≡ Menu

“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.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

{ 131 comments… add one }

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…

landygirl Landy April 26, 2011, 10:44 am

Something tells me that the LW will most likely end up being like this woman she despises. She is angry that the mother is in control because she is the one that wants to be in control. I don’t see it ending well.

avatar Lindsay April 26, 2011, 10:52 am

Sounds like the LW needs to grow up, too. I don’t mean that in a rude way, but like Wendy said, it sounded like she was a lot younger. When you get older, you realize it’s not an “us against the world (and our parents)” sort of thing and that you really do want a guy with an education and/or a job who pays for his own phone.

avatar MAC2011 April 26, 2011, 10:53 am

I think LW and her bf are 18. I have an 18 year old, this is the problem, they THINK they are adults and you should no longer parent them. NEWS FLASH, parenting doesn’t stop at 18 and if you choose to continue to live under your parent’s roof, then chances are they are NOT going to sit around watch you flunk out of college, they are going to try & do anything to get you on the right path. Kids think they are owed everything, they know EVERYTHING and that parents are dumb and have no clue. They don’t realize we’ve been there, done that although we showed respect and feared our parents.

avatar Anne (I Go To 11) April 26, 2011, 11:47 am

Reminds me of a saying I once heard (though can’t remember where): “When I was 18, I couldn’t believe how much my parents didn’t know. When I was 21, I couldn’t believe how much they’d learned in 3 years.”

My point is: It’s a maturity thing. I don’t think it’s necessarily something that can be pinpointed on one generation versus another, for the simple fact that the whole “Kids these days are [insert negative description here]!” argument has been going on forever. Our parents said stuff like that about us, their parents said it about them, so on and so forth. Every generation seems to think the next one is worse than theirs. At any rate, people grow up at different paces; some possess a level of maturity far beyond their years at an early age, and some seem to never grow up. I’m sure at some point we’ve all felt like our parents just didn’t “get it”, but the age at which that line of thinking ceases depends on the individual.

avatar cmarie April 26, 2011, 11:17 am

I’m going to defend the LW and her BF a bit simply because I can sympathize with family making progress difficult. Of course I agree that it’s the BF’s responsiblity to grow up and move out but sometimes it’s not that simple. People tend to have a lot of family loyalty, which is a good thing, but it can also hurt. If say the BF was missing classes because the mother wanted him to babysit and threatened to kick him out if he didn’t then his mother would be contributing to his failing out of college. As a poor college student he doesn’t have many options and being young still he might not have to maturity to make the decision to step out on his own, especially if he knows he can’t afford it. As for the father’s family, there are always reasons why they couldn’t take him in; no room, no money, moving soon, maybe they live far away, maybe they’re meth dealers and want to protect him, etc. Point is, we don’t really know the whole story and while I tend to believe he just needs to grow up there could be extenuating factors. I’ve known parents who have had such high expectations for their kids but couldn’t understand that they’re not practical, something has to give. I had a friend who almost failed out of 10th grade in high school because her parents expected her to be a second mother to her special needs brothers, and it’s not like she could say no to taking care of them; they’re her brothers. Her parents grounded her for a month for bringing home a C and they couldn’t understand that the reason she was doing badly was because she didn’t have time to study. She devoted her days after school to her brothers. I adore my family like no other but Ithey sometimes hold me back. Being there for them sometimes means giving up things for me. I stayed at a crappy job after college so I could stay home and help take care of everybody because they’re my family. I just wanted to cut the LW and BF some slack because we don’t know the whole story. Although, definitely don’t confront the mom. That’s not your place. Talk to you BF about what it would take to get him into a better situation then, and here’s the hard part, do it!

