How to cool tension with stepmom from hell

Ask Amy

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: I am a 15-year-old girl. My dad married Satan, and now I have the "stepmonster" from hell. She and my dad got into a fight last week, and she has ignored me for an entire week. When I try talking to her, she gives me the arctic shoulder. I want to confront her about her behavior. She's speaking to my dad now but acts like I don't exist. So what am I supposed to do?Cheesed Off

DEAR CHEESED: I'm sorry you are having this experience at home. Frankly, I also feel sorry for your father and stepmonster from hell. Stepparenting is the most challenging form of parenting, and you sound like an angry (and possibly grieving) teenager.

All the same, it sounds like the adults in your household could (and should) behave differently. Much differently.

For instance, I wish one of your parents had written to me for help. My take is that just underneath the tough outer shell you present there is a confused and tender teenager who really wants to live in a peaceful, happy household.

Unfortunately, I cannot help your stepmother be more mature and a better parent. I suggest you interpret her "arctic shoulder" as more of a fearful reaction than an angry gesture toward you.

For now, stop trying to confront her. Aim for a conversation instead, and ask your father to help you have it. You need some alone time with your dad, and your (new) family needs to have some positive experiences together to build upon.

If you know you have done something specific to contribute to these problems, you should admit it. Find a way to express your hurt feelings that does not involve blame or name calling. Write down your experiences and feelings, and consider using your writings as a guide when you're talking.

Share this column with your father, and tell him I think your family could use outside help and mediation to blend successfully.