Dear Dr. G.,
I know you usually help parents but as you are an expert in all things teenage I was wondering if you could help me? I'm a 17 year old girl and I'm having trouble getting along with my parents.
My mum remarried a few years ago but I feel like I've now just become an inconvenience to her new relationship. I really want to be as close to her as I used to be but she never wants to talk to me now because as soon as my stepdad gets home she leaves me to go and talk to him. When I spend time with both of them they discuss work and things which I'm not really part of and if I try to bring up a neutral topic it's quickly changed.
Just wondering how to go about having a better relationship with my mum and stepdad rather than just avoiding being home which is what I'm doing at the moment.
Any advice would be hugely appreciated as the whole situation has been making me really sad for a while.
I am so honored that you have written to me. I am happy to answer the questions of both parents and teens. They are equally important.I love and admire how you have identified and described the problem that you want to change. I understand why you are sad. It seems like you have lost the attention of your mother and are unsure how to engage both your mother and stepfather.
I suggest that you have a heart to heart conversation with your mother and tell her exactly what you have told me. You can also tell her that while you want happiness for her in her relationship with your stepdad that you miss the closeness with her that you and her likely shared when he was not in the picture. Perhaps you and your mother can develop some special activities that only the two of you do together. This can be your mother/daughter or "girl time."
Regarding your relationship with your stepfather -it sounds like you and he would do well to get to know each other and find an interest that you can both relate to.
It is clear that you feel like the odd person out during conversations and I think that you should gently bring that up. That is a valid feeling and if everyone honors it the outcome should be a happier family.
I also hope that you have good friends that are your own age because to some extent your mom really does need to divide her attention at this point in a way that she probably didn't need to do prior to the arrival of your stepfather.
I wish you the best of luck. Please let me know how things turn out.
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