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Q. My 16-year-old daughter is constantly confiding in her stepmother. How can I get her to come to me when she needs to talk?
A. You aren't a failure as a mother if your daughter talks to her stepmother instead of you. Sometimes daughters can't talk to their mothers because it's so easy to push each other's buttons. This is a moment for you to be really mature. Is your daughter safe? Is she learning which adults in her life can provide guidance? Under no circumstances should you make her feel she has to choose between you and her stepmother. What you can do is talk to her about your relationship in general. Tell her you love her, you're always available to talk, and that while you may have an opinion about what she's going through, you'll support her every step of the way. Just don't be resentful if this doesn't immediately result in an "I love you so much Mom, and now I'll totally open up to you" moment.
Originally published in the April 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.