My stepson (age 24) is still in college and lies like a dog. He is dating a girl who is 18 or 19 (so he says). He has a history of liking younger girls. I have told my husband that 1st of all this isn’t normal and 2nd I am afraid he is going to get into trouble! He lies about his background. He lies about why he is still in college. He says he is working on a higher degree. Please — I’d appreciate him getting the 1st one! He tells so many lies, he forgets them. He does all of this to impress people. He is a very handsome, smart, talented (excellent musician) — why does he have to lie and why does he like younger girls? Why can’t he date someone closer to his age?

A: Your stepson sounds like a very insecure young man. Since he doesn’t feel that he has enough to offer as he is, he embellishes the truth and spends time with people, like younger girls, that he can impress. It doesn’t matter how smart, talented, and attractive he is if he doesn’t see it. You didn’t tell me enough for me to get a sense of what has made him feel so insufficient but maybe you and your husband can figure it out.

Right now, you are too angry with him to be helpful. Scolding and criticizing won’t change the situation. If you and your husband do want to help him, I suggest that the two of you find a family therapist to help you think about some strategies for being more effective.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie