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Two Ex-Christian Nephews Moving In With Me


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#1 Puddinhead

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 06:51 PM

I have two nephews, both in their early 20s, that have come from home-schooled Christian backgrounds. I have moved 1000 miles away from my Christian family. One nephew moved in a week ago, the other is coming on a bus this weekend, to stay for a short time. I have mainly lurked on these boards, but know that the people here give great advice, so I'm asking for advice in any of these areas.

1. One is a homeschooled kid that didn't get his GED. I've been encouraging him to get a GED, as he's very bright, but until then, I'd like to offer him some direction. His only experience is in dishwashing. If anyone has a similar background, what kind of work might he be able to find?

2. The other boy has been extremely controlled by his parents. Although he's 21, his parents have had total control over his paychecks. He plans to cash out his paycheck today and catch the bus out to see me. Since his parents have over $1000 of his money, how could he get access to that? What I am asking is, what would be a good way to approach these psycho parents to get them to let their son go and have access to his own hard-earned money? Does anybody have successful experience with this?

3. The boys couldn't have picked a worse time to crash at our house. Laid-off in March, unemployment checks don't cover the basic expenses and we have to use our savings for food and gas. Unemployment in our county is at 12%, which is concerning for our job prospects as well as for those of the boys who are trying to get a new start out here. I want to be kind - they really do need help - at the same time, I want to be sensible. I told them they'd have a month for free and then they'd need to find somewhere else to go. Any ideas on where that "somewhere else" might be? Does anyone have experience in this situation and how did you handle it?

4. Finally (sorry this is so damned long) - how to minimize drama in the family fallout. Six years ago I took in a nephew (brother of the first boy). Because of that my sister and I no longer speak. Apparently, it is my fault that the boy stopped being a creationist. I'd like to minimize the drama, not because I respect my sisters after the way they're treated their children, but because they'll drag my parents into it and my parents are sweet people and don't deserve this. Any ideas on what kinds of "lines to draw" or conversations to have (or not have) when the mommies call to tell me how to handle their sons?

Thanks!
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#2 Fuego

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 08:12 PM

They need reality lessons since they aren't getting them from the parents.

The 21 year old has control of the checks unless they are being direct deposited into the parent's account. If they are, he needs to talk to his boss and change that without consulting with the parents. He has more power than he imagines, but he is scared because he perceives himself as a child not a man.

Introduce them to this forum so that they will have a continuing feed of reality which will form a basis for why not to be slaves to anything or anyone. Public libraries have Internet, so they can access it nearly every day.

It is high time they learned to spread their wings and start acting like men instead of children. They can get their own accounts and jobs and move out. It might seem scary at first, but walk them through how to do it. Maybe take them to an apartment and show them the steps needed to get a place, furnish it, and maintain it. Or if they can go to college, how to get a room off campus or with a dorm. Show them how to search for a used vehicle and what to do when it breaks down. They need to see their options instead of always feeling the familiar gravity of the home they grew up in.

Hunger for freedom has to burn inside of them, or they will continue to kowtow to parental superstition and control. Find out who they are as people, what they like and hate, what they'd like to do with their lives. Show them what is available in college for majors, and for financial aid. I used Pell grants for some of my education. Loans are dangerous, but if they don't have any alternative loans are a means to go to school. Then again, with the job market sucking powerfully right now, doing trade work might be a better route (plumbing, welding).
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Posted 07 August 2009 - 08:23 PM

Help them get a van that they can live in and encourage them to travel. Dishwashing is very useful on the road. Showers can be had at the Y, and at campgrounds.

Sometimes you can walk onto a construction site and get some day labor, too. You can even learn useful skills there.

Bumming around is a great way to learn about life. I recommend it for all young men. When you realize that you can live on next to nothing, the prospect of losing everything holds no fear. Self-sufficiency does wonders for one's confidence level.

Oh, and kick that idiot kid in the ass and make him get his GED. It's dead easy.
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#4 Loren

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 08:28 PM

For 1 and 2, I don't have any good advice for you, although regarding 2, I know that there are some members here who have legal training and experience. I hope that they'll weigh in on this. I would think that since both boys are legal adults, the parents will have no true legal standing on keeping the money. It sounds pretty actionable.

On 3, I'd strongly advise you to talk to your parents before the boys' parents do. Give them a heads-up, tell them what you're trying to do and what you'd like to avoid, if possible.

As someone who's been helped in the past by good people, I'd like to say thank you. You're a good person. I hope it works out as well as it can.
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#5 OpheliaGinger

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 08:31 PM

Apparently, the questions on the GED test are incredibly menial and easy.
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#6 Astreja

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 10:02 PM

Suggest to the dishwashing nephew that he check the Internet and the library for advice on how to become a damned good waiter. That'll get him out of the back of the kitchen, get him socializing a bit, and perhaps land a few good tips.

