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The Unkindness of Parenting Yields Lazy, Ungrateful, Greedy, Adult Brats… or “Don’t Marry Frankenstein’s Creator”

I’ve been dating a very nice guy, Tom (not his real name).  Tom is widowed, 48 years old, and has a good job as an actuary.  I’m single, never married, 36 years old, and have a good job as a corporate trainer.

We dated for about 8 months and things went very well.  The only hitch in the whole situation was his son, Nick (not his real name).  Nick is 26 years old and lives at home, rent free.  He has no job and asks his dad for $50 – $100 every 2-3 days so he can go out drinking with friends, buy something he wants, go to the movies, etc… Nick has a BA in Accounting but has failed the CPA exam twice.

So Tom pays for Nick’s car, Tom pays for Nick’s insurance (health & auto), Tom is paying off Nick’s credit cards that Nick maxed out after college when he couldn’t find a job, Tom pays all the household bills, Tom buys the food, etc…  Nick spends all day “Studying” to take the CPA exam again, which he has put off for over a year now.  I put the studying in quotation marks because in the 8 months I’ve known him Nick has never said anything about what he read or taking a practice test, or anything that made it sound like he was studying at all.  Tom is the one who keeps insisting that Nick is hard at work studying so he’ll ace the CPA exam next time.

Nick is so busy “Studying” that he can’t possibly wash the dishes, mow the lawn, cook a meal, vacuum a carpet, do a load of laundry, etc… Tom blames Nick’s aversion to housework on the fact that Nick’s mom died when Nick was 13. His mom never got the chance to teach Nick how to do those things. Tom was so busy working after her death that Tom hired a housekeeper while Nick was in Middle School and High School.

While his mom’s death is tragic, I don’t understand why that makes a 26 year old man incapable of learning how to pick up after himself now. If he was really lost over how to wash a dish or do a load of laundry, I’m pretty sure he could find a Youtube video to give him a tutorial.

Also, he survived 4 years away at college in another state. So his laundry got cleaned and he fed himself somehow in those 4 years.

Tom spent his entire life putting away money so he could retire at 50.  He’s 48 now and has run through a lot of his savings supporting his adult, college educated, son who refuses to get a job that isn’t “worthy” of him. At dinner one night Nick actually said, “If it’s not paying at least $50,000.00 a year, I don’t want it. I know what I’m worth.”  Nick blames his dad’s generation for ruining the economy, ruining the job market, and being the reason why Nick can’t find a decent paying job.

This whole thing is between Tom and Nick really isn’t any of my business.  Tom is welcome to spend his money as he sees fit.  Tom is welcome to cater to his adult son as he sees fit.  While we were dating, I kept my mouth shut about all of it.  When Tom would complain about how quickly his savings were disappearing, I’d tell him that he should talk to Nick.

Then the “incident” happened.  Tom and I were having a quiet night at his place.  It was after dinner, and we hanging out on the sofa watching stuff on Netflix.  Tom left the room to use the restroom and Nick came home from where ever he’d been.  Nick said, “Oh good, I wanted to talk to you alone. Dad’s birthday is in 2 weeks. And it doesn’t seem right to borrow money from him to buy him a gift. So could you give me $100?”

I was shocked. I think I sat in silence for about 5 or 10 seconds before I said, “I’m sorry. I can’t.”    Nick said, “That’s ok. I know how hard things can me. Believe me.” And laughed.   And then he said, “If you can only give me $50, that would be ok.”   Again, I said, “I’m sorry. I can’t.”    Nick got a little huffy and said, “Fine, whatever!” and stomped off to his room.   When Tom came back, I told him what happened.  And then Tom got mad.   He couldn’t believe I wouldn’t give Nick the $100.    Tom said, “I’ll give you the $100, and you go give it to Nick. I don’t want him to be embarrassed that he can’t buy me a birthday present.”   And I said something along the lines of, “That’s ridiculous. Why don’t you just give him the $100 in that case? I don’t want him to think I’m willing to lend money to him. He doesn’t have a job and has no way to pay me back. So basically I’d be giving Nick money and then you’d be paying me back. I don’t want to be in the middle like that.”

