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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1374
Experience:  Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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My stepson is 21 and lives with us. He has had a difficult

Customer Question

My stepson is 21 and lives with us. He has had a difficult childhood, in special ed at high school due to emotional problems, has a history of depression and has attempted suicide twice in the last 3 years. He refuses psychological help, will not take meds, and has been an absolute nightmare at home (stealing money, moms jewelery, acting nasty, refusing to do chores, will not eat with us etc). We have been through 5 psychologists, and has refused to talk with any of them. They all gave up after a while.

At this point, he is sponging off of us 100% and refuses to look for a job or work. He will lay around and play video games, watch TV all day if we let him. We restrict TV/videos, etc, and he then just lays around. We have been pushing him to get a job and pay rent for the last 2 years, and he will do neither. We print off job availability adds every other day, micromanage him applying etc, as he will not take any action otherwise. All to no avail.

5 months ago, it came to a head after he had repetitively stolen money from us (broke into safe, cleaned out mom's purse, etc.) We gave him 2 months to find a job and pay rent, or he would have to leave. We worked with him, trying to help him apply for jobs, and he refused to take any action - saying "just get out of my hair and leave it to me, and I'll get it done". 2 months passed and he had not applied for 1 job.

So, we pushed him out - letting him use my truck (so he had a place to sleep, could get to a job, etc). 3 days later, he attempted suicide.

After a week in the psych hospital for intervention, he came home. We treated him carefully, gave him lots of love, low stress environment for a couple of weeks, and then started to slowly pressure him to find work and get on with his life. Within a few days he had fallen right back into old behavior patterns.

Now we are 2 more months down the road. He refuses to look for work, lays around, smokes pot, and basically has his life on full stop. Underneath all of this is a subtle emotional blackmail that "if you push me to work, I will kill myself"

I'm about out of ideas and patience. Do you have any ideas to move forward?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. I am so sorry and deeply concerned about the problems that you are having with your stepson. Is the main problem that he will not work compared to all of the other problems? Are there other children in the house? Thank you>
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The main problems......


- He will not work or do much of anything to forward his life. Its currently on stop.

- He refuses to grow up, be responsible - absolutely has his heels dug in.

- He has attempted suicide twice in the last 3 years and we are fearfull that he will soon succeed. He wont accept professional help or take meds.

- He sponges off of us, and while not working, steals money to support his pot habit


We are in a tight squeeze. If we push him, he may well attempt suicide again. If we accomodate him - we are part of the problem.

Our 13 year old daughter lives with us. She is frightened of him. About a month ago, she said "I feel like I'm living with a murderer". It breaks my heart.


We cannot continue as we are, however we dont have a viable path forward.

Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
You have done all that you possibly can for your stepson and he has made your family's daily lives a true nightmare. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to get him to talk to another counselor or psychologist. Therefore, someone must be brought to him and talk to him on an on going basis to give him hope that he can turn his life around. If you attend church, maybe one of the pastors can come check on him weekly. If not, contact your local suicide hotline center. Inquire if they have counselors that could come talk to your step son. It would be really beneficial if they could provide your step son with someone who has already traveled down his road of destruction but happily turned their life around. He needs to have a role model in his life. He needs more of a reason to live. Suicide should never be an option because it is final. If he ever gets out of control to the point where your safety is in danger, please do call the police. Additionally, it sounds as though he may need to enter a drug rehab center for a lengthy time until he gets his thoughts straight and under control and can rid himself of the demons that keep haunting him. I must say that I fear that it may get much worse before it gets much better so protect yourself and your family and do what you feel most comfortable doing with the suggestions that i have provided. Try to have a good weekend.
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Your step son is basically shutting himself off from the realities of the world. That is no way to live when the world has so much to offer. If he will not seek the help, like I have mentioned, bring the help to him. Do not give up on him. Let him know that you may not like the choices that he is making but that you still love him and want to help him.