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adult step son and his family have lived with us three times in 1st two years of our marriage (Long)

I love my step son and his daughter, but he became a parent at 19-years-old and has never stood on his own two feet. He is now 25 with two children by two different mothers, neither his wife. He and his then pregnant fiance and my step granddaughter have lived with us repeatedly, not to mention he and his daughter's mother lived with my husband before we were married. We are contacted last minute for overnight stays and what is offered as a one-on-one  visit with my five year old step granddaughter, only to find out it really is a matter of them not choosing to have child care. They live in another city hours away. My step son's fiance seems to not have any responsibility for his first daughter, although they have been engaged for over a year. His fiance has very little responsibility in that she is over 20 with no high school diploma or job or intention for either. My contact with her is now limited due to her lack of gratitude and understanding for the sacrifices we have made for them - housing them for free for months at a time repeatedly, and we hadn't even celebrated our second anniversary. My step son is my husband's only child from his first marriage. I am his second wife and going crazy picking up and cleaning and doing laundry for them and last minute child care for the last time. I have no chldren of my own, so of course, I love my step son and his children, but at a certain point I think it is time he learned to stand on his own two feet and not expect us to literally care for them, clean for them, house and feed them anymore. I have warned my husband that I cannot take the stress of this, and if they move in with us again, it very well could cause either a nervous breakdown or separation. Now due to such a harsh winter our very old home is falling apart around us and my stepson wants us to take the five year old on her spring break from school because his fiance wants to take their baby with fiance's mom to another state at that time without the five year old. The five year old seems left out a lot, and normally we would love to see her, but with tubs and tarps and leaking roofs, and furniture pushed into rooms to avoid water damage, we really do not have the best situation at this time. To complicate things even more, my husband had a stroke and is still recovering, and I have major depression that seems to have reared it's ugly head shortly after we became married. I love my husband, but I can't take the stress of my step son's inability to be a responsible adult anymore. I need weeks in advance notice for visits from his family due to the many appointments we have scheduled regarding both of our health. My step son gives me less than 24 hours notice, sometimes even the day of an impromptu visit they will say they want to stay the night, instead of letting us plan and clean and prepare for them. I can not take it, and it is causing me great distress. Any suggestions on how to delicately communicate no room at the inn?

Re: adult step son and his family have lived with us three times in 1st two years of our marriage (Long)

  • I am childless with two adult step children, and understand your situation pretty well. What has helped me is having very strong boundaries and follow through. Start by just saying no and sticking to it. The hard part is having your DH being on the same page. If DH isn't inthe same page you are screwed
  • I am so sorry to hear about your situation, that sounds pretty stressful. My mother-in-law is in a similar spot with her oldest son with the last minute "visits", drama, etc., the only major difference is that my brother in law has 4 kids (all under 6 years old, including a newborn). He, the kids and his various girlfriends have been in-and-out of my in-laws house for years and have very little respect for his parents, but my in-laws continue to help them out for the sake of the kids (which I totally understand!).

    The only thing I can really suggest is to make a plan with your husband and stick to it. Talk to your step-son together and tell them that as much as you'd like to help you can't at this time. Explain to them the safety issues and that you guys simply aren't up to it. It's hard, but you guys need to be on the same page and at some point need to say no.

    If you do decide you want to help them out with childcare could you maybe make a plan--like every other weekend possibly watch the kids, or something, as long as they give you a certain amount of notice? And put restrictions on it (like if they all stay with you, they have to pitch in with laundry, meals, etc.) Another thought would be to see if there are local day-camps in the area for the 5 year old to go to. That way if you do decide that the 5 year old can stay with you, she has something to entertain her during the day and you guys only have to worry about the evenings.

    Sorry I don't have many suggestions, just sympathy since like I said I'm seeing this same type of scenario play out in our family. Best of luck!
  • Like the other PPs, there is nothing wrong with saying, "I'm so sorry, but between home repairs and extensive medical care and appointments, we are not in a position to take care of granddaughter at this time."  But that message needs to come from your husband.

    I'm sure it will be a shock to your step son.  It might even be a shock to your DH.  But, quite frankly, your DH is really not in a position to disagree with you on this.  Because of his medical problems (and I wish for you all a swift recovery) and current dependence on you, you are flat out past the end of your rope.  You truly are not able to take on any more responsibilities at this time and everyone needs to understand this...whether they like it or not.

