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“My Boyfriend’s Mother Controls His Life”

“David” and I have been together two years and we’ve been close friends longer than that. I have grown to love and care about him very much. We’ve even talked about marriage, but we’re waiting until we’re a bit older to make an official decision. Right now, my biggest concern is David’s family. See, David’s parents are divorced and have both remarried. I absolutely adore his fathers side, who are fun and loving and accepting of David. However, he’s only over there every other weekend because of the divorce. Otherwise, he lives with his mother who doesn’t treat him with respect that a son deserves.

For example, she treats him a lot like a chauffeur and babysitter. She also expects way too much from him, and when he doesn’t meet those expectations — like, when he was forced to drop out of college because of bad grades or got rejected from another school he applied for — she takes away his phone and car keys she lends him since he can’t afford his own car. She refuses to let him see me. She acts like he’s still a child. I understand the whole ‘While under my roof’ rule. But this is excessive. It’s like she’s purposefully preventing him from getting ahead in life.

I am really trying to like his mother, but I just don’t respect her at all. And it hurts me to not be able to do anything about it. I love him too much to see him miserable whenever he’s around her. He’s told me many times how much he just wants to leave. Should I confront her? Should I just keep telling David that it’ll get better? Should I stay out of it? Stay neutral? I will always support him, of course. I’m just tired of feeling torn… — Lovesick and Lost

As I was reading this, I felt certain the two of you were high school students, or even younger. Then I read the part where you mention David getting kicked out of college, and I was really confused. If David is college-aged and so miserable living with his mother, why doesn’t he move out? I’m assuming he’s not in school since he got kicked out of his first college and hasn’t been accepted elsewhere, so he should be working and earning money to pay rent for his own place and his own car. And if he truly can’t afford his own place, why doesn’t he see if he can stay with his father if he’s so great?? Why is he only seeing his dad every other weekend? If he’s older than 18, he can do whatever he wants!

I have so many questions about this odd situation that I’m not sure I know how to answer yours. But I’ll try. No, you should not confront David’s mother about how she treats her son! Even if it were your place to butt in — which it’s not — what would be the basis of your complaint? That she allows her grown son to stay in her home (I’m assuming rent-free) and drive her car? That she provides room and board for him when he doesn’t seem willing or able to provide it for himself?

And, no, you should not tell David it’s going to get better, unless you preface it first with, “Hey, if you get your act together, …” And for the record, getting his act together is his responsibility — not his mother’s. If he’s not reaching his potential, he has only himself to blame. If he doesn’t like his mother’s rules and feels they’re “preventing him from getting ahead in life,” he doesn’t have to stay where he is and keep dealing with them. I mean, I don’t know about you, but if I’ve got a pair of tight jeans that don’t fit, I don’t keep putting them on day after day, getting pissed at the company that made them because they continue causing me discomfort. I go out and find a pair that fit better. Now, if you really want to be a good girlfriend, I’d tell David it’s time to go shopping.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar callmehobo April 26, 2011, 8:05 am

Wow, so many things with this letter….

First off, If his mother is lending him a car for him to use, especially if it is her car, she is not making him be a chauffeur. She’s doing him a favor. Secondly, you said yourself that you don’t respect this woman. If you treat her like you don’t respect her or anything she says, of course she’s not going to like you! Have you been polite to her? SInce you seem bent on telling her what an awful parent she is, I’m guessing thats a no.

It doesn’t seem like the boyfriend is really in charge of his own life. I know that college isn’t for everyone-but honestly, it’s not that easy to fail all of your classes. Is he even working right now? Is that why he can’t live out on his own?

This might be harsh, but if you can’t handle your bf’s mom constantly intervening in his life, maybe you shouldn’t date someone who acts like a little kid.

avatar baby.blanka April 26, 2011, 9:42 am

Thank you! I felt like such a b-word for thinking that while reading the letter but to me it really just seemed like the mother was trying to help him focus and get by, in the only ways she might know how. I don’t really think it’s excessive to take things away like the phone or HER own car if he isn’t living up to his responsibilities of getting good grades (especially if she is paying for school). She acts like he is a child because he acts like he is a child.

avatar elisabeth April 26, 2011, 10:06 am

“She acts like he is a child because he acts like he is a child.” Precisely! If he was not granted another year in college, that’s his own fault, and I find it really distasteful for the LW to try to blame that on his mother. Just by continuing to extend her home to him, she’s offering her support. It makes sense for her to take away priviledges if it can motivate him to get out on his own and fix his life. Right now, it just sounds like he has his cake and wants to eat it, too. Or, the LW wants to eat it for him….

