How to Smack Down Your Evil Stepmother

Only an insecure person would try to come between a father and his children. Here's tips for coping with dad's divisive new wife.

Dear Monica, My father remarried a woman who has turned our family upside down. She is mean, cold and only has her own interests in mind. My siblings and I don’t know how to have a relationship with our father with her in the picture. What should we do? —B.Y., Exton 

When parents get remarried, there is always the chance that the new stepparent is going to have a divisive effect on the family. Most new stepparents want unity and harmony, but this does not seem to be the case in your situation. The hope is that women possess an innate drive to love and nurture children. Thankfully most do, so it pains me when the bad ones taint the reputation of all women who marry men with children. Bottom line, your father needs to fulfill his role. No matter what age, you are still his child and there is no excuse for him not protecting the sacred father/child bond by allowing a negative force to stand in the way of him and his children. The reality is that your plight has to do with your father much more than his new wife.

First things first, you need to have a respectful discussion with your dad—alone—about your feelings toward his new marriage and its impact on your relationship with him. It may be that he is not aware that the two of you are drifting apart. It is also possible that he is not aware of his wife’s actions and doesn’t know they are bothering you.

You get more bees with honey than vinegar. Instead of being mad at your stepmom, kill her with kindness. Invite her to have lunch, tea, or an afternoon of shopping. Also make sure to invite your parents over for dinner on the weekends and holidays. Even if this does not work to mellow her out, your father will see the positive effort that you are making.

Enlist the help of your siblings. There is power in numbers. Your father may be more apt to listen if the same concern is coming from multiple sides. Most parents are not looking to have a schism with their children. Perhaps you and your siblings can sit down with your father and work together toward a better the situation for all of you, including your stepmom.

You have a 50/50 chance of getting your father back. You cannot go into this thinking that you are going to change your stepmom’s behavior. The only person who can put her on the right path is your father. Does he care enough about his kids to step up to the plate and make the family whole? Or is he too scared of his new wife to do the right thing? Rather than being angry at your stepmom, feel sorry for her. Clearly, if she was secure and felt your dad adored her unconditionally, she would not be focused on getting his kids out of the picture. Instead she would be thrilled to have you in. Only someone who feels poorly about herself would push her husband toward such an unfulfilling path in life. Hopefully your father will find a way to make his new wife happy while having his children by his side. The solution is in his hands, no one else’s.