Annie Fox for Teens... Hey, Terra!

Annie (AKA Hey Terra!) has been around long enough to have experienced a lot of what Life can dish out. But, it hasn’t been so long that she's forgotten what it's like to be your age. Check out some of the thousands of email questions teens from around the world have sent to Terra. You may learn something useful from her answers:

Communication Problems:
“I have a hard time communicating with my dad and my step mom.”

Hey Terra,

My step mom gets in one of her "I am here to help" moods and the next minute she's correcting me because I am so not well mannered. I tried telling my dad before but I only got mad and exploded. Is there any way that I can approach my dad about it without getting so explosive and angry?


Dear Fuming,

Of course there is a way to talk with your dad without exploding! Follow these simple steps:

  1. On your own think about exactly what you want to say. The goal is to have him understand how you FEEL when your step mom does this. The goal is NOT to say bad things about your step mom. That's only going to put your dad in an awkward position of being in the middle between two people he loves a lot. So stick to your FEELINGS when you talk. You might say "I feel judged when she corrects my manners..." "I feel embarrassed..." "I feel like I can't do anything right..." But DON'T say things like "She ALWAYS...." or "She NEVER...." Got it?
  2. After you've thought clearly about what you want your dad to understand about the way it makes you feel, then tell him that you'd like to talk to him and set up a time (just the two of you). Maybe it would be best to go for a walk with him, and get out of the house so that you have privacy and you're on neutral ground and you won't be interrupted. So, make a time and a place to talk.
  3. Tell him how you feel (remember step number 1). After you've had your say ask him, "What do you think you can do to help me and my step mom have a better relationship?" Because that is the real goal to all of this and your dad can help.
  4. Make a plan. Then let him talk to your step mom... And see where it goes from there.

As for your habit of exploding... Take a deep breath (or several) and tell yourself "I am mature and clear about what I want to say. I don't need to yell and act like a crazy person." Breathe and you will be calmer.


Good luck and let me know how it goes.

In friendship,


Need some advice? Write to Terra. She'll give you a straight answer you can trust without any lectures.

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