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't April 26, 2011, 10:05 am

yes, yes and YES! My overriding impression reading this letter is that the LW’s boyfriend is totally and completely immature, and probably living with his mom because he doesn’t *want* to be “out in the real world”.

Sorry, LW, but your boyfriend sounds like a bit of a chump. He’s an adult, and you can’t go blaming his mom for all the “problems” in his life.

avatar mf April 26, 2011, 10:24 am

Yup. If he doesn’t like it when she takes away his car keys and cell phone, then he should start paying for his own car and phone. Problem solved!

Of course, that step takes some measure of maturity that it seems like he doesn’t have.

avatar cat-i-z April 26, 2011, 10:50 am

Yes.. Yes.. to all your responses.

avatar HM April 26, 2011, 8:33 pm

“you said yourself that you don’t respect this woman. If you treat her like you don’t respect her or anything she says, of course she’s not going to like you! Have you been polite to her? SInce you seem bent on telling her what an awful parent she is, I’m guessing thats a no.”

My thoughts exactly! I def don’t want to attack the LW because I don’t know her beyond three paragraphs, but it sounds like she has no right to interfere in this mother/son relationship. If he is so bothered by it then he should have a respectful conversation with his mother BY HIMSELF. It sounds like his mother is trying to motivate him to take charge of his life and find some direction, which he probably needs if he is dependent on her and failed out of school.
Maybe this is unfair, but it could be that she keeps him from you because she sees you as a bad influence on him. If that’s the case (no way for me to know), then you might be able to help him and your relationship with his mother by helping to motivate him instead of enabling his current behavior. He sounds like he is an adult, even if he’s a very young one, and he is capable of handling his own relationships and having a plan to get what he wants out of life. And think of it this way, if you motivated him instead of blaming his mother, then maybe he would be that much closer to preparing for the life you’d like together as a married couple.

avatar mf April 26, 2011, 8:17 am

His mother can only control his life if he allows her to.

I hate to parrot Dr. Phil, but he’s absolutely right when he says you teach people how to treat you. He needs to grow up, move up, become financially independent, and decide what he’s going to do with his life (get a job? go back to college?). If he’s not willing to do these things, you may want to MOA. Dating a man who allows his mother to run his life–that’s a recipe for relationship misery.

avatar Addie Pray April 26, 2011, 8:42 am

I don’t know, I think taking the phone and car away when your child gets bad grades is just good parenting. You should applaud the mom.

avatar BoomChakaLaka April 26, 2011, 8:58 am

I’m not so sure if I agree with you there. This is a college-aged student. If he’s not getting good grades, then let him suffer the consequences. But if you gave him a phone (the car is hers, so she can do whatever she wants with it), then that is for him to use and abuse how he pleases.

I feel that pushing your children in school should only go as far as high school. After that, you should be on your own, especially since you have to choose your major/internships, etc.

avatar Kare April 26, 2011, 9:12 am

She probably pays his cell phone bill.

avatar Maynard April 26, 2011, 9:12 am

I don’t know, if I were paying for my kid to go to college (which I’m assuming is the situation here if the bf can’t afford a car or to live on his own) I would be pretty damn pissed if they flunked out. There aren’t any refunds for being dumb or not trying.

avatar WatersEdge April 26, 2011, 9:25 am

If my college-aged kid has the audacity to flunk out of college under my roof, I will take away his every privilege. There’s no excuse for failing out of school. If he’s not college material that’s one thing, but I don’t get that feeling.

avatar SpaceySteph April 26, 2011, 9:53 am

Amen! Prove that you’re adult enough to handle your responsibilities (study, pay for stuff, etc) or I will treat you like a child. If I had a 16 year old who failed a bunch of classes because he was too busy hanging with his girlfriend, I would lock him down (no phone, no tv, no car, no fun). If he was 18, 19, 20 whatever, either act like an adult or I will treat you like a child.