Outside the restaurant business, I think that he'd do well at any kind of entry-level factory work that requires a little bit of attention to detail... Operating a drill press on an assembly line; car detailing, perhaps? Beyond that, it depends on his level of reading and writing skill.

As for the nephew with the controlling parents, for now it's best to assume that he won't see that money again. Short of a lawyer's letter, and willingness to take the parents to small claims court, I can't think of a way to get that $1000 back. And it has to be absolutely clear that the money is his and not theirs, else it's a waste of time to go the legal route.
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#7 godlessgrrl

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 09:38 AM

Well - some ideas:

1. Volunteering might be a way for the lad to pick up some new skills. Pick a good nonprofit org with a good cause, call 'em up, ask what kind of help they need. It won't bring in any income, but it'll provide some experience, look good on a resume, and help keep him busy. Oh yeah, and I third (or fourth?) earning that GED.

2. Where is the $1000 in question? If it's in his parents' account, he can kiss it goodbye and chalk the loss up to a very costly lesson in trust. If it's in his own account, he can simply close and cash out the account without their knowing about it, then start a new account in another bank. As has been mentioned, he can also have his workplace change any direct deposits there might be. But if that boy is to learn how to become a man he's going to have to take charge of his own finances despite what his parents want or expect.

3. Well, if someone were going to shack up with me, regardless of hard times or not, I'll make 'em earn their keep. If they can't bring in income, they'll be working around the house, doing chores, repairs, cooking, cleaning, that sort of thing. There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch™.

4. I like the idea of talking to your parents before anyone else does. Don't feel obligated to tell them a whole ton if you don't want to, maybe just let them know your nephews have come to you for a little help getting on their own two feet and you're going to give them a hand. Maybe also let them know that if their parents have any issues to please have them contact you directly and you'll be happy to speak with them about it, even if you aren't really.

This is, of course, free advice, and you get what you pay for... if you find any useful, great. If not, no worries. In any case, I think it's a good thing what you're doing and I hope it works out well for all.
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#8 Deva

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 10:54 AM

Why do the parents have control over the paychecks? Are they direct deposited into their account? If so, can another account be opened and the checks be redirected there?

It would probably not be worth it to try to get the $1,000 back. I would write that off most likely. Most attorneys, depending on where you live, charge $250-$300 an hour for their time.

If I had nephews coming to live with me, I would seriously consider drawing up a written contract, which they would sign in the presence of two witnesses and a notary public. If this sounds extreme, I have been in a roomate situation that did not work out -- it is miserable. They should know what is expected, what rent is paid, what is prohibited and required, limits on the time spent there. Exactly like a lease for a specific period of time after which it is renewed or not. I would do some research on this, maybe even seek some advice from an attorney who does leases. Check with your local legal aid office.
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#9 Puddinhead

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 12:00 PM

Lots of great advice on a lot of levels.

To clarify about the boy who doesn't have control over his money. It helps if I think about it like an abused spouse. This guy was beaten for giving his sister "the wrong kind of music" cd on Christmas morning. He's been treated like he was 5 and dim-witted his whole life. He doesn't know that he can control his life, or how to. His father was concerned about him spending money on "inappropriate items" so they set up an account where Mark's money goes. Mark has access to the money, but only if his dad approves of the purchases. Dad would never ever approve of Mark moving out and especially moving near the "godless" auntie.

Child services have been called on these people several times. It has only ever been over this one child, however. He's the Pariah of the family. I do think that Mark would be able to get ahold of his money, if he played his cards right. Honestly, these people scare the crap out of me. The react in ways I can never understand. This is why I asked for advice, because I want to help Mark handle them in such a way as to be able to recover his money. If I "set the dogs on them", they'll simply claim that the money is theirs. He owed it to them for rent or something and that will be the end of it.

Brilliant idea to talk to my parents about the issue. Why the HELL didn't I think of that? Thank you, thank you.

I am trying to treat the boys with respect. I have told them "We are literally eating through our savings to eat and put gas in the tank now. You have two weeks for free here and then you're going to have to pitch in." An adult would understand that kind of language and respond appropriately. I'm going to assume they're adults. But, yeah, it would have been smart to have put something in writing.

I have perhaps been too timid in my assertions that Seth get a GED. I will be a little more...encouraging about that. I had thought a good option for them might be Americorps. The stimulus package gave our area more Americorps postions. It offers a low wage, but job training and weekly socialization. You do need a GED for that tho.

Thanks again for your advice and if you've got more, let er rip!
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#10 PaulQ

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 01:46 PM

One thing that stands out for me is the $1000. There's absolutely nothing you can do about this; the responsibility would be on the 21 year old man. Hopefully, he has retained all of his pay stubs, and has access to the bank account activity. He's going to have to demand it from his parents; barring that, take them to small claims court where he will most definitely win; so long as he has the paperwork to support his claim.