avatar honeybeenicki April 26, 2011, 11:33 am

While I may share some of your sympathy if the case were similar to what you described, I don’t think the LW made it seem like he dropped out of college because he was expected to babysit, etc. The letter said “when he was forced to drop out of college because of bad grades or got rejected from another school he applied for” and I think if it was the result of him having to babysit, she probably would have mentioned it.
I can tell you that something in the language in that sentence makes it seem like LW (and possibly the boyfriend) have trouble accepting consequences for actions – she said “forced to drop out of college because of bad grades,” which alleviates the responsibility from the person because they were “forced” instead of “He got bad grades that resulted in him needing to drop out”.
Sure, there are a lot of reasons he may be still living in her house or not have a job or not living with his father, but we don’t really know those reasons and can only go off what we see. I agree with a previous commenter that it sounds like they are recently “adults” (at least legally) and have decided they shouldn’t be parented anymore but he still needs to rely on his mom for things like a house, food, car, phone, etc.

avatar Christy April 26, 2011, 11:48 am

I completely agree! He wasn’t forced to drop out, HE flunked out. Dropping out is often a choice, but this is plain and simple flunking out.

avatar ArtsyGirl April 26, 2011, 1:11 pm

Also the LW acknowledges that there are a lot of problems with David but her main inquiry was how to confront his mother. She is really looking for permission from Wendy and us at large to go up to his mother and tell her that she is being a bitch. I believe that all of us agree that David’s mother is acting within her rights and probably showing responsible parenting by restricting his free time since he has dropped out of school for bad grades. I keep going over in my head what the LW’s confrontation would look like:
“Hey David’s mom, you need to go easy on him because he has had it really rough and you taking away all his privileges are crimping out social lives”
*Door slams in her face
Because ultimately telling her that she is a bad parent by financially supporting her adult drop out son is probably going to get you banned from the house.

avatar ArtsyGirl April 26, 2011, 1:12 pm

**our instead of out

avatar TheGirl April 26, 2011, 1:23 pm

Yup. Even if David really DID have a case against his mother (which he doesn’t) confronting her for him isn’t going to get you anywhere. It’s just going to make you look bossy and obnoxious. If David isn’t happy, David knows what he can do to fix it. He can go back to school or move out and get a job. Clearly all he wants to do is bitch about it.

avatar Fairhaired Child April 27, 2011, 2:51 am

Agreed! If David isn’t doing well and feels his mom is being to “rough” on him then its DAVID that needs to talk to his mom and figure out a plan of action that suits both of them ie he watches his siblings certain nights of the week but the other nights are reserved for him to “chill/hang out” or chores are done on a specific day each week etc. Or he can have a list of “extra tasks” that will earn him “gas bucks” and extra car time if he does them on top of his other chores.

Its not at all the g/fs place to judge or comment on how the mom treats her son.

Honestly the guy just sounds like he has little to no drive to do anything to benifit himself and maybe thats why the mom can seem like she’s being so “mean” because she’s frustrated at her own son for doing absolutely nothing with his life – so why not put him to work?

sobriquet sobriquet April 26, 2011, 11:27 am

This reminds me of the situation I was in when I was 16 years old. What is WRONG with us Millenials?

avatar HmC April 26, 2011, 11:35 am

Wendy’s right, this letter begs more questions than it answers. In general though, if a non-married significant other lives at home and you don’t like their living situation, it’s entirely up to them to change it, not you.

I like how LW phrases it, that her boyfriend was *forced* to drop out of school due to bad grades. Like he was forced against his will. Getting bad grades, especially grades so bad you get kicked out of school, are the consequence of a series of poor, deliberate choices.

Also LW? When a parent has “high expectations” of their child and they enforce consequences when those expectations are not met… that is called parenting. And in the long run, being a parent to your children shows more respect for them than spoiling them rotten, because you are making them responsible for their lives and giving them tools to actually succeed. Clearly, parenting is what your boyfriend needs right now since he doesn’t seem to have his act together at all.

avatar SpyGlassez April 26, 2011, 6:55 pm

“Getting bad grades, especially grades so bad you get kicked out of school, are the consequence of a series of poor, deliberate choices.”

