DEAR ABBY: My mother and stepfather, "Rick," are being divorced after 12 years of marriage. Mom had an affair, and I understand that Rick is angry, but he is being vindictive. My sisters and I have tried hard to maintain a relationship with him, but he doesn't understand this is his divorce. It shouldn't involve us or the rest of the family, but Rick has involved everyone.
He says we have to choose sides, and if we're on his side, we must cut off contact with our mother. When we said we weren't about to take sides, he got angry. He has told his side of the family that we're horrible people, and they're not allowed to have contact with us any longer.
Abby, these are people we have known for 12 years. They want a relationship with us and we with them, but after the terrible things Rick has said about us, we don't know if we can face them. Please tell us what to do. Any advice would be helpful. -- NEEDS AN OPINION IN VIRGINIA
DEAR NEEDS AN OPINION: Your almost-former stepfather is upset. He wants to punish your mother. For him to demand you "divorce" her in order to maintain a relationship with him is childish and unrealistic. The only person he's really isolating is himself, which is sad.
Rick's family has had 12 years to get to know you and your sisters. I'm sure they recognize that he is being irrational. Please don't allow yourselves to be intimidated by whatever he might have said about you. Talk to them. Burn no bridges. The divorce will end and life will go on. If the relationship you have had with these people was built on a solid foundation, it will endure.