avatar CollegeCat April 26, 2011, 9:26 am

I think determining how much you want to pay for YOUR CELL PHONE BILL is YOUR RIGHT. If he is not living up to her standards it makes sense that she would not want to pay for his phone conversations anymore. Taking the phone away is an easy way to make sure that he is not running up her bill. I guess she could cancel his line all together and let him physically keep the phone she gave him but somehow i don’t think that’s what the LW had in mind….

avatar Lindsay April 26, 2011, 10:47 am

If he’s living with her, then I think it’s reasonable. If he doesn’t want to go to college or is unable to pass his classes, then he should get a job and move out. It’s perfectly understandable that a phone that she apparently pays for only be available to him if he’s in college. Otherwise, there’s no reason for her to be providing it for him — it would be his own responsibility.

avatar Addie Pray April 26, 2011, 11:35 am

I would agree with your comment about a mature college-aged student, BoomChakaLaka. I guess my emphasis here was on “child.” This is good parenting when a “child” gets bad grades…. I don’t think 18 is a magic number where your parenting stops; there’s certainly a gray area between your teen years and early 20s where some people hold on to their child-like tendancies while others grow up. And by the sound of it, this LW’s BF seems to be a big child still in need of parenting.

avatar BoomChakaLaka April 26, 2011, 11:58 am

My comment is coming from personal experience. My brother isn’t the best student in the world, but my parents believe that if they take something away from him, that’ll be the most effective way to change him.

I think its ok to cut a one of your children off (i.e. not to financially support them), but taking an object away with the explicit intention of giving it back after a certain result is acheived? That’s childish!

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 26, 2011, 12:31 pm

I was assuming that because the mother is his only listed means of financial support, she is funding the phone. In which case, I see it as completely consistent that she would cease financially supporting him in various ways until he gets his act together. Getting a few bad grades is one thing, and certainly not everyone is best served by college, but getting kicked out takes effort.

I sympathize in your brother’s case, because he’s probably doing the best he can. I agree that punishing a student who is putting in all the effort they know how will NOT help them succeed. There are way better resources out there for student willing to put in effort. I just don’t get the sense from this letter that “David” is one of those students who is willing to try.

Where I live there are four universities within driving distance (<10 miles), and four community college campuses. My brother, who really didn't try in high school, and for whom the high school environment was not structured for his learning style (tactile, a little ADD), enrolled in community college because his high school record was pretty poor. He's older, more mature now- and frankly I think the military had a really wonderful influence on his ability to organize and plan- and so he's getting really good grades there, and will transfer to a four-year university next year. Community colleges do a reasonably good job serving students who need a second chance, so I'm honestly a little skeptical of the effort this guy is putting in to school, unless he was kicked out of the only CC in his town. Even then, schools will often take you on with an academic alert.

OK, reining it in. My long, rambling point is, your brother probably is trying, and I am right there with you that punishing good effort isn't going to help a student do better. I just get the sense that this guy isn't matching his opportunities with good effort. Punishment in those cases is what's needed.

avatar Callifax April 26, 2011, 8:56 am

I really don’t see much fault, if any, with the mother here. If she is financially supporting her son (especially if she was paying for the school he flunked out of) it seeks perfectly reasonable for her to take away the car that SHE OWNS. I have to assume that she’s paying for the phone too. If that’s the case, again: within her rights to revoke. I’m guessing that the mom is just trying to make her son see that there are consequences to his actions. I can’t blame her too much for that.

That being said, if he doesn’t like her methods, it’s time to get a job, grow up and move out. Taking that kind of responsibility is part of being an adult, and it’s what he has to do if he wants his mom to stop treating him like a child.

avatar ReginaRey April 26, 2011, 9:00 am

Quite honestly…your boyfriend sounds more like a piece of work than his mother. If he wants to live an independent life free of the constraints of his mother, then he’s welcome to move the heck out of her house! She isn’t “purposefully preventing him from getting ahead in life” – he’s doing that all on his own. His mom isn’t getting bad grades, or dropping out of college. He did those things without the help of his mother. Taking away the things that she is providing him FREE OF CHARGE is her way of trying to kick his ass into gear, not preventing him from succeeding.

