Annie's Mailbox: Woman fed up with step-son’s lifestyle, treatment of dad

Dear Annie: I am running out of patience with my 24-year-old stepson. “Andy” lives with his mother, but in the same town we do.

Since his senior year in high school, he has never finished anything he starts.

He has tried college three different times at my husband’s expense. He simply quits going to class.

He tried the military, but washed out after a week.

Then he tried living in a separate state, but couldn’t seem to find a job and we paid for most of his expenses. The jobs he has had since only last a few days. He just stops going.

Over the past five years, we have invested almost $40,000 in this young man.My biggest frustration is that every time we find out he has flunked out or lost another job, he has a huge meltdown and claims to be suicidal.

My husband is then so thankful Andy is alive that there is no consequence for his behavior. My husband won’t even talk to him about his actions, let alone hold him accountable.

Let me clarify that Andy has never actually tried to commit suicide. He only threatens. I’m beginning to think it is simply a way to manipulate his father.

We’ve tried getting him into counseling and on medication for depression, but he stops any treatment, claiming that nothing works.

He also apparently tells the therapists what they want to hear so he can get out of there.

This is causing a huge strain on my marriage. My husband is angry I don’t sympathize with Andy when he has an “episode.”

The few times I have brought up my doubts about his son’s sincerity, we end up not speaking for a week.

I really hate seeing my husband suffer like this. Any ideas?

— New York

Dear New York: Has Andy been tested for Attention Deficit Disorder? He certainly sounds like a good candidate.

You and your husband should also get into family counseling so you can both learn how best to deal with Andy’s behavioral issues.

In the meantime, try not to get between your husband and his son. You will lose.

Dear Annie: I recently saw an announcement for a benefit dinner for the family of a 53-year-old man who had died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

The proceeds would be used for funeral expenses.

I fully support helping families who have unforeseen expenses in connection with high-cost medical issues, particularly if there are children involved.

And if the death of a breadwinner causes sudden hardship, I can understand the request for contributions to the children’s education.

But isn’t a benefit to cover funeral expenses going too far?

— Taken Aback in Michigan

Dear Taken: A benefit dinner to defray funeral costs is a rather public advertising of the family’s poor financial situation and, therefore, in bad taste.

Not to mention, the money used to supply food could be put to better use if the family is truly in dire straits.

But no one is obligated to attend or contribute.

Dear Annie: “Out of Concern” asked why her neighbor had body odor if she regularly showered.

For many years, I used deodorants, antiperspirants, etc., but never had decent results.

Finally, I decided that baking soda might do the job, and that’s what I’ve used ever since.

I never did learn the real reason for my body odor, but who cares? In my bathroom storage cabinet, I have a small jar of baking soda with a cotton ball in it and I use it every day.

As an extra dividend, I no longer have to wait after shaving my underarms before applying deodorant, to say nothing about the difference in cost.

As you said, body chemistry is a factor, so this may not work for others, but something should.

— Nevada

Dear Nevada: We appreciate these homespun remedies that are harmless and inexpensive. Thank you.

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