I have to respectfully disagree with you on this point, though I agree with you on almost everything else. I work as a tutor (and basic writing instructor) at a community college. I have one student in particular whom I have at times worked with for upwards of 3 hours a day. He is failing in basic writing. His college reading prep course – which is the equivalent of 4th to 5th grade vocabulary – is too hard for him. He is functionally illiterate. I don’t say that to put him down, because he tries so hard. But he cannot read, and he cannot bridge the comprehension gap about what is read to him. He has a lot stacked against him – dyslexia, probable aspergers, attention problems. Like I said, though, he comes to the tutoring center for several hours a day and I’m only one of the tutors who works with him. He will not pass this semester, not because of “poor deliberate choices” but because of a combination of the deck being stacked against him and not getting the help he needed when it was young enough to make a difference.

And yes, most of the students who fail my courses choose to do so; I give them every opportunity to succeed. Still, that is not universally the case, and I wanted that to be noted.

It’s possible the LW’s boyfriend is in a similar boat; he may just not be college material. In that case, however, it is time to accept that and move on and make a life – to get a job, move out, stand on his own, as others have said. I agree with everyone about that.

avatar HmC April 26, 2011, 7:58 pm

Learning disabilities and borderline illiteracy would definitely be exceptions to what I stated, though of course as you said I think we can both agree that those situations would be in the minority. Nevertheless, exception noted. :)

avatar fallonthecity April 26, 2011, 11:37 am

Mom giveth and Mom taketh away. LW, I know some people my age (23) who are indulged by their parents in their every whim, so I understand why it might be shocking to some people when a parent puts his or her foot down. You’ll realize in time that it wouldn’t be healthy for your bf’s mom to just keep providing him everything, without expecting anything from him in return.

Encourage your boyfriend to get a job and start looking at colleges or tech schools. Yes, college isn’t for everyone, but I don’t know anyone making a decent wage who hasn’t gotten a degree or certification. If he doesn’t like traditional college, maybe he can learn a trade. Your boyfriend has to learn to take on some responsibility, and if he’s not willing to do that, frankly I’m not sure why you’d want to date him.

avatar TheGirl April 26, 2011, 11:43 am

I don’t disagree, but I would like to add that you can still earn a decent wage without a degree or certification. He could get an apprenticeship with a tradesman (carpenter, plumber, roofer, electrician), be a bank teller, work his way up at a department store, etc. There are options if he doesn’t think he can go back to school. In fact, a good, honest plumber can make a TON of money.

avatar MissDre April 26, 2011, 11:58 am

You still need to go to college to learn a trade… or least you do in Canada… you go to college and THEN do your apprenticeship.

avatar TheGirl April 26, 2011, 12:37 pm

That does not apply in the US. I know several people that became plumbers that did not go to college. I also know a few who became bank tellers and worked their way up to management without a college degree. There is, however, a limit to how far they can go at the bank without a degree.

avatar MissDre April 26, 2011, 7:10 pm

Weird… most trades programs are one year in college here. My brother went to college for 2 years before he could begin his apprenticeship as a millwright.

avatar SpyGlassez April 26, 2011, 7:14 pm

A lot of places will ask for the trade program OR experience, so it could be possible – if it was an older plumber – to get the job based on experience. My friend used to work at a printing press and she had gotten the job fairly recently out of high school. When they changed the requirements to include training/degree (which she didn’t have), she was “grandfathered” in because she’d been there for more than 6 years.

avatar ReginaRey April 26, 2011, 12:08 pm

Either way, though, any of those options require hard work, persistence, and the ability to show up and LEARN something. Her boyfriend has to be willing and motivated to learn no matter what he ends up doing. If it becomes clear to the LW that he’s not motivated to go to school or do ANYTHING else, it’s time to MOA. Though, I’d already be gone if I were her.

avatar fallonthecity April 26, 2011, 1:00 pm

You’re right, there are ways to make money without going to school at all, but even with apprenticeships, at some point you will need to be certified or registered if you ever want to go into this business for yourself, won’t you? This doesn’t necessarily mean getting a degree, but usually it means taking a test or completing a course. For example, to operate a CNC machine, you need to complete a course on CNC programming, usually at a tech school, to get certified. It seems like not doing something like this would mean that, as someone already pointed out, at some point you’d hit a sort of ceiling and not be able to rise any higher than where you’re at.