As far as work is concerned, forget about manufacturing; it's a mess right now. You need to sit down with him and help him devise a plan. Some entry-level jobs can lead to a better career; for example, many minimum wage security guard jobs can help one attain the experience they need to move on to better paying security jobs. There's also the possibility of them going into business for themselves. Why not work together and land some cleaning contracts at some local businesses? I know a guy who has done just that, and he's doing quite well for himself. A minimal investment in cleaning equipment and supplies, and the work really isn't all that hard. Before they know it, they may need to hire on staff.

We all need to work with our strengths, and not allow ourselves to overlook any opportunity.
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#11 AKR

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 06:44 AM

Edit: oops. nevermind, I read wrong.

Edited by AKR, 23 August 2009 - 06:46 AM.

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#12 Blessed be

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 11:25 AM

1. One is a homeschooled kid that didn't get his GED. I've been encouraging him to get a GED, as he's very bright, but until then, I'd like to offer him some direction. His only experience is in dishwashing. If anyone has a similar background, what kind of work might he be able to find?

2. The other boy has been extremely controlled by his parents. Although he's 21, his parents have had total control over his paychecks. He plans to cash out his paycheck today and catch the bus out to see me. Since his parents have over $1000 of his money, how could he get access to that? What I am asking is, what would be a good way to approach these psycho parents to get them to let their son go and have access to his own hard-earned money? Does anybody have successful experience with this?

3. The boys couldn't have picked a worse time to crash at our house. Laid-off in March, unemployment checks don't cover the basic expenses and we have to use our savings for food and gas. Unemployment in our county is at 12%, which is concerning for our job prospects as well as for those of the boys who are trying to get a new start out here. I want to be kind - they really do need help - at the same time, I want to be sensible. I told them they'd have a month for free and then they'd need to find somewhere else to go. Any ideas on where that "somewhere else" might be? Does anyone have experience in this situation and how did you handle it?

4. Finally (sorry this is so damned long) - how to minimize drama in the family fallout. Six years ago I took in a nephew (brother of the first boy). Because of that my sister and I no longer speak. Apparently, it is my fault that the boy stopped being a creationist. I'd like to minimize the drama, not because I respect my sisters after the way they're treated their children, but because they'll drag my parents into it and my parents are sweet people and don't deserve this. Any ideas on what kinds of "lines to draw" or conversations to have (or not have) when the mommies call to tell me how to handle their sons?



For Q #1 - You can actually get many different jobs without having a GED. On the application just be honest and put that he was homeschooled. It is valid- the GED is just insurance in case some a-hole wants to say that homeschooling doesn't count. But there are many places that let you study for free- they provide the material etc for it you just have to pay for the actual test. Adult learning centers or a local college would be what he should look for. Going and asking questions cost nothing- he should definitely look into it just so he doesn't miss out on any opportunities.

Q #2 - Unless the money is in an account with his name on it he can wave goodbye to it. There is little to no way to get it back without his folks either feeling generous or taking legal action against them and even then the chances are not good. It would be far to easy to give the idea that they already gave him the money. He might as well not stress over it since he likely will never see it again.

Q #3 - If they can both find jobs you could always let them stay with you and just pay rent. It could help you and them at the same time. And in times like this even dead end low paying jobs are good- its money coming in so they should pretty much take what they can get and be thankful.

Q #4 - Sorry but I have no advice for this one- in my experience families tend to drag all parties into an issue regardless of how much one party may want to avoid major conflict. They kind of suck like that. heh


I do hope that things settle out and clear up for ya'll. I know from experience how difficult it can be to transition from a christian homeschooling family into the real world- I am still in the process of doing so myself. They will need a lot of love and support for sure- they are leaving the only home and support system they have ever known. As controlling and unhealthy as it may or may not have been it was known and we all know that things we know feel safe compared to the unknown.
And as badly as you may want them to move on from living with you- don't rush them to much if they are putting out the effort and helping with the house hold expenses. They are making huge, life changing decisions right now- more stress is not what they need. Granted if they are treating it like a free ride tough love would definitely be in order, life circumstances do not give us a pass to abuse kindness or take advantage of a helping hand- they need to know that.

All the best-
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#13 Puddinhead

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 12:51 PM

We were midway through week 4 of their "2 week" stay. Just 90 minutes ago I had the MOST unpleasant task of kicking them out. :( I really hate this.

We knew they were lying about some of their job hunting. They'd be out "interviewing" in another town, but we'd see them here in town riding around or at the beach. I asked them not to lie.

