a soft breeze asks: A stepfather is good to his wife’s children, so much so that one of the wife’s daughters (teen,15) fell in love with him and wants to marry him. She is jealous of her mother. He is very upset. He tried to show to her that his relationship is that of a father. But she cannot control her feelings. He threatened her that he will not see her anymore, that she could stay in her father’s house and not come back to his house, or he will come to his house only when she’s not there. She sent him a letter saying that if he quits from her life she will commit suicide. He’s confused. What should he do?
Hi a soft breeze –
This is an absolutely horrible situation! It sounds miserable for him, for her, and I’m sure it’s just terrible for her mother and father. While it’s great for stepchildren to love their stepparents, this is a strange and terribly twisted version of that.
I like and respect that he is working so hard to set boundaries with her. He’s absolutely right to do that. But there is one further thing that’s necessary – and I mean necessary, not “it’d be a nice idea.” He, his wife, and her daughter, must get family therapy. I don’t know where they live, but this is looking like it’s literally a matter of life and death!
Family therapy isn’t exactly the sort of old-world psychotherapy we picture, where someone lies on a couch and talks about their feelings to a quiet person taking notes. It’s a lot more active and involved, and needs the whole family (or at least those three members) to attend.
You see, I don’t want this poor girl to be shamed for having fallen in love. That’s a lovely, sweet, and beautiful thing. But her jealousy of her mother, and her view that she should be with this much older man – all these point to something that needs to be worked on in this family. Most likely, it’s just a really rough phase she’s going through, and getting to feel heard and cared for will be enough. Although it’s also possible that there’s something much worse that’s wrong, like if something bad has happened to her in the past, and she’s struggling with that fact now.
If you, or they, can find a good family therapist, then I really strongly suggest doing that. If you don’t know how to find one, though, please feel free to write me, and I’ll see what I can do to help. (And don’t worry, I won’t post any information about where you or they live)