It seems like his mother is still treating him like a child because that’s exactly what he IS. Not only is he still financially dependent on his parents, but neither of you seem to have an appreciation or gratitude for the support they’re providing. Last time I checked, real ADULTS aren’t whiney, or ungrateful, or content to live at home if that’s not where they want to be. They pick themselves up, make a lot of sacrifices, and strike out on their own if they want to be independent. Until your boyfriend decides he’s going to do that, he’s absolutely a CHILD.

avatar kerrycontrary April 26, 2011, 9:19 am

I agree. This guy is acting childish and that’s the way he’ll be treated. Tell this fool to get a job.

fast eddie fast eddie April 26, 2011, 9:05 am

It’s way past time for this bf to grow up and take responsibility for himself. LW’s attraction to him is clouding her view. She should MOA and let him fend for himself or she’ll become his source of life needs.

avatar plasticepoxy April 26, 2011, 2:31 pm

This is so true!

avatar Maynard April 26, 2011, 9:08 am

I thought exactly what Wendy did – “oh, they must be in high school/ under 18 if there are still only legal “every other weekend visits” allowed. Wait, college?”

If I had a deadbeat son who dropped out of college and was still living on my dime while doing little to nothing to improve his own situation you better believe I’d be taking away MY car that I lend him sometimes. And you bet he’s going to be babysitting and running errands to help out around the house if he’s living rent free.

Sorry LW, your boyfriend needs to get his own act together

avatar CollegeCat April 26, 2011, 9:18 am

This LW obviously has a very immature and skewed point of view. I’m going to assume she is at least still in High School. To even think to tell her bf’s mother that she is parenting wrong is insane.

The truth is your bf cannot support himself and is probably making his mother regret supporting him when he does things like throw away his opportunity at higher education. He is acting like a child and his mother is treating him accordingly. As an uneducated, unemployed adult your bf should be on his knees thanking his mom every time she asks him to pick up groceries or watch his siblings. If this is all she asks for in return for letting him stay in her home he is lucky. I’m assuming his mom works to support everyone in her household and needs a little or even a lot of help with childcare and errands. Is that so wrong? If not your bf who should be providing these services for his mother? Do you honestly expect her to pay someone to do the things her aimless son can do for free??? If being a glorified chauffeur is all he has to complain about then consider your bf the luckiest guy in the world.

P.S. – if your bf wants to be able to drive whenever he wants, go wherever he wants and use his phone whenever he wants he might want to consider getting a job, buying a car and paying his own damn cell phone bill. Get real!!!!

avatar WatersEdge April 26, 2011, 9:18 am

I was not raised with the idea that once you’re 18, you become an adult and your parents can’t tell you what to do anymore. I was raised with the idea that when you start acting like an adult, by moving out and supporting yourself and taking responsibility for yourself, THEN you’re an adult. Failing out of college and taking handouts from Mommy does not earn your boyfriend anyone’s respect… not his mother’s, not mine, and judging by the looks of the other commentors, not Dear Wendy readers, either.

Both you AND your boyfriend have a lot of nerve expecting your boyfriend to be allowed to do whatever he wants, despite not pulling his own weight. He failed out of college! I assume Mommy and Daddy paid for college, but even if they didn’t, he lives at their house, so when he fucks up, he has to deal with them. He’s expected to be a chauffeur and a babysitter… is that code for “help with his younger siblings”? If so then yes, his mother is ABSOLUTELY within her rights to make your boyfriend do those things. Even if he’s 18, or 21, or 31 for that matter. If he lives at her house rent-free, most likely a privilege given because he is family, then he should help out with his siblings, an obligation he holds because he is family.

I have no sympathy for your dead-beat boyfriend, and if he’s whining to you about how he can’t catch a break from Mommy, then I don’t see how you could possibly want to date this guy. He kinda makes my skin crawl.

avatar CollegeCat April 26, 2011, 9:30 am

My sentiments exactly!!! this girl makes me want to rip my hair out and shriek!!! What is she thinking????

avatar honeybeenicki April 26, 2011, 9:37 am

I was raised the same way. Turning a magic age like 18 or 21 doesn’t make you an adult. Acting like an adult is what makes you an adult. I moved out of my house for all intents and purposes at 16 (still kept much of my stuff there until 17) and have been supporting myself since then. And if I was living at home and living off my mom’s paycheck, I sure in the hell would be cleaning the house, running errands, and babysitting if need be.

