Home World I’m scared of my stepson – Chicago Tribune

I’m scared of my stepson – Chicago Tribune


Dear Amy: After a very difficult divorce and a few years single, I married a wonderful partner last year. He brought his 20-year-old son into the marriage.

Since arriving at my home, the son’s prospects have devolved. He quit college. He lost his job. He now sits in his room all day. When he runs out of funds for nicotine or marijuana, he loses his temper and shouts at my husband, demanding money.

We don’t know what to do. We fear he is seriously depressed — how could he not be? But at the same time, he is scaring me.

His language is violent and his mind seems irrational (he often repeats that a minimum wage job is not worth his time).

He has hit my husband and he has stolen money from my wallet. I’m worried about my safety and that of my cat who shares the house with him alone during the day.

We don’t know what to do.

We don’t want to kick him out, possibly driving him toward further addiction, homelessness, or worse.

But living in increasing fear, with no real end in sight, is becoming impossible as well.

Please advise!

— Anxious in Boston

Dear Anxious: Your stepson is not the only person in your household whose prospects have devolved. Your entire household is at risk.

This young man needs immediate intervention.

If he is violent toward your husband, you or your household pet, you should call the police. This is the appropriate and natural consequence of his behavior; it is also important for you to feel protected and safe.

If he is depressed (it sounds as if he is), his marijuana use is not helping, but is likely masking some symptoms while making others worse.

Boston is a great city with outstanding medical care presenting options for treating substance use disorders and mental illnesses.

You and your husband should recognize this for the crisis it is and act immediately to find the best assessment and treatment for his son.

You could start researching options by contacting your family physician, the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Help Line (masshelpline.com ), and looking into treatment types and options at Mass General and McLean Hospital.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (samhsa.gov ) offers a 24-hour helpline (800) 662-HELP.

Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com ) has a database listing treatment centers in Boston.

You and your husband should also pursue “friends and family” support, in order to connect with other parents who might be experiencing a similar crisis in their household. Al-anon.org and Mar-anon.com offer both in-person and online meetings.

Dear Amy: I had a pretty major crush on “Annie” in high school, but I never acted on it. Our 20th reunion is coming up this summer, and I’m wondering about the best way to act on it now. From Facebook, I see she is planning to attend the reunion and she is single. After a brief marriage, so am I.

I’m wondering about the best way to make use of the limited time I have during the reunion to somehow win her over.

Your thoughts?

— K

Dear K: If you are connected on Facebook, you could start by sending her a message, saying that you understand she is planning to attend the reunion. Tell her that “Two decades is a lot of ground to cover, but I’m looking forward to catching up.”

At the reunion, greet her warmly, don’t drink too much, and try to discern if she is interested in engaging in conversation. Don’t come on too strong. Be the cool guy.

Reunions can prove to be fertile ground for reviving — or starting — relationships. If she is interested in you, she will demonstrate that by seeking you out. If there is a spark, you can build on that later.

Dear Amy: Your response to the mother whose child cut her own hair [“Worried”] was both funny and dead on.

My son cut his hair at a time when he had no teeth and was pale as can be from reoccurring tonsil issues. He looked like one of those birds the mother throws from her nest. I took photos. LOL!

I am a hairdresser in a Philadelphia neighborhood shop. Instead of parents chalking it up to a “rite of passage,” as they should, there are parents who severely chastise and terrorize these poor kids.

I wish we could get the word out that this is a normal thing to do.

— Jeanne

Dear Jeanne: The huge response to this question has been illuminating.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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