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Dilemma: my stepson keeps asking for money

Dawn French / 22 October 2019

A reader writes to agony aunt Dawn French because her stepson is refusing to grow up and take financial responsibility for his life, and it's causing rows.

A man holds an empty wallet to illustrate a stepson asking for cash

Dilemma: my stepson needs to take responsibility for his finances

My stepson is 45, but he’s never grown up. My husband and I have helped him so often, giving him money when he’s in debt and furnishing various flats over the years. He ricochets from one girlfriend to the next and one job to another.

We recently allowed him to stay in our home (while we were away for a few months) and he left it in a terrible state.

Now he’s asked for money towards a new car. My husband wants to help him out, but I’d like to draw a line. I’m 64 and work as a nurse. The situation is causing rows between us.

Should I just give in?

Dawn French's advice

It can be tricky being a stepmother, I know, and ordinarily I would say that it’s best to operate in the slipstream of the biological parent’s decisions and methods.

But it seems that your ol’ man is a bit wobbly and lost here, and perhaps your stepson is exploiting that. If so, I think it’s fine for you to step up and make a suggestion; perhaps you could say that you will contribute towards a new car (within reason) so long as everyone agrees that the sole condition is that there are no further demands whatsoever.

You could draw up a contract that you all sign. Raise a glass to it and say: ‘Guys, this was such a good idea because we all know where we stand now, you’ll have a lovely new car, and we can stop infantilising you in the way we have, sorry about that, and you can grow into the fine adult human we know you can be - cheers!’

Of course, if that doesn’t work, agree absolutely get him the car of his dreams, and buy Corgi Only Fools and Horses Diecast Trotter three-wheel van in a Dinky toy box. See if he likes that.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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