Of course I don’t personally know much about this – I’m an engineer and my degree is essential for everything I want to do, even though I’ve worked with several very s,idled tradesmen in the past. I would welcome more information from those of y’all who know more about it!

avatar fallonthecity April 26, 2011, 8:03 pm

That is supposed to say, “…very SKILLED tradesmen…”

Stupid phone.

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 26, 2011, 2:17 pm

Working a dead-end job for a few years might also motivate him. There’s nothing like just scraping by month after month and seeing the world pass you by to change your opinion about working hard in school.

avatar Flake April 26, 2011, 12:00 pm

Just curious, what do you expect his mother to do? Do you think that just because he is legally an adult, he is not her child any more? Should she just give up on him and stop caring about his future?
Why don’t you move in with him and see how much fun it is to have an adult in the house that doesn’t want to assume any responsibility?
”For example, she treats him a lot like a chauffeur and babysitter. She also expects way too much from him”- Are you blaming his mother for expecting too much from him? Like what, get an education and start making a future for himself?? He has no expenses at all, his only “job” is to study, and that is too much to expect from a child?? Oh, sorry, you say he is an adult now, so she should just keep supporting him financially until when?
“she takes away his phone and car keys she lends him since he can’t afford his own car” – If she is paying for them, those things are not his. Simple, isn’t it? A good way to afford them is to either do as your mother tells you (as in go to college), or get a job and move out.
“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.” – How is she preventing him from getting ahead in life? I would say that you are not helping either. Instead of commiserating with him, you could actually suggest that maybe his mother’s expectations for him are reasonable, and that he should use this opportunity to build a future for himself, before it gets more complicated. He doesn’t have any responsibilities right now, there is absolutely nothing stopping him from reaching his potential.
It may come as a surprise for you, but believe it or not, it actually seems like his mother has his best interests in mind.
Like you say, he is an adult, he makes his own choices. If he chooses to stay with her, it means he chooses to follow her rules. Plain and simple.

Betsy Betsy April 26, 2011, 12:01 pm

“like, when he was forced to drop out of college because of bad grades”

Can you believe that his college MADE HIM FLUNK AND DROP OUT? lol

avatar Sarah April 26, 2011, 12:28 pm

“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. ”

Looks like this guy is trading one inhibitor (his mother) for another (LW). I think his mom has realized way too late that she should’ve been more forceful back when he really was a kid instead of now that he’s a kid trapped in an adult’s body. Hope you like unemployed, bitchy dudes, LW, cause a guy like this is going to spend his whole life blaming other people for his problems, and I have a feeling his mother will be more than happy to shove him off to you when the time is right.

avatar sarita_f April 26, 2011, 12:51 pm

LW, I am concerned for you. Here’s the line that makes me pause:

“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…”

He wasn’t forced to drop out of college – he failed out. If he is the type to blame everyone else for this that are his own damn fault – run. Please, just go. Leave him with his mommy. He will only drag you down. These types are some of the most FRUSTRATING people to deal with.

avatar ReginaRey April 26, 2011, 1:38 pm

Also, since when is expecting your son not to drop out of college “expecting too much”??? I think this LW should probably consider raising HER expectations for what’s acceptable in a partner, not trying to convince this dude’s mother to LOWER her’s.

avatar sarita_f April 26, 2011, 2:58 pm

@ReginaRey – totally.

avatar SpaceySteph April 26, 2011, 12:52 pm

LW, I know people are being kind of harsh because, quite frankly, you are coming off as a brat and your boyfriend is coming off as a loser. However, I am willing to cut slack that you are not a brat, but a girl blinded by love.

