Parenting: Marijuana in the house

I'll try my best to be brief yet detailed.

My stepson (wife's child, 18 years old) was found smoking (weed) in the house weeks ago. A long discussion was had in which we laid out expectations, rules, etc.

Recently he was found smoking again. I immediately asked him to leave the house and not return, which he did. 48 hours later my wife tells him to come back at which point we had another discussion about what we expected. He was rude, belligerent, told me this was his house (yeah....can you believe it), and quite frankly I was ready to permanently ask him to leave. His lack of respect and failing grades in college are a whole other conversation but speak to my state of mind when I say I want him out of the house. He doesn't work, we pay for his college, and just about everything else he owns. Spring semester he failed 2 classes after we shelled out close to $20,000 for college. Took summer classes and failed those.

I think had i been there from the beginning of his life things would be different but I'm trying to work with the cards I've been dealt. Some of you have been parents FAR LONGER than I and so I reach out to someone that can try to shed some advice on some possible options. I don't know if I'm overreacting over marijuana in the house but I just don't want it in this house. I also don't want to cause some distance between he and his mother/my wife. I'd like to think of myself as being fair, objective and impartial but enough is enough. The school I can deal with, not the drugs.

If it was up to me I'd kick him out and we would cut him off financially until he was ready to follow the rules of this house. My wife has different views at the moment....but she's slowly getting stressed.

Just looking for some opinions here. Other than my stepson I have no other parenting experience. You don't have to be nice with the advice, let me have it. I know its a bad situation all around


You are not alone. My grandson is now 21 and living with me for the past two years. My daughter tried to control him but that only ended in frustration. My thought is my Grandson has now outgrown the attraction of pot and alcohol. He is showing much more responsibility on his own. It was Grandma's love and patience that won him over. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. smile


My personal opinion is that I would be more upset about school and failing than I would be about smoking weed unless he is addicted and doing it to the point that it is the reason he is failing. I have had pediatricians tell me that weed is less harmful than alcohol, and I wonder if you would be more tolerant of alcohol.


Kicking an 18 year old out of the house is harsh. If I married someone who did that over pot, I'd blow a gasket at the husband. If he is living with you while going to college, this is tough for everyone. It is nice that you are paying for his college, but again, if you are middle class paying for your kid to go to college is expected in this state, and the legal system has insisted upon this in divorce court.


I would try to figure out why the kid is failing. Does he have undiagnosed learning disabilities. Is he unprepared for the independence of college. Is his home life unhappy and he is acting out.


In terms of pot, yes it is illegal which is why some parents let their kids smoke at home rather than out in the woods, or in a car, or in the park where they can be arrested. And when there is a certain level of tolerance for smoking pot at home, you can make the rules, e.g., once a week, not on a school night, etc. If he was living on campus, he'd be doing it with tons of other kids who are doing it. It's only a matter of time before it's legal.


For you to sound reasonable, you need to share reasons why it is not allowed besides the fact that it's illegal. For instance, it is not good for the developing brain. If you show that you care about his brain, instead of caring about your rules, he may be motivated to please you.


Perhaps I sound harsh, but I'm getting a vibe that you are not loving this kid, and if I was his mom, I would not tolerate your attitude.


On another note, my eldest son was not doing well in his chosen field at college. I thought he might need a break and set him up for an interview with working at Club Med. the experience of meeting kids to work with and families from all over the world was life changing for him. He changed his field and collegeand is now working very successfully in his new chosen field.


I would also have zero tolerance for him smoking pot in the house, or underage drinking, for that matter. I'm not sure that catching him should = getting kicked out, though.


bluesmap,

I have PMd you a reference to a parents support group which deals with these exact kinds of problems. I suggest you check them out.


lisat said:
...

Kicking an 18 year old out of the house is harsh. If I married someone who did that over pot, I'd blow a gasket at the husband.

Perhaps I sound harsh, but I'm getting a vibe that you are not loving this kid, and if I was his mom, I would not tolerate your attitude.

I agree lisat. The relationship between a mother and son is sacred. All the husband needs to do is support his wife in her relationship with her son. The son will eventually feel this support as well. It takes patience and time


By the way, my daughter now gets daily calls from her son and they go out for a meal at least once a week. No more animosity! rolleyes


oneofthegirls said:


lisat said:
...

Kicking an 18 year old out of the house is harsh. If I married someone who did that over pot, I'd blow a gasket at the husband.