    And definitely a big no on them ever being allowed to move back in.  You are WAY nicer than I would have ever been.  It's bad enough when adult children live on the largesse of their parents with no contributions or even attempts to find a job, but to not even take care of their own housekeeping!?!  Outrageous.  If that had been me, their dirty clothes, dirty plates, and whatever other stuff they left around would have just been dumped haphazardly on their bed every day.

  • Thank you to those who have replied with suggestions. In the end it was explained by my husband to his son that we were not in a position to care for the grandchild at this time. Nor will we have house guests for any period of time until repairs are made and the house is solid. I don't think my stepson likes it, nor has he returned any phone calls from us, just texts, but that is the way it is. They truthfully took over the house and didn't do much to really clean up after themselves or the grandchild.(or their dog or cat for that matter.) Now they have an infant and a five year old.They are talking about relocating back to our area, and I have anxiety over them possibly living with us until they have secured their own affordable housing if they do. My husband promises me that they will not move in again, but I just don't buy it. He still feels guilt over the divorce even though it wasn't his idea. It seems as though he feels he must make up for lost time when his son moved further away than a local area. But that was when he was a child, and now it's a whole other ball game. My stepson's fiance won't even bring her plate to the sink when she visits now, and runs hot and cold towards me as though I'm the one in the wrong, basically because I will not be manipulated by her self centeredness vs. when she'll turn on the charm to get what she wants. In fact, when they last dropped by thinking they would be able to stay over, and my husband (after much discussion with me before they arrived) explained they couldn't stay over as we were not in the position to host them, stepson and fiance visited friends for an hour and a half with the five year old under my care. When they decided to leave, stepson came in for five year old, and fiance and baby never even came in to say good bye. Step son said they were in the car. Such blatant rudeness is beyond me. But I refuse to be emotionally manipulated anymore. I love the children, but I will not put up with the lack of consideration any longer. My husband has been more than generous with his home, but it is now our home and I can't have them thinking it's a hotel. Or temporary housing. Because of this, I am regarded as the ugly stepmother, I am the one who sets boundaries and explains to my husband that he must set boundaries with his adult son. The son has caused issues which led to the end of a previous relationship for my husband. That was when he was young and truthfully, it was more innocent then. But is he trying to sabotage my and my husband's relationship subconsciously, I wonder. While I do love my step son, he needs to know that our home is not a flop house for him and his family. Of course, we are concerned for the grandchildren as they are the innocent ones in this struggle, but they shouldn't be played like pawns in a chess game. Even now I'm concerned about the grandchildren because I love them. If my step son and his fiance were mature, like say in their late 30s and more accustomed to responsibility in general - say they both had jobs and a sense of teamwork with my husband and I - it would be another story. But right now I've seen the way they are, and I simply do not have the strength anymore. I really want to thank you again for all who replied. I found it helpful.
  • Good for you!  And if they do decide to move back to the area, they need to know well ahead of time they cannot live in your all's house while they "look for someplace".  You and your DH should also have "babysitting rules", ie any requests for babysitting need to be made at least 24 hours ahead of time and a "request" is not an "automatic okay".

    I moved halfway across the country with only an "Apartment Guide" from the area to help me find a place ahead of time.  And even that was before most people had Internet in their homes.

    I also own a duplex where I rent out the other side.  I have twice had tenants move in "sight unseen", because they were moving to my area from over 1,000 miles away.  One of them had an aunt who lives here and she came to look at the place for him.  The other folks just moved her from the photos and descriptions.

    My point being, although not optimal, it is very doable to move to a new city and have a place to live ready to go.

  • If they decide to move closer to you instead of having them move in with you, pull a "What's your budget, I would be happy to do some research for places for you" and also if they move close enough, start talking to other family & friends for references for babysitters, so that way you can go "We love to see the kids, but we aren't always available, so here are the names of some trusted sitters that I got from people I know." If their income ins't in a good place, do some research for them on how to apply for assistance in your area. Yes, this means work for you, but a lot of it can be done online or with a phone call or two and if it means that they can be better established & rely on you & your husband less, in the long run, that will be better for the two of you. Good luck & wishes for better health.


  • Your husband needs to stick to his guns about not allowing them to move back in.  If they do move back to the area it sounds like another talk is in order.  Lay down the rules.  No last minute drop-offs of the kids, look for a place to live BEFORE moving there and make arrangements for a sitter in the event you and your husband are unable to do it. 

    I'm sorry you were ever put in this position.  It sounds like SS's fiancee needs to look in the mirror when pointing at wicked step mothers.  It doesn't sound like she wants much to do with his 5 year old at all.

    I can't help but wonder, though - where is the 5 year old's mom?

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