My stepson moved in, and then his dad died. How can I get him to move out?

Julia Naftulin
·4 min read
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How do I get my stepson to move out of my house after his father died last year?

His father, my husband, invited him to move into our home so he could get more formal job training that he couldn't get where he lived with his mother, a state very far from us. My stepson was here only a few months before his father passed away.

Judging by the looks of it, he has no plans to leave, despite having an opportunity to move in with a roommate. When I asked him about it, he told me they wouldn't be compatible as roommates.

He has a low-paying job, but considerable savings - and I do mean considerable for a 27-year-old single man with zero prospects and no vices. He is extremely frugal.

He pays no rent, and only recently have I told him to buy his own food and toiletries.

We don't like any of the same things and have nothing to talk about together. I feel like an alien in my own home.

- Florida

Dear Florida,

I'm sorry about your husband. It sounds like your living situation isn't helping you move forward, which is something you deserve.

Though I'm sure you want to be sensitive to your stepson and his own ways of coping with grief, I don't think it's a ridiculous request to ask him to move out.

Kelly Scott, a senior therapist at Tribeca Therapy, told me there's a difference between being harsh and being firm with a loved one. So long as you lead with compassion, there are ways for you and your stepson to both get what you need.

"My advice would be to be as straightforward as possible and to not come from a place of emotion," Scott told me.

If you're feeling angry or frustrated at your stepson's presence or actions, process those feelings with therapy or journaling.

Next, be sure you're clear on why you want your stepson to move out, and create an action plan. While it's reasonable to ask him to find his own place because money isn't an issue, you can't expect him to leave on the spot.

Scott suggested giving your stepson concrete check-ins about his move-out status, and boundaries for the time being as you continue to cohabitate.

You could, for example, tell him that you'll be checking in at the end of every month for an update on his apartment search and that you can give him up to four months (or whatever timeline works for you, within reason). If there are any boundaries you want to create during that time - in addition to your stepson shopping for himself - now is the time to bring those up.

Approach him from a levelheaded place when you're both free to sit down and talk in person, and then present your plan.

Scott suggested saying something like: "Hey, this arrangement isn't working for me. I'm also grieving and need my own space. Here's what I need from you." Then get into specifics.

It can be hard to confront someone you care about, especially when you know they're going through a rough patch. But remember that you're both adults and your stepson can care for himself. You should do the same.

"As long as that doesn't come from a place of anger and punishment, as long as that comes purely, like, from a place of her advocating for her own needs, it's within her rights," Scott told me.

As Insider's resident sex and relationships reporter, Julia Naftulin is here to answer all your questions about dating, love, and doing it - no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.

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