Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: I’m a 16-year-old boy with two problems. My biological parents divorced when I was 2, and my mother remarried when I was 12. I live with my mother and stepfather and see my dad on the weekends.
The first problem is, since Mom married my stepfather, she seems unattached to me and more attached to him. She blames me for most things and nearly always takes my stepdad’s side when we have a disagreement.
For example, on one of my report cards, I had two 97s and two 94s. Those are pretty solid grades, but Mom yelled at me for not doing better. She also gets mad when she thinks I’m giving her “attitude,” even when I’m not. I’ve tried calmly talking to her, thinking she would listen as she used to. And she does for a short while, but then goes back to her old ways.
My mom and stepfather both work full time, but when my stepdad comes home, he just lies around doing nothing. When Mom asks him to help around the house, they usually get into a fight. He also blamed me for bringing a virus into his computer by looking at porn. Of course, Mom took his side on that one.
During the day, I do whatever housework seems necessary. I wash dishes, vacuum, make coffee, whatever, without being asked. But I never get so much as a simple thank-you at the end of the day.
The other problem is my bio dad. He’s been unemployed for a while and fell behind on child support, but I know he’s doing the best he can. I don’t like that my mother and stepfather complain about him in front of me. I love my dad. I also love my mother and stepfather, but I don’t know how to talk to them anymore because I know they will judge me. Do you have any advice? — Losing My Family
Dear Losing: Some of your issues are teen related and will get better as you get older. However, your mother should not be denigrating your father in front of you, nor should you be stuck in the middle of the fights between any of your parents. Your mother sounds as if she has her hands full, and it’s good that you contribute to the household without expecting much. Continue to have calm talks with her, even if it only helps for a little while. Also, please speak to your school counselor. It can be beneficial to have a sympathetic ear on an ongoing basis.
Dear Annie: My friend “Bill” is terminally ill and has hospice care. I didn’t visit him because I assumed his time was reserved for his family. Too late, I realized I could have gone to see him after all. I went yesterday, and his daughter said she was sorry more people did not stop by.
Annie, Bill has many friends who thought as I did. What a mistake. What can I do in such a situation? — Boston
Dear Boston: Bill’s friends should make every effort to visit. When one is unsure of protocol, a simple phone call can clarify matters. The hospice worker or a relative will let you know whether visitation is welcome or not. Right now, we hope you will phone as many of Bill’s friends as you can and let them know that a visit would be greatly appreciated.
Dear Annie: You’ve printed so many letters about relationships between parents and children after divorce.
I married a man with six children. We cannot afford to take the whole family out for every child’s birthday celebration. Instead, I suggested Dad take the birthday child out, just the two of them, to hang out, go to a restaurant for dinner, see a movie, whatever.
My husband loves that I care about his children, and the children love that they get “Dad time.” Everybody wins. — Wants Everyone Happy
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 9.27.11