Because my ex boyfriend from college was alot like your boyfriend. And I thought his parents were trying to control his life (He talked to his mom twice a day, went home monthly to get his laundry done, and his dad did his homework. Not “helped,” I’m talking rewrote his papers for him and in the process added alot of content.) But the truth was my boyfriend liked being treated like a child, and was refusing to grow up. He was forcing his parents into their old high school roles with his behavior and they were responding in kind. When your child who you love shows an inability to take care of themselves, your instinct is naturally to step in and protect them. By flunking out of college, by not getting back on track to get into another school, by having a disrespectful girlfriend who she may view as enabling his drop out status (you think she expects too much from him by wanting him to go to college?!)… I think she is just doing whatever she can to protect her son.
Does that mean she’s right? Not necessarily. But people parent the way they parent and you can’t fix that. I don’t think it was right for my ex’s parents to do what they did for him either… I would let him fail English on his own because he doesn’t know how to write a research paper! But telling them that wasn’t going to help matters.
You need to wake up and realize that your boyfriend’s situation is not because his mother is disrespectful to her son, but because your boyfriend is immature and irresponsible. He needs to grow up. He needs his girlfriend to not let him make excuses about how his mother is ruining his life, but to support and encourage him as he tries to get his life together.

avatar jena April 26, 2011, 1:36 pm

She treats him like a child because he IS ONE. Not owning a car, dropping out of college due to BAD grades of all things! Living at home is one thing, but failing to take care of yourself is another. She’s not controlling — she just wants him to flourish and stop leeching off her, and I can’t say I blame her.

avatar Jessica April 26, 2011, 1:47 pm

Wait…he’s the one that got the bad grades to where he had to drop out of college and couldn’t get accepted to another one, yet the mother is the one that’s keeping him from getting ahead in life, not him?? It’s not her fault that he made such poor choices when it came to school, but it is her responsibility to try to encourage him to do better. If taking away the car privileges that she gave him, and making him not be able to see you when y’all want is a way to encourage him to get his act together, then I say, go mom!

If I were you, I’d encourage him to try harder in school, find a job, and move out. Not confront his mom about being a good mom. Plus, if you want her to give him the respect you think a son deserves, you should give her respect that she definitely deserves, which you said you don’t do. Trust me..she deserves your respect. If she did nothing and let him drop out of college and didn’t say anything about it..then I’d have zero respect for her, but that’s not the case here at all.

avatar XanderTaylor April 26, 2011, 1:53 pm

Wait a minute – is this my son’s girlfriend?? I need to print these responses & leave them in the middle of his pillow. See, Son, I am not a bad mom.

avatar Thyme April 26, 2011, 3:28 pm

This is awesome. :)

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 26, 2011, 2:08 pm

All of us have to earn the respect of those we know including our parents and our children. Your boyfriend will be respected when he earns it. As for babysitting and helping his mom in other ways that’s what family members do for each other. As a member of a family you do what you can to help the other members of the family. Sometimes you give, as in babysitting, and sometimes you take, as in getting a place to live.

It sounds like his mom is much more invested in him and his future than his dad. That’s why mom tries to keep his life on track while dad doesn’t appear to care what happens. When you invest nothing then you have nothing to lose and don’t care too much about the outcome. Be glad for him that at least him mom cares.

avatar SpaceySteph April 26, 2011, 2:25 pm

So true and I feel pretty badly for the mom. The father gets to be the good guy- popping into his life every now and then, not disciplining, and get all the glory as a nice guy. Meanwhile the mom has to house and feed and provide a car for her son while she watches him self destruct and get all this disrespect for it.
Can I tell you a little secret often learned the hard way? Tough love is way better than “do whatever you want, I dont give a damn” love.

avatar SGMcG April 26, 2011, 2:47 pm

I don’t know what is worse – the fact that this guy isn’t making improvements in his life so that his mother will stop treating him like a child or the fact that his girlfriend wants to intervene and baby his boyfriend’s antics by confronting her bf’s mother? LW, the next time David tells you again how badly he wants to leave, ask him what he is doing so that he can do so? It’s no wonder his mom won’t let him see you – what are YOU doing so that you can support David’s attempts in getting ahead in life?

avatar AKchic April 26, 2011, 5:30 pm

I’m calling bullshit. Either the letter writer isn’t being honest, or the boyfriend is a pussy-whipped mama’s boy.

