Annie’s Mailbox: Stepdaughter played card vs. stepmom
Dear Annie: I have raised my stepdaughter, “Candace,” for the past 10 years. Her mother passed away tragically when she was very young, and I have tried to be a friend ever since, standing up for her, bending over backward to be good to her.
Two years ago, my husband and I almost separated because Candace decided she wanted to move out and live with a friend. She told her father it was because of me. She knew he would side with her and tell me to leave, and that was the card she played. My husband wears blinders over his eyes when it comes to her.
Fortunately, we are still together, but I am still hurt by what she did that night. I have always tried my best, only to get stabbed in the back or slapped in the face. I want to tell Candace that I have done nothing but care for her and she has only hurt me in return. She is selfish and only wants what works in her interests. Should I speak to her about how I feel, or is it a waste of breath?
– Hurt and Saddened
Dear Hurt: It is not unusual for teenagers and young adults to rebel against their parents, and in your case, Candace had the powerful ammunition of being a stepchild. Please do not rise to the bait and make her think she still has the ability to destroy your marriage. If you need to vent, talk to your clergyperson or a counselor. Meanwhile, continue to be as kind to Candace as you can manage, and hope she eventually grows up.
Dear Annie: I have a wonderful daughter who just turned 7. She is well-liked, well-behaved and enjoys school. Her favorite activities are reading, playing with dolls and getting muddy in the backyard.
My concern is that she is not very physically adventuresome. She is small for her age and one of the youngest in her class. She can’t ride a two-wheeler and is reluctant to try. She has no interest in organized sports. This past year, she took swimming lessons, which she enjoyed, but her progress was slow. Her swimming instructor said she was ready to move to the next level, but she refused to try.
I have seen her take joy and pride in a new accomplishment. I present her with opportunities for new activities and am supportive of her efforts. I don’t want to be the crazy dad who forces his kid to do things she isn’t ready for or isn’t interested in. However, I would like to see her develop the confidence and physical ability to enjoy a range of activities with her friends and family and, most importantly, for her own pleasure. Any suggestions?
– A Dad
Dear Dad: Not all kids are suited for athletics, particularly team sports. Try doing things one on one with your daughter – play tag, catch Frisbees or shoot baskets in the park, jog around the block, and maybe once a week, get her up on the two-wheeler for a few minutes. While it is good for your daughter to be physically active, it does not mean she has to participate in organized sports. Encourage her talents, whatever they may be.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Hurting,” whose husband revealed that he is a cross-dresser. When my husband and I were dating, he found the courage to tell me he enjoyed putting on women’s clothing.
My therapist suggested I ask him why he enjoyed this. My husband and I talked for a long time, and it really helped me understand. He doesn’t want to look pretty. He just likes the feel of the soft, silky clothes. He now dresses up only occasionally. The biggest challenge is that we share socks.
“Hurting” should talk to her husband and find out why he dresses up. That made all the difference because I realized it had nothing to do with his feelings for me.
– Talking Helps in Iowa
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
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