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

 



Dear Amy
Feeling Like An Outsider
Dear Amy,

I'm a 16 year old girl who lives with her mum on the south coast of Britain. My dad lives with his girlfriend of six years in London. It is a two and half hour drive there. My parents split when I was two, and when I was three my mum left London. Until I was ten, my dad drove to see me every Sunday and we'd go to the beach or the forest and I loved it. Then he stopped coming every week and came every two-three weeks instead. When I first met his girlfriend, she was very nice. She took me on a few trips to central London (just us two), and I really enjoyed it. It helped that she didn't try and be motherly in any way, she let my dad do the parenting.

However, it began to change when she moved in, when I was thirteen years old. She no longer took me on trips out or attempted to do anything with me. My dad always kept his spare room with some things of mine in, as I tended to stay for a few days every couple of months. However, she began cluttering the room with her stuff. I didn't have a problem with this, but she chucked out loads of my childhood books that I wanted to keep for sentimental value, just so she had room for her shoes. In December of that year, it was my dad's birthday and I wanted to make him a surprise meal. I asked her for help, as I thought it would be a good way to repair our relationship and I knew I couldn't manage it on my own. I wanted it to just be us three, but she invited her three sisters and her parents, who I had never met. I wouldn't have minded, but when I asked to invite dad's friends she refused and said there wouldn't be enough room.

Over the next year, my relationship with my dad started to really deteriorate. My stepmom had her sisters over for lunch on one of my stays, and my dad insisted I join them. My dad and I left the table for a minute, and when I came back, I overheard them all talking badly about me. Now, my dad and her are planning to move out of the country, a move I resent as it will be impossible for me to see him. I have only two years before uni, so I need to work incredibly hard. Also, my dad is likely to stop paying the child support fees, as he has done twice before. Despite this, I don't want to lose my dad. I know that when they come to visit the UK, my stepmom will make sure their time here is completely taken up by visiting her family.

Sorry for the ginormous length, thank you for reading. Please help me!

Feeling Left Out
Dear Feeling Left Out,

I'm sorry that you're feeling frustrated with your situation. It's never easy blending families together, and it can evoke a lot of different emotions. Hopefully I can offer some advice that will help give you some new ideas and an outside perspective on how to best handle all the changes.

It sounds like you and your dad used to be close, but that has changed over the last few years. It's hard when a parent shifts their focus to another person; it can feel like you're being let down, or aren't as important. When my stepmom moved in with my dad, I wasn't very happy about it. She started changing things around the house to make room for her things, and I felt like my comfort place, my home, was changing – and that my dad didn't care. As his focus shifted from me to my stepmom, I felt left out. I felt like he was starting a life that I wasn't fully a part of anymore. All of our vacations were now spent with her family, and I felt like an outsider. All of this is to let you know that you're not alone in how you're feeling. I understand how frustrating, upsetting, and alienating it can all feel.

I am truly sorry that your dad and stepmom are planning on moving out of the country. In terms of the financial issues: those things need to stay between your parents. It should never be something you feel you need to be in the middle of. It is up to them to work out any money issues, and not bring you into the discussion. But, since it affects you directly, it is fair to talk with your dad about your worries. Just make it about you, and not about his agreement with your mom. That leads into:

Talk with you dad. This is really important. Even though the two of you aren't close these days, nothing can change if he doesn't know how you feel. Make a time when the two of you can go out together and talk. It doesn't have to be a big outing, but I recommend getting out of the house. I tend to bring up conversations that are tough or uncomfortable while on a walk – it's more difficult for me if I'm sitting still. Whatever you choose, make sure it's just you and your dad. This isn't a conversation your stepmom needs to be a part of. Be honest with him. Let him know that it feels like you're not part of his life, and how you're worried that you'll never see him after they move. Let him know that it feels like your stepmom isn't welcoming towards you, and you feel left out. If you decide to bring up financial stuff, just be clear that you're concerned for yourself and how you're going to support yourself, etc.

I think it would be good for you to focus on yourself. It's not selfish, it's important. Your well being is the number one priority, try and remember that. I know that you have a lot of things going on in your life, but try and take some time for yourself. What do you enjoy doing? Finding something you enjoy to focus on will be helpful in easing some of your worry about other things. Whenever I've been going through some hard times, I try and remember to take lots of walks. I love being outside in nature, it helps calm me. I know there is something like this for you, whether it's being outside, holing up in a library reading, playing a sport, etc. It doesn't matter what it is, so long as you love doing it. Are you a reader? If you are, books can be wonderful. They will get you interested in something unfamiliar, while at the same time distracting you from your life. Now, reading should be done in moderation - and I say this as an avid reader - because there is such a thing as too much distraction. But there's nothing wrong with delving into another world for a little while to ease your mind.

It sounds like you could use some sense of community right now. Getting in touch with other family members is great place to start. Do you have aunts and uncles you get along with? Grandparents or cousins? Think about who you have, and reach out. I also believe that finding some support from friends can be extremely helpful. Maybe make a weekly date with a friend (or a few) to go do something together. Grabbing food, walking through some woods, having a girls night - whatever you all want to do. You don't have to talk about everything that is going on with you, but sharing some personal things between friends will lend a lot of comfort and support. Getting to do something fun with friends, while knowing that they understand some of your struggles, will make you feel stronger, more comfortable, and more supported.

I hope some of this is helpful to you. Please know that you're not alone, and that what you're feeling is completely valid and okay. Feel free to write anytime, I'm always happy to listen and offer any help I can. You're a strong person, and I know things will get better for you.

I'm always here.

Amy
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