Dear Barb – Out of Step

Dear Barb:

My parents divorced quite a few years ago and my dad remarried. I have lived with both at various times and am close to each. My stepmother and I get along okay, for the most part. She hasn’t really said too much until recently. My dad and I had an argument about something, which I don’t want to get into on here, on the phone and I ended up hanging up on him. Three days later I got a text message from my stepmother telling me what a bad son I am and that I should apologize to my father. She also listed all the things her and my father have done for me, which were mostly material things and she suggested that I return everything to them that they have given me. This seemed to come totally out of the blue, she never said anything like this prior to this event. I haven’t spoke to either of them since receiving the text. I don’t even know if my father knows about it. I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to apologize because I don’t think I did anything wrong, but I do want to have a relationship with my dad. I feel that my stepmother has made the situation worse by interfering. I would like to talk to my dad but now she has created this tension between us. I don’t think this was any of her business and I don’t think she should have sent me that text message. What do you think? I don’t want to be estranged from my dad. Thanks, Ian.

Hi Ian:

Thanks for writing and so sorry about your situation. There are boundaries between step-parents and their stepchildren that should never be crossed, but your stepmother seems to have crossed that line. The relationship between you and your dad is just that, between you and your dad. Your stepmother should be a support for your dad and the two of them will most likely discuss these things, but, ultimately, it is up to you and your father to decide how to resolve things. I agree your stepmother probably added some tension to the situation by offering her opinion on what you should do. Also, I’m not sure why she would bring up all the things her and your father have done for you, unless that has something to do with the issue you and your father are having. She must have felt very strongly about this situation since this is the first time she has stated her opinion. You could respond to her text by simply acknowledging that you have received her message and just let it go at that. Don’t get into an argument with her, as that will make things worse. Do not allow this message to interfere with your relationship with your father, just put it out of your mind and do what you think is right with your dad. You said you want to talk to your dad, so you should. There is a possibility that he is not aware of this message so I would not bring it up unless he does. Relationships have their ups and downs, but choosing not to talk to someone will only make things worse and can cause a riff that will be difficult to forget. Hope this information was helpful.

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