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Supporting My Boyfriend’s Parents

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My boyfriend and I have been living together for almost a year. I know that he is the man that I am going to spend my life with and I have no doubts about that. We live in his home with his parents and because they are not working we completely support them and pay for everything. His mom has a multitude of health issues and is in her 50s she hasn’t worked in over 20 years. His dad is 46 and stopped working after hurting his knee at work when my boyfriend was 18. Since then my boyfriend has been supporting them completely. My boyfriend is a caring and loving man and his parents take advantage of him. They are not appreciative and always expect him to provide them with whatever they want—his dad in particular. At first when I moved in things were okay but recently it has been very hard. His parents both smoke in the house and no matter how many times we talk to them about it, it continues. They are constantly in our business and wanting us to run and get them things. Recently his dad came into a decent amount of money and with that money he was supposed to buy a vehicle, he did not. Instead his dad takes my car almost everyday and is gone until it’s time for me to go to work which just leaves me sitting at home. I want so badly to move out and have our own place just me and my boyfriend. But we cannot afford to pay for our own place and a place for his parents. My boyfriend is completely unwilling to wean his parents off of his support and I fear that we are going to be stuck living in the same home with them forever. We are only 25 and it feels like we are never going to have the chance to have our own family. I get so angry because his father is mostly just lazy and unwilling to work and would rather just have his son take care of him forever. He has the attitude of an unable elderly man when in actuality he is younger than my parents who both work. My dad had the same knee injury as him and got it fixed then went back to work. He didn’t forever stay “disabled” and expect me to take care of him. It’s beginning to feel impossible living with them and I am so depressed and discouraged. I sit in my room all day long and avoid his parents because I feel uncomfortable and when I hear them complaining it makes me angry. Am I crazy for thinking we deserve a life of our own? And am I selfish for thinking that if we just moved his parents would figure it out? They aren’t children, they’re adults and I’m getting really tired of caring for them like children and everyone I bring this up to my boyfriend he makes excuses for them and dismisses my feelings and just says he’s sorry but that’s just how it is. I can’t take it anymore. I need advice. Please. Thank you.

Supporting My Boyfriend’s Parents

Answered by on -

A.

While the two of you making the effort to help his parents is admirable, it may be exactly the wrong thing to be doing. Helping his parents help themselves is a better way to approach this. The plan should be clear and with a distinct timeline that you are going to move out on a certain date and time — and that they will have to start looking into other sources of getting their needs met, such as social security disability, vocational rehabilitation, etc. If you allow yourselves to be an endless funding source with no plan of extracting yourself you may be enabling their lack of motivation to change. In other words, you might be the very thing that is keeping them stuck.

I would highly recommend a family or couples therapist to help you extract yourself from this situation. Supporting his parents at 25, with no plan to stop, will perpetuate the situation rather than resolve it. You can find a therapist near you by clicking the find help tab at the top of the page or you can look at people registered with this organization. I’d rather see you struggle with feeling a bit guilty for taking this path than feel resentful for the rest of your lives for not. The time for change is now.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Supporting My Boyfriend’s Parents

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Supporting My Boyfriend’s Parents. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/04/28/supporting-my-boyfriends-parents/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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