Please contact Evil Stepmom at ESM@evilstepmom.org with your questions or ideas about stepfamily living with 17-30 year olds.

 



Dear Evil Stepmom
Stepmother's Family is Taking Over the House

Dear Evil Stepmom,

I'm a 20-year-old woman with a horrible stepmother. I feel like she does things to spite me. About two years ago, I moved from my mother’s house to my stepmom's house where my father lived as well. (House is under her name but both people split mortgage + bills).

My Mom's house is about 45 minutes away from their house so it's not too far. Anyway, I had to gain all new friends, start a new job, start college, etc. It wasn't long before I got settled and had an awesome social life and a job. When I moved in, I loved it and was so happy. My stepmom and I went out for drinks, got our nails done, went out to eat, went shopping, etc. She was practically a second mother figure in my life. 


My stepmom, stepbrother, and father lived upstairs, tenants lived in the middle, and me in the basement apartment. I was told the one bedroom one bathroom small apartment was mine, which was awesome. It was relatively small, but perfect for my 5'0 self and my puppy. I loved the privacy when I did not feel like hanging out with them. Everything was going great and everyone got along...UNTIL...her sister, niece, nephew, mom, and dad came to "visit."

They told me three months into my move-in...if I knew then what I know now, I would have never left my mom's house. She told me that all five family members were there for a "temporary stay" and that the apartment would soon be back to mine. Two years have passed and they're still here. I am depressed and miserable and cannot take it anymore. All everyone does it fight with each other, and now I despise my stepmother. Her parents tell me not to eat certain things, ask me why I am not working, when I'm going to school, etc.! I am too embarrassed to have friends over or tell anyone about my situation. I am too young to be super stressed.

I want to get out but my dad is telling me he wants me to stay and tells me don't worry they are going soon. But I feel as if everyone is lying and they are never leaving. I constantly fight with my dad and stepmom because it is bs. My dad is too cheap to leave and get an apartment with me (even though he threatens her with that). He never leaves!

Ever since her family came, my dad’s relationship with her got all messed up along with my relationships with everyone else. I want to go so bad but am not financially stable to stay in the area; I'd have to move back with my mom. I'm scared to leave my social life with great friends and start a new job and transfer credits to a new college...and START ALL OVER AGAIN.

The fighting is getting worse and I'm miserable. School starts the last week of August and I’m supposed to start a new job soon, but now I don't know what to do. 


My life is getting ruined. My stepmom belittles me and treats me like crap because she is jealous. She even fights with me and says I am selfish and trying to take away my dad! Excuse me, but my dad is my blood and how could I "take him away" from her? I am his daughter and she is crazy. Everything was great and now it is all ruined. I am totally upset at my dad and her...I want to run away and never come back.

My dad doesn't get it. Men are stupid and don't understand the pain their daughters go through when things like this occur. I will never do this to my children when I grow up! I'm so confused because I need a plan fast...school starts August 28 and I need a job.

I must figure everything out now. Thanks for your time!


Signed~

Gotta Get Out


Dear Gotta Get Out,

Your father is being hoodwinked by his wife. It happens all the time to good men (and good women) and yes, you are right, it is usually the children who suffer most.    

I’m not going to spend a lot of energy on explaining to you what I see going on in your dad’s new marriage and family, but it’s not good and you should not be in the middle of it. And YOU are going to have to figure out how to get yourself out in a calm, organized way, because your dad cannot help you if he can’t help himself. So let go of that hope, and start thinking about how you are going to go about getting the life that you have planned for yourself.

You are not out of line to be angry and upset about this situation. It wasn’t fair of your father and his wife to allow you to move into their home under one set of conditions and not tell you that everything was going to change in a big way. You are a student, and that requires a lot of rest, a lot of peace and quiet, and at least a little privacy. So you’re right to feel frustrated, disrespected, and let down. You just don’t have much time to spend on these feelings because YOU have a fabulous life to launch and you need to get ready for school!!!

I know you’re already looking into roommate possibilities through your current college. Another student, or three or four, could make great housemates for you. If you’ve got friends where you live now, why not move in with one of them or see if one or two of them want to look at apartments? Do any of your friends’ families have a spare bedroom they might rent to you?

PLEASE don’t move into a home anywhere near your dad’s… they will suck you back into their drama if they can get to you easily. Keep your address to yourself for a while and meet your dad out for coffee or lunch to keep in good contact with him, but don’t have him at your place if he’ll tell your stepmom where you live.

