Dear Dr. Darcy:
I'm 16 years old and I need your help. My mother’s boyfriend lives with us– my parents are divorced and my father has nothing to do with us. The issue is with my mother and her boyfriend because they fight all the time. I hate her boyfriend because he thinks he’s my father, he’s always punishing me, but the worst is that he’s sooo mean to my mom. He calls her a bitch, stupid, says she doesn’t do anything right. I keep imagining that maybe she’ll break up with him or something but it never happens. She’s always like, “He doesn’t hit us, it’s not that bad.” Can you write to my mom and I’ll give her your answer? Can you tell her how miserable it is to live like this?!!!!
Your teenage daughter has taken the time to reach out to me, a stranger, in the hope that I’ll be able to make her home a peaceful one. It saddens me to imagine the environment that she is forced to live in. And I’m about to educate you on why it should sadden, and embarrass, you.
Children require a calm environment in order to thrive. You may think that fighting is normal, but I’m here to tell you that it is not. When you fight in front of or within earshot of your daughter, it effects her brain development. It changes who she is. Disagreeing is normal. Bickering is normal. Fighting is not. And the idea that you think it’s normal or OK is what allows you to impose this warzone on your child, just as long as the fighting stops short of physical violence. You are deluding yourself. Yours is an abusive environment because it is riddled with uncertainty and worse, because of the example you are giving your daughter of how a man should treat a woman.
Your daughter is taking notes. She is learning from you every day. She hears the despicable names that your boyfriend hurls at you and she watches you allow it. Oh, you fight back you say? Even worse because that means she lives in a combat zone. Every day that you allow that piece of shit to live in your daughter’s home is another day you teach her that women deserve to be treated the way your boyfriend treats you. And I haven’t even touched on the fact that you allow that man to punish your daughter…
Outside of adoption and foster care, no one other than the child’s original caregivers should ever attempt to parent or punish a child if that person enters your child's life after the age of 5. It’s too late. It doesn’t matter if he’s paying every bill and he’s put aside trust funds for each of your kids: He doesn’t get to parent your daughter. He came into the picture too late.
You need to reprioritize, Lady. Your child’s welfare needs to come first in your life. You are setting her up for a lifetime of struggle. Your home is literally a teenage wasteland. It is not a place where safety exists and where emotional growth is possible, and so your daughter is wasting away. Wake up, grab your ovaries and get that poor excuse for a man out of her home."
Writer’s Stats: Female, Straight.