stepson will never leave the house

by jim
(arizona)

my problem is this, My wife will not make her son of 23yrs old look for a job. she lets him have free roam of the house. hes up until 3am playing video games and smoking pot. he has a girl friend that lives with us for the past year and my wife treats her like a daughter. Im tired of working all day to come home and see them sleeping. im tired of getting up and going to work while they are still sleeping. he also has a school loan that he has not paid for 5 months. when I bring this up to my wife it always becomes a argument she acts like I hate her son when i'm only trying to help him.

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Apr 26, 2014
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Blended Families & Addiction
by: Don Carter

Hi Jim,

You are in a tough spot because blending families is difficult in even the best of circumstances. Add addiction/substance abuse to the mix and it becomes 100 times more difficult at a minimum.

This is because both issues affect everyone in the family. In your wife's case she is a mom and the maternal instinct is very strong, so it is more difficult for mom's to let go than it is for us dad's. (And, of course, it's even easier for step dad's to let go)

First Issue: Addiction comes with a complicated set of family dynamics which includes enabling behavior. If you read the piece on enabling (below) you will see that our instinct for love is the root of enabling behaviors. Our instinct to help and "get through" to our loved ones betrays us and becomes a trap for the chief enabler. Chief enablers get just as addicted to the care-taking and rescuing as the user does to their drug of choice - both end up with impaired judgment and loss of control over their behavior. Many times treatment is required for enablers as well as addicts.

Enabling Behavior - Loving Too Much"

Second Issue: In blending families there is an automatic triangle that results: with mom in the middle, in this case, between her child and her husband. Without a strong love, commitment to partnership, and problem resolution process that by itself (take her son's substance using lifestyle out of the picture) is difficult enough to tear families apart by itself.

Third issue: your can get sucked into a special kind of enabling by trying to "get through" to your wife. You may try anger one moment, ultimatums the next, reasoning the next, tears the next, threats of abandonment, actually moving out, withdrawing into silence, - etc, etc. ALL in an attempt to control her enabling behavior.

This complicated picture requires sorting out. Most often counseling and/or Alanon for you is a good place to start - help and expertise for the one person in thew family who is most able to stand back and look objectively at the chaos. There is a chance that a good counselor can help you sort it out and develop a plan of action for what to do that might be effective.

When one person in the family changes, it has a ripple effect on the rest of the system - including the dynamics listed above. This is not a guarantee that your family will survive. In fact, it may not because you can only control your own behavior and choices. They will either respond or not. But you can keep from losing your own sanity if you give these issues the time and attention they deserve.

Hope this helps,
Don

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