avatar mf April 26, 2011, 11:09 am

I was raised the same way. Being a chauffeur and a babysitter is part of what you do when you live with your parents and you’re expected to help out as part of the household.

avatar Painted_lady April 26, 2011, 11:30 am

I dunno, I know a lot of parents out there who said, “Hey, you’re 18 now, figure it out yourself.” If he wants to be treated like an adult, maybe that’s the kind of treatment he should get. Find your own place, get a job, start paying for your own shit – these are not unusual requests to make of a child who insists on being treated like the legal adult he is. My brother dropped out of school and wanted to live with my parents without any sort of rules or consequences, and my parents told him he had to be doing something to support himself and had to go by their rules. He didn’t, so my parents asked him to leave, took his cell phone, and asked him not to come back for more than a weekend until he had his shit together. Funny enough, school seemed like a much better option then.

avatar Desiree April 26, 2011, 9:26 am

Wow. This sounds like an absolute mess. I agree that David needs to pull himself together and act like an adult. I suspect that the girlfriend may be facilitating some of his juvenile behavior by endorsing it. If I were her…well, okay, I wouldn’t be in that situation. But assuming I was, I would fully expect David to get a job, move out of his mom’s place, and start investigating how to return to college. It seems like she is too enamored of him to see the situation straight. Somehow I suspect this is one of the times that the LW is going to write in the comments or in a letter, “But you just don’t UNDERSTAND David. You all are being so harsh. Here are a hundred important details that I didn’t mention!” *sigh*

avatar Thyme April 26, 2011, 3:10 pm

I am also trying to imagine the update letter for this one!

I am guessing there won’t be one because the LW will be embarassed about the unanimously irritated response to her letter.

avatar justpeachy April 26, 2011, 4:00 pm

I was thinking the same thing! I’m really afraid the boyfriend’s mom will eventually have enough of his behavior and kick him out. Then he’ll move in with the girlfriend. She’ll get knocked up and two kids, five years, and no college education later, she’ll finally listen to the advice about this guy. Get out of this before you’re stuck with this guy forever and he just anchors you down away from what you want.

avatar Lulu April 26, 2011, 9:30 am

He had to leave college because of bad grades. His mom didn’t do that to him, moms want their children to do well in college. We don’t know that much about the LW and the boyfriend but I wonder if their is a connection with their spending time together and his bad grades. Because if he is on the phone with her all the time instead of studying I could see that as a reason the mom took the phone away.

avatar Woman of Words April 26, 2011, 10:17 am

Exactly my thoughts too…

avatar jena April 26, 2011, 9:36 am

I hate to do this, but since I got attacked for being a grammar freak in the “would you want someone to write your online dating profile” article, “controls” does not need an apostophe.

Dear Wendy Wendy April 26, 2011, 9:49 am

Thanks. Writing these very quickly this week as I’m leaving tomorrow for a two week vacation and trying to line up content for the whole time I’m gone. Oy vey.

avatar SpaceySteph April 26, 2011, 9:56 am

Thumbs up, just for the use of Oy vey!

Dear Wendy Wendy April 26, 2011, 10:07 am

I’ve been writing about six columns a day for the last week, AND trying to shop for clothes to wear while I’m gone (I’m in this awkward too-big-for-regular-clothes-not-big-enough-for-maternity-clothes stage and I can’t find anything that fits!!), AND trying to tie up all the loose ends one needs to tie up before leaving her home and cats for two weeks. And I haven’t been sleeping because I’ve got big-time insomnia, so I feel particularly cray cray right now. Oy vey, indeed! Hopefully, some time away will be just what the doctor ordered.

avatar nameless April 26, 2011, 11:01 am

You go and have fun in the UK! Don’t worry about DW. Miles will handle it for sure!

avatar BoomChakaLaka April 26, 2011, 12:01 pm

Tunics, Wendy. Tunics and Tights will look perfect on you!

Dear Wendy Wendy April 26, 2011, 12:21 pm

I just wish my boobs weren’t so huge (they’ve already grown a cup-size in the last two months; I’m dreading what will happen when I start breast-feeding). With my DD boobs and growing belly, tunics, or anything without a defined shape, just make me look like one great big apple. Actually, everything looks pretty unflattering right now. I’m REALLY not feeling attractive in this particular stage … but I guess it’s all worth it, right? I’m excited to look pregnant and not just hugely bloated!

avatar TheGirl April 26, 2011, 12:38 pm

Empire waist dresses?