First, it sounded like they were in high school. Then, we find out that he was kicked out of college for his grades. How old are you two? If he is over 18, there is no legal reason why he is required to only see his father once every 2 weeks unless there is a court-order in place because of the boyfriend himself (probation involving children), or because of some other family member on that side of the family (family fight and a part of the probation requires the combatants to not be within 100 yards of each other and the other person lives in the father’s home).

If the mother is loaning out the car, she has every right to take that car (and keys) back for any reason. It is hers. She pays for it. It’s her name on the title, her money going towards the upkeep. Plain and simple. Baby-sitting? Well, if he’s living in Mama’s house rent-free and isn’t working, then yes, he should be chipping in somehow and doing something to pull his weight around that place.

YOU have no say in what happens between his mother and him. If YOU start demanding that he “man up” and do things YOUR WAY to please you, then you are just as bad as the mother. It does show a certain psychological dependency towards overbearing, dominating, domineering women (if we go by your letter, your characteristics in said letter and the way you describe his mother) who belittle him yet TAKE CARE OF HIM. Otherwise, he needs to be the one to initiate changes to better himself, not you initiate changes for your own convenience (and maybe even “curb appeal” in said boyfriend).

avatar SpyGlassez April 26, 2011, 7:04 pm

LW: look out. If you marry this guy, you will turn into his mother. You are setting yourself up for a lifetime of this same scenario. Everything is stacked against him, it isn’t his fault, he was only 10 minutes late for work every day so why should he be fired for it, etc. My sister dated a guy like this at one time. He didn’t want to go to college – fair enough – but he even stated that my sister would “make more than enough to support both of them” and therefore he shouldn’t have to go. And while that may even have turned out to be the case, in what kind of partnership should one half think they have the right to do jack-all and get away with it?

Face it:
It’s mom’s car; she gets to say who drives it.
If mom pays for the phone, she gets to decide if he can spend all day texting you and playing Angry Birds instead of going to class.
If mom was paying for college, she has every right to be pissed when he flunks out.
If he isn’t working and isn’t going to school and mom is having to support him while he sits at home and plays his Xbox, then he SHOULD have to babysit or pull his weight.

I’m also wondering about the part, “are accepting of David” when you talk about his Dad’s side. Accepting of what? His recreational drug use? His propensity to sleep till three pm and stay up all night playing WOW? His utter lack of drive and ambition? Maybe “accepting” has been damaging to David, because by “accepting” they have helped him accept the low standards he’s set for himself.

avatar Steph April 26, 2011, 11:39 pm

I completely agree with you Wendy, The LW sounds like a high school kid. I don’t blame his mother for being upset. He got outed out of college!!! l the mother was probably paying for his education! If he doesn’t like it, he can grow up, get a job and pay bills, like very other adult. Both the LW and her boyfriend need a reality check.

avatar Christina April 27, 2011, 3:06 am

LW, you are describing one of the classic rites of entering into adulthood. This transitional period is a challenge for all parties. There is always an impossible scenario like needing a car to get a job but needing a job to afford the car. Needing to live at home sometimes and helping out the family in exchange for financial help to go to college. I’m sure David feels trapped and may have several reasons not to be able or ready to move out yet. I understand that he’s not happy and as his close friend you don’t like seeing him be pressured by his family obligations and rules. Eventually he will have to make his own way in the world and right now is the time for him to make those decisions. Encourage him as he decides on his next moves with his education, work, new apartment etc. Everybody’s journey is different. Some people need lots of family help, others do it on their own. He’ll get a better reception if he has a solid plan, even if he needs to borrow some money for his first car, apt., job interview clothes. I understand you have strong opinions about his situation but it isn’t your place to talk to his Mom about their family dynamic. It sounds like she is responsible for a whole family and needs him to start taking care of himself. She may have even taken out a large loan for his failed schooling that she is having to pay back. I have a friend who took out 40K in loans for 2 yrs of schooling that her daughter failed by not completing classes. She now works at a min. wage job but her Mom will pay that loan for years. We have all had our phone taken away as teenagers. It’s a very basic method of controlling behavior to reward or restrict rewards. It works for bosses, boyfriends, pet owners, parents. She’s hard on him because it’s time to be. Don’t dwell on what seems unfair, just support him and in time all of your relationships will be better.

avatar Fairhaired Child April 27, 2011, 3:47 am

this is a great response! very straight forward without seeming at all mean just plain old honest.

avatar cporoski April 27, 2011, 6:32 am

Here is the situation, if you had a tough major that would ruin a semester and not your whole career. But more importantly, from the age of this reader, he failed out of general classes. Which aren’t as hard no matter the university. But this guy is living at his mom’s, driving his car, no ambition to leave so I doubt he was at a prestigious university. If he got into a top tier school, he would have a better work ethic than this.

As far as grade inflation. I was in a class that my highest grade was a 70 and my lowest grade was a 47 and i aced the class because of the curve. And to get that grade I had office hours and a tutor and a study group. This kid just did not do that and I am willing to bet he isn’t working hard now to move out.

Reader. I would MOA. I wouldn’t hitch my wagon to this one.

avatar AKchic April 27, 2011, 4:43 pm

I hate to say it – but I have a feeling that the LW is just as much of a slacker and mooch as he is. Why? Because no self-respecting girl would make excuses for all of his shortcomings like that unless she was embarassed about how they would reflect on her. More than likely because she is just like him. She defends him and bemoans that the world is against him for his lack of success because she is doing the same things he is and is failing just as miserably but can’t admit it to herself.

It is this type of couple that, if they don’t correct their misconceptions about life and their role in it, they will pop out kids by the handful (with each other, or with others) and milk our welfare system dry.
I went to school with a girl who sounded just like this. She married the guy, and inbetween their many separations and divorce threats, they had five kids. They still don’t live together so she can get more welfare money, and he smokes pot all day and has had 4 other kids with as many women. They are still married.

bittergaymark bitter gay mark April 27, 2011, 5:02 pm

Everybody pretty much nailed this one. The LW is so immature — it’s hilarious. She’s dating a LOSER and yet remains angry that the LOSER’S mom is not amused by her son’s epic failings… So, this is exactly what reality TV has bred — an entire generation of losers with delusions of grandeur and misguided feelings of entitlement… Pathetic. Just pathetic!

avatar anna728 April 27, 2011, 5:40 pm

We’re not all like this! haha

avatar anna728 April 27, 2011, 5:38 pm

I thought they were in high school, too. What’s with the weekends at the dad’s place? Custody agreements end when you’re 18.

I actually really disagree with the “under my roof” argument in general, but there’s a difference between being unnecessarily controlling because you’re kid still lives at home, versus stopping providing a phone and car when he has messed up. It’s understandable to not necessarily be able to afford your own place while you’re still college age, but if he flunked out, why should the mom keep paying his phone and letting him have the car? It’s like a reward for screwing up. Lots of people don’t have cell phones or cars because they can’t afford them. Why should your boyfriend have these things?

If your boyfriend wants to be treated like an adult, he should act like one. If he isn’t going to continue school, he needs to be working. Then even if he insists on staying at his mom’s place, he can contribute and take care of some of his own expenses. That will also make his mom more willing to let him do his own thing.

avatar smartieswirls0209 August 22, 2013, 4:53 pm

He hasn’t left though. A man that age is still told by his mother when he can go out and who he can see? What’s worse is that you believe someone in college would let their mom take away their phone and treat them that way. It’s clear he doesn’t want to be with you and he’s waiting on you to give up. Think about it: A mother REALLY has THAT much control? Real love means his mother CAN’T take away your time together. But she does. So stop being blinded and THINK SMART!

Leave a Comment


+ 2 = six