We had set the one boy up with a job through a friend. It was at the "happening" resteraunt/bar in a college town near us. Last night at dinner, I asked him "Of all the places you've applied, where do you most hope to work?" He responded at this place or at Red Robin. I found out this morning that he was offered a job at the resteraunt 3 days ago and turned it down. I don't get it. They seem to be orchestrating their own failure very well. They unemployment rate in my county is 11%. And I don't get the lying.

It's very sad. I've sent the boys money in the past, tried to befriend them. I told them they had a good opportunity here and they blew it. This lie isn't the only thing - there have been many lies about many things. They also have brought in bondage porn, etc. which is concerning since I have a 13-year-old son. I wish it could have ended differently. I really thought that it would. I keep thinking if I would have done something differently, they'd have been genuine about this. They're not stupid people and they seemed to want a new start.

Sorry, feeling very upset and confused right now. Thank you all for your insights in trying to help these guys and your support. Felt I owed you a final honest, if depressing, update.
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#14 godlessgrrl

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 10:07 PM

I'm sorry it ended up the way it did, Puddinhead.

I think you did a good thing in offering them help. I think you also did a good thing by setting limits and kicking them out when they refused it. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and all that.

Remember that their actions are not your fault. Being responsible and honest is a matter under their control, not yours. I seriously doubt that there is anything you could do or have done that would have caused them to become "genuine", as you say, especially not since they've lived a life thus far that's encouraged them to be immature, helpless, and dishonest.

They'll either learn how to be adults, or they won't. They'll just have to figure it out on their own.

Good on you for trying. But don't beat yourself up because they failed.

Hang in there.
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#15 AKR

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 02:19 AM

Sounds like their parents were so busy trying to shove god up their ass and control every aspect of their children's lives that they forgot to teach them how to be independent and responsible.

Edited by AKR, 25 August 2009 - 02:19 AM.

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#16 Loren

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 05:05 AM

I second what Gwen said. I admire what you did, why you did it, and think you did everything the right way for the right reasons.

Their behavior baffles me until I recall what kind of a person I was when I was that age.

I was a profoundly selfish, foolish moron.
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Gen. 3:4-5 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Gen. 3:22 And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil."

#17 atimetorend

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 08:03 AM

You did the right thing, and regardless of how your nephews' situation turns out, they will be affected in the best way by how you treated them. I had a friend in college who fled his fundamentalist family, I was a conservative Christian at the time, but not fundamentalist, and thought I could help him. He presented a front to me which was very deceptive, and I was completely fooled for a time. And the situation didn't turn out so well in the short run. He moved out eventually, which was the best thing for both of us. I had the space I needed, but his life unfortunately had to hit rock bottom before things got better.

Looking back on it, I think the deception had become a way of life for him growing up in a family like he did. Also, I am reading Frank Schaeffer's books. If you are not familiar with him, his father was a prominent evangelical fundamentalist (for lack of better terms). And he lied to them a lot it seems. Again, I think it was a way of life for him. He was not who they wanted him to be, and the consequences of being honest were too high.

Not that it makes a bad situation better. I hope the best for you and your family. Maybe you and your sister have some common ground in dealing with the kids which you didn't share before, ironically.

Edited by atimetorend, 25 August 2009 - 08:04 AM.

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#18 PaulQ

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 10:06 AM

Definitely sounds like they're only interested in having a wild fun time. Living a highly repressed life, it's hard to fault them wanting to "Get it out of their system." Unfortunately, it would be at your expense, which is unacceptable.

Do understand that, after age 18, people are considered adults, and there are services available to them, so there's really no reason for you to shoulder the burden. Set your conscience free in the knowledge that you gave them a fair chance, but they clearly need to take on the big bad world all by themselves if they're going to grow up to be real men. School of hard knocks is the best place to learn for some people.
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Posted 25 August 2009 - 12:17 PM

Puddinhead - you did good.

One thing I learned in nearly 10 years of street life is that you can't help anyone do something they don't want to do. In this case, it sounds like your nephews don't want to grow up and take responsibility for themselves. You did what you could, and booting them out is part of the lesson they need to learn: tanstaafl.

You've done the best you could. Don't kick yourself because your nephews are pig-headed. They will thank you one day.
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#20 Puddinhead

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 05:20 PM

Looking back on it, I think the deception had become a way of life for him growing up in a family like he did. Also, I am reading Frank Schaeffer's books. If you are not familiar with him, his father was a prominent evangelical fundamentalist (for lack of better terms). And he lied to them a lot it seems. Again, I think it was a way of life for him. He was not who they wanted him to be, and the consequences of being honest were too high.

Thank you for telling me about this. Was his father Francis Schaeffer by chance? I will have to read this. The habit of lying runs very deep in my fundy family. It will be fascinating to read more about this. Thanks again.
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