1. NTA- and I think stepmom needs a different therapist because it doesn't seem like she's getting a lot out of this one. Your feelings about this are valid and dad is wrong for trying to force you to deepen the relationship when it sounds like stepmom is burning bridges and looking for a "ready-made family" of her own.

  2. I think stepmom is getting what she wants, which is emotional validation, rather than what she needs, which is actual therapy to uncover the core beliefs and life experiences that have created her distorted view of things in the first place. If she and OP’s dad genuinely want things to change, it’s time to find a new therapist.

  3. I don’t think step mom is suited to being a step mom. She went into it with her own pre-conceived ideas that she’s trying to implement and is now trying to guilt everyone to make it happen.

  4. Having worked in EAP for many years I can say first hand there are ALOT of really shitty counsellors out there. It's not like being a doctor where you all have a medical degree in common, to be a counselor you can go MANY different routes and they don't always have the same content in terms of how you speak to your clients and relate to them. We had this one guy who took financial courses and was initially and financial advisor of some sort. But he left that and started doing counselling in general for people because it turned out he has the credentials for it. He was TERRIBLE. Nobody liked him, we got non stop complaints about his service and how he was really abrasive and didn't seem to really care. We made surveys to try and figure out why he was so terrible but we had to destroy the results when we found out he was intimidating his clients into filling out the questionnaire about him in front of him and then making them hand it directly to him. Then after they left he Tore it open and read it . He got fired obviously.

  5. Therapist immediately got my hackles up when they suggested the kids spend Christmas exclusively with dad and stepmom and not do their traditional Christmas. Hey, OP! Do NOT back out of your traditional Christmas just because therapist thinks it's best for your stepmom, that's a terrible idea. Go and enjoy your Christmas as you want it to be!

  6. I'm wondering if this 'therapist' is attached to a religious organization. It's the only way I can justify it. I can see asking the kids if they'd be willing to do those things, but once the kids said no and expressed their feelings, the therapist should have validated their feelings and helped the step mother work through her own feelings about it.

  7. To provide context, my parents split when I was little (about 3). My dad went through a series of bad marriages until wife #5, which he was with for over 30 years until she passed away over a year ago.

  8. I’m really upset at this therapist. Wtf dude?! They need to tell the stepmom she can’t force a relationship. That these kids lost their mom so young. And need to be allowed to keep her in their lives and that her expectations are way too much. OP NTA. I’m so sorry you lost your mom so young. That’s a huge trauma. Your feelings are valid. Lost mine also 8 years ago and I was 33. It was traumatic for me but I feel when you’re young it’s gotta be so much harder

  9. Yeah, it’s deeply unprofessional for the therapist to turn to children to validate the patient’s misconceptions. She needs someone to help her accept reality. NTA. Edit: mistyped judgment.

  10. I think the stepmother can’t count. By OP’s statement she’s at least fourth. OP, do you have any aunts?

  11. Simple answer should be the most important person in my life wouldn’t treat like this no call me cruel. They would see where I am coming from and accept my emotions and feelings. Your actions are proving why you aren’t the most important person and why you will continue to not be my family.

  12. Dear stepmother, please learn to adult. All adults have to weed their own emotional gardens. I can't carry your load on my back and become the one responsible for cultivating your feelings if it means I have to ignore my own. If you need a Band-Aid for your feelings, remember the part about Physician heal thyself? It applies to all of us.

  13. I think having multiple sessions where the stepmother essential gets to play "victim" to the family dynamic is beyond unhealthy. Stepmother should be having her own sessions and the siblings and father should be having another.

  14. NTA. A new therapist is definitely needed. Based on what you are saying above, it sounds this therapist does not know what they are doing.

  15. Can you imagine how bad it will be when the kids get married and she isn't mother of the bride? Maybe if she backed off some. I don't get this, I have to be your parent mentality from step parents. I bet if the stepmom showed genuine interest in their mom from the beginning she would be better off today.

