Dear Amy: After a traumatic divorce, my now 35-year-old stepson began drinking and using drugs.
While living with us, he stole money from me, and even from his toddler’s piggy bank. He stole my car. His outbursts necessitated he be removed by the police multiple times.
While arguing with his supervisor, he punched and broke the man’s jaw.
We spent thousands of dollars on attorneys’ fees. Our attorney got him a suspended sentence and probation.
Although my wife and I frequently warned him, he failed a drug test and his seven-year sentence was reimposed.
My wife and I almost got divorced and saw a counselor after she demanded we pay another $3,500 for an appeal I knew was fruitless. (I am a former Army MP, corrections officer and have a degree in criminal justice.)
In prison, he has found Jesus, which delights my wife.
He is about to get out, and she wants him to temporarily live with us. He must register as a felon with the police.
I do not agree to his return to our home. I have substantial coin and currency, and am a federally licensed gun collector. Although my items are secured in an alarmed safe, I do not think having a felon living with us and chancing a relapse is a good idea. What should I do?
Amy says: Your stepson should not return to, quite literally, the scene of his crimes. Your household is probably not the healthiest environment for him, because he would be surrounded by triggers associated with his drinking, drug use and violent outbursts.
He would also be cohabiting with an enabling mother and seething stepfather, and this is a combustible situation for all.
You should research halfway houses in the area to see if your stepson is eligible to be released into that environment. Local churches sometimes sponsor housing for men newly released from prison; if your stepson has found Christian faith while incarcerated, this might be a good environment for him.
You and your wife should support his efforts to recover and re-enter society. As a felon, his employment options will be limited, and this is an area where you might be able to help.
I hope that your wife has learned that her enabling has contributed to some of his problems, because propping him up has delayed him experiencing the natural consequences of his actions. He must continue to work all of the steps of recovery and rehabilitation. His mother cannot do this for him.
I hope your marriage counselor suggested for you both to attend a “friends and family” support group. You would both benefit from Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings (nar-anon.org).
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