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

 



Dear Amy
Feeling Helpless and Hurt
Dear Amy,

I'm sick and tired of my stepmother bossing my sister and I around, she treats us like slaves. She has a son and a daughter too. My dad always believes her; I'm sad as I talk. I'm crying, it hurts too much to even talk about it. Please tell me what to do. Because I feel like we don't belong and I can't do this anymore, but I need to stay for my sister. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Feeling Hurt

Dear Feeling Hurt,

I want you to know that none of this is your fault. I am so sorry you're hurting; being part of a stepfamily is hard no matter the situation. It's never easy to weave a new family together, and when some members don't work to make it smooth, it can leave some feeling confused and lonely. There are a few things I want to share with you that can help you and your situation.

First, I really think you need to spend some one on one time with your dad and talk with him. Find some time when just the two of you can get out of the house and do something together. Your dad loves you, and he needs to know how you feel. Let him know how it makes you feel when your stepmom treats you the way she does. Try to do this calmly and without bashing your stepmom - your dad is married to her and cares for her, and will be the most receptive to what you have to say if you can do this without anger. I think it's important to remember that your dad isn't trying to hurt you by siding with your stepmom. He's trying to make his marriage work, and is probably trying his best not to upset anyone. He's only getting your stepmom's side of the story, and he needs to know yours too. Doing this will help you to feel less alone. I understand how hard it can be to talk to a parent about tough things like this - I myself am not a big talker, and I usually feel awful when bringing up difficult conversations. But what I've learned is that it's always worth it. From here, I think you should try and make a habit of spending alone time with you dad. It sounds like you're not really connected with him, and by spending time with him weekly you will start building up for your relationship. You don't need to have deep talks every time - I actually think that doing something active will benefit you more. Go to dinner, bowling, work on a school project, or play soccer at the park. Find something that you both enjoy, and do it together.

How long has your stepmom been a part of your family? If it's fairly recent (the last few years), try and remember that she's going through a big adjustment just like you are. But whether or not she's been in your life for a long time or not, I think it's good to look at things you can do to alleviate some of the tension. I don't mean that you're the one who has to fix the situation - that is not your job or your burden. But what I mean is that there are little things you can do to help. Keeping your things out of the living room, putting your dishes in the dishwasher, and folding your own laundry will give your stepmom less to be mad at you about.

I believe it would help you tremendously to get out of the house as much as possible. Spending time at a friends house, studying at the library, reading at the park, or joining a club are all good, active things that will help take your mind off the tough stuff. Think about what you enjoy doing, and find a way to do it! Less time at home means less conflict, and that's what you need. It sounds like you and your sister are close - are there things you could do together away from home? By doing things together and supporting each other, you will both feel better.

You said that your mom lives in Africa, but do you have other family members close by who you could talk to? You need all the support you can get, and family would be really helpful. Even if they don't live close by, do you have a relationship with them? Even talking on the phone would help for comfort, and establishing a bond with them would be great.

You are not alone. There are many people who have been in situations similar to yours, and that's good to remember. My family dynamic shifted when I gained a stepmom at ten, and I felt like I didn't belong there anymore. I didn't know what to do, and this struggle continued for years. I felt like an outsider in my own life. I wish that I'd had the courage to talk to my family about it, because things could have been different. You're lucky to have your sister - hold on to her, confide in her, support her, and you will help each other get through these tough times.

You are a very strong person, and I know this because it takes a lot of courage to ask for help. I want you to be happy, please write again if you want to talk.

I'm always here,

Amy



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