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by Abigail Van Buren

Readers Questions If Relationship With Stepdad Is Necessary

DEAR ABBY: Last year my darling mother lost her battle with cancer. Aside from grief and loss, a bigger issue looms over my life. It concerns my stepdad.

Before Mom was diagnosed, my stepfather was a selfish, self-centered man. At times he was mean to her to the point that I wanted her to leave him. In fairness, once Mom was diagnosed, he stepped up to the plate and took excellent care of her until her death.

I have other issues with my stepfather. He was inappropriate with me, sharing things he should have kept to himself. It caused my mother great heartache and made me lose respect for him. I am still uncomfortable around him. Mom knew how I felt and understood.

Now that she is gone, do I have any obligation to him? He has a strained relationship with his only child. My sibling thinks I'm too hard on him, but doesn't understand the major problems our stepdad caused. I don't want to continue pretending I like him. Please help, Abby. -- SEARCHING FOR GUIDANCE

DEAR SEARCHING: You are entitled to your feelings and, no, you do not have any obligation to your stepfather. If your sibling wants to see him, that's his/her choice. Explain to your sibling your reasons for feeling the way you do -- and if you encounter your stepfather during family gatherings, be polite and don't linger. That isn't pretending to like the man; it is good manners.

Read more in: Death | Family & Parenting