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

 



Dear Amy
Tired and Angry
Dear Amy,

This is a hard email to write considering how tough it is to explain in words what my stepmother has done to my sister and I. My sister is 11 years old and I am 14, only a year away from when I can finally leave my father's house at 15.

In the very beginning, my stepmom seemed really kind to us by letting us make crafts and stay up late watching the tele and reading. This convinced my sister when she was five that she was a nice person, but I didn't agree at seven. When she moved in with her four year old son, I tried having a one-on-one conversation with my dad telling him how I didn't trust her, but of coarse he didn't believe me because I was only five. Apparently her tall loud self seemed to scare me but that was my problem not his.

The time my dad asked us if we were okay with him marrying her, it was in a small compacted car WITH HER INSIDE. Of coarse I was pressured to say yes because I was terrified of her and couldn't say no. Their wedding day was one of the saddest days of my entire life because it felt like the cage I'd been put into had been locked shut. A little while after the wedding, my stepmother started getting worse and worse. This was when my sister started not liking her. I was a little older then, age eight, so I tried talking to my farther again about this whole marriage thing. He told me that if he hadn't married her, we would all be working at McDonald's trying to live off of what we made, basically saying that he married her for money which is always a bad choice. During this whole process I was telling the only adult I trusted, my mom, what was happening. She told me that I should try and forgive my stepmom, and I tried but my stepmom kept on being mean and loud making it hard to do.

Now, during my freshman year of high school, my stepmom has tried convincing me that my sister is my mother's favorite child. A month ago I had enough from my stepmom because she has crossed the line too far into my personnel boundary, so I ignored everything she was yelling at me on my way to school. By the time I found my friend inside, I just broke down in tears. I asked her if I could spend the night at her house, but her mom said she needed my dad's permission. In the end this didn't work and my dad ended up picking me up early at school.

Again, I can leave my dads house at 15 because the judge will finally listen to my statements, but I am scared to leave for three reasons: 1) It will leave my sister alone in that torture zone, where my stepmom is most likely going to take out all of her anger on her. 2) My dad is very small and introverted, so he will never speak up, and I don't want to hurt him. 3) While all the papers get signed, I am still going to have to stay at my dad's house for at least another six months.

My stepmom took my dad's whole side of the family and friends from me so I have no one to talk to when I'm at his house. I have half a year left till I'm 15 and I still don't know what to do. Can you help me make a choice or make the process easier for me?

Sincerely,

Tired Yet Scared

Dear Tired Yet Scared,

I am so sorry you're having such a difficult time at home - being a teenager is hard enough without added conflict. Please know that none of this is your fault, and that you're not alone. I struggled with stepfamily dynamics and relationships for many years as a teenager, and I understand how hard it can be. Through the years I've found some strategies that can help ease the conflict and frustration, and I hope they can help you.

I know how frustrating and angering it is when a stepmom invades personal privacy – I dealt with this as a stepdaughter too. It crosses a line, and makes you not want to trust that person anymore. That being said, over time I did come to see things a little differently. The issues didn't just go away, but I tried to see things from her perspective. I urge you to try and do this. Although invading privacy isn't the right answer, it often comes from good intentions as a parent or stepparent. They care about you, and feel the need to make absolutely sure you're okay. I don't mean that what she has done is okay - it's not. But try and remember that she's human. She makes mistakes. And, that being a stepmom is not easy. That being said, it takes time for feelings to change, especially when there's been so much conflict for so long. I don't expect you to suddenly change how you feel about her, but try and be open to things changing somewhere down the road.

There are a few things I can suggest that will help alleviate (hopefully) some of the conflict. Try and be mindful while you're at home - clean your dishes, keep your personal items in your room, ask if your stepmom needs help cooking dinner. Little things like that can go a long way, and it will show your stepmom that you care.

I also think it would be good for you to get out of the house as much as you can. Joining a club/sports team, doing homework at the library, running in the park, spending the afternoon at a friends house - these are all good things that will get you out of the house and are good for you. Think about what you enjoy doing, and figure out a way to do it!

You mention that you've talked with your dad in the past, but I think it's important that you talk to him now. Try and be honest with him. Let him know how it makes you feel when you're stepmom treats you badly, but try and steer clear of talking badly about her. Remember, your dad is married to this woman and loves her. Talking badly about her will only create tension. That being said, your dad loves you, and wants you to be happy. He deserves to know how unhappy you are, and can hopefully offer some solutions. It would be good for your dad to take a more active role around the house and with his daughters, and that can start by him understanding what's going on with you.

I understand your hesitation to leave your sister. But, I do think it's important that you focus on yourself, and what's the best thing for you. Whether or not you decide to move out of your dad's house, it should be about you. I think that before you make a decision, you should try and see if you can improve things at home. Also, to really think about what your situation would be like after you move out. Make sure that it would benefit you, and allow you to focus on school, yourself, and your happiness. Would you live with your mom full-time? What is the environment like at her house? It's important for you to have a clear plan - the last thing you need is to move out and not know what to do next.

You seem like a really strong person, and I truly want you to be happy. If you have any questions, or need someone to talk to, I'm always here. Feel free to write anytime.

 - Amy
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