Perhaps I sound harsh, but I'm getting a vibe that you are not loving this kid, and if I was his mom, I would not tolerate your attitude.
I agree lisat. The relationship between a mother and son is sacred. All the husband needs to do is support his wife in her relationship with her son. The son will eventually feel this support as well. It takes patience and time

Exactly what I thought when I read the OPs story. I was like, "WHOA, hold your horses. You are NOT kicking my kid out!" I don't know how long you have been married, but I would tread lightly. And to me, your step-son is 18 years old. He has a whole world and lots of time to get it straight. He's feeling his oats now, and may also have stress over his relationship with you. Bad relationships with parents and steps can cause a whole mess of issues for a kid...and yeah, I said kid. My son is 23 and I watch him start and stop, but I'm always there for him. Not everyone is Straight A, straight line kids. Some of them have to wind their way to adulthood...


I would suggest involving a therapist to help determine why your stepson is struggling before kicking him out of the house. Using an objective third party to evaluate the situation and determine solutions will help ease the stress between you and your wife given this difficult situation.


Zero tolerance for pot? Really? If he's sitting around smoking weed all day, that's one thing. If he smokes the occasional joint, not really a big deal.

Is it his house? Meaning was it his house before you came along? Does his father pay support? If so, he shouldn't be disrespectful but he probably has at least a partially valid point.

Unless he is completely out of control, violent, addicted- your wife should be the one to decide how to discipline him with you supporting her in whatever way she needs. Step back.

Kicking him out over smoking pot is really ridiculous, if you ask me. Especially if he's not even your kid


I agree with all those who wouldnt kick the boy out. We just dont do that. Perhaps the boy isnt ready for college, and would benefit by taking a year or so off, and working. My son, who is now the father of a teenage son of his own, fooled around in college, and flunked out of his freshman year. Possibly he was also into weed. I dont know. His father and I told him that he couldnt lie around on the sofa and watch television, and that he had to get a job. We were proactive in that we found him some job listings for what he knew how to do, and he went to interviews, and got a job, and, in due course, his own apartment. He didnt go back to college, but he has had an extremely successful professional career, and is the owner of an educatioal software company


College isnt necessarily for every 18 year old, give him some space, but make sure its got structure. And please, dont throw him out.


First, I completely understand your feelings. I would feel the same way. Have you thought about a first step or compromise position? You are not obliged to pay for college if he's failing. Essentially, if he's failing, he's not getting an education or earning credit towards a degree. Perhaps a job and one course at a community college, or just a job? Maybe he'll grow up.

All the best to you


Who exactly is paying for college


I also think a break from college may be in order: a job until he is interested enough and serious enough to make college worth his time and your money. Some time in a less-than-appealing job could be seriously motivational. This is assuming that he is simply not trying/attending/ready at school. If there are learning problems that need to be addressed, or relationship/emotional issues, then those are the primary things to target. Some time with a good family or individual counselor could be helpful to all, and might help him deal with whatever is troubling him before it potentially gets worse.

I'd leave the throwing out of the house thing to the mom, or at least wait till there's a step/parental united front, and then only do it if there's a place for him to land (friend's house, with responsible parents?). I'm soft on this.

otoh, I would not permit pot in the house. Regardless of whether it's hazardous & whether it's about to be legalized, right now it's a potential legal problem for everyone. fwiw, our approach to pot with our guys was that while it may or may not be immediately harmful, it can for sure (1) get you a record that will follow you and (2) prevent your getting financial aid for college; (3) it can impair your judgment; and (4) you will be just a couple of degrees of separation from some pretty bad guys, and a couple more degrees from some really really bad guys, and is this the kind of thing you want to support with your $?

Very best wishes to all of you as you work through these difficulties!!


I think paying for college is tied to following house rules. If he is failing his classes, I don't see why he should get to do whatever he wants. Maybe don't forbid the pot, but forbid the smoking in the house. Why should you have to smell it and that smell sticks around? But agree with most of the others that the complicating factor is that he is a stepson. The Mom has to take the lead. You two need to come to an agreement together, and then she needs to communicate the plan to the son. For example, payments for college end if he fails another class and he will be required to get a job and contribute a token amount to house expenses after XX number of months, pay for own phone, etc. If you two can't agree, then I would seek an outside party's help, i.e. a family therapist.


Today's marijuana is stronger than it was just a few years ago...and MUCH MUCH stronger that 2-3 generations ago. Also, it usually is not pure. It is usually laced with more potent and addictive substances.


And studies have shown that pot does harm the developing brain..and at 18 it is still developing..