  16. I am a therapist and this breaks my heart. Your feelings are absolutely valid and no one can ever replace your mom. I’m sorry your step mother feels that your relationship with your mother has anything to do with her. NTA, and I hope you can get your own individual counselor who can help you through this. You don’t have an obligation to make your step mom feel better that your dad was previously married

  17. I agree, her therapist really doesn’t seem to be looking into her flashing red insecurities and projection. This isn’t healthy at all. No one should have to force relationships, yes, you can make an effort and see if it works, but if the connection isn’t there. That isn’t anyone’s fault. If she isn’t the most important woman in your life then that’s just a fact, why should someone be encouraged to lie? I felt like I was forced to lie as a kid, to save people’s feelings and so I wasn’t put into a position where it created an icy atmosphere 🤮🥶

  18. NTA. I think it’s time to get blunt and tell the group that you think perhaps individual therapy for Jani so she can work on exactly why she needs you all to pledge your undying love and devotion so badly would be a better idea than this. Because if the goal of these sessions is to get you to pretend you don’t miss your mom, let alone would ever choose Jani over having her back, that’s not realistic, and you don’t think it’s healthy.

  19. THIS. Jani needs to understand her role as step-mom. Her current therapy isn't helping her with this at all, but instead encouraging her to do the opposite, trying to replace your mom. She'd be so much happier if she could just accept that nothing will ever replace your deceased mom and she shouldn't be competing with her as she'll always lose.

  20. It sounds like she wants to be their parent and have her family included. Which I get, what family-oriented person wouldn’t want that. It sounds like she needs a couple kids of her “own”.

  21. Not really. She seems to be the kind who tries to get someone what the want and not actually working on trying to help make things realistic and healthy. Because so far all she has focused on is trying to get Jani what she wants and nothing else. Sessions are normally all about Jani and how she feels and that's about it.

  22. Nope - they need someone new pronto. The more established Jani gets with her unrealistic expectations of trying to replace mom, the more difficult it'll be for her to get out of that mindset. NTA

  23. NTA. You were honest, but you weren't nasty. Group therapy is a great place to work out your family issues and I commend your whole family for participating, but the only way these therapy sessions are gonna work is if everyone is truthful. Your father and stepmother should be thanking you for the honesty so you can all work on a solution together to help stepmom feel more included.

  24. Dad's kind of already done some harm with his declarations that we all love her and she's loved as much as mom. I know my siblings and I have never actually said that to her. And speaking for me I don't actually love her. She's okay. I have grown somewhat fond of her but it can be frustrating at times feeling like I have to watch my enthusiasm for my family because she gets upset by it because I never have that same enthusiasm for her. I don't see us ever getting what they want out of this.

  25. I think it goes back to when she met my dad and she truly seems to have believed she would be walking in as more than just a wife. I'm not sure if my siblings feel the same but to me that's what she's always been, dad's wife, the woman who makes him happy and I appreciate her for that and like her for being good to him. But I never saw her the way she wanted to be seen and I think all of it is connected. Her expectations were very high walking into the marriage and unrealistic when it came to having a relationship with me.

  26. NTA. A stepparent is almost never going to replace a biological parent in terms of their importance to a child. I recognise that there will be exceptions to this before anyone jumps in, but for a standard blended family, this will be the case. Where the parent has passed away, there is even less chance of this happening.

  27. Jesus, NTA. Jani and your father’s expectations of you are insane. This woman is putting her need to feel included above the needs of three literal children who have lost their mother. Your father seems to refuse to understand that his feelings for Jani are his alone, and that he and Jani will always need to hold space for your mom. Who on earth wants a 16-year-old to tell her she’s more important than that child’s deceased mother? It’s worth mentioning everything you’ve said here in therapy in clear, honest language. You shouldn’t be having to do this work, but honesty in the sessions will allow the therapist to help.

  28. NTA and I am a bit shocked by what I understand the therapist suggesting. It sounds like she was dismissing what your sister said. What was your response.

  29. I'm kind of the same. Or if not dislike, at the very least it feels more like a chore and an obligation vs something I do because I want to and things just never take off and they feel like a constant stranger almost.

  30. NTA sounds like this woman stepped in, thinking she had a ready-made family to take over. I understand wanting to be close to the children you help raise, but she should know that, of course, she cannot replace your mother. You still have your family, and that's it. If she had married a man who was separated from his spouse, I suspect she would try to get the kids to call her "mom" too. A question you can ask in the next family therapy session (which the therapist should already have asked) is what her desired outcome is. How can you as a family make her feel included more than she is? You don't have to do whatever it is, but her answer should be telling. If she says anything like treating her family the same as yours, then clearly, all these therapy sessions aren't working for her.

