Life Advice



One Stepmother's Advice for Getting Along With Your 'New Family'

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I have two adult children who are married to great people; they both have wonderful jobs and beautiful children, who I just adore. So, what's the problem? They believe they have all the answers and that Mom (me) is an idiot! They don't outright say it, but their actions and comments suggest it. They believe they are successful despite me, not because of me. They have actually said that.

I chose to be a stay-at-home mom who gave up a career to be there for her children. I educated them, loved them, clothed them, fed them, nursed them, played with them, laughed with them, cried with them and did everything else that a mother should do.

Here I thought I'd be able to pass down some words of wisdom. Share with them my failures so they wouldn't repeat them, my successes so they can learn from them. But what I get is laughter or eye rolls. I feel I have become obsolete. Does this happen to everyone as they get older? Did we make our parents feel this way? -- Feeling Worthless

Dear Feeling Worthless: As you get older, yes, the dynamics of the relationship of parent and child do shift. You sound like an amazing mother, and I'm sure it is a big part of your children's success. Maybe they don't want to hear lots of pieces of wisdom (most times, people have to experience things to figure them out for themselves); rather, they just want to be with you -- as a mother and friend and not a lecturer who has all this wisdom to download on them. Regardless if they are your children, spouse, friend or sibling, no one should make you feel so put down and worthless. Please tell them that and ask that they not put you down, while at the same time focus on enjoying and loving the moment rather than offering lectures.

Dear Annie: I regularly read your well-written columns and always enjoy them. Keep up the good work!

I only wanted to mention one thing after noticing that the issue of second wives and stepdaughters has come up more than a few times.

It's not uncommon that a man's daughter resents the new woman in her father's life. Depending on the female child's age and circumstances, it might be related to the birth mother's interference or the actual or perceived loss of the father's attention. Some fathers lean on their daughters after a divorce for a needed emotional connection. They see the daughter more as a peer, a connection the daughter then loses after Dad connects emotionally with a new woman. Attention is a valuable commodity to women of any age.


Some have stated a stepdaughter's hostility is inevitable in many circumstances and that in those cases, there is nothing the second wife can do to ameliorate the situation.

I am the second wife of a man whose adult daughter would love to have all traces of me disappear from the face of the earth. Otherwise, I would not have researched the subject (my area of expertise is computers!). It's hard to have spent literally years trying to get along with someone who is determined to hate you. Fortunately, my husband is finally aware of what he did to contribute to his daughter's hostility and has taken steps to rectify the situation; all is finally well. I would hate, however, to see another woman needlessly go through what I did.

Perhaps you can help another woman with this predicament sometime in the future. Again, my thanks for your very informative column and my best wishes to you. -- Second Wife

Dear Second Wife: Thank you for sharing your experience and insights. You might have learned the hard way, but your wisdom made it all worthwhile, and no doubt will help other second spouses dealing with angry stepchildren.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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