If it were me..I would require him to pay the cost to make up the classes he failed. If he can be successful, offer to continuing paying his tuition in full--but if he fails anything else..he is responsible for the cost


HE IS YOUR KID....just because he is a step kid, doesn't make him not yours...when you married the mom..he became yours too...

how you define 'your kid' as far as your position as a parent varies depending on your relationship history..but he is 100% your kid......that does not mean the same thing for every family.


but that being said....in a dispute....mom should still get final say as she has been his parent longer.


as a condition of staying in the house, he should be required to take responsibility for his mistakes..like failing a class.....of course you need mom on board with this plan..


even if you have NO SAY in anything...he is still your kid


Having been a step for over 20 years, I have to say that it is not always cut and dry whether they are your kids or not. There's a lot involved, including how old the son was when they married, what their relationship is and was. You don't just marry the mom and become the dad. It doesn't work that way (unless the kids want it to...1 of my steps did, 1 didn't. I accept that...)

jmitw said:
Today's marijuana is stronger than it was just a few years ago...and MUCH MUCH stronger that 2-3 generations ago. Also, it usually is not pure. It is usually laced with more potent and addictive substances.


And studies have shown that pot does harm the developing brain..and at 18 it is still developing..

If it were me..I would require him to pay the cost to make up the classes he failed. If he can be successful, offer to continuing paying his tuition in full--but if he fails anything else..he is responsible for the cost


HE IS YOUR KID....just because he is a step kid, doesn't make him not yours...when you married the mom..he became yours too...


but that being said....in a dispute....mom should still get final say as she has been his parent longer.


as a condition of staying in the house, he should be required to take responsibility for his mistakes..like failing a class.....of course you need mom on board with this plan..


I still want to know if there is a father involved and what he thinks and who exactly is paying for college


Consider what you want to achieve in the long run. You can ask him to leave and he may voluntarily do so, but the legal process of evicting him from his home is not simple (or desirable, imo).

His mother's leverage may also include tuition money, spending money and other creature comforts, use of a car, gas and auto insurance and rehab. But if you go to scorched earth as a first resort, you lose the opportunity for influence.

The marijuana and the failing grades and the lack of employment and motivation are clearly intertwined, and as lisat suggests, may be based on challenges that go back many years, and may point to a more serious problem. But pushing out an immature 18YO without providing any means of supporting or redeeming himself seems counterproductive. He doesn't want to live like this.


bluesmap, I think you have received a lot of good advice. I especially agree with those that say you need to involve your wife before kicking out the kid. Second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages, often because of stress dealing with blended families. I'm sure you have had it up to here with the kid, but he's only 18 and the behavior you describe is common, with hope for improvement. Kicking him out is probably not going to turn out well. I have a friend who did that to his son and the kid will still not talk to him years later. It's very sad. A better approach would be to get family counseling, and perhaps a break from school to work or some intensive tutoring. You did not say whether he flunked classes because of lack of effort, interest, or if the work was too hard for him. That would be important information for deciding how to proceed. Sometimes it's hard to tell because they act one way to hide the other.


And, I'll add that your tone and assumption that he'd be different had you been involved is one to tread pretty lightly with. Basically,you are saying his mother (and possibly father if there's one around) did a less than adequate job raising him.

And, in case you didn't know, there are tons of kids who take a wrong turn regardless of whether they had fantastic parenting or not- it's not always a direct correlation to the love and guidance they get at home. And some that have the worst home life imagine able who go on to become great. Sometimes stuff just happens despite or in spite of your efforts


a step child is the step parents kid no matter what...it is how the parenting involvement is defined that differs...whether the step parent has no say ..or full control..or anywhere in between...the child is still 'his kid'


how is it NOT his house? It's either a family home or it isn't. Even my four year old says this is his house. I even show him the mortgage statements but to no avail. Can't presume to know the history but kicking a kid out on the second strike to me sounds draconian And not sure which college he goes to but sure failing classes is not good but plenty of people fail college classes. I myself failed a few and it was due to not giving a *****. Maybe he doesnt either and there's a root cause for not giving a ***** and it isnt the difficulty of the college material i'd bet.

I know it's almost impossible to reason with a young adult sometimes but sounds like this kid needs a hug more than a kick. Just a thought


Kicking him out at 18 for flunking college, being disrespectful and smoking pot is harsh. I do agree with you that there should be consequences for bad behavior and breaking the rules. 18 is a very very tough age for kids who haven't found their direction.

Above all, this kid is lost ( probably afraid) and needs support and guidance, and maybe a good kick in the rear as well.