Dear Wendy Wendy April 26, 2011, 12:46 pm

Yes, those work. Hopefully it’s warm enough for them!

avatar TheGirl April 26, 2011, 1:02 pm

Luckily the layered look is in! I’d go with darker colors for the UK and just add sweaters & tights, or maybe a long sleeve shirt underneath when it gets chilly.

Of course, you can always do what I would do and shop when you get there! The Top Shop in Oxford Circle is to DIE for.

avatar TheGirl April 26, 2011, 1:17 pm

I also have the DDs and, while not pregnant, I do carry a bit of weight around the middle. Target actually makes some really cute ones that are super cheap. I like this one (especially for $20):
http://www.target.com/Merona-Sleeveless-Dress-Drape-Durango/dp/B004QPWEC2/ref=sc_pd_gwvub_2_title

You might need a camisole with it, though.

avatar AKchic April 27, 2011, 4:56 pm

Wendy – Motherhood Maternity usually sells some decent clothing in “smaller” sizes for those who are in their 2nd trimester.

You could also go for the stretchy pants that have been in style lately.

I’ve had four kids, and on a good day NOT pregnant, I’m a 36DD. Most days I’m a bit bigger than that. I swear I carry most of my weight on my chest. With my 3rd, he was born in the winter during a cold snap (we’re talking the daily high was -15). Once my milk came in, I was a 34J (yes, I said J as in “Jesus Christ them are big titties!”). Then if I went outside, the milk would FREEZE! And that was with my winter coat. I was not a happy camper. Thank goodness that lasted for a few weeks only. Any longer and I think I would have requested a complete zip code change for the winter.

A helpful hint – do not sleep without a bra. Wear sports bras to sleep. It will help you avoid stretching and stretch marks, plus, it will get you used to wearing them after the baby is born and for when you need to put “nursing pads” in your bras (for when you “leak” at night, both before and after the baby is born).

avatar redessa April 26, 2011, 11:23 am

Jumping on the grammar wagon, I think the first sentence of your reply should read “high school” students. But then again, maybe you really did think they were high. ;)

Dear Wendy Wendy April 26, 2011, 12:22 pm

Ha, that works, too!

avatar jena April 26, 2011, 1:34 pm

Also way to go to me for spelling apostrophe wrong there. Whoops!

avatar sarolabelle April 26, 2011, 9:38 am

Sometimes parents these days pay for an apartment for the son, give them a car and send then give them money every month to live. Perhaps she doesn’t want to do this – which is fine so she does what she can until he makes the decision not to be treated like a child anymore. And an adult who “only see’s his father every other weekend” is funny. The second he turned 18 those court papers were null. Did you know at 18 you are considered a legal adult?

avatar WatersEdge April 26, 2011, 10:32 am

yeah… his wonderful father who treats him with the respect he deserves can’t find the time to see him more than every other weekend…. odd.

avatar WatersEdge April 26, 2011, 10:32 am

meaning… maybe this father doesn’t think so highly of him either but doesn’t have to grit it takes to discipline him?

avatar nameless April 26, 2011, 11:03 am

I am under the impression that somehow the gf and her bf don’t know the legal system. The bf can see his dad whenever he wants, he can move out, get a job, join the military, vote, and do anything that a 30 year old could do except…drink…which is okay.

avatar plasticepoxy April 26, 2011, 2:35 pm

Or rent a car! Most places in the US require you to be at least 26, I think.

avatar crazyayeaye April 26, 2011, 9:47 am

Coming from divorced parents myself, I have a little empathy for David in that choosing which parent to visit and when to visit them even after high school can be very stressful, especially, as I’m assuming the case is here, when the divorce was not amicable. That said, there comes a point when you have to dismiss the judgment of your parents and make choices regardless of their reaction. David needs to take responsibility for his life and become an adult so that he can receive treatment as one. Being called an adult is more than just a factor of age, it’s a status earned through taking on the responsibility of an adult. And right now, David is not an adult. It sounds like he’s not ready to take on that responsibility yet, and therefore he needs to either accept that he is still the child or take steps, such as finding a job, toward taking on the responsibility of an adult. Until he does, his mom will not concede to seeing him as an adult. Unfortunately, LW, these are choices that David has to come to on his own, and there won’t be much you can do to expedite the process. However, you can do him (and yourself!) a service by working on the same process of becoming an adult, showing by example can be a very effective learning tool. Good luck! :)

