Stepson squandering school, money
DEAR AMY: 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 last year to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. 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 says we should do nothing because his son is grown and can make his own decisions. He says his son won't listen, so he has to suffer the consequences of his decisions and actions. I think he needs some tough love.
Shaking My Head
DEAR SHAKING: 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. He could attend classes at night. Never give him money. Don't repay money he's "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.