My father got married five years ago. He seems happy, but for various reasons that I won't go into here, my siblings and I aren't super fond of his wife. I see him a few times a year, and she's always with him wherever he goes. I haven't had a moment alone with my father since they got married. Same for my brother and sister. I have a feeling she doesn't want him to be alone with any of us because she's worried we're going to tell him what we think of her. How do I get my dad-time back?
Daddy's Boy (male, 42)
Dear Daddy's Boy
I'm a big fan of honesty, so I'd suggest that you be straight up with your dad and tell him that you'd like to have some one-on-one time with him. Seems like he'd appreciate that, and you don't need to mention his wife at all.
If that seems difficult, you and your brother could team up and invite your dad on a boys' night out — it could be as simple as dinner and drinks. Or maybe there's something he likes to do that you know doesn't interest her. Fishing and golf seem like two pretty common father/son activity options.
If you feel the need to go the extra mile to make sure he doesn't bring his wife, perhaps you could bribe your sister to take one for the team and invite your stepmom out for a pedicure or some such one afternoon?
Whatever you do, the first time you get your dad alone, don't air all your stepmom grievances. If he comes home unscathed, she'll be more apt to let him out of her sight again.
It must be really difficult being a stepmother. The mom shoes are big ones to fill. She's probably trying really hard to get you and your siblings to like her, so cut her some slack. You don't need to love her, but your dad does, and that's all that really matters. If he seems happy, chances are pretty good he really is.
Good luck and God bless,