Spunky’s Free Advice: Stepdad Problems — Please Help!

mom can we talk As we blogged about recently, we are now accepting calls for advice from our readers, which we (Spunky, Dr. Richards, and pals) will do our best to answer! The latest request for our wise counsel follows, along with our response:

Dear Spunky,

My parents divorced three years ago. I am now 16. Six months ago, my mother began dating another man, and now they are getting serious. I am very worried they’ll marry and that he will become my stepfather. I can’t stand the man. He is a rich, loud, arrogant jerk who told my mother he thinks all kids should be sent away to boarding school. I did talk to my Dad about the situation and he says I could come and live with him if my mother would allow it (she has primary custody), but I know it would break her heart if I left her. Please tell me what I should do; the idea that his man could become my stepfather is giving me nightmares.  – Patty K.s

Spunky says:

Dear Patty,

I can empathize with your situation. When dogs become part of a human family, they don’t get a say in what that family will be like. Plus, dogs may be forced to change families many times.

While there is not much a dog can do about their situation, I think you do have some choices. First, I think it is time for you to consider a quiet heart-to-heart  talk with your mother. If you are not sure what you would say, write it all down first, then read it over several times. Maybe your dad could help. I strongly suggest you practice your opening lines. No pouting, no threats and no demanding tones. Rather, act respectful and mature. Example, “Mom, I love you and I really need some time alone with you so we can talk.”

When you do talk, be polite, and no matter how much you want to, do not insult the man she is dating. Think about how you feel when someone badmouths one of your friends. Don’t you immediately rise to their defense? You don’t want your mom doing that, but you can tell her you have some serious concerns about this man coming into your family and you need her help to know what to do. See if she will listen. You mission is not to change your mother’s mind for her, but to get said what you need to say. Do not threaten your mom with your idea of going to live with your dad. If you ultimately decide to try that option, it can be discussed another day.

If she does marry this man, then remember: he may be the man your mother marries, but no one can make him your stepfather or require that you love him. I believe both are honors a person must earn. You will have to be respectful and probably obey his house rules, but you do not have to see him as a father figure in your life. That choice is entirely yours.

Never forget: you have a right to be safe. If that is ever threatened make sure you tell your dad.

Good luck, Patty.



If you have a problem, please submit it via the comment form below, or send us an email via our contact page. We look forward to hearing from you!


Who is Spunky?
Spunky is a 12-year-old terrier mutt and the protagonist of the Spunky Murder Mystery series, a series of cozy mysteries for dog and cat lovers, written by author Holly Lewitas. Titles include The Nose KnowsThe Nose Sees All, and An Army of Noses.

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