I’m a male, 45, doing well professionally, and have two college-age children from my previous marriage.
I’ve been in a happy second marriage for ten years, with a son, age nine, and a daughter, age seven.
But I’m shocked at how my older children have become extremely “entitled” in their attitudes, and lazy.
They live with me and their step-mother half the time. Neither she, their mother, nor I raised them toward the self-centered, unhelpful, uncaring manner they’re both now displaying.
Yet, many of their friends who also came home from college due to the coronavirus lockdown here, started working on or creating useful projects… e.g. helping out at a food bank, making and selling masks for only the cost of their materials, etc.
When I suggested that my older kids get involved with something useful, they flat-out said they just wanted to hang out or be in the backyard pool once it opened.
I’m now back at work, and so is my wife.
Now, these older kids want to have their friends over to the pool when we’re not home, and insist they’ll “look after” the young ones and still keep social distance.
But they’ve shown no sense of responsibility so far.
Meanwhile, I have a father who’s seriously health-compromised, for whom I must bring food weekly, but I get no offers of help.
How do I deal with behaviour so unlike all that I’ve taught them in the past about responsibility and respect?
With their college lifestyle interrupted by the pandemic, these early-adults were forced (like many others) to return to moving between two homes and two parents’ somewhat different lifestyles, plus young half-siblings in at least one of the scenes.
Rather than rise to the needs of others, they both responded by feeling put-upon.
They needed firm direction with definite expectations - e.g. each preparing a family meal once per week, taking up a unique useful task such as baking bread, etc.
They also needed to feel welcome at home, even if their presence was an interruption.
Now is the time for parents and kids alike to talk openly with concern as well as caring, not time to throw up your hands as their father.
Start from a base of working together… they want “freedom” from the former pandemic stresses. You want freedom from worrying about pool parties getting out of hand, and about everyone’s safety.
Discuss making a deal with safety, not distrust, as the main element: example, the pool is available only after one homeowner returns, but only to a specific and limited number of guests.
If trust is broken, the pool gets drained and everyone suffers.
Be clear that you will do this, even though it punishes all, unfairly. It may be the most meaningful lack of entitlement for only them vs. family cohesion, that they can understand.
After the lockdown started, my ex-girlfriend sent a text saying she was bored, and I must be too, so why not have a little action together like the “good old days.”
It was a good tease, except that we broke up when I found her cheating with my work-mate and dumped them both.
What makes people think they can hurt you deeply, then reel you back in whenever they want?
No Second Chance
Someone who’d cheat with your work-mate isn’t likely to be sensitive and thoughtful. Your ex is a user as well as a cheater. Stay clear of her.
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother’s efforts to encourage her two teenage sons to have healthy diets and keep weight gain under control (June 23):
Reader – “The way to teach children about a healthy lifestyle is by example: Provide nourishing food, occasional treats, and go on family outings such as biking and hiking.
“However, teens are teens and have friends, and will go to MacDonald's with them. By harping on their weight, this mother could be setting the boys up for negative body image and a life-long eating disorder.
“Her husband is right. She must stop viewing her sons through her own insecurities, and lay off the criticism.”
Ellie - She needs to recognize that her frustration is increased by remembering her own pain of formerly being obese.
Also, she feels a guilty disconnect between her professional nutritional expertise and her sons’ preference for disregarding it.
But this is about them, not her.
Tip of the day:
When young adults behave like spoiled teenagers, they’re looking for boundaries that have meaning for them.