  31. That was her answer when the question came up. As well as feeling like she's more important than our extended family and loved and wanted equally to our parents.

  32. Strong NTA here. Step-parents have to take cues from the kids if they truly want a healthy relationship with them. Your mom is important to you and Jani has no reasonable expectation for that to change just because she showed up.

  33. NTA. Jani seems to be missing on of the most vital parts of being a good step-parent: you can’t force the relationship with your stepkids. Respecting their boundaries is a vital part of becoming family. As soon as you start trying to force things, you push them away with whatever force you use to try to pull them closer. Her demand to be the parent and the most important woman in her stepkids‘ lives is the biggest obstacle to actually moving towards those things.

  34. NTA. Your actual blood/genetic parents, if the relationship is good, will always be a priority, alive or not. That doesn't make any step-parents UNimportant, just they aren't your bio parent is all.

  35. NTA. Sweetheart, don’t let this woman guilt trip you into replacing your mother. Because that is exactly what she is doing. You can’t force relationships and you cannot replace deceased parents. In time, she can become a valued member of the family. But not like this. I’m very disappointed that your father is allowing this behaviour and also for the therapist to enable her selfishness. Stepmother may be struggling to adapt, father has found happiness with a new partner, but you and you siblings lost a parent. Your happiness is important. Don’t let anyone browbeat you.

  36. Jesus Christ this woman has issues. You don't ask a child who lost a parent if they love that parent more than you and then get upset by the answer.

  37. NTA. She's not your mum but she's expecting to be treated as such. She can't force a relationship or for you to consider her family to be yours. Of course your actual mother will be your priority.

  38. Honestly it seems like a lot of “therapists” are going to Reddit online skool of therapy. Instead of helping your SM deal with her insane need be “the most important woman in your lives” she’s condoning it. NTA.

  39. OP, you are not cruel, Jani is emotionally overwrought and unbalanced. Its her. Not you. Don't fall for becoming responsible for how she sees herself and make your life about her neediness. Jani, I care for you. I love being a family with you. But, my mother is my talisman. And I won't give up loving and remembering our life together to make anyone else happy. Its an inappropriate thing to ask of me or anyone else. This whole thing is happening not because I don't love you enough - its because you don't love yourself enough to evolve from this point.

  40. NTA. In some of these instances I think your stepmom needs to realize a family dynamic was already made for holidays and such, does she expect everyone to just cut out your moms side of the family and replace them with hers? To me it looks like Your stepmom and your dad are overlooking the fact that you guys have lived your childhood around your mom and her side of the family too and of course you would be closer to the people you grew up around. Step mom needs to work on the issues with her inferiority complex because that’s what it sounds like. “How come I’m not mom now?!?” A little cringe.

  41. NTA. Jani needs to realize that when she married your dad she became an addition to the family. She doesn’t replace your mom. If your mom was still alive my guess is that Jani wouldn’t be around. Jani doesn’t get to replace or erase your mom. And she needs a new therapist if that’s what they are asking you to do.

  42. NTA she can't force a relationship with you no matter how desperate she is to be the "number 1". It sounds like she has a lot of issues that she needs to deal with in her own private therapy sessions and not make everyone in the family pander to her needs.

  43. Wtf???? The therapist should’ve telling this woman that she shouldn’t rely on validation from fucking children. She wants to completely replace your deceased mother and her family, and you dad is okay with this????

  44. NTA, and I’d have a couple of questions for the next group session ready. For the therapist, I’d ask why do they think it’s acceptable to place the burden of a fully grown adult’s fragile ego on three (literal) children?

  45. My wife is stepmother to my 4 kids, who are now adults. They range from about 4 to 12 when she entered their lives. Neither of us forced the mom issue and we got along relatively well that way. They were always good to her, and people often commented that we were an ideal blended family. Through the years, each of them has grown to consider her mom. I firmly believe it's because she didn't force the issue and just loved them as they were. By forcing the stepmother's way into the kids lives as they have and by trying to use therapy to manipulate the situation into the one they want, They have actually probably worked against what they wanted to see happen. NTA

  46. NTA - she needs her own therapy bc coming into older children’s lives and just expecting to take over as mom was never realistic.You are not responsible for feelings. I’d suggest hashing this out with the therapist and being honest and upfront about where she stands with you and that her behavior and making children responsible for her feelings is gross. I’d also lay it out plainly for dad too. GL!

