How do you honor your widowed stepmother who raised you and who expects more from you than her own children and who is controlling the connection to your stepbrothers and half-brothers (my other siblings)?

I am in my fifties and never married. My other siblings are married and I want to part of their family but not necessarily a part of my stepmother's life. My stepmother raised me from the time when I was child. I overheard her one night tell my father I had to leave when I was 19 years old; I left the next day to live at the YWCA.

She is a very strict, stay at home mom. She trained me in everything I do. I have spent two nights a week with her for over five years. I go to church on Sunday and Wednesday and instead of going home I stay with her. (I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.) I pack and unpack every other day. On Sundays the family eats dinner and everybody goes home and takes food with them. Not me, I feel guilty. I'm fed up, bitter, argue all the time, and then apologize. I can't worship the Lord like I used to, especially, when she is there. I cry all the time. My heart is so heavy.

Please note, I don't have one friend, just her. I don't know what my responsibility is to my mother.

She mistakenly said one of her daughter-in-laws is the daughter she never had. She is an educational director for a denomination and visits other churches a lot. One time she spoke about family and never mentioned me once. She only talked about her boys (my brothers). But my brothers were not there. I was the only one there. I brought her to teach that night since she doesn't drive. She has this ministry, but she needs someone to drive her at night, so I am the one that ends up taking her. Sometimes I get very angry about it and she ask my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law is so calm and wise. She says sure I'll take you, even though she lives a long ways away and I live half the distance. But I told my mother the reason her daughter-in-law can be so nice is because she knows she will only be asked once every blue moon. I really do love my sister-in-law because she is so nice. But with me it is as if I got married to my stepmother when my father passed away.

I know if I cut her loose altogether, then I'll lose the whole family. What am I to do? Please help.


Honoring a parent, step-parent or not, has nothing to do with providing a taxi service for that parent. As I read through your note, I find almost no honor being given to your stepmother. Yes, you grudgingly admit that she raised you through the worse years of your childhood -- but you resent the fact that she kept you in check. She taught you, but you left at a whim because you imagined you were insulted.

Now, years later, you are back with her and holding every minute of time you spend with her against her. Yes, you go through the motions of doing things for her, but the hatred you hold against her is making everyone around you miserable. Yet, despite your brooding behavior, you expect praise from this woman, and when you don't get the praise you think you deserve, you hold that against her as well. I suspect that she does talk about you once in a while, but you discount those times. But you are so full of envy that when she talks about your siblings, then you imagine you are being degraded because you weren't mentioned. Hasn't it crossed your mind that she doesn't mention you while you are in the audience to avoid embarrassing you?

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (James 4:13-17).

Quit holding your stepmother responsible for your choices. No one is forcing you to do anything. You ought to be doing things for her because you want to help. But if you are going to hold every request against her, you are wasting your time because there is no honor in your action, just hypocrisy. "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (II Corinthians 9:7).

I tearfully thank you. I will follow-up with repentance to my mother and get my act together because I am a very nice person most of the time -- until I start thinking about this situation, then I get painfully hurt inside. But God will help me because I need His help. Thanks.