Mother continues to treat grown son like a child

Published 8:23 am Thursday, July 8, 2021

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DEAR ABBY: Several months after we met, my partner asked me to move into her home. That was three years ago. She told me she had a son who was living with her, but that he would soon be moving into his own place. I have never loved anyone the way I do her, but her son is a different story.
What she didn’t tell me before I moved in was that he is 37 years old and hasn’t worked more than three weeks in his life. He is not physically or mentally disabled. In fact, he is extremely bright in the tech field. He is totally dependent on his mother to pay for everything, including his car. He buys nothing.
She gives him a hefty “allowance” for doing her yardwork. He has no shame about being a slacker, and she keeps saying she wants him out on his own, but she sets no deadlines. I want her to set a departure date. Her son has to grow up, get a job and move out six months after that, just as my daughter and son both did. They now have families and are economically sound.
I want my partner and me to have our own home together. She’s pushing marriage, and I’m thinking I should use my head and move back to Florida. I have no security here and I do not want any responsibility for him. Any advice? — SMARTER WOMAN

DEAR SMARTER WOMAN: Your partner may be pressing for marriage, but you absolutely shouldn’t do it under these circumstances. Set a departure date at which time either her son moves out, or you do. I agree that the man (37!) needs to move out and accept responsibility for himself, but it won’t happen as long as Mama is his enabler.
DEAR ABBY: At family gatherings, I can’t get a word in edgewise. When I try to join the conversation, invariably someone — usually my wife — cuts me off, dismisses what I have to say as “fiction” and shuts me down. It is extremely disrespectful and I feel humiliated and embarrassed by her comments. My silence does not mean consent.
She and the family live by the rule that the one who speaks loudest speaks best. I have complained privately to her to no avail. She won’t admit there’s a problem. She says these verbal free-for-alls are a part of her “culture.” I love her and the family, but have begun to withdraw as much as I can from these gatherings. For what it’s worth, I’m fairly well-educated, stay reasonably well-informed, have traveled quite a bit and believe I could add worthwhile and valid input to our gatherings, if I had the chance. Please advise. — UNHEARD MAN OF THE FAMILY

DEAR UNHEARD: You may be the “man of the family,” but your wife assumed the dominant role the first time she dismissed what you were saying as “fiction.” You may love her and her overbearing, disrespectful family, but what has been going on is a part of no “culture” I have heard of. Nothing will change until you either insist that she be sensitive to your feelings, treat you with respect and refuse to attend gatherings if you are not allowed to fully participate.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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