Q. I have a 22-year-old stepson who is immature and irresponsible. He has been attending classes at a community college for four years and has yet to earn a degree! He spent some of his financial aid money last year to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. (His fiancee’s mother has now let him move into her home.) He needed $500 worth of repairs for his car, and instead of fixing it, he went out and bought a $3,000 car with financial aid money. That car broke down in a week.
He took out a student loan for $8,000 because he needed money to pay off his credit cards. After all this, he borrowed $600 from his grandma for school supplies and she called my husband saying she needed her $600 back, so my husband paid her back, but did not require his son to repay us!
What should we do? My husband states we should do nothing because his son is grown and can make his own decisions. He says he has talked with his son and he won’t listen, so he has to suffer the consequences of his decisions and actions.
I think he needs some tough love and I have told my husband that the only times his son should be given money from us is for his birthday.
SHAKING MY HEAD
A. Your husband talks a good game, indicating that he knows what to do but is simply not ready or willing to do it.
You should work as a team to influence your stepson — and protect yourselves from his poor choices. Urge him to get a job. (If he values his education, he can attend classes at night.) You should never give him money. Nor should your husband repay money the son has “borrowed.” The reason your husband should not leap in to repay debts and repair relationships is because when he does this he is basically preparing the “mark” for the next loan.
Your stepson may be committing fraud by using government-approved loans or financial aid for purposes other than his education. At the very least, his financial decisions are terrible. He needs financial counseling from a professional (not a parent).
You and your husband cannot prevent others from enabling this young man. But if his father loves this young man, he will help him to find work, not another infusion of cash.
Q. I have been seeing a guy I went to high school with. We seem to have some common ground.
We talked about what we were looking for, and I said that I wanted a relationship. At first, he said he did not want a serious relationship, but then he said he wanted to take things slowly and see where things went.
He told me he was not the type to play games. Since then he has not texted me or called at all. If we do communicate, it is because I text him.
I do understand he is busy (going to school and working), but I just don’t know what to make of all this. He is a great guy, I really like him, and we have a lot in common. I just don’t want to waste my time if he’s not interested.
CONFUSED IN COLLEGE
A. This guy told you he doesn’t play games — and he isn’t playing games. He simply is not interested in having a romantic relationship with you. If he were interested, he would initiate contact with you.
You’ve been honest and straightforward. Good for you. Now you should move on to develop a relationship with someone who is interested in having one with you.