You need to steady yourself right now so you can perform academically. Then you can start to think about how you might have contact with your stepmother and stepbrother if your dad is committed to staying with her. If he’s telling you he’s leaving this marriage, it will be best for you to steer clear so that their relationship can’t suck anymore of your energy. DON’T lose contact with your dad, but stay away from the rest of your stepfamily until they figure it out, at least.

You MUST take care to balance your safety with your need to get out of this situation. Don’t move in (or even look at rooms) with someone you don’t know or have a solid personal referral for. I know you know this, but as a young woman you can’t afford to let your desperation lead to an even worse—or dangerous—situation. OK, my Bossy Big Sister speech is over.

It might take a considerable amount of time and effort on your part, but see if your college has any resources that could help you. Do they have a counseling service? Are there academic counselors, financial aid advisors, anyone who can help a student whose family is in distress but who wants to stay in school? Do you have a teacher you trust who might point you to a staff person who could help you to find out who to talk to, to figure out how to make this work for you temporarily at least? You just need some time.

More than anything in the world, you need the best education you can get.

You said you’re starting a job. That’s GREAT. School will require and living expenses will require all the resources you can earn. Will you have health care benefits? If so, you will be able to see a therapist for at least a few visits. I’d urge you to do that if you have coverage for it. A good psychologist or therapist can help you think through your goals, your plans, and the challenges you’re going to face as you take on more responsibility for yourself. Even if your plan only allows three visits, use them to think through your life challenges and opportunities from the most reality-based point of view you can find. By that I mean that a good therapist won’t let you kid yourself ;)

Work is wonderful for all sorts of reasons besides money—a chance to learn new skills, work with people you might not get to know otherwise, to make independent decisions about how to get things done, and to develop confidence in yourself that will last the rest of your career and your life. If this is a good job and you want it, it’s worth the effort to be able to live where you can do it.

Whatever you do, don’t move in with your boyfriend, someone you don’t like and trust, or a total stranger. If you need a temporary situation until you find a place, couch surf at friends’ homes. You’re going to need some money to rent a place, and you won’t get a check for at least two weeks after you start work probably, so ask your mom and/or your dad for a loan. Or find a friend whose family will let you crash til you get a paycheck. SOMEONE will let you stay for two or three weeks.

This is hard stuff—you’re having to do things that you don’t feel prepared to do, and you’re feeling letdown by the people who are supposed to be supporting and encouraging you in your efforts to make yourself the best person you can be. But I’ll tell you from personal experience that there is a lot of upside in this mess for you. You are going to grow up, get smart, learn how to get things done and how to treat people in ways that you believe they ought to be treated, all because you’re going through this right now. You are going to learn how to do things that other people your age have NO IDEA how to do—earn, learn, work, budget, juggle priorities, pay bills, etc.

I know you’d rather not have to go through all this crap, but since you have to anyhow, why not make it a huge learning experience?

A final note of warning: Your dad is VERY likely to try to bribe you with the promise of an apartment because he wants you and needs you near him at this  terrible time in his marriage. That is not your job. You can be a good and loving daughter to him, but you are not supposed to be his confidant, his ally, or his partner. If he made a bad choice or got into a bad situation, his job as dad is to keep it off you, not suck you into it.

He may even go rent an apartment and offer to put you in it. Do not fall for it unless the lease is in your name and a year’s rent is paid. Why? Because it would be a great target for your stepmother’s anger and wrath, and you cannot afford to be in the middle of the mess it would create. It would destroy your focus on your work and your studies, upset your other relationships, and ruin your trust in your dad.

Let your father go take care of his business, and you go take care of yours. Call him, text him, see him, wish him well. But you can’t be his buddy or his supporter in this situation with his wife--other than to let him know you care about him and want him to be happy, of course.

I’m happy to keep chatting with you on email about this any time. You sound like a smart, hard working young woman. Don’t give your stepmother one more dot of your precious energy until you get 1) SCHOOL, 2) WORK, and 3) A SAFE PLACE TO LIVE all sorted out. Then you can invite her out to lunch to see how she’s doing if you want. But take care of yourself first.

Let your mom mother you a little bit if she’s that type… she’s the most important person in the world to your emotional health. A few new pounds of happiness and relief wouldn’t hurt you.

Stay strong ~

Kimberly

(AKA: Evil Stepmom)

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