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The Stepchild's Dilemma — With Theo Pauline Nestor45:19


She was estranged from her biological dad at the age of 2, so her stepfather was the only father figure she ever knew. When she turned 18 years old, she took his last name. A few years later, her stepfather ghosted after divorcing her mother. Now, the letter writer who calls herself “No Name to Speak of” feels abandoned once again.

Theo Pauline Nestor, at age 9, with her stepfather. (Courtesy Theo Pauline Nestor)
Theo Pauline Nestor, at age 9, with her stepfather. (Courtesy Theo Pauline Nestor)

Whether you’re 5, 15, or 50 years old, it can be difficult to usher a stepparent in and out of the family unit. In today’s episode, the Sugars answer letters from stepchildren who have fraught relationships with their stepparents. What is a stepparent’s responsibility to a stepchild after divorce? And what can be done if you don’t like the person your parent chooses to marry?

The writer Theo Pauline Nestor joins the Sugars to share her own experiences as a stepdaughter. Ms. Nestor is the author of “How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over” and “Writing Is My Drink.”

The Sugars Recommend

Fighting for Custody of My Stepfather,” by Theo Pauline Nestor
“Oliver Twist,” by Charles Dickens

New episodes of Dear Sugars are released weekly. Do you have a question for the Sugars? Email

Amory Sivertson Twitter Co-Host and Producer for New Programming
Amory Sivertson is the co-host and producer of Endless Thread.


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