Tuesday, June 3, 2014

This Blended Family Needs A Little Less "Stirring"

Dear Tazi:

I am a member of a "blended" family. I live with my mother, my step-father, and my step-sister. I adore my step-dad, and he really seems to like me, too. My step-sister and I get along great, and I call her my sister when my Mom isn't listening. Mom is the one problem with the blending of my family. For some reason, she dislikes "Cassie" and treats her like garbage, which results in Cassie not respecting Mom. My step-dad travels a lot for work, so he is not always around to see things, and we do not want him to know that "his girls" are having difficulties while he is away (my Mom never treats Cassie poorly when he is around!).

Cassie has told me she thinks of me as a sister, but that she can't stand my Mom. She has stopped short of calling my Mom names in front of me, but I have heard her use some nasty words with our friends. It makes me angry to hear someone call my Mom those names, but at the same time I can't defend my Mom because Cassie is right about the way my Mom treats her.

I have approached my Mom privately and asked her why she treats Cassie like she does, but she denied treating her "any differently" than she treats me. When I caught Mom talking down to Cassie for no reason, I pointed out the behavior, but then Mom just got angry with me and told me to mind my own business. Tazi, how my Mom treats Cassie IS my business! She is not only my step-sister, she is my friend. We are the same age (both 14) and in the same classes at school. I can see how my Mom's treatment is affecting Cassie, and it is not good. I want to tell my step-dad, but I really don't want to take sides against my Mom. What can I do, Tazi?

Stuck In The Middle

Dear Stuck In The Middle:

You are a wonderful sister for wanting to keep harmony in your home, and a wonderful daughter for wanting to stand by your Mom; but all of this discord is leaving your life less than harmonious! What to do, what to do?

When your Mom married your step-dad, the two of them agreed not only to marry each other, but to take on the responsibility of parenting each other's children. If your step-father is traveling frequently, your mother could feel like he has simply dumped Cassie on her while he takes off to pursue a jet-setting lifestyle. Even though travelling for work is hardly ever pleasurable, to the people stuck at home with the day-to-day responsibilities of running the house and raising children it can appear quite glamorous. If this is the case, your mother might be taking this stress out on Cassie because she cannot - or will not - take it our on her true target: her husband.

It could be that your mother truly is not aware of how she treats Cassie, or it could be that she is insecure in her new marriage and Cassie is a reminder that her husband was once partnered with another woman. Either way, the air needs to be cleared in order for everyone to move forward. If Cassie has not done so already, she really needs to talk to her father - and her mother, if she is in the picture - about your mother's treatment of her, and her father needs to step-up to make certain that "his girls" really are doing alright while he is away.

If neither of you are comfortable approaching your parents about this issue, you could try talking to a trusted teacher, guidance counselor, or spiritual adviser. You mention that your mother's treatment of Cassie is noticeable at school; her teachers have most likely noticed the change in her attitude and/or behavior, as well. If Cassie cannot do this for herself, please step-up and do it for her. It will not be a betrayal of your mother; rather, it could be the saving grace that both she and Cassie need.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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