Is he in school now. If he is you are stuck for a while. Do what you can to turn things around. Sit down and have a good talk with him. Tell him you are sorry your relationship has deteriorated and that you want to be on his side and help him. Tell him that if he doesnt want to go to college it's ok, there are lots of other good options and you will help him. Tell him to try to think about what he wants with his life and what ever it is you will help him to get there. If he is in school ask him what would help him to do better. Tell him that another failing grade will be the end of college until he can show he is ready for it. Get him a tutor to keep him on track. You may have already tried all these things and they may not work but it's worth a shot.

If he's not in school then for now, pull the plug on college. It means nothing to him. He doesn't want to be there but he doesn't know what else to do. There is no reason to believe that his attitude has changed. He will continue to fail and he will sink even further into this destructive cycle.

I would suggest either make/help him get a job or send him away for a "gap year" ( for perhaps 1/2 a year) volunteer effort. An internet search should provide you with a variety of options. Send him somewhere where he will have to work very very hard and will expand his horizons and open his eyes. It could change his life. Find some programs that you like and give him a choice. Here's one site that looks interesting

https://www.volunteerhq.org/

If he's not ins school and the gap year program doesn't start for a while, or that wont work for you then MAKE HIM GET A JOB You and your wife could sit down with him, tell him that if he's not in school he has to work. Give him a month to get a job or he's out of the house - AND HELP HIM TO FIND ONE. It may be better if your wife gives him the ultimatum.

I did that with my daughter and it was the very best thing I did for her in her whole life.

18 is a tough tough age. This kid is lost. He doesn't know what to do. I don't blame you for being really disgusted with him, but he needs help. Good luck.


Since you said we didn't have to be nice... cheese

Teens are tough, and in our current society 18 is still pretty young. You (the OP) sound really angry, and fairly judgmental, on both the child and the parenting situation you've stepped into (however many years ago you stepped into it).

Frankly, you sound a bit like the guy who is sure that he knows how to coach the Giants better than any of the existing coaches, because, darn it, he has watched football all of his life and has a brain.

Your frustration simply does not make you an expert, or wiser than those who've been dealing with the problems (and loving the kid in spite of them) for years. If parenting teaches us anything, it often teaches us how far off-base our preconceived models of parenting were, when applied to the actual unique individuals who were born into our homes.

Having said that, it sounds like a tough situation. You are lucky if you are dealing with it without younger children in the house, because that removes at least one layer of complexity. I wish you the best of luck, but strongly suggest you take some of the advice in this thread, and tread gently.


I agree with everything @sarahzm said, but would like to add one other thing. You and your wife need to present a united front. If the two of you need counseling to get on the same page, do it now.

My 18 year old was not ready for college and struggled so much that we suggested he needed to regroup, get a job etc. He now has a home, a family, an MS in Accounting and a great career. Taking a step back does not always mean they won't go back.


@susan1014

I LOVE the way you phrased this thought. This statement is as true as it gets!

susan1014 said:
If parenting teaches us anything, it often teaches us how far off-base our preconceived models of parenting were, when applied to the actual unique individuals who were born into our homes.


In fairness to the OP, when our kids' choices make us anxious some of us express that through anger (at least at first). I would remind folks that an 18 year old brain is very much a work in progress and he has a ways to go before you can expect solid judgement most of the time. Marijuana does not enhance or facilitate brain development in an 18 year old (neither does alcohol or or any other drug). I agree with those who suggest that he may need a break from school until he gets things figured out. A gap year needs to be structured and not just a year to catch up on sleep and mooch off the family! If he is currently in school, there is likely a decent counseling center on his campus where he can get psychological counseling and try to figure out next steps. They may well encourage a break from school and might even suggest bringing family into the conversation. In the meantime, it is important for you and your wife to present a united front, Bluesmap. Perhaps talking to someone together would be helpful. Best of luck, Bluesmap. I hope no one ever told you this would be easy.


I have personally seen the consequence of both kicking a problem kid out on the streets and the alternative (they were very close kicking the kid out, but the parent stepped back from the edge, thankfully). The kid who was kicked out went into a downward spiral and never recovered. The parent who kicked her out was a step parent. The kid who was given second chance after second chance struggled too but they had some safety nets and forgiveness to fall back on and it made a world of difference in their life. That parent was a single Mom at her wits end.

While "tough love" can seem like the only alternative in certain situations, it is an irrevocable decision and has a ripple effect on a persons life.

Good luck with resolving your family tensions.


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