Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Parents Supporting Adult Son Are Doing Him No Favors

DEAR ABBY: Nine years ago I married a man who has a son from a previous marriage. "Eli" is now 26 and lives "on his own." While he may live under a different roof than his parents, they support him financially. My husband and I pay Eli's car insurance, cellphone bill, toll tag, life insurance policy and whatever other things come up (passport, gym membership). Eli's mom assists with all of his utility bills, in addition to depositing money in his account monthly. They even turned over Eli's 529 tuition account to him.

I have tried explaining to my husband that they are enabling Eli, and the umbilical cord should have been cut years ago. Eli has never earned more than $12,000 a year and has no desire to try because he has an endless flow of financial support. His dad is retired but continues to work in order to help Eli -- although he won't admit it.

This is straining our relationship because when I bring up this issue, he feels I am attacking his son. Am I unrealistic to expect an adult to support himself? -- SEEING CLEARLY IN THE SOUTH

DEAR SEEING CLEARLY: Not at all. You are being rational. Your husband and his ex may be fostering their son's cycle of financial dependence out of a sense of guilt -- possibly because of their divorce. It may take counseling in order for him to understand that he and his ex are doing Eli no favors. Suggest it as part of marriage counseling to ease the strain on your marriage.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Money | Marriage & Divorce