Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms wrote in, Cathryn replied​.
Cathryn's Mailbox
2 Youngsters I can't control.

3 yr old SS crying all the time!

A bio-mom worried about new stepmom in her daughter's life- can we help?

About ready to throw in the towel!

About to become a step parent and am terrified!

Bio mom badmouthing me to my stepson & he repeats to me & my kids.

Bio-mom back & I'm hurt by her impact-what can I do?

Bio-mom doesn't want me present at any of my skids school events.

Bio-mom is online stalking & has issues w/ pictures of skids.

Bio-mom physically assaulted me & telling skids it was the other way around?

Bio-mom used me, I drew a line, she’s angry--now what?

BM doesn't want her kids, then does-what's going on?

Clarifying Mission Statement for SMOMS-revised

Dealing w/ bio-mom who doesn't want to get along with me?

Dealing w/ Deceased Bio Mom's Extended Family

Dealing with SD at my young age

DH finds out he has a daughter-I feel terrible

DH sets no Boundaries for SD20-what to do?

DH w/3 bio-kids not trying to bond w/ my 2 bio kids.

Do I love my ss? I don't know.

Does the BB help or hurt with issues?

Don't know where I went wrong

Ever Feel Like Leaving?

FDH feels guilty about leaving BM & allows her to excessively call/text/email him.

Feeling like invisible parent to stepson- help!

Feeling like the enemy in my own house: Teen SD

Feeling resentment towards my SS & can't connect

From BB- A Ritual for you & your beloved

From BB: Self-awareness can hurt...why is that?

Help w/situation that dad, biomom & skid all agree on but I don’t feel is best

Holiday traditions? Some ideas from sister SMOMS

How can I find the right balance & Boundaries?

How can I handle my SD8 who loves negative attention?

How do I cope w/DH's need for perfect family when I'm more realistic about it?

How do I deal with a lying SD, her bio-mom & the ex-step mom?

How do I deal with all the hurt and anger?

How do I help her understand that chores and rules don't mean that I don’t love her?

How do I stop SD from lying to me, DH, BM, and BM's boyfriend?

How to accept bio-mom's "bad" choices?

How to deal w/ unkind skids, ex-wife, MIL costing me my relationship?

how to deal w/SD choosing bio-mom for school play?

How to handle bio-mom who keeps asking for more $$$?

How to handle it when skids away Christmas Day?

How to help ss, when BM encourages him to lie?

How to help when bio-mom returns

How to let go of the single life I thought I saw going to live versus being SMOM?

How to make transition easier for skids?

how to step back in after stepping out?

Husband still feels guilty, his kids in their 30’s

I am frustrated with my skids 99% of the time...help!

I feel jealous of DH's ex & unheard by DH-Help!

I feel left out & sort of invisible w/ grown SD’s

I really love my FDH, but really wish his daughter didn't exist?

I want a better relationship w/ teen stepson

I want a Closer relationship w/ stepdaughter

I want my bed back

I would like to know how to change my attitude towards my new inherited family

I'm at the end of my tether... Stepchildren don't seem to like me.

If you're in the mood for SMOMS Pep Talk-read this!

Invested so much love, time, energy & $$...seems it's never enough

It's too much work- I need help from DH & Family!

Jealous of sister-in-law & Skids-what can I do?

Just jealous or maybe time to leave?

Local support stepmom groups???

My DH doesn't understand why my feelings are hurt

My husband stays at his mothers when he has his daughter for the night.

Need better coping skills but..how to do so…

No matter what I do, bio-mom still hostile. I feel hopeless & scared

Not a step mom yet but need some guidance

Open for your Questions in March 2015

Right now, I HATE being a Stepmom!!!

Self-Pity-it's an emotional numbing,energy draining tactic

Someone to talk to when things come up or whenever?

SS5 keeps throwing his BM in my face! Help!

Struggling w/ a jealous stepdaughter

Stubborn DH and sexually active teenage SS

teenage step daughter & car...Ugh!

the problem is my partner...why is he fighting my efforts?

Transitions and Coparenting Struggles

Trouble coping w/BF's newborn & ex.

Venting Guidelines- A Requested approach

What are reasonable expectations?

What are these letters?

What boundaries do I need to set with husband and sd?

What can we do about the rage! I "Lost it" last night. Help!

What to do about disrespectful 20 yr/old SS

What to do when Bio mom starts turning step daughter against me?

what to do when step child stops saying I love you?

When bio-mom sends stuff from life w/your DH?

