Dear Amy: My stepson is 22 years old. He has a room at his mother’s and at my house, but he stays most of the time with his girlfriend at her house.

Still, he expects us to “keep” his room with all of his things hanging in the closet for whenever he wants to pass by, and he gives no notice.

Part of this problem is obviously the guilt of my husband’s “divorced father”. It is her only son and her youngest child.

When my husband and I moved into a new house that we bought together, I was hoping that would change. The son was very helpful after the move, but then disappeared to stay elsewhere. Otherwise, when he is with us, he helps little.

I’ve got a habit of not making it “comfortable” here, but it feels really passive-aggressive. We joked with him about moving, but his dad won’t just ‘throw him to the curb’, which I think is overkill since he has three houses.

I feel very resentful. He quit his studies a few times, gave up his scholarship money and put his mother in debt by co-signing student loans.

He now has a high paying job in construction and just can’t grow up!

I don’t understand that, because my kids (like me) were dying to go out on their own when they were 19 and 20.

Should I just sit down and simmer? My husband and I have talked about it so many times and I think it’s up to my husband to make this happen.

Your advice?

– Market on

Dear Stepped On: You want your stepson to “grow up”, but it looks like he is growing up. His path has been tortuous, but if he works hard full time, then I predict his commuting will gradually slow down until he feels secure enough (financially and otherwise) to land in his own home.

His girlfriend (or other partner) will likely influence him to root further away from his bedrooms in his parents’ houses, but I think you should be patient for now.

My (perhaps counterintuitive) feeling is that young men tend to start adulthood a little later than young women, especially if they have options.

You could help inspire new behavior by saying, “You really need to call before you show up. It baffles me when you arrive and I don’t expect you.

To encourage him to call is to remind him that he does not live with you, and therefore his presence at home should be more at your discretion than his. It is a small step towards liberation.

If he doesn’t land somewhere else in the next year or so, you and his dad should give him a firmer push – not a scramble, not a kick to the sidewalk, but maybe help him find. an apartment he can afford.

Dear Amy: When my sons were growing up, I tried to teach them to treat women with respect (the way I wanted to be treated).

It’s funny, but mothers today don’t seem to care that their daughters treat their husbands with respect.

My daughters-in-law have no idea how lucky they are. One of them was so sassy to me it’s shocking how disrespectful she is, but everyone is supposed to treat her like royalty. She constantly plays the victim and treats me like her subordinate.

The other stepdaughter is a slut. His house is a mess. Sad!

Parents today seem to be absorbed in their own progress and ignore their responsibilities.

– Mom

Dear Mom: What about those parents who have taught their sons to passively tolerate such disrespect, nerve and neglect, that they won’t even stand up for their own mother?


Guess your sons deserve better, but confident, self-assured, and emotionally refreshed men tend to choose more suitable partners.

Dear Amy: I don’t agree that “Wondering” should tell her friend about her husband’s affair.

I told my husband years ago that he could cheat as much as he wanted as long as I didn’t know.

Wondering’s problem is his problem to be solved. But she should NOT solve it by ruining her friend’s life!

– Still married

Dear Bride and Groom: I appreciate your own choice, but if your husband had ever cheated on you and had a long and public relationship with another person (like “Wondering’s” did), I wonder if you would continue to prefer the ignoring.

Knowing about infidelity doesn’t always ruin your life, even if it ends the marriage.

You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

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