avatar demoiselle April 26, 2011, 10:01 am

It’s really hard to fail out in most colleges. There’s a lot of grade inflation. Students who have failed the classes I’ve taught only managed to do so by extraordinary means. Is he actually doing his assignments, turning in his papers at any point, either on time or late, or attending class consistently? He shouldn’t have failed out of college, then… unless he’s got some kind of medical issue (acute depression, severe anxiety) which needs to be treated.

I’m afraid my sympathy in this letter is towards the mother. I’m surprised Wendy hasn’t gotten a letter from her as well! I hope that the LW will take her advice–and try to have sympathy for Mom.

avatar Maynard April 26, 2011, 10:43 am

I agree that it’s difficult to fail out of college. I failed exactly one class during college and you know why? Cause I stopped doing my assignments and stopped going to class and probably even missed an exam. I literally stopped putting in any effort at all. And whose fault is that? Mine!

avatar anonymous April 26, 2011, 11:26 am

I think failing depends entirely on your situation. I know people who stopped trying and others who were in extremely hard majors and just didn’t understand the material. His mom sounds very controlling and I wouldn’t be surprised if she picked his major for him. Now, I went to a very prestigious university so maybe they were harder on us. I got a D in one class and I went to every class but it was all based off 3 tests and I didn’t understand how the professor taught. I worked with him outside of class and got extra help but still couldn’t get it. And out of that class I got straight As. So failing is possible…

avatar demoiselle April 26, 2011, 12:20 pm

It certainly does depend on the college, and also on the subject taught/professor. Obviously flukes happen (I took a bio course which was a pre-med weed out, and it was brutal). You went to every class and still got a D in one class–but As in all your other ones. However, if he failed out of college, it was almost certainly due to failing grades in more than one class.

avatar justpeachy April 26, 2011, 4:09 pm

I agree with you. I was a TA for the same engineering class twice and it’s a difficult class. Several students failed and one of them took it again the second time I TAed and failed it again. It wasn’t that he was a bad student, he just couldn’t understand the material no matter how much time he spent in my office.

But that being said, he still wasn’t kicked out of the school. It takes some hard work to get kicked out of school, especially given that most schools will give you a semester to a year to pull your grades up before kicking you out. Did he fail several classes and just give up or did he put in any sort of effort?

avatar Anonymous April 26, 2011, 9:31 pm

I completely agree with you there. And I agree with everyone else that the mother is not being unreasonable if he is being supported by her, and that he should want to do better for himself. I just remember how bad I felt getting a D in one class. It sucked, he must feel like a total idiot for flunking out- honestly, the only people I knew who flunked out of college played video games non stop and never went to class. So I do agree with you. Just wanted to point out that there could possibly be a minute chance of him just being not good at studying/school. Obviously he needs more motivation and his mother is trying to give it to him in this way.

Heather Heather April 26, 2011, 1:32 pm

Ditto. I failed one class, but that’s because we had at least a paper a week due, and I didn’t turn in quite a few of them. I LET my stress get the best of me. No one’s fault but mine.

avatar Bekah April 26, 2011, 10:10 am

One of the reasons I like reading Dear Wendy is the lack of negativity that I have found here. Every single time she answers a letter she never puts the person down but seeks to bring them to a better perspective. Unfortunately, for the comments that followed her advice seem to take a different tone. The LW is in this situation and it is difficult and confusing for her. I hope she can take Wendy’s advice to look at the situation again and reassess her situation. I think it is important to remember that while a person can be right for us, it may not be the right time to be together.

avatar callmehobo April 26, 2011, 10:29 am

I think that most letters do require a modicum of sympathy and restraint, but some letters just need a little kick in the rear.

