Paying for college?

Hi all,

My stepson has always been a tedious child to deal with emotionally. My husband and I have been together since her was four and married since he was 7. He is now 18, a senior at an elite high school for gifted students in math and science. Academically he has always done very well. His relationship with his father, my husband, and myself has always been rough around the edges. He tends say that we are never proud of him, and nothing is ever good enough for us, that he feels different from us (and his sister and half sister), but nothing could be farther from how we feel. We have been there supporting his education, paying for his current living expenses at his boarding school, paying for a trip to Germany this summer, always sending gifts to school, telling him how proud we are of him. Yes! We do tell him to try harder when we know he flopped a test because he was spending too much time "hanging out" or telling him that he needs to let us know when he leaves the campus to go out and when he gets back (school is 3 hours away and he has been there for 11 & 12 grade), but apparently this is us controlling him! We give him the money to go out, we don't mind that he does go out, we only care for his safety! He on the other hand only calls home when he wants something (I.e. Money) He didn't even call his father when he was recovering from triple bypass! Said he had exams. Didn't call him on his birthday. When he is home he stays in his room 90% of the time and is constantly texting his friends, he is rude to his sisters!

These are just a few ways in which he has decided to evolve into an "adult". He decided to apply to many colleges all over the country without any discussion with us about finances. He was accepted to an in-state school and awarded there top scholarship! This is a wonderful opportunity and a top 3 school in the area of study that he is interested in. Wonderful, right?!?


He was also accepted to Columbia University. Which I understand is a wonderful honor, but we(his father and I) do not want to pay $78k a year to send him there.

We are about to have to start paying for Grad school for my step daughter in less than a year and we still have a 10yr old in a private school. We think it is beyond selfish of him to expect us to fork o we that kind of money for school when he has a wonderful opportunity at a school that is giving him a full ride!

he has decided that he wants nothing to do with us, as it is just to much work to deal with us. He refused to come home for the holiday. Only contacts us when he wants something from us. Says that it's easier not to deal with us!

How do you deal with a kid/adult like this?


Well-Known Member
He's 18. Maybe he just has to learn things the hard way. Both Son #1 and Son #2 made these bold, independent statements but absolutely hated it when we agreed and went on about our lives. Son #1 has a major tantrum right before his 19th birthday, telling Hubby (his father) to "forget him, forget everything, forget you ever had a son." All righty then. We didn't call to wish him a happy birthday. He was FURIOUS. Son #2 decided he didn't want to be part of the family any longer. I think he was 17. No problem. He lasted about three days of no one talking to him, acknowledging his presence in any way, and I only cooked for me, Hubby, and Miss KT. We got home one afternoon and he was perched on the roof like an owl. He decided to come down and talk to us. Miss KT didn't try it, since she saw first hand the results from her stepbrothers.

I tell the stories to frame what we told the boys. You're either in or you're out. You don't get both. You can't expect to have to benefits of being part of the family if you don't suck it up and get through the not so pleasant times. If you decide to be out, we'll be here when you decide you want to come back in. It's not fun, but they have to learn that it's not all about them.

Good luck. Stay strong.
Thank you, I agree. It's harder for the hubby to just put his hands up, bc he (stepson) uses his bio moms as a refuge and she is always 100% against anything we say or do. While we think his behavior is out of bounds, she supports it whole heartedly! It's exasperating! So he thinks he is validated and just in his actions. I think one day he will wise up and see the error in his actions towards a family that loves him.


Active Member
I agree with KT. And I also want to mention that if he really wants to go to Columbia he can take out student loans. Maybe the reality of having to pay back almost $350,000-$400,000 worth of loans will help him understand why this isn't something he can ask of you.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
No, no, no! Do not go into that kind of debt when he has a wonderful opportunity that won't cost anything. You need to be focusing on your retirement years. Clark Howard, a noted consumer advocate, is against parents taking out any debt for their child's education. He suggests that they start out at a community school and then transfer to a 4 year college to finish and take out loans in their name if necessary.