Tom got really angry accusing me of calling his son dishonest (because I said Nick wouldn’t pay me back) and lazy (because I mentioned that Nick doesn’t have a job). I told him that his relationship with his son was his business.  But my relationship was with him and not his son.

Tom broke up with me.   Because, of course, his son is the most important person in his life and if we got married then I’d be Nick’s step mom.  It boiled down to, if I was unwilling to have a relationship with Nick, then my relationship with Tom was over.

It’s been a month. Tom and I haven’t talked since that night.  I really like Tom. I miss him and I hate that we broke up over this.

Was I out of line?  Should I have just given Nick the $100 to buy Tom’s birthday present?  Should I have accepted being in the middle to save Nick’s pride?  Even if Nick is 26, should I have been trying to build some sort of maternal relationship with him?

I feel like I set the correct boundaries.   But maybe I’m just being heartless because I feel that Nick is taking advantage of the situation.   And that has colored my actions in regards to lending Nick money.

What do you say, e-Hell? Should I be roasting in the fires on this one? 0829-16

AAAARRGGH!   No!  No, no, no!   You do NOT belong skewered over an EHell bonfire!   You are the only normal, healthy, sensible person in this entire scenario.   You are questioning your principles and core convictions when you know, deep in your gut, that you are right.

Nick has a serious character flaw which has been nurtured and facilitated by his equally flawed father.   It is a PROFOUND unkindness to raise children who are this dysfunctional as adults.   Tom has seriously handicapped his son so that he is not able to be a healthy adult who is productive, independent, grateful, hard working and self sustaining.   Had you continued in this relationship playing this money game,  you would have been complicit in Tom’s miserable parenting and the continued “helplessness” of Nick.   Married couples fight about sex, money and the kids and I guarantee that you and Tom, had you married,  would have fought vigorously about the kid and how money has been spent. Once married, your finances will combine and you would have fought over how Tom is draining *your* financial reserves supporting an indigent, lazy, ungrateful, wretch of a son Tom helped create.

Run and don’t look back.   If Tom calls, do not answer the phone.   Wait for a good man to come into your life.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hopeful4 September 7, 2016, 8:15 pm

    Yikes! Be glad you got out when you did! Even if it wasn’t your choice. Just think about it, if you and Tom got serious, got married, Nick would be still running the show. Go on a vacation? I don’t think so, not unless you include Nick. Have a baby? Are you kidding? That baby would just be taking away the silver spoon from Nick’s mouth, etc….

    You get the picture. Nick will ALWAYS come between Tom and whomever he is dating, because Tom allows it . It would be interesting to see what happens in 2 years when Tom cannot afford to retire as he will still be supporting Nick and won’t be able to afford to retire. Even worse, when Tom is 65 and still cannot retire because, the way this story seems to be going, he might be supporting not only Nick but Nick and Nick’s wife or girlfriend and who knows how many children.

    • Goldie September 8, 2016, 8:41 am

      Yup, and he’ll be paying Nick’s child support too! With this attitude, Nick isn’t likely to stay married!

  • Library Diva September 8, 2016, 10:57 am

    I’m sure that Tom sounds like a nice guy, but his relationship with his son sounds like it would cause nothing but friction between you and Tom.

    My most charitable assessment of Nick is that he was pushed into a field that he never wanted to be in to begin with, gave up at the very first sign of trouble, and now doesn’t know what to do with himself. Doesn’t excuse him being a sponge, though. Tom needs to get real with Nick. Tell Nick that it’s time to either re-sit the exam or move on, that Nick needs to start paying rent, that he won’t give him going-out money anymore. As everyone else has said, Tom is doing Nick no favors in the long run.

