety of reasons, find out what his interests are (maybe he wants to save sea turtles in nicaragua.) Anyway, he may be a disrespectful jerk, but he's yours by marriage, so having a few cool options may help him mellow out a bit.

Best part? A lot of overseas programs require drug testing in order to participate.

I suggest the new New Zealand/Australian Visa for Gap Year aged kids (yours is totally in that age range.) Gap Year is what they call the year between HS and College, many kids in Aus and NZ delay entering secondary schools to get some experience abroad. They do volunteer work, travel, explore. They stay in hostels, with other kids, etc.

Here's the info on this cool visa opportunity (this is the Australian version): http://www.immi.gov.au/visitors/working-holiday/462/pdf/f...

You wouldn't need to find a sponsor, and you can look for great jobs for him online at Careerone.com.au and Ozfreeonline and seek.com.au

He could go to school there for up to 6 months I do believe, and can travel to other countries in the area.

Could be really cool for kids who need independence with structure.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm not sure what you can do if your husband is not on the same page with you but a kid like that would not be living in MY home anymore. Time to let the little bird leave the nest????



answers from Fresno on

Hi A. R-
This might sound harsh but you may have to take matters into yoru own hands. If he wants to be an adult then let him. Take your keys away, give him no money and let him pay his own phone bill. I have an 18 yr old daughter and my husband is her step-father. When she turned 18 we sat downa nd had a talk about what would be expected and what she would have to do around the house. We have ground rules and she knows what will happen is she crosses the line. You should try starting with talking out the issues with your husband and if he still wont give in and handle the problems then you neeed to. After five kids and two grandkids you deserve respect! I pray that you will find the strength you need to get through these times.



answers from Sacramento on

Hi A.! It's time for some tough love!

First, you need to have a united front with your hubby. Quite possibly the biological mom if she's around too.

Since he feels like he should be treated like an adult, try any or all of the following:

The next time YOUR car is missing, call and report it stolen. Make sure he is not on the insurnace for that car and take any keys away that he is in possession of, other than his house key and his own car keys.

Start charging him for what he uses: rent, groceries, his share of the utilities, insurance, car payment, etc. If he wants to be treated like an adult then he should have the responsibilities of an adult. It's a lot of work, but price tag and inventory the pantry and fridge, or give him a bill for 1/3 of every grocery store run. If he runs to the store for something you forgot, don't forget how many times you have had no help with the groceries when you went shopping... You can give him a discount, but this way he learns that this stuff doesn't come free...

It's tough love, I know. Perhaps it's even an extreme, but he's currently on the other end of the spectrum...

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