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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
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Experience:  Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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Help!!! I am the father of a 21 year old. He is making a series

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Help!!! I am the father of a 21 year old. He is making a series of terrible decisions, huge mistakes and wrong turns. I realize that he should be old enough to make his own decisions but, my wife cannot let go and she is afraid that if things get too bad for him - he may do something rash, maybe even commit suicide. She is so stuck on helping him financially that she would even sacrifice our marriage if it came down to it. He recently quit his job, lost his girlfriend and had a car accident after failing to pay his auto insurance. My wife doesn't want him to lose his job so she is letting him use her brand new car while she drives a sub-compact rental until I can pay many thousands to have his car fixed. I love my wife dearly but, this madness has to stop. He makes bad decisions and gets rewarded for it while I am left holding the bag. We are otherwise good, stable, loving and responsible parents and our 17 year old daughter could not be more different from our son. She is an excellent student, saves her money and is very responsible. I am confused as to how to find a solution. and feel very much stuck in the mud.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 4 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. I am sorry to hear about the problems with your son. Have you ever considered marriage counseling?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
No - we love each other very much and we get along great most of the time. It's just that I believe that we are enabling our son by giving him money everytime he gets into a bind, which is often, and we disagree about how to change that. I'm not denying that I enable my wife by paying the big expenses for our son which allows her to enable him even more but, she cannot accept that she has to say no to him at some point without the fear of him self-destructing. I do not think that our son should be rewarded for failing to pay his car insurance by giving him a new car to drive to work. There needs to be some accountability and consequence but, she is fearing the worst for him so she insists that we continue to just pay the bills in order to save him from himself.
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for responding. Your wife is in fact enabling your son to keep relying upon you both. He knows that Mommy will always come to the rescue to bail him out of his situations. However, he is not being able to learn how to be a mature adult. Slowly, stop doing things for him. You must make your wife realize that she is doing more harm than good. When will your wife allow your son to learn from his mistakes? Sometimes in life we must fail and fall and then pick ourselves up to become stronger and move on. Your son needs to experience how to fail and independently overcome his mistakes in order to feel true success.

Have a heart to heart talk with your wife. Set some boundaries for your son. Decide which things can slowly be taken away.

If you cannot agree in how to handle your son, marriage counseling would do wonders. You need a neutral third party to intervene so that you can get a different perspective on the situation. It does not see that your wife is readily willing to change. This may be an avenue to try.

Additionally, your son may need counseling as well to learn how to deal with the ups and downs in life as an adult.

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