"My Stepdaughter Is Ruining Our Marriage"

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His Turn

"She's Thrown a Monkey Wrench Into the System"

"Let me say right off the bat that I love my daughter very much, even though, over the years, I've been one lousy dad," said Warren, 42. "But Dana is screwing up her life, just like I screwed up mine, and I can't stand to see her on the same destructive path.

"I was raised by a single mom who cleaned houses to support me. She left my dad when I was an infant, and we haven't seen him since. I'm still close to my mother, but she's extremely overprotective. My older brother, Jonny, was hit by a car and killed when he was three and I was one. Jonny was Mom's miracle child-- talking in full sentences at two, playing the piano at three. While she never compared me to him, I sensed I had this incredible image to live up to. Many times she'd called me Jonny by mistake.

"I was a good student until I discovered drugs when I was 10. I started selling, too. Mom was often called to school because I had stopped going to class. Though it's hard to believe now, even an overprotective mother like mine was clueless back then about what was happening to me. The authorities told my mother I was sociopathic. Actually, I was stoned.

"In spite of all this, I managed to win a college scholarship, but I lasted less than a semester. I dropped out and started selling drugs while I bounced from one job to another. I met my first wife, Dana's mother, when I was 20, but the marriage was doomed from the start. We split up and she died of a brain tumor when Dana was five.

"As Ellen said, Dana was raised by my wife's relatives. I saw her whenever they let me, which wasn't often. When she started college, we became much closer. And when she dropped out, I was devastated. You see, I'm finally turning my life around. Three years ago, I checked myself into a hospital detox program, and I've been drug-free ever since. I've started a mail-order Web site from home, and I plan to take care of Jack and the baby while Ellen continues working. But Dana has thrown a monkey wrench into the whole system. 

You see, I'm finally turning my life around. Two years ago, I checked myself into a hospital detox program and I've been drug-free ever since. I'm trying to start a mail order Web site -- I've set up an office in our home and I'll be the primary caretaker of the baby while Ellen continues at the record company. But Dana has thrown a monkey wrench into the whole system.

"I know I've always had a temper, but Dana's incredible rudeness brings out my worst. I'm a procrastinator, so when I ask Dana to wash the dishes and she says she'll do it later, I feel like I'm breaking out in hives. It doesn't help that my wife mops up after Dana at every turn. Maybe I have no patience, but Ellen has too much, and I think that's just as harmful. Whenever I try to set limits, they close ranks. I don't like fighting, and I'd rather not talk at all than argue.

"My relationship with Dana really soured when she started to come between me and Ellen. When Ellen acts like the Grand Inquisitor, expecting me to account for every minute and every person I speak to on the phone, I feel smothered. I'm not hiding anything .I just don't tell her everything.

"I don't want to be here, but if counseling can help alleviate some of this constant tension, I'll be here as long as necessary."

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn


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