I actually understand your dilemma because my youngest daughter had offers to play softball at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania. At that time, Ivy league schools did not offer athletic scholarships so we would have had to pay the $50,000 a year that it cost at that time.

I actually did think about it for a little while but realized putting ourselves $200,000 into debt at our ages was crazy. She ended up getting a full scholarship at Furman University and getting hurt after one year so she transferred to a local university and was very happy. She has a great job now and loves it.

In this case, your son has a great opportunity that he wants to throw away at your expense. Let him have his temper tantrum. If he wants an education, he can accept the scholarship or take out the loans necessary for Columbia.

Don't reward bad behavior! Didn't call when his father had bypass surgery? Didn't call his father on his birthday? Rude to his sisters? Never calls unless he wants something? What in the world has he done to deserve you putting yourselves into that kind of unnecessary debt? Just being born?

I guess I sound kind of harsh but he sounds like a spoiled brat and I hate to see you taken advantage of like that.



Well-Known Member
Two extremely bright young people I know graduated from top colleges and are both over 100,000 in debt. Most parents cant afford six years if Ivy League colleges and most kids incur a debt. With a good job, it will be paid off. But of course it takes time. Still, most dont have parents who can afford to pay for all of expensive college. He can do what other college students have to do or choose the cost free option. It is selfish of him not to.

This young man needs to grow some empathy and a better attitude towards you both. Right now...seems you are just his bank. Not seeing Dad after bypass surgery sounds like he has no feelings. Very chilling.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
I always heard that you should NOT jeopardize your retirement to help your children in any way and that is the rule we are following.

I'm sorry but your son sounds very spoiled and entitled. My son is the same way. I don't really think it's anything we did because we are not wealthy.

We are trying to break him of this and let me tell you it ain't easy!
Thank you all for your comments! I couldn't agree with with you more and it makes me fell better to know that we are not alone in our way of thinking.

To Kathy- his bio-mom is not in a position to even get loans. She has made a lot of bad life decisions, one including a foreclosure. So he see his Dad and I as the ones with money. He has this view that we are "bad" because we have "money" and his mom is good because she lives paycheck to paycheck. But when he wants money it's ok! Makes me crazy!

He wanted his mail that had come to our house while he was a away at school, he off for spring break, text me to put it on the porch. Like we are such bad people that he couldn't even walk in the house and up to his bedroom to get it. My husband told him NO. Said that he would mail it to him if that is how he wanted to act.

Text his father that it is just to much work being at our home pretending like we're a family. My husband offered to go to a family counselor and he said it would be a waste of time and money.

We sent him a text today, because that's how he communicates with us mostly, and told him:

Since you have made the decision to not be a part of this family, then we are done. We love you very much and want the best for you but we are not going to subject ourselves to your verbal abuse because you are not getting your way. You are welcome to come back to a home full of people that love and care for you when you can be an active member of this family, in good times and bad. We wish you good luck and hope that you grow up to realize that you have a family that cares for you.

We received no response to it.

I just can't see even dealing with him in anyway if he is going to be so heartless to us when he doesn't get his way.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Since you have made the decision to not be a part of this family, then we are done. We love you very much and want the best for you but we are not going to subject ourselves to your verbal abuse because you are not getting your way. You are welcome to come back to a home full of people that love and care for you when you can be an active member of this family, in good times and bad. We wish you good luck and hope that you grow up to realize that you have a family that cares for you.

Perfect response!!

I'm sorry you are finding yourself on the receiving end of your son's entitled attitude. There are so many young adults who share in the entitled attitude and I'm glad you are not buying into it. If your son wants an Ivy league education and has been accepted to prestigious schools then he obviously is smart enough to figure out how to pay for it himself.

It doesn't surprise me that he has not responded to you.

Hang in there!!


good for you! I love the text you sent him! You have started to reclaim your lives. No longer the door mats that he has been expecting! Now its up to him. I surmise it will take some time for him to come around...but use that to heal yourselves and take back the positives in your life that have likely been displaced by his poor entitled attitude! Hugs!