I became stepdad to an adult boy (22) (I am not the biological dad). He didn't have anyone to teach him or a father-like figure since his dad passed away when he was 7.

He never went to college or university as his mom was always struggling and he is a slow learner who learns by metaphors and has been bullied and sometimes his reply was to fight the other person. He told me that he never could make a friend.

He left his first job because his colleague (Mr M.) wasn't helpful and couldn't understand what he did, so he always asked a 3rd person (Mr W) about his issue but Mr W. never spoke because he wanted to save his job so things got out of hand. One day my stepson resigned from his job as his manager really humiliated him (according to him he is always misunderstood and whenever he wants to speak up, his heartbeat goes too high and he starts to sweat and his mouth gets dry so he is out of words on what to say).

I also know he had been a victim of molestation as a teen and couldn't speak to anyone because of society. When he was kid some girl kissed him and told everyone that he forced her to kiss him which broke his heart.

I really want to help him but I am a new to kids and when I see my stepson's future I really want him to communicate openly before things escalate as he has his whole life ahead of him.

Does he need to learn communication/diplomacy or how can I make him more open to conversations when he has an issue with someone?

  • How trustworthy do you think your connection is?
    – svavil
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 0:14
  • @svavil pretty strong, hence he confides in me.
    – localhost
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 9:05
  • 5
    "whenever he wanted to speak up, his heartbeat goes too high and he starts to sweat and his mouth gets dry so he is out of words on what to say" - Many people with anxiety disorders would describe feeling exactly this way. If that's what your stepson is suffering from, then he could benefit professional assistance. Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 13:23
  • 2
    In support of @WayneConrad's comment; as much as I'm not a fan of online diagnosing, the context of the stepson's upbringing and the lack of drawback from meeting with professional assistance even if this is a misdiagnosis, in my opinion very much suggests that it is worth following up on.
    – Flater
    Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 16:00

2 Answers 2


I think your stepson has been through a lot, and all the past traumas are likely to be the main reason for the problems you’ve described.

He seems to lack self-confidence and it might be helpful for him if you tried to boost it. First acknowledge what he went through, express understanding and be there for him whenever he needs someone to talk to - make it clear to your stepson that he can always trust you and talk to you about anything.

Praise him for his strength (“in spite of all the hardship, look what a great resilient person you are”) and accomplishments, no matter how small. Encourage him to express his opinion within the family, thank him for doing that and take that into account.

Little by little, he should start building confidence and self-esteem, and then, hopefully, he won’t be afraid to speak his mind outside the family.


Ok, so he sounds just like me. I, too lost my dad at a young age (6). He needs to let him go. It sounds like he is depressed, and is falling towards the failure zone. You want to see him go towards success zone. I would recommend him to see a therapist, because I am no expert of Mentality. I do know that he needs some help to cope with his emotions. He is letting the negatives bring him down by holding his past with him. If he lets it go, and makes room for you, he will shoot for success eventually. I hope he will do so and let the positives inside, and let you be able to be apart of his life. I hope this helps you and your son.

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