Closing the Book on Childish Behavior
Dear Annie: My stepmother is the epitome of a wicked stepmother. My sister and I are grown and have our own lives and families. Our father married "Mary." We believe it was out of loneliness. She is 15 years younger than him and has a drinking problem. She says the drinking is under control, but it is quite clear it isn't. She has a record for driving under the influence and for drug possession charges. Again, we were told it was all under control.
My sister and I have been ignored, talked about, lied about and made to feel unwelcome in our dad's home. However, we put all that aside because our dad said he was happy and that she took care of him. We continued to try and get along with Mary.
The problem is that he is seriously ill now after having his second stroke, and she is being very cruel and secretive with information and updates on our dad's health. She has said more than once, "He is my husband." So? He is and always will be my dad and my responsibility. I've tried to explain that this not the time for childish drama; we need to come together and do what's best for our dad. But she slams the door in our face every time. I am not walking away from my dad. What is the resolution here? When our dad gets out of the hospital, he does not need this. What do I do? -- Emotionally Drained
Dear Emotionally Drained: First, I am very sorry about your dad's stroke. May his recovery and rehabilitation be easy. Second, I'm sorry to hear that your relationship with your stepmother is so strained. You don't deserve to be treated rudely, and "Mary" does not own your father.
However, let's take a look at who's being childish here. You've labeled Mary a "wicked stepmother," cite her history of addiction as a moral failing and fault her for wanting to take care of her husband. I agree with you. It's time to set aside the dramatics and focus on what matters here -- your dad's health. If you're willing to own where you've been at fault in this not-so-happily ever after, your "wicked" stepmom might do the same.
However, if your stepmom continues to keep her husband from his children, that could constitute abusive behavior. Your best option would be to find an attorney to advise you on your options.
Dear Annie: I'd like to comment on the letter from "Wedding Woes," where the husband of the disabled daughter is not invited to the wedding. This is wrong on every level. But if the daughter really wants to go, perhaps her husband could assist her with the arrangements and travel but not attend the wedding. (Perhaps her mom could take over during the ceremony and reception.) Then the daughter and her husband could enjoy a few days on vacation and turn a "challenging" trip into something fun. The wedding only lasts a couple of hours, but the fun vacation memories could last a lifetime. -- Making the Best of It
Dear Making the Best of It: Thank you for your letter and the advice to take a possibly distressing event and make it work for everyone. When life gives you lemons make some lemonade and enjoy.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.