  47. NTA, Jani should be more accepting towards your needs. She should understand the importance of a biological parent, and seems like you have a very strong bond with your maternal family as well, she should respect that. I am sorry you lost your mum, and i can't imagine how hard that must have been for you to overcome or come to terms with. She should've been there as a supporter. you see how can she ask for love, when she herself does not love you unconditionally? unconditional love means you put it out there without expecting anything in return. But she expects a lot, a lot more than necessary. I hope you get through this

  48. You're NTA. You and your sisters are three children who tragically lost your mother at young and vulnerable ages. And you all go to family therapy to discuss how your stepmother feels and is coping with adjustments and acceptance? Good grief, that is ridiculous.

  49. A well-adjusted blended family comes together organically. And very few stepparents seem to realize that 'forcing' the issue almost inevitably breeds resentment.

  50. Step mom needs to quit obsessing and competing. She'd get less resistance. And Second best? Wtf does that even mean when the other person isn't even in the game? NTA.

  51. She apparently see that feelings can’t be forced. Sometimes they cannot be changed even if they should. She isn’t your mother, that’s a fact that will never change. Everyone including your parents have to live with it.

  52. NTA. Jani’s expectations are why she’s hurt. No matter what she does she can’t replace your mom you aren’t wrong for making that known. She’s playing herself by expecting anything more than respect, kindness and decency

  53. NTA. I'm sure that this is hard for her, but she's also an adult who went into this relationship knowing the history. Once we reach maturity, most of us realize that we can't dictate what other people think of us, we can only try to develop authentic and real bonds by our actions. Relationships take time and work. Rather than trying to replace your mom, your stepmother should focus on building her own relationship with you and your siblings.

  54. NTA. I'm so glad I was an adult when my father met his wife. She made us go to one therapy session with her, and it was all about us making her feel unappreciated and not accepted. We weren't allowed to bring up any of the things she had done to us or that made us uncomfortable, that was all "in the past". But things that my siblings did the first time they met her was fair game for that session.

  55. AUTOMOD Thanks for posting! This comment is a copy of your post so readers can see the original text if your post is edited or removed. This comment is NOT accusing you of copying anything. Read

  56. NTA maybe discus with just your dad and siblings how y’all are feeling. Explain that you don’t see her as a mother and her continuous pressure to insert herself into that role is hurting you. You can still have a good relationship with her if she can accept more of a “friend” type role.

  57. NTA. Your dad and stepmother need to understand she will never replace your mother. The therapist seems to agree with them.

  58. Oof....NTA...and also time to get a new therapist. Your dad's wife need to respect your boundaries and stop trying to force a mother daughter relationship with you and your sisters.....this is just sad...yes her feelings are valid but so is yours....and your dad is an AH for trying to force this as well.

  59. Why are SO many of these posts about a second spouse acting like a freaking toddler about being “second best” - it’s sickening.

  60. YOU didn't choose your stepmom, your dad did. So no, she wouldn't be the most important woman in your life. They are deluding themselves to think that she should be.

  61. NTA. your dad is for bringing this narcissist into your life. I’m with my wife(mother of my 6 kids) thank goodness. But if I were not I would not date anyone who didn’t already have kids. At least they would understand family dynamics. This woman is gonna be your dads ex soon. Calling you cruel because you don’t kiss her ass is the cruelest thing your dad could have done. Your adult relationship with him will suffer. It just blows my mind that people like your dad are so selfish.

  62. NTA in so many ways. This actually does sound like emotional abuse. DARVO is so over-used in these comments to describe people who are just wrong and over-defensive I hesitate to use it. But it applies here.

  63. NTA She is absolutely right that she's not that high up in importance to you guys and is second string... She needs to unpack why she feels she has to be your number ones and what she can do to overcome that because it's not changing, especially as you three are getting older.

  64. NTA. You need a new therapist. Your step-mom's expectations are unreasonable, and your dad should be supporting your emotional health over his wifes wants.

