I’ve been in a 13-year relationship, living together for six. My partner’s son, now 20, lives with his mother. He’s stayed with us every other weekend, less since he’s older.
His mother’s single, has another child from another relationship, and has a gambling problem.
She’s moved and changed jobs many times. Her son’s bright, and has excellent computer skills.
He’s been trying to start college, but because they move a lot, it’s challenging. He asked to stay with us for the summer.
I arranged a lead to a job but he said it wouldn't be worth it, while only staying for six weeks. We gave him birthday money, which he went through quickly.
He told us he lost his Smartphone. We said he’d have to get another one on his own. He asked us to co-sign for a student line of credit, which we declined. We’ve given him money and gifts in the past, and he’s told us his mother would pawn them.
As he was leaving our building, we saw him on our condo's cameras with a cell phone. We were just looking to see he was picked up. We were shocked.
He’d told us his mother didn't have a cell phone and her credit’s ruined. I confronted him. He denied that the phone was for her. He later sent several frantic emails insisting it wasn't true, and then a phone call.
His father told him he loved him, but he saw what he saw, and was disappointed at the attempts to take advantage of our good nature.
Now his son won't communicate.
We forgive him, but he’ll have to earn our trust again. I now fear that his mother's way of dealing with problems has spread to her children.
I know young people are often caught in lies. We just don't want this to be part of a lifetime of bad decisions for him. Should we say that we may’ve made a mistake (and proceed with caution)?
His father needs to find a way to meet with him, first alone, since some of their chat will be about his mother.
He should tell his son that you both understand if he were trying to help his mother, but that deceiving you two was hurtful.
He should say that it’s time he handles his own adult response to his mother’s addiction to gambling. He already knows that she’d end up pawning the phone.
Enabling her just adds to her lifestyle of risking everything to keep gambling.
And doing things sneakily, even if to help her, reflects badly on him.
Instead he needs to find his own way to work for things, and help her when he is willing to have her use it or lose it.
Then, father and son need to talk about how he’s going to get through school. Any financial help he needs should be paid directly by his father towards fees, not to a loan his mother can beg to draw on.
Also, his son needs to renew communication with you both. If his mother’s ever in some dire trouble that affects him, e.g. nowhere to live, etc., he must know he can count on you two, that this incident’s forgiven.
The approach for all of you is to be realistic and honest, without outright badmouthing his mom. He’s already very conflicted in his loyalties, which is natural in this case. He needs good guidance, and you all need mutual trust.
Whenever my wife gets stressed, she turns on me saying that everything that’s wrong in our life is all my fault.
I work hard but my job only produces enough income for our current lifestyle, with few added luxuries. She knows this, but often gets frustrated and vents.
I can’t risk changing jobs when our two kids are both approaching college. Meanwhile, her own job has limited income but she won’t change either because of the risk of not finding something better.
I feel her disappointment in me, and it hurts.
Tired of Blame
Recognize that she’s actually disappointed in herself but finds no solutions.
Suggest that you brainstorm together any ideas for boosting your lifestyle. There’s the practical way – both of you taking on a part-time second job. And the emotional way – more affection, more fulfilling and affordable activities (walking, hiking, community sports, movies, etc.).
Make it clear, that it takes two to improve a shared life.
Tip of the day:
Young people with troubled lives need to maintain trust with their supportive family/friends.