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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Been having problems with my wife letting go of her 22

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Been having problems with my wife letting go of her 22 year-old son. He is my step-son. Raised him as my own since he was 4. There has always been a struggle between treating him like a handicap. He was diagnosed with ADHD Attentive Type at the age of 7. I feel my wife has used his condition to treat him like a handicap child or victim. Left a girl pregnant when he was 17. He has had a difficult time becoming a assuming responsibility for his action. I kicked him out of my house at the age of 18 for using marijuana. Supported his daughter completely up until 1 year ago. Did this for my wife and my poor granddaughter. Bought him a used in good condition starter car to help him find work. Last year in July 2012 he loan the car to a friend and the was wrecked beyond recognition. Was living with his maternal grandmother and he was caught using drugs my brothers-in-law kicked him out. If it wasn't for my mother-in-law giving him a second chance he would be in the street. Recently, he started coming around asking for rides at odd times of the day and this has created a lot of pressure for me and my wife to the point that we had an fight this past Saturday. During this time, my wife was still washing for him and ironing his clothes. Recently, I had to fork-out $3,000. to help him get rights because the girl she left pregnant refused to allow us and him see the child. To
prevent from living work because of foot condition he has I also paid $450. for some special sole. Still my wife still feels I do not do enough. This weekend I finally put my foot down and told my wife no more. My wife had a rage episode. I never seen her this angry. However, I felt I needed to get off my chest. Additionally, my step-son and my wife are introverted; thus, become more introverted when confronted with issues they do not want to deal with. I feel comfortable with what I did; nonetheless, I also feel guilt. I do not like to hurt my in spite of what she thinks.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your wife is in a co dependent relationship with her son. It is common when a parent becomes a single parent that they bond very closely with their children as a way to cope with the guilt of having only one parent or separated parents for their child. This causes the parent to overcompensate, thinking that they can make up the loss. It can also be a way for the parent to feel less alone because they substitute the loss of their spouse by caring for their child.

Because of this, the relationship between a parent and child can become unhealthy, which sounds like what might have happened with your wife and her son. So instead of her bonding with you and putting your relationship first, she has bonded with her son and now puts him first. That creates conflict when you set rules that don't agree with what she wants.

What you did was right. Your step son is not showing any responsibility. Even if he does have a disability, he should not use it as an excuse to act out and cause you and his mother trouble. He is an adult now and should be finding his own way, not relying on you for support. And because he knows that his mother and you will back him up, he continues to be irresponsible.

It can be very difficult to set those boundaries with your step son because he will turn to his mother for support instead, knowing that she will back him up. But what she is doing is harming him in the long run. He will not be able to care for himself and that makes him vulnerable.

It sounds like talking with your wife has not helped so far. But it may be worth trying again. Explain to her what you and I have talked about and let her know that while you want the best for your step son, you also want to see him happy and self sufficient. Talk about ways you can make him more independent. Set up a time table of how much longer you are willing to support him and taper it slowly until he finally is not getting any help from you. And make any help you give him contingent on him staying clean from drugs.

If your wife will not agree to this, then you may want to suggest counseling either for you both or for the family. This situation needs to stop so your step son can become independent and you and your wife do not experience further issues between you. And if she will not go to counseling, go without her so you can decide how you want to deal with this issue.

I hope this has helped you,
TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you very much for the rating and bonus! I appreciate it.

My best to you and your family,