When BM causes drama, how to prevent that impacting my relationship w/ the skids?

When to call it quits? What to do?

When winning more important to bio-mom than getting along

Why do things Skid's say bother me so & what to do?-Updated!

Why does it bother me that my skids don't recognize how much their father does for th

Why does my ss's rudeness bother me so?

Why does my stepson Idolize his bio-mom????

Why don't I matter in the family?

Why so jealous? What about irrational fears?

Bio-mom physically assaulted me & telling skids it was the other way around?
Dear Cathryn,

I'm a mother by marriage. My ss's are 3 and 7. I've had a very good relationship with them so far. We've only known each other for about a year and I’ve only been their smom for a month. We had the children for 8 weeks over the summer and I was unemployed so I stayed home with the skid while their father was at work. I worked really hard to bond with them and make sure they enjoyed their time here and we all got along rather well considering that this was the first time they have spent this much time with me. We had some issues in the past about their mom telling them they could not kiss and hug me and just saying random things to them to make it difficult for them to feel that its ok to have a relationship with me, but the kids have seemed to over look most of this and have bonded with me anyway. Before we got married the oldest told someone who referred to me as "his mom" that I wasn’t his mom yet but that I would be (not that I would ask them to call me that but he said it on his own).

SO we were progressing.  We went to drop the kids off with their mom this week and she was already angry when we got there, for what reason we do not know. We had had some family pictures made over the summer and the kids asked to take some of them home, so I made them a collage frame and only put one small picture of all of us in it as I knew their mother wouldn’t be happy about it. I also went and bought her a nice frame and put a picture of just the children in it to show I really wasn’t trying to make her mad. She took the frame from the children and threw it back in my car. Her sister took it and said she would make sure that the kids got it.

I got back in the car and let my husband and his ex-stepson and his exwife have a conversation about an issue between the three of them. I do this for all matters that do not involve me as I don’t feel I need to be a part of EVERYTHING that goes on with his ex, I try to respect their "privacy" so to speak.

The bio mom begins to yell about something I did while the children where here (In short I hung up my phone on her for talking badly about me to the kids while I was keeping them and their father was gone for a few days.) I got out of the car to let her know that I did not say that she told the kids not to listen to me. She came around my car and had me cornered between the open door and began putting her fingers in my face and then she physically assaulted me. And took the family picture of us, crumpled it up and threw it on the ground and said "this is what I think of your family, you will never be family to them". All of this where the kids can hear and see but can not clearly tell what is going on. My husband called the police and his ex flagged down a trooper and told him that I spit in her face and she punched me. By the time the police dept arrived she had been in the car with all the kids coaching them on what to say. SO when the police spoke with her and her oldest son they both claimed that I spit on her.

Her sister stayed neutral and said she didn’t see me do it and my husband and I told the truth. The police more or less told me that I could press charges but that more of them were saying that I started it and that she could press charges on me as well. SO essentially she attacked me and got away with it by lying and all in front of the children. Now 2 days later the kids have refused to speak to their dad and when he finally talked to his oldest son he asked him why he didn’t want to talk and he said that "he was mad at him for calling the police on his mom and telling them that his mom hit me first when it was really me who started it". She is telling them that its ok and she’s not mad at me for attacking her that she just wants us all to be friends.

I am just exhausted with all the mind games she plays with them and I don’t know how to deal with any of this. She is just an awful deceitful, bad parent. We have CPS investigating the kids’ home environment and are trying to go back to court, but in the mean time I have got to figure out how to have some peace and how to handle things with the kids when they come back to visit in a few weeks.

SO how do I deal with this woman? What do I say to the children without telling them their mom is a liar? How do I fix the damage she has done to my relationship with them? And thoughts, ideas, advice on any of this would be great. Im at my wits end, can’t eat, sleep, focus on work, I’M just a mess. Please help!

PS; The only other issue I can think of is my husband’s former stepson. He will be visiting with the skids this month as he and my Dh still have a good relationship (he even still calls him dad). He was also present during the altercation and was the main one who told the police that I started the fight and spit in his mothers face.  I'm concerned on how to deal with how he will treat me and trying not to be a little irritated with him for lying (i know its not his fault). But this child has no connection to me whatsoever and in the past we’ve gotten along, but I'm really worried about having him with us this time. Not sure there's much I can do about this situation though. 
What do you think?

