Ask Amy

Ask Amy column

Q. I am a 15-year-old girl. My dad married Satan, and now I have the “stepmonster” from hell. She and my dad got into a fight last week, and she has ignored me for an entire week. When I try talking to her, she gives me the arctic shoulder.

I want to confront her about her behavior. She’s speaking to my dad now but acts like I don’t exist. So what am I supposed to do? Cheesed Off

A. I’m sorry you are having this experience at home. Frankly, I also feel sorry for your father and stepmonster from hell. Stepparenting is the most challenging form of parenting, and you sound like an angry (and possibly grieving) teenager.


All the same, it sounds like the adults in your household could (and should) behave differently. Much differently.

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Unfortunately, I cannot help your stepmother to be more mature and a better parent. I suggest you interpret her “arctic shoulder” as more of a fearful reaction than an angry gesture toward you.

For now, stop trying to confront her. Aim for a conversation instead, and ask your father to help you to have it. You need some alone time with your dad, and your (new) family needs to have some positive experiences together to build upon.

Find a way to express your hurt feelings that does not involve blame or name calling. Write down your experiences and feelings, and consider using your writings as a guide when you’re talking.

Share this Q-and-A with your father and tell him I think your family could use outside help and mediation in order to blend successfully.


Q. I am a man in my 50s. With too much time on my hands and a subscription to, I started looking up the names of kids I went to high school and grade school with.

I found that a girl I haven’t seen since eighth grade will be married 40 years in a few weeks, a major accomplishment since she was married soon after graduating high school (she graduated a year early). She is 57.

Should I send a card with congratulations and a few news items about other kids from the class? I doubt I will ever see her again. My choices are: send a card or leave the past in the past? Too Nice in St. Paul

A. Honestly, an anniversary card out of the blue does seem like a strange gesture.

Facebook can be a great tool for connecting and catching up with people from your past; your high school graduating class may even have its own Facebook page. This way you can reach out to others and also be contacted by people looking to catch up with you. I sense a wistful yearning; this is common at your stage of life, but tread carefully.


Q. I am responding to the letter from “Toker,” the writer who described himself as “an old hippie” addicted to marijuana. He said he got laughed out of 12-step programs because people didn’t consider his addiction “real” or serious enough.

I had the exact same experience when I sought sobriety from my daily pot habit. It turns out that some 12-step programs are pretty cliquish. Fortunately, I found Marijuana Anonymous, which is oriented toward pot users. Also Addicted

A. Dozens of people have responded with stories of being “laughed out of chairs” in recovery programs. I find this shocking but not surprising. Marijuana Anonymous ( uses a 12-step model for recovery from pot.

You can contact Amy Dickinson via e-mail at askamy@tribune. com. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.