Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married 49 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

Marriage Matters

He says: 

Louis says: Our 22-year-old son, Jimmy, who is the youngest of our four children, seems to have little incentive to finish college or get a job. Jimmy’s older siblings have completed school or have been trained for a job and live independently. My wife, Stephanie, still sees Jimmy as her baby and continues to allow him to live life without being very personally responsible. Stephanie initially was ignoring the later and later hours this son was keeping and his drinking, which has increased.  And now Jimmy has stopped going to Mass. Stephanie was making excuses for our son, but lately, even she has begun to get concerned about this deteriorating situation. Jimmy needs to change the direction of his life, but each time I try to discuss a plan with Stephanie and Jimmy, it results in a verbal altercation between the three of us.

She says: 

Stephanie says: What is the big rush? Jimmy is our youngest and there is a space of five years between him and his next closest sibling. Sure, Jimmy does not contribute as much as he could around the house, but I enjoy his company, and after all Louis is still working at a good job and we are not hurting for money. We will be empty-nesters soon enough!

What do they do? 

It is time for Jimmy get his big-boy pants on!  Louis is correct in his concerns that their son has not prepared well for true adulthood and to become a beneficial member of the family and of society.  Stephanie has contributed to this situation by enabling Jimmy to develop poor habits and non-productive life skills.  His coping skills are most likely not being developed, which would not serve him well later in life.

Calling Jimmy to a more responsible life is probably going to require a “semi-tough love” approach on the part of Louis and Stephanie, with both parents being on the same page (don’t forget to pray for patience and fortitude for all).

Louis and Stephanie need to be firm in their approach to addressing this problem. They need to set specific goals for their son to reach as a precondition for his living in their home and enjoying the benefits, i.e. securing a job or returning to school, taking on some tasks around the house such as mowing the lawn, responsibility for the trash and recyclables, cooking (yes Jimmy, cooking),etc.

Jimmy’s response to their requirements will need to be monitored by Louis and Stephanie without fail, and include loss of privileges for non-compliance.

Also, having a family meeting with the siblings, telling the son his good qualities, as well as his not-so-good behaviors, would assist Jimmy to see the family is supportive and united in an effort to help him to grow up.  Do not be afraid to open your meeting with prayer. Jimmy needs to see and hear his family pray together.