Sympathy for Stepmom

By Annie Lane

October 11, 2020 4 min read

Dear Annie: I come from a large family. Our mother died at a young age (39), and there were seven children at that time. Years later, our father married a woman with three children. One of our sisters lived with our mother's parents until their deaths.

Eventually, our father and stepmother had a child.

The child living with our grandparents was apparently jealous of our stepmother and has shown it every step of the way. We all got along accept for her.

After our father died, two stepbrothers learned that they were only half brothers and had different fathers. Our stepmother had it rough with her first husband. He was mentally abusive to her, and she searched for support from others. Our stepmother forgot about the possibility of someone else being her son's biological father, especially since the oldest one looks like his father.

Since this information came out, my sister-in-law and sister have been putting down our stepmom. They call her all kinds of names and none of them speaks to her.

Apparently, they don't consider the fact that she married a man with seven children, with three of her own, and another on top of that. Two of our father's kids were ill and have since died. This woman went through a lot in her life. Why can't they just move on from there instead of being so disrespectful? — Sad Life in PA

Dear Sad: You sound like a person who has perspective, someone able to see life not just in black and white but in shades of gray, which it is. People are rarely all good or all bad, but judgments are formed by us viewing them that way. It sounds like your sister-in-law and sister, by putting on their judge's robes and saying hurtful things about your stepmom, are stuck in this "all bad" type of thinking.

Your compassionate approach of seeing her as a woman who went through a lot in her life and who made some mistakes, as we all do, is very healthy. This same attitude also goes for judging your sister and sister-in-law. By bringing compassion to your conversations with them, they, too, might find some in their hearts for your stepmom. Simply share that you don't feel right saying mean things about your stepmom, given all that she went through in her life.

Dear Annie: Your response to "Missing Love" was spot on. My beloved husband passed away eight years ago. It was not only his death that I had to deal with but the death of life as I knew it. Attending a spousal grief support group and being around other people who "got it" gave me the most comfort. Now, I help lead the group to pay it forward. Nothing can prepare you for widowhood, but people can help you through it.

I know. I've been there. — Know from Experience

Dear Experience: Thank you for your letter. I am sorry for your loss but happy to hear that you have found support through meeting others with similar experiences.

"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]

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