Is my new hus­band’s teenage daugh­ter a racist?

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - BEL MOONEY

DEAR BEL,

THE man of my dreams and I got mar­ried in 2017 and I adore my John. He is white and I am black — and I feel proud of our union.

I’m nearly 51, he’s 47. We don’t see my adult kids too of­ten, though I speak to them daily.

John is di­vorced from Sally and has four kids. Sally and I get on fine; she’s in a new re­la­tion­ship.

My prob­lem is with John’s el­dest daugh­ter Jade (15). Things had been fine; I’d even been shar­ing re­vi­sion du­ties with Sally which was fun.

How­ever, I found Jade’s cannabis when she was stay­ing with us and wanted to leave the dis­ci­pline to John and Sally, but Jade ac­cused me of try­ing to come be­tween her and her fa­ther and of telling on her — which isn’t ex­actly what hap­pened.

Here’s the worst part — and I am cry­ing as I write this — Jade called me a ‘black b***h’. I was really hurt.

John’s fam­ily have been lovely to me gen­er­ally, but there is a lit­tle ten­sion, as I am the only non-white per­son in his fam­ily.

I try not to let it bug me, but I can’t help feel­ing self-con­scious. Any­way, Jade also told me she wished her dad hadn’t mar­ried me and that I em­bar­rass her. When­ever I re­mem­ber her words, I feel ab­so­lutely crushed.

I tried to talk to John, but he al­ways seems cagey and Jade still hasn’t apol­o­gised. I don’t know how to broach the sub­ject without be­ing the typ­i­cal black per­son go­ing on about race. But I also won­der if that’s how she really feels.

Now I’m scared of say­ing any­thing be­cause John and I have never really had a con­ver­sa­tion about race — or rather, racism, as I tend to avoid the sub­ject.

He’d hit the roof if I called Jade a racist. Maybe I’m be­ing over­sen­si­tive. I hon­estly don’t know.

I’m start­ing to feel des­per­ate and dread­ing Christ­mas. I’m con­fused about John not say­ing any­thing to Jade.

Please help me find a way to ad­dress this with my hus­band and his daugh­ter, whom I loved be­fore now. Now she’s like a stranger and I hate feel­ing so bit­ter. I just want things back the way they were.

CARA

This is such a sad story, but it makes me an­gry, too. A teenage step­daugh­ter can of­ten prove trou­ble­some, but this one had ab­so­lutely no right to speak to you like that. her abuse was vile. No won­der it makes you cry.

in love with your hus­band as you are, es­tab­lish­ing a sta­ble, con­tented fam­ily and forg­ing a good re­la­tion­ship with John’s ex-wife, you’d reached a pin­na­cle of proud con­tent­ment — un­til this.

Al­though you do men­tion ‘a lit­tle ten­sion, as i am the only non-white per­son in his fam­ily’, that may even be hind­sight — be­cause of Jade.

‘Over-sen­si­tive’? surely not. Any­body in your po­si­tion would feel des­per­ately wounded. To be hon­est, i’m so ap­palled i feel at a loss.

so per­haps my way into this dilemma must be to do what you have sen­si­bly made your pol­icy — and avoid the race is­sue for a mo­ment. Be­cause many a step-par­ent has had to en­dure ap­palling rude­ness (and worse) from a beloved part­ner’s off­spring.

SUP­POSE Jane had called you a ‘te­dious, in­ter­fer­ing old cow’ — what would i say? i’d ad­vise putting some dis­tance be­tween the girl and you, deep breath­ing to re­gain self-con­trol — and only then to find a mo­ment to ex­plain to her very qui­etly and calmly just how hurt­ful her words were.

say you don’t be­lieve she meant it, but was just hit­ting out be­cause she’d been caught. em­pha­sise that you love her and have been very happy in your re­la­tion­ship un­til this point.

Then add that you don’t ex­pect a

great dis­cus­sion, but just hope she is sorry she hurt your feel­ings... be­cause then you can put an end to it. A ma­ture, mea­sured ap­proach.

Jade’s re­sponse may be a shuf­fling em­bar­rass­ment and a mut­tered ‘Sorry’ at best or sullen si­lence at worst. Be­cause that’s what teenagers tend to be like (be­lieve me, I brought up two of the dif­fi­cult crea­tures). The key is to ex­pect very lit­tle. Then you won’t be dis­ap­pointed.

Of course, no­body should have to en­dure racist abuse. How­ever, you make the im­por­tant point that you ‘loved’ Jade be­fore this. Surely that in­di­cates there was no whis­per of prej­u­dice in any of her deal­ings with you be­fore the row? If there had been, I doubt you could have writ­ten that you ‘loved’ her.

So sup­pose my sce­nario above is cor­rect and she was just lash­ing out be­cause she was caught out. Per­haps she is con­sumed with guilt and re­morse.

But here we come back to the words them­selves. Did they come from her deep­est self? Do they iden­tify her as a racist — and, if so, should you call her that to your hus­band?

My an­swer to those ques­tions has to be a con­cil­ia­tory ‘No’ for the sake of your hus­band. And be­cause I don’t think a 15-year-old is en­tirely re­spon­si­ble for their ac­tions and words (one rea­son never to give the vote to un­der­18s) and to called her a ‘racist’ would just trade abuse for abuse.

No good can come of it. I don’t think you can ask John (in ef­fect) to choose be­tween his wife and daugh­ter — al­though, of course, in time you and he need to have a se­ri­ous con­ver­sa­tion about what this in­ci­dent did to you. That can­not be avoided.

What hap­pened was hor­ri­ble — but right now you have a choice about whether to let it spoil Christ­mas and po­ten­tially af­fect the rest of your mar­ried life or put it be­hind you.

You are right to be­lieve that all dis­ci­pline must come from Jade’s par­ents. So I would step back for the sake of your own dig­nity — but be sure to find the time to have that cru­cial talk with her, along the lines I sug­gest above.

You will have to take rigid con­trol of your feel­ings and stay calm. I hope with all my heart you can deal with this and re­alise that, al­though you can never un-hear what the girl said, you have it in your power not to al­low those stupid words to dam­age your life.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.