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Step-mother problems

Question Posted Tuesday May 15 2012, 7:04 pm

My father remarried 7 years ago. She emailed my sister (who was 16 at the time) a really cruel message 6 months after they were married because we did not call her on Mother's day. She ranted and raved about how hurt she was and said that we were no longer welcome in her home. My sister responded by saying that we just did not feel like we knew her very well and we simply didn't think of calling her on Mother's day and apologized. The woman continued to email my sister mean messages until my mom took all of the messages to a family therapist to get advice, and the therapist said my Dad's wife is highly unstable and should not be allowed to communicate with us without someone present. My Mom continued to be nice to her, but then the woman got mean to my mom and my mom didn't yell back, only told her to not communicate with her any more. We hardly see my Dad and have not been invited to stay the night in their house since. The woman also emails mean messages to my gramdma and once threw a heavy box at her from across the room. My Dad just expects gramma and us to continually apologize to his wife. Everyone on my Dad's side of the family dislikes her but acts civil to her when they see her. Grandma just plays along and apologizes when my Dad asks so that her son will remain in her life. Dad seldom calls us on holidays or birthdays and we see him about fours hours once per year, by his own choice.
Now, my high school graduation is coming up... my Dad wants to bring her out, they live in the Midwest, and I know she's crazy so I want to set boundaries so that she won't talk to my mom, my sister, and my younger brother (not my Dad's son) but my mom said that that will create an argument. I don't want that but I will because I'm noting going to condone this behavior. My step-mother emailed my sister today saying that she "wants t rebuild their relationship". What should I do? Help!

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adviceman49 answered Wednesday May 16 2012, 11:33 am:
I know what you mom has been trying to do and you should be proud of her for doing so. In many divorces the parents fight over the children and use them as pawns against each other. Your mom didn't do this.

As for your Graduation. This is a special day. All most as special as your wedding day. You will want, I'm guessing here, to have your dad walk you down the isle. He will most likely want his wife to come to your wedding to watch him give his daughter into marriage.

While graduation is a special day for you, your wedding day has to absolutely be flawless. If your step-mom truly is looking to rebuild a relationship you graduation could be the vehicle to see how she would act at other special family events.

Should she do something to tarnish this day for you then you know for the future not to invite her. It is a small thing for you to do for yourself, your sister and the rest of your family. I know if I was a member of your family I would be proud of you for doing something like this. It is the adult thing to do in this situation.

Yes this special day could be ruined for you; or think positively it could be a wonderful day and the first day of a new relationship with your dad and his wife. People can change. You can't force them to change they have to want to change. It is possible after all this time she has come to the realization that it is she that needs to change.

Like I said I would be very proud of you if you offered up this special day in your life to see if she has really changed. If she has it will mean a lot to the rest of your family. By the way I am old enough to be your grandfather.

[ adviceman49's advice column | Ask adviceman49 A Question

mindfulmema answered Tuesday May 15 2012, 11:24 pm:
The one who should set boundaries is your dad. But since he is not "maning" up, you must set them. Let him know how you feel. Tell him how it makes you feel being around her and that you will not tolerate her anymore. Let him know that you do not want her at graduation. Now, here's the catch. If you do confront him, be prepared for him to chose her over you. Be prepared not to have a relationship with him. (I'm not saying this will occur, but it is a possibility.) Or you can chose to keep the peace and endure whatever your step-mom throws your way. This may please your dad and her, but will not do any difference in your well being. On the other hand, if your step-mom wants to truely make things right then she will be willing to go to family counseling.
So, the decision is yours. Hope you make the right one.

[ mindfulmema's advice column | Ask mindfulmema A Question

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