  65. My stepmom asked me to call her mom or mum as the step title didn’t feel close enough for our relationship. Now, I’m a little different to you with my reasonings for this, but I gently said no - she isn’t my mum, she is my step mum but that is wonderful. It means she has chosen to love me when she didn’t have to (especially as I met her at 19). Disney has made the term sound evil, but actually it is a lovely and giving role to have.

  66. What is with all of these stepparents who think stepchildren are like kids you buy off the rack at TJ Maxx? You don’t get quality relationships with kids without putting in the work to have them. I bet OP’s stepmother would have had a much better relationship with her stepchildren if, instead of trying to replace their mother, she tried to relate to them by connecting with them through their memories and love for their mother. Helping maintain traditions, listening to stories, asking what they think their mom would think about their accomplishments and dreams and situations. Keeping their mom alive and part of the family instead of trying to stuff her in a box in the basement.

  67. NTA and your dad and “step mom” are delusional and they are going to ruin having a relationship With you and your siblings if they don’t stop this now. Her insecurities are her problem and your dad is unfortunately an enabler

  68. NTA - You are way too old for her to ever replace your mother in your heart. This is normal. She's being needy and unrealistic about the relationship she can have. That you're not outright hostile to her puts her in a way better situation than many step-parents get to be in. She should let you take the relationship at your pace. She can let you know that she's open to it if you ever do want to deepen it, but she needs to stop pressuring you and making this about her. She is not and never will be your mother.

  69. NTA - I am 22 and lost my dad when I was 13. It is completely understandable that she is not the “most important” woman in your life and she never will be. She is not your mom, and although she is a step parent, she will NEVER replace your mother and should not expect that. You are 16 and just getting to the age where you fully understand the loss that you are grieving, and your dad should support you through it and be there to talk about her memory with you. Her family is not the family that your grew up with. It is your family through marriage, not the one you identify with.

  70. NTA. I say this as a therapist and a person with a step parent. You're feelings are valid. Being forced to accept someone in that position that you're not ready to accept, isn't going to help. I'm blessed to have the stepmom I have. She did everything and more than my mom. I still refer to her by her first name, but she eventually became my mom. Cause I was able to recognize everything she did for me. I wasn't forced to call her mom or claim she's the most important person to me. She just showed up everyday and did it, without demanding I can call her mom or other bs.

  71. NAH, but I understand why she was upset that you didn't even mention her or her family in the report. Do I think it was reasonable of her to insist that she is "the most important woman in your life"? No I do not. However she is the one that is there for you every day. She's the one that will take you to appointments, show up at shows, concerts and events and be there for every holiday and celebration.

  72. NTA. But I’d report that therapist to whatever board exists in your country. They shouldn’t have a license. You all need a new therapist.

  73. NTA. Your stepmom needs to realize that she is just that, a stepmom, she will never be your parent, you already have parents. Just because your mom is gone doesn’t make her any less of a parent to you. This therapist seems terrible.

  74. NTA. Ask her how she would feel if she were so easily replaced by someone else. Loyalty is a virtue. Continued love for your mother's memory should show her that her memory would also be valued.

  75. NTA. Jani seems to think she’s a replacement for your mother and she is not. She is your father’s wife. She can’t force you to feel a particular way. And she wants you to spend Christmas with her parents exclusively? That sounds uncomfortable for you and your siblings. Can you go to your grandparents while your dad and Jani go to her parents?

  76. NTA- this seems pretty common on this sub and it's so weird to me. Like, accept the dynamic. You cannot force these kinds of relationships on people and the more you push the more they will pull away. You grew up with such a hard loss at such an early age and you feel loyal to your mother and mothers side and that is completely fine and acceptable. Your feeling are valid OP! And an adults emotional issues are not your problem! Merry Christmas kiddo

  77. NTA. Jani's been there 6 years. Your mother was there for the most formative 10. She needs to curb her expectations.

  78. NTA. It sounds like the therapist is really focused on changing you and yiur siblings mindset instead of helping the stepmom accept that she going to get the same maternal adoration from you all as your mom did. Therapy isn't supposed to be about someone forcing everyone to make them happy.

