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‘My Wife Treats My Grown Son Like a Child’ — Ask Dr. Harry Fisch

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Al’s son is 19 years old but is constantly babied by his mother. Al’s concerned that his son isn’t prepared for when he eventually has to move out and be a man. Al feels his wife isn’t helping the situation because she does nothing to encourage their son to do things for himself. What does Al have to do to give his son the tools he needs to grow up and start taking care of himself?

Dr. Fisch’s Advice:

It sounds to me like the source of the issue that you’re having with your son actually stems from an issue you’re having with your wife. If your wife is coddling him it sounds like she doesn’t want your son leaving the house. Perhaps your relationship with your wife isn’t where it needs to be so she wants to keep your son around as long as possible so that she doesn’t have to live alone with you.

Your son is acting as a buffer between the problems you are having with your wife. Until you can rebuild your relationship with your wife, this problem with your son is not going to go away. This is more than just an empty nest syndrome. This is your wife telling you that she’s unhappy with you, and is focusing her attention on your son instead of dealing with her relationship problem directly with you. You’re doing the same thing.

I’m going to assume your sex life isn’t going too well either but it’s not too late to fix things. Before you can get what you really want, you need to first figure out what she really wants. As long as you’re not making her happy, she’s going to use your son as a buffer between the two of you. Start by engaging her openly about the problems you two are experiencing and I guarantee you the problem you’re having with your son will get a whole lot easier to manage.

Dr. Harry Fisch is a board certified urologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

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