DEAR HARRIETTE: My stepmom suggested that I stole money from her bedroom while she was out of town. I know deep down that she has never liked me and was waiting for an excuse to point the finger at me for something like this. She has no evidence that I stole anything, and she can’t even give a straightforward answer for why I would have done something like this. I don’t care what she thinks, but my dad is “refusing to take sides.”
Would I be wrong to cut off my dad for not having my back? The hard part is that I still live with them. I just graduated from college, and I am looking for a job. I need to be here for a while longer, but I hate being accused of a crime in my own house. How can I handle this? -- Wild Accusations
DEAR WILD ACCUSATIONS: Your dad is caught in an extremely uncomfortable situation. He wants to trust you, and he wants to keep peace in his house. Right now, I’m sure it feels like there’s no winning in this situation for you. Rather than cutting off your dad -- which seems unrealistic since you are in his house -- talk to him. Tell him your side of the story. Don’t complain too much about his wife, though. You need to find a way to maintain peace with her while you are living there. Ask your dad to trust you and to look at your track record. If there is no previous reason for you to be considered a thief, point that out to him. Tell your stepmom that you are sorry she is missing money, but you did not take it.
Next, focus on getting a job and moving. Clearly, you are not welcome -- at least from your stepmom’s perspective. Plot a course toward your independence. When you are able to live on your own, you will feel more relaxed and can create space to be respected by your family on your own terms.