Step Parent


#1

I have a stepmother of 17 years and my Dad is divorcing her. She has been battling bi-polar disorder and can be very abusive at times. I also think that she is a good person, just somewhat difficult to communicate with. She also tries to vent about how "awful" of a guy my Dad is, and the last phone conversation I had with her she was screaming obscenities about my Dad and told her I will not lend an ear to her about that and that's what her brothers/sisters/psychiatrist is for.

Her and my Dad have a house here and another house out of state (where she is from and where her family is). She has been fighting to stay here and we think she was going to try to make Dad move out of the house so she could stay in it and live near me and my family and give him the boot so to speak.

I told her that we would rather have our Dad live in that house, and otherwise would be at the expense of any further relationship with my family. She didn't take that very well.

My intentions were not to harm her, but to protect my family. My wife is very uncomfortable around her and she makes us all feel very uncomfortable with her ranting and emotional outbursts. We still do love her and do wish she could reconcile with us so she can continue to have a relationship with me my wife and her grandsons. Just a different relationship. She has decided to throw it all away. It seems to be all or nothing with her. She's making us choose between her and my Dad, which I don't think is right.

Was I uncharitable in giving her that ultimatum? My old Pastor who just left was helping me with this and now I have a new one that I just met and went to confession for the 1st time with him today about this. I don't think I was really able to convey to him very well the entire situation and it was a bit awkward.


#2

Unfortunately, it sounds like your step mother is going through a manic state and nothing you say or do will make her happy. What she needs most is prayer and some understanding for what she is going through. She will not admit that there is anything wrong on her end, but that is the life of bipolar disease. I’m not certain how often she sees her psychiatrist or even if he/she knows the whole story of what is going on in her life. Even though things between her and her doctor are private, it would not be wrong of you to try and contact them with a phone call or letter to let them know how she has been acting. The important thing here is to not be biased here and just let the doctor know about how unpredictable her actions have been. Life is not easy most of the time and even though you feel hurt at this moment, the best thing you can do for your step mom is to let her know you will be there for her but not when she is talking negative about your dad. This is a difficult situation to be in, but maybe the Lord has brought you here for a reason.


#3

[quote="OpenSource, post:1, topic:225115"]
She has been battling bi-polar disorder and can be very abusive at times.

[/quote]

Well there is no real easy answer to this. I would say that since you indicated that she is abusive towards you and your family, you have sufficient justification to cut ties with her. In other words, I don't think that it is sinful.

Jesus said "love thy neighbor as thyself" NOT "love thy neighbor instead of yourself". To continue a relationship where someone has clearly indicated that they have no respect for you would be to imply that it is acceptable behavior. From what I understand, I would say that this is the right move. You should not tolerate her abusing your father, family, wife and yourself. That would just make things worse.

However, keep in mind that the end goal in this should ultimately be to help her. I'm not sure how possible this is, but if there is a way you can convey to her (if you have not already) that SHE is the one forcing your hand, it may help her to get the message a little clearer. I would also try and make it clear that if she is willing and able to recognize the behaviors that she exhibited were unacceptable and is repentant, then you would be willing to re-establish a familial relationship with her.

I think what you are doing is certainly morally permissible. There is nothing sinful here. But what is the BEST decision? I'm afraid no one will be able to answer that for you. I can only advise that you pray hard and follow your conscience. Spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament. I'm sorry I wish I could help you more, but until I've walked some time in your shoes, I don't think I could truly understand the situation well enough to provide more firm advice.

You, your family, and your stepmother are all in my prayers. I wish you all the best.


#4

Thank you for your kind replies.

My wife is afraid that she's going to have an outburst and harm her or one of our kids. I personally disagree with that assessment, but I'm also not the expert on mental illnesses.

I did tell her that our door is open, as long as Dad stays in his house. (She wants to give him the boot so she can live there and be near us instead). So as far as that is concerned, I did choose Dad over her in that regard.

She goes on to say she isn't interested in having fairweather family with strings attached.

Hopefully one day she will reconcile with us and have a relationship. Personally, I don't think I could ever give up my son, daughter, and 2 grandkids that easily. Perhaps we really didn't mean that much to her after all? Maybe she feels betrayed?


#5

Like others, I am not an expert on this subject. So my comments are just food for thought that will need modification to fit your circumstance.

First, it is clear to me that you are a fine son to your father and stepmother. You are honoring them with your compassion and concern. Constant prayer for WISDOM - right knowledge and judgment - will be rewarded as you struggle.

Second, as J said earlier, report your observations as objectively as you can to her counselor. She is ill and does need professional help beyond what normal families can give. It may be that she is near needing in-resident care for a brief period.

Third - research the internet and library for more information - right knowledge. Knowing the terms and their definitions helps us think more clearly. You may also find help groups. Others have gone through what you are handling. If you live near a good university, see if they have any program that might of help.

Fourth, as gently as you can, set boundaries and stick to them. You have your family and yourself to protect in many ways. You still have to concentrate on your job. Worries interfere. It will be a balancing effort every day and week, to LOVE a loved one who does needs love and help without creating serious problems in your own immediate family - wife and children.

Back to one again. Constantly pray for WISDOM. What to do, when to do it, how to do it. There may not be a quick magic solution, but trust that God will guide you in your efforts.

Like others, I too will keep you and your family in my prayers.


#6

Like others, I am not an expert on this subject. So my comments are just food for thought that will need modification to fit your circumstance.

First, it is clear to me that you are a fine son to your father and stepmother. You are honoring them with your compassion and concern. Constant prayer for WISDOM - right knowledge and judgment - will be rewarded as you struggle.

Second, as J said earlier, report your observations as objectively as you can to her counselor. She is ill and does need professional help beyond what normal families can give. It may be that she is near needing in-resident care for a brief period.

Third - research the internet and library for more information - right knowledge. Knowing the terms and their definitions helps us think more clearly. You may also find help groups. Others have gone through what you are handling. If you live near a good university, see if they have any program that might of help.

Fourth, as gently as you can, set boundaries and stick to them. You have your family and yourself to protect in many ways. You still have to concentrate on your job. Worries interfere. It will be a balancing effort every day and week, to LOVE a loved one who does needs love and help without creating serious problems in your own immediate family - wife and children.

Back to one again. Constantly pray for WISDOM. What to do, when to do it, how to do it. There may not be a quick magic solution, but trust that God will guide you in your efforts.

Like others, I too will keep you and your family in my prayers.


#7

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