Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Father reels from stepfather's rage

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am a dad with two children, ages 11 and 8.

Three months ago, we were at my mother and stepfather's house for a family cookout.

My 8-year-old son was throwing "pops" on the ground (you know -- those firecracker things that pop on cement). Well, apparently, my stepfather became angry and lunged at my son, picking him up by the throat, screaming in his face, and throwing him onto the ground.

This happened in the front yard, and all of the other adults were in the backyard. My daughter and my niece came running to the adults, crying, "Grandpa's choking 'Nick'!"

The only witnesses were children aging from 8 to 14, but they all had the same story.

When I came running into the front yard, my stepdad was hovering over my 50-pound son, two inches from his face, while my son was on his back, lying in the grass, crying and trembling. (I have witnessed his angry outbursts in the past toward the kids over petty things, but I've always been in the same room to defuse it.)

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My stepfather went to jail that night and was released two days later.

We haven't spoken since. He sent me a card in the mail two months after, with a short apology, but I'm not convinced that he thinks he's done anything wrong. I'm having trouble moving forward.

I feel angry more than hurt. My kids say they don't want to see him. Nor do my sister and her family, who were also there. I know it's not fair to my mom, who is stuck in the middle.

How does a family move on from this?


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