    OP, as much as it hurts to let go of a nice guy, it’s probably for the best. If you’re getting hit up for money eight months in, what would happen at the two-year mark? What if you wanted to take your relationship to the next level at some point and combine households? Tom’s got blinders on when it comes to Nick. He broke up with you because deep down, he knows the things he accused you of saying are true: Nick is lazy, and he hasn’t shown himself to be terribly trustworthy, either. If Tom doesn’t wake up, he’d better prepare to fight with every girlfriend he ever has over his son. Don’t let it be you. Do your best to move on, and every time you’re tempted to call Tom, imagine listening to one of Nick’s entitled tirades, fielding requests for money every time Tom leaves the room, looking at the mess Nick’s made of Tom’s home every time you’re over, etc.

  • Bibianne September 8, 2016, 1:33 pm

    Oh dear mother of pearl! I am picking my jaw off the floor. Nick is a lazy bum and Tom is an enabler. Thank your lucky stars you are out of that relationship. And a job with at least 50K starting pay? In his *expletives* dreams.

  • Esel September 28, 2016, 2:44 pm

    My husband took 3 times to get through the CPA exam…and I had to do the dishes because he was studying….and he had a full time job as well!

  • Julie June 29, 2017, 3:13 pm

    I saw the Scary Mommy article referenced in here so I looked it up and honestly, I think there are a lot of great pieces of advice in there, particularly for those like me who do NOT have children. There were a few over the top notations but it was nothing like I thought it was going to be. Since it seemed like it has valuable information I am including it here in case the link vanishes.

    11 Rules for Visiting a New Mom

    You know the scene: A close girlfriend has her long-awaited new baby and you feel the need to hightail it to her house to hold that little bundle of joy. In fact, it takes all of your self-control to not show up at the hospital and interrupt the precious few hours that she’ll have staff doting on her around the clock. Either it’s because you love that new baby smell or you think Mama is going to have hurt feelings if you don’t show interest in her newest family member, but regardless, you are going to hold that baby. This is what we do as women, yes?

    Au contraire, mon amie. I distinctly remember being two months into motherhood and realizing that I didn’t need or want any more girlfriends stopping by and over-stimulating my colicky, sensitive child with their scary foreign faces, inappropriately loud voices, or refusal to stop bouncing him for even a few minutes. Give the baby a break from the bouncing, ladies. Do you think I want him to get used to that? No, I don’t, because I’m tired and I don’t want to have to bounce him myself.

    I assure you that I would not have been hurt had no one come to visit me at all. Do you think I made this baby by myself? In fact, I did not. There is a man who lives here to keep me company in the evenings. During the day I was too tired, overwhelmed, and covered in spit-up to care about loneliness, and having company just meant that I’d have to squeeze my fat ass into something that didn’t fit and vacuum the dog hair off the floor.

    Before I became a mother I was one of those girlfriends who showed up just to hold your baby. I hereby publicly apologize to all of the new mommies that I did this to. No mother I know was sitting around, desperately waiting for me to appear at her house empty-handed and hold her baby. I am no Baby Whisperer, believe me.

    There was one instance that I arrived at a girlfriend’s house for no other reason than to hold her new baby and then I sat down and ate the dinner that her husband had been preparing for them. Me! I did not just have a baby! Why was I eating her food? Shameful.

    Now I’m a mother and realize that if you want to hold that babe in the first four months before the yummy new baby smell wears off, then there are some rules governing that situation…

    1. Bring food that you know they’ll like.

    This means a take-out lunch from a higher-end restaurant and bring enough food so that Daddy has something to eat when he gets home. Chicken, fish, steak, or something that fits their special diet. Don’t be stingy; buy enough for leftovers. Don’t make something on your own unless it actually tastes good. It’s best to spend a little money and treat them to something nice since it’s going to be a long, long time before they go to a restaurant again. I hate to say it, but if you can’t afford to buy her a decent lunch, then you need to consider whether you can really afford to hold this baby.

    2. Don’t eat her food.

    Does Mama have some pulled pork or a rack of short ribs simmering in the crock-pot when you arrive? Don’t you dare accept any of it if she offers. She is being polite and you are not actually a guest. You are an intruder. Remember: Everything that you don’t eat is leftovers for them tomorrow, so don’t eat anything at all. You can have some water if you get it yourself. You need to be on high alert to recognize fake offers of food/gifts/favors and so on from this woman; she is likely out of her mind from sleep deprivation and doesn’t know what she’s saying, but she will still remember your greediness years later.

