Dear Dr. Wallace:
I’m a 16-year-old girl, and my parents divorced about five years ago. My dad was remarried a little over three years ago, and he and his new wife have a toddler who will turn 2 in a few more months. I live full time with my mother, and I love her very much, but I also love my father. I get to see him every other weekend. His new wife is very nice to me whenever I spend the weekend with them. She’s polite but not nosy, and I appreciate that a lot. I like my dad’s new wife, and I love my new little half sister. She’s so cute! She’s just now learning to talk, and I can tell that she is starting to recognize me because I visit every other week, and I get to hold her and play with her for a few hours.
It’s sad to me that my parents broke up, but I’m glad my dad is happy. But I will admit that everything about this situation makes me feel guilty. My mom doesn’t like my father these days, and she truly seems to despise his new wife. I guess it’s jealousy, but whatever it is, I can say that it’s beyond a sad situation, and it never seems to change.
Whenever I come back from a visit to see my father and his family, Mom wants me to tell her everything I saw and heard that went on inside my father’s house. I don’t like to be put in the position of being a gossip or a snitch! My mom lives to have me tell her everything, but in truth, I only reveal a little because I really don’t think she could handle all of the details, and it’s really not her business.
I don’t want to feel disloyal to Dad, but I don’t want my mom to be depressed either. I tell her a little bit about my visit with my dad, but I keep many details secret. Is this wrong on my part? When I go to visit my dad, all he ever wants to know about my mom is if she is staying healthy and doing well. He even tells me to tell her hello from him and to let him know if she needs anything.
I feel like I’m stuck in a deep, dark well between my parents, and I don’t know how to get out of it. Help!
— Stuck in the Middle, via email
Dear Stuck In The Middle: You’ve been placed in a very awkward position by your mother’s refusal to let go of her obsessive concern with your father’s new life. She needs to get on with her own life and concentrate on being a good mother for you and activities with her own friends and social circles.
You are right to respect your father’s privacy by choosing what you tell your mother about your visits.
In my opinion, you’re doing the right thing.
The fact that your conscience is nagging you a little is a testament to your character; you don’t want to hurt or disappoint either parent.