  79. NTA. Your stepmom can be important and vital without trying to replace your mother. Also, you’re only a teenager, there will be so many milestones in the future that if she would just fit into your life where you want her now, those coming moments would deepen your relationship by virtue of sharing them together. Honestly? You all are showing more emotional maturity than all the adults in the situation. The world doesn’t revolve around any of us and you’re allowed to construct your world and family unit any way you want to and then if in the future you want to change it, you can do that to.

  80. Nta, wth is this crap. It’s not your job to make your step mother happy. It’s kind of sick That everybody is catering to an adults feelings over children.

  81. NTA. You can't make someone love you. What is wrong with this therapist? You are children. Its not like you hate her or are actively mean to her. It is also highly inappropriate to scold you after the therapy session. This should only ve brought up during the seasion. Tell the therapist, but also get a new one.

  82. NTA - You feel what you feel. You are not responsible for this woman's feelings. No one will ever replace your mom and her family. However, it might help if you can point out some of the good things about Jani. I think that she has a lot of insecurities with a lot of self pity. She isn't helping herself by trying to force people to say things that they don't feel or want to say. She is the one that needs to change the way she thinks about herself and everyone else. She also needs to understand that you are still grieving over your mom and SHE is the "most important woman in your life." And that will never change. However, your step mom can be AN important woman in your life if she stops focusing on her own feelings.

  83. It would be very difficult but I would say “please don’t speak for me I’m old enough to speak for myself “ when your Dad goes into “ oh we all love you”. Feeling are complicated and you can’t make someone love you and your Step Mom and therapist don’t seem to understand that piece of emotional Well-being. You are not responsible for making stepmom feel loved.

  84. They don't realise that they are pushing you away. By trying to force you closer they are suffocating you. I think if your dad and Jani had just allowed her to be a step parent, someone who is there but who doesn't demand anything, you two would be closer today. If you decide to talk to them, I would suggest trying to explain to them that your relationship to your stepmother has felt forced from the very beginning because you were never given a choice or time to adjust. Explain to them that the more they try to pull you in, the further away you'll float and they might end up losing you entirely.

  85. NTA - as stepmom coming into an established dynamic with mature and socially aware children she needs to be mindful that "love" developed over time, to not expect anything as children losing a mother they loved is difficult and can take years

  86. NTA It seems like the harder the parent/step parent try to force the replacement parent role, the less likely it is to work out.

  87. NTA. You told the truth in therapy. That's never a bad thing and your dad and stepmother shouldn't be mad at you for telling the truth. If they want you to lie to make your stepmother feel better, that kind of defeats the purpose of therapy since it's about working through things as a family. I also think your feelings make perfect sense. Your mom is always going to be a big part of your life and having a strong connection to her side of the family is a good thing since it gives you another connection to her. Your stepmother shouldn't expect you or your siblings to ever forget your mom or stop seeing her side of the family. She has a different role in your life, and that's fine.

  88. NTA. I’m a step parent, and I’ve been with the kids for longer than their mom was their parent. Their MOM is still the most important person. We have pictures of her, remember her birthday, and try to talk about her—what she liked, what made her mad, anything! Jani needs to get over herself!

  89. NTA - the therapist shouldn’t be trying to force her to be mum. Get a new one that helps her feel the acceptance she has as step mum.

  90. NTA. These step parent stories are getting to be a bit cliché though. Do these step kids really have to be so dismissive of their step parents that they can't even extend a little bit of common courtesy though. It seems the step kids just go out of their way to be rude about the littlest of petty things. When your parent is no longer alive you would think you'd give the living person you're now interacting with more often a little bit of respect.

  91. NTA. Y’all need a new therapist. And she will never replace your mother. She is your dad’s wife who you can love but she is not your mother. She needs to understand that.

  92. NTA, Jani needs to understand that you and your siblings bonded with your late mother and she's just dad's new wife, eventually things could change but she's trying to force it which won't end well for anyone, Jani needs to grow up and accept reality instead of keeping her delusional expectations.

  93. NTA. That therapist is not doing a good job. The therapist should make room for the grief of not having birth mom in the picture and having a space for her while also figuring out how the current family unit can be a successful or peaceful family. That doesn’t seem to be their goal.

  94. NTA. It strikes of pure immaturity and narcissism for this woman to expect and demand to be the most important and wanted person in an entire family.