    One of my friends left a homemade chicken casserole and fresh chocolate chip cookies at our front door and didn’t even need to come inside. The hallmark of a truly excellent friend is one who will knock quietly, put the food on the front porch, then get in the car and drive away.

    3. Bring a gift, even if you already gave a baby shower gift.

    Ask Mama what she needs or check her registry for lingering purchases. Don’t get your panties in a bunch about this one; it can be something as simple as a case of pacifiers or replacement pump pieces– things that only cost a few bucks. Nobody ever said that a gift had to be a surprise in order to be good. When in doubt, ask what diapers they use and bring those. If you buy the cheapest diapers you can find that are imported from Mexico, she’ll be dealing with scratchy leaky diapers and cursing your name at 4am.

    4. Snap away.

    If you’re a semi-pro photographer, bring your camera and your most flattering lens. Don’t try to sell her the portraits later. Send them for free.

    5. No summer dresses in winter.

    Don’t bring size-inappropriate-for-the-season clothing that suits your taste and not theirs. Babies grow fast. Use your brain.

    6. Don’t bring decorative kick-knacks.

    As much fun as you might think it is, no mother wants you to decorate her new baby nursery. Decorating the nursery is strictly relegated to mom and dad and you can keep your over-sized stuffed animals, picture frames, and inspirational quotes out of it. Nobody wants something extra to dust around when they have a new baby. Don’t make Mama waste a stamp graciously thanking you for some random thing you dug up at Tuesday Morning that she never wanted in the first place.

    7. Make yourself useful.

    Is your new-mother friend one of those controlling types who doesn’t want anyone helping with her housework? Your friend needs to get over it because in about 8 months that baby is going to be mobile and her days of being in control of her surroundings are officially a thing of the past.

    8. Do the dishes.

    If the kitchen sink is full of dishes, turn on the water, rinse them off, and start loading them up in the dishwasher. Load them smart because you know how much we hate it when the dishwasher is loaded wrong. Don’t halfheartedly ask Mama if maybe you can help out in some way because she’s going to say no even though she means “God, yes, please someone help me for once.” Just do it.

    9. Or the laundry.

    Look around and spy a pile of clean clothes that needs to be folded? Do you have two working hands? Fold the laundry, even the underwear.

    10. Be that friend.

    One of my friends not only brought food and a gift, but she called from the drugstore to see if I needed anything (indeed, I did need nursing pads for those leaky boobs no one warned me about) and started putting away all of the odds and ends that belonged in the baby’s closet that I couldn’t reach because of my c-section. When she asked what she could do it wasn’t really a question as much as it was a statement and request for orders.

    Another girlfriend came over with her husband for an afternoon. He sat in a chair and rocked the baby while she cleaned my kitchen spotless, including shining up the stainless steel of the refrigerator. What did I do? I took a bath and washed and dried my hair for the first time in a week. You know when your hair gets so dirty that the roots hurt? That was my hair. I had an entire hour to myself where I wasn’t listening for the baby to cry for the first time since becoming a mother two months prior. When I tried to check on the baby in the living room she whispered, “Get out of here. He can smell your milk.”

    11. But not THAT friend.

    I can honestly say that there were a few visitors during that time of my life who had me thinking, “I’m being held hostage by this tiny person who just threw up in my eyes and you didn’t even bring me anything?” Don’t be that friend. Learn from me, the reformed do-nothing baby holder. Last summer when a friend had a new baby, I brought a small gift and lunch whenever I went to see her because I knew she felt so overwhelmed. These days I don’t even give birthday presents without asking Mama what the little one needs, or if my gift idea is alright with her.

    If you’ve been a blatant do-nothing baby holder in the past, fear not. Make a mental note to buy the child a special gift for their next birthday party and rest easy knowing that at some point, your day of having vomit in your eyes will come and you will find yourself wondering what the hell these baby-holding friends are doing in your house.