Hi Will,

There’s a war in my home between my son, Jeremiah and my husband, Mike, Jeremiah’s stepfather. Jeremiah is 21 and wants to move back home. I really think he should because I think he needs us. The problem is, two years ago, Jeremiah got mad, yelled at me, cursed out my husband and moved out. Now my husband doesn’t want him to move back in.

My husband I were married when Jeremiah was 12 and they’ve never gotten along. Now I don’t know whose side to take. I know my son was wrong to speak to us that way, but he’s just so young and he made a mistake. Why can’t my husband be an adult and just forgive him?

Double-Agent in Denver


Hey Double Agent,

So, two years ago, your son screamed at the woman who gave birth to him, cursed the man who’s been raising him since his was 12, then walked out… and you don’t understand why your husband doesn’t want him back?? Here we see a big difference between mothering and fathering. As a teen, I once said something spiteful to my mother. She told me that I had hurt her feelings and left the room, nearly in tears. Once she was out of ear shot, my father whispered to me that if I ever said anything like that again he’d kick part of my anatomy up so high that I’d have to unbutton my shirt collar to relieve myself. See the difference? But I digress. There are a couple of things going on here and I’ll try to hit on them all.

WHAT YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND:  You promised your husband that you would be there for him until death and he promised you the same; your children, however, made you no such promise. Here’s a knowledge bomb for you and every other mother in the world; you WILL lose your children.  It will happen even if you take their side in every argument, even if you give them everything they ever ask for, even if you’re the perfect parent. They will still grow up and leave you, and that’s how it should be. The Jeremiah that played peek-a-boo with you is gone. You now have an adult son. He does not need you; he needs a job. He needs a home of his own. And he needs to learn to respect you, your husband, and your marriage.

A close friend of mine admits, with some difficulty, that he divorced his wife partially because of his step-children. All teenagers, they would purposely cause arguments between their mother and him in order to get their way. Their mother constantly sided with her children and it slowly drove a wedge between them. He said that soon he let them do as they pleased because he knew that anything else would result in an argument. That turned to resentment. Their marriage deteriorated, and they divorced. Within three years after he left, all three of the older children moved out, leaving their mother alone. Now, I can’t say for sure whether or not my friend would have left their mother anyway, but I’m positive that her children would have.

WHAT YOU NEED TO TELL YOUR SON: You mention that your son made a mistake, but you didn’t write that he apologized to you and your husband, probably because he hasn’t. If he won’t apologize, it’s because he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong and if that’s the case, you’d be crazy to let him back in. Tell him that you are the woman of the house and that your husband is the only man of the house. After he apologizes to you, give him your permission to move back in then tell that he must go and apologize to your husband and get his permission too. If he refuses, then tell him that Home Depot throws away their refrigerator boxes on Saturdays and that he should hurry before all the water-proof ones are gone.

WHAT YOU NEED TO TELL YOUR HUSBAND: NOTHING! Listen, your husband stepped into another dad’s shoes when he didn’t have to. He should get a few free passes just for being a step-dad. A lot of “fathers” these days aren’t man enough to take responsibility for their own children, let alone someone else’s. Your husband has been taking crap from your son for nine years. And I’m betting that, even though you don’t know “whose side to take”, when your son yelled at you, your husband took your side, set him straight and got cursed out for his trouble. And why did your husband do all of this? Simple; because he loves you.

Tell him that you really want your son to move back in, but that you’ll respect his decision if he says no. If he still says no, then so be it, but the poor bastard probably loves you enough that he’ll give in. If/when he does, make sure Junior understands that any disrespect toward you or your husband will be met with one of those swift kicks my dad promised me and that he’ll be sent limping right back to his cardboard box.  End of discussion.

I wish you the best!

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William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing. Follow him on Twitter @goodenoughguy1