Sometimes I think you just need someone to tell you that you’re being ridiculous for you to get a real scope on your behavior and opinions. I feel like the LW isn’t so much confused as she is pouting about something that she thinks is unfair. That’s why I think the responses have had a much more acerbic lilt to them.

avatar ReginaRey April 26, 2011, 10:32 am

Acerbic lilt….niiiice.

avatar WatersEdge April 26, 2011, 10:35 am

I am almost never mean to letter writers, but this is just too much. “My boyfriend’s mom expects him to help around the house and pass school, and if he doesn’t, there are consequences to his actions! should I confront her?” I mean… come ON.

avatar CollegeCat April 26, 2011, 3:16 pm

hahahahaha this is literally what she’s saying! Its exactly what got me so riled up. I’m in college myself and although my parents don’t pay my way (just cosign tons of loans) it would be a cold day in hell if I failed out (which is virtually impossible even at the school i go to where profs have been known to use the downward curve- yikes!) and asked my parents to move back home rent free – and oh btw I don’t wanna do chores!!! lol they would chuckle for a few minutes and then kick my lazy a** out!

avatar LTC039 April 26, 2011, 10:25 am

Clearly this lady still controls your boyfriend’s life to a very big extent. Maybe he can move in with his father???
Unfortunately, until he can stand on his own two feet & move away from “her roof,” there’s not much you can do. Confronting her will only make things worse & will allow her to have ammunition against you so she can prevent him from seeing you more.
I’m not sure how old you guys are, but like I said, until he moves out/to his dad’s house, this woman is going to control his life, because she can. It’s sad but true. You either wait it out with him, support him/be there for him, or you leave him if you can’t deal with it anymore.

avatar demoiselle April 26, 2011, 10:38 am

The father might not be willing to take him in, considering that he’s jobless and has failed out of school…

avatar LTC039 April 26, 2011, 11:25 am

True. That’s why I asked… I didn’t read it thoroughly enough, but now that I think about it, maybe the mother has reasons to be so hard on him for what you mentioned. If he doesn’t get his act together maybe you should seriously consider MOA….

Jess Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com April 26, 2011, 10:27 am

Yes, yes, yes. What Wendy said.

avatar Heather Feather April 26, 2011, 10:33 am

Yes, go ahead and confront his mother. Tell her she needs to keep letting her son live there rent free, drive her car, and apparently not have a job. Because that is the way to teach a child to live. (insert sarcasm here)

Good lord girl, take a look at this and realize that if homeboy is college age, it is time to get a job and contribute. I understand how hard it can be to make enough money to live on your own, but borrowing your mom’s car and not going to school seem a little much.

I would say you could help David by helping him look for jobs and maybe apartments when he has enough money saved up.

avatar Thyme April 26, 2011, 3:21 pm

“I would say you could help David by helping him look for jobs and maybe apartments when he has enough money saved up.”

No, I’ve been there; don’t do that. Then YOU will become his mommy! Boy needs to learn to take care of his damn self.

avatar Heather Feather April 26, 2011, 3:33 pm

I’m not saying fill out the paperwork. But clearly this fella needs some motivation and if this girl is gonna be around, it might not hurt to help out. There can be a difference between offering assistance and being someone’s “mommy”.

avatar Sarah April 26, 2011, 3:37 pm

Actually, I don’t think there would be a difference with this guy. I think even assisting him would be 200% more than he’s willing to do for himself.

avatar SpaceySteph April 26, 2011, 8:10 pm

SO true… used to fight with my ex all the time. His dad wrote his college english papers, but I am a much better writer than his father (english is not the dad’s first language so it was mostly grammar/phrasing issues). One time I helped him by checking the grammar in his/his dad’s paper. Fast forward 2 weeks and he’s there asking me to “help” him write the paper, aka do it for him. I refused and never would help him with his homework, leading him to accuse me of wanting him to fail.
Well, he wasn’t wrong. I did want him to fail, a little… better he should fail on his own than pass because he turned in my work.
The point is… well 2 points:
1. You are exactly right that if you “help” him you will become the new mommy, babying him, doing for him what he won’t do for himself.
2. I wish someone would have told me what a HUGE red flag this behavior was. I’m not saying dump him, but be very very careful how you proceed and if he doesn’t grow up soon, its time to get out or he will use you for everything and blame you when anything doesn’t go his way.

avatar SpaceySteph April 26, 2011, 8:29 pm

Oops! Meant to reply to Thyme.

avatar ArtsyGirl April 26, 2011, 10:41 am

this letter makes my brain hurt…

avatar Sailorbabe April 26, 2011, 11:57 am

My sentiments exactly…