  95. NTA and you are going to need to tell the therapist that the session are not a safe space for you and whatever is being discussed is then used against you.

  96. NTA - I'd refuse any further therapy sessions. Her therapist ksnt trying to help her cope, she's trying to force you all to fit her narrative, which is super odd. I can't believe they'd actually ask you to only see her parents for Christmas and ignore your usual tradition ls and the rest of your family

  97. NTA. You can't force someone to have feelings they don't have. I also would say that it's actually dangerous for parents to try to force that narrative, because it can extend to adult relationships with serious consequences. It's how people end up "settling" in a relationship that makes them unhappy because they feel they should have different feelings than they do. It can even result in people sticking with abusive relationships, because relationships are portrayed as transactional ("I provide X for you and am your boyfriend/husband, so you owe me Y") instead of what they actually are, which is a continual choice.

  98. NTA, and honestly next time you go to therapy mention this phrase and the attempt to Dictate who is important from your dad and stepmother. If therapist takes sides on that and doesn't point out to them that such attempts just push people away then know it really isn't going to accomplish much and they picked a therapist who will take their side no matter right or wrong.

  99. NTA. Your stepmom set herself up for disappointment when she crowned herself the “most important woman in your life”. It sounds like you did a family tree for school. Typically in a family tree, a 2nd wife would be connected to your dad, but going back further generations or out to the sides with uncles and aunts, it would only be your direct family like (biological or adopted). Step families are not usually listed.

  100. NTA at all. Step mom needs to find another therapist that will dive into why she is so emotionally needy. My dad also remarried and my stepmother knows while I love her and she is my mom, she is not my mother and it never felt like she was trying to force verification. She was fine waiting for us to gradually accept her as our mom.

  101. Jani seems to think love is a finite resource, and that only the first place person gets any. This is a logical fallacy. Not being the most important person doesn’t mean she can’t be loved if her behavior otherwise warrants it. The only person who sees any of this as a competition is her. She needs a new therapist who will help her figure out where she learned this nonsense (a golden child sibling, perhaps?).

  102. NTA parents and stepparents have some very unrealistic expectations about the relationships with other family members. As much as your father loves your stepmother, they can’t realistically expect the same from you and your siblings. Maybe the family needs a different therapist that guides the stepmom to accept the place she has earned within the family and stop dreaming to replace your late mother. Stepmother is ruining the actual relationship she has in order to chase an impossible dream of becoming the mother of children that already have a mother and a maternal family.

  103. NTA. Your stepmom needs a therapist who is not going to try to force a family dynamic, but rather help her to accept the feelings of other people who had no say in her presence in the family.

  104. Jani needs to grow up and be the adult here. It doesn't sound to me like she's not gone out of her way to cultivate relationships with any of you? But instead alienates you and your siblings with the "why aren't you loving me as much as your bio family?" So already she is insecure and probably doesn't love herself. But these are all her problems. Y'all are just kids and you all need to set a boundary with this behavior. I would seek out another therapist just for yourselves. I know it's not always ideal but the school counselor might be good to gain some boundary making skills from them if they're willing to help

  105. NTA - And that's a bad therapist. They should not be encouraging everyone around her to treat her like the most important person in the world. They should be trying to get her to reconcile the fact that she's a step-parent and not an actual parent. That she can not dictate relationships, that other people have autonomy with who they view as their parent.

  106. NTA step mom needs a new therapist and some self awareness. In her mind this is all about her and what she wants and needs and nothing about what you and your siblings want or need. It’s unhealthy and honestly cruel that she expects to just replace your mom simply by being there and married to your dad.

  107. We read a lot of stories here about issues between stepparents and their expectations with the step-children. We also hear a lot about failed therapy. I always wonder why on earth these conversations DO NOT take place before getting married. Maybe people like to "take risks" but a bit of work upstream would avoid a lot of heartache to all involved...

  108. NTA...My friend became a step parent to 3 children after another friend's husband passed young. They were younger than you guys but their dad was still important to the whole family. He took the time to bond with the kids over their own thing instead of assuming things would fall into place because he filled a gap. Instead he said he makes sure there's always room for their dads memory and respects that he wouldn't be a replacement because he's a different person and that's okay. There's more than one way to be loved and sometimes you've got to be realistic.

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