Dear Prudence

Help! I Made One Request of My Divorced Parents. Now Everyone’s Furious With Me.

Young woman in a graduation cap looking off at a house on a lake.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by junial/iStock/Getty Images Plus. 

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Q. By the Lake: My parents got a divorce when I was 15 and immediately remarried to different people in six months. I went from being an only child and being able to walk to school to being shuffled between two different households on opposite ends of the city and sharing everything with four new step-siblings.

Neither of my stepparents was cruel and neither were their kids, but I was very much the odd duck in the flock of swans. To make it worse, I lost my beloved grandma the same year.

As long as I can remember, my parents and grandparents would rent a cabin at a specific lake and would always end the trip eating at a certain restaurant. I graduate college in May. Rather than a party, I want nothing more than for my parents and me to go back to this lake and finish the tradition. I don’t have any childish notion about my parents getting back together but I would like it to be just us for once.

This blew up. My stepmother said I was disrespecting her marriage and her kids by asking for this. My father didn’t say anything to defend me. My mom says she is willing to do it but thinks I am stuck in the past. I got angry and told them they might have been happy to ditch our family but it felt like they ditched me as well. So let’s just drop the entire notion. I guess my parents realized how upset I was so they relented, but at this point, the entire idea feels tainted. What should I do if they bring it up again?

Help! My Mom Doesn’t Think My Fiancé Is Enough.

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A: If they bring it up again, you should say, “I’ve changed my mind. I’ve thought about it and realized the meal is not the best idea. I think the image of us together at the restaurant was standing in for my desire to feel as loved and prioritized as I did before you both divorced and remarried. That transition—and the way my life looked afterward—was really tough for me, and I’ve realized I’m still trying to heal from it. I’m going to do that work myself, but would both of you be open to (separately) talking to me about how we could nurture our relationships in a way that makes me feel included and prioritized in this new phase of life?”

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