Step-mother is controlling…

by Rod Smith

“I’m seventeen. My father remarried when I was 14 and it’s been downhill since. My stepmother has kicked me out twice in less than two years and she’s forcing my father to support me outside their relationship, which is hard for him. The woman likes to control everything. Help.”

Kathryn Powell, MAMFT

Kathryn Powell, MAMFT

Kathryn: Unfortunately many children, especially teenagers, act as the lightning rod or conductor of anxiety within the family. You may be performing this role in your family and are unaware of it. If you don’t give them (the adults) cause to punish you, you could remove yourself from this role and you may find your stepmother and father in marriage therapy. Your stepmother cannot force your father to do anything- he has free will, he is just not using it. You may challenge him to do so. This is a tremendous shame and the consequence of people who are in controlling relationships.

Rod Smith, MSMFT

Rod Smith, MSMFT

Rod: While I have no doubt your life has been turned upside down as a result of the choices of the adults in your life, I will encourage you to take a close look at your behavior and attitudes. “Kicking out” usually follows important history. You say your stepmother — “the woman” — likes to “control everything.” While I am the last to endorse “controlling” behavior, I’d challenge you to look at your role in helping her world feel so out of control! You’d serve yourself, and your father very well, were you to go directly, with humility, to your stepmother, rather than use him as a go-between. At 17 you are hardly a child, and capable, I believe, of a helpful, supportive, respectful relationship with all the adults in your life. Since you are the one writing to me I am going to suggest it begins with you.

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