CATHRYN’S REPLY

Wow! You’ve really been through a lot. You’re dealing with a bio-mom, we refer to as “Hostile” yet she seems to be creating a new category, “Violent, vicious bio-mom.” I can certainly see why you’re upset. Just being called a liar is enough to sent me over the top, but to have her use her influence over the skids to get them to lie as well (and in front of the “authorities” along with getting them to treat you badly is a whole other universe of feelings, I’ve never had to deal with at your level.

Given that we know we can’t control her actions (that’s a big one, I know) Let’s spend this time looking at what you can do. First, in times of crisis it is always helpful to ask ourselves, “What do I need right now?” one thing you can do is promise yourself that you’ll never let something like this happen again, to the best of your ability. (it’s not about perfection but about intention.) I hope that your husband is being very, very supportive of you through all this. Secondly, you can find ways to help yourself recover from you assault, physically and emotionally. You were treated badly and unfairly as well as attacked-all that stuff has impact. Can you talk with a trained counselor, even if it is just to heal from the situation? Giving yourself this attention will help right away. Getting lots of TLC from Friends and family, just all attempting to help you and your body recover is another good thing you can do for yourself. Sometimes this is the only thing we can do. It’s so very important to get back into our wise, loving, grounded adult selves before we make the next move. Are you getting all kinds of ideas for how you can help yourself? I hope so.

It seems to me that you were doing a great job, bonding with the skids. That age can be easier and fun than teenagers. Also, seems you were intending to be very kind and “ally-like” with the bio-mom, in your gifts of the pictures.” Skids at that age are so eager for everyone to give them approval and joy shared between mom and dad’s makes sense to them. It’s sad to hear that they’re going to have to fight the loyalty wars and impact of Parent alienation syndrome. You may want to post on the BB to see if anyone can give you some good advice and/or books about specific tactics to take when dealing with this-I don’t feel qualified to help you in great detail.

About what to say to them about the lies? That’s always tough. We’re trying to help them see the truth, yet sometimes the truth is so hurtful to them. It’s hard. I can only share what I’ve learned, done and tried in my experience. See if anything here feels right for you.

My husband and I worked very hard, right from the start, to stop the good/bad talk from my ss. His bio-mom comes from the win/lose school of life and her words came out of him many times. (We call the “trojan-horsing when the bio-mom fills the skids with stuff they then spew or hand out out at Dad’s.) Anyway, we wanted him to understand that people could be different without anyone having to be bad or wrong. (Believe me I believe she was wrong but we’re talking about how to deal with the skid’s in the most loving, helpful way right now.)

We used the metaphor of chocolate and vanilla ice cream to show different, not right or wrong. He was 5 at the time and got that. People can like one without it making the other wrong-just different. This is a great tactic when diffusing physical, ritual, daily life the differences between homes. Let’s see how we can use it for lying….

When the skid’s all come next month, take in their behavior. Give them space to adjust (we call that re-entry), have some fun activities that give you all a chance to reconnect...see how they treat you both. If they have been programmed to show their love for their bio-mom by being unhappy or angry at you two-this initial time together is going to require lots of patience from you and your hubby. (Here’s where other sister SMOMS may be able to offer you some tactical advice.)

If the subject comes up (or you two decide to bring it up) I’ve handled it by saying, “Here’s what happened, from my perspective (teaching them there in more than one perspective.) I did or did not do this or that. If your mom sees it differently and tells you something different, that’s a tough thing for you (giving them compassion for their inner conflict) and there’s nothing I can do other than promise to always tell you the truth as I see it. (Look them in the eyes) This is my truth. Children, even those conflicted by PAS, often can sense the truth, even if they can’t admit it to you or themselves right now.

How do you un-do the damage? That’s also a tough one. Short answer for now-Be yourself. Being yourself, loving their dad, treating them kindly, giving them the respect to acknowledge their tough position in this “parent battle” is about all you can do, from my experience. It may be enough but who knows. Please do seek the advice of others.

Regarding your older stepson (the one who lied.) He was put into a tough situation. Perhaps your husband could talk privately with him. Maybe you two can help him by acknowledging that you see he was in a tough situation and that you understand why he did what he did. If he can treat you both well, relieved that he doesn’t have to feel guilty, maybe an apology will be forth coming, or at least polite respectful treatment and fun for you all while together.

Personal story: my ss’s bio-mom has a thing about her age. She’s exactly 3 months younger than I am but told her son she was 10 years younger. He used to tell me how sorry he was that I was so old (youth!) and not lucky enough to be as young as his mom, who was 10 years younger than I was (in his mind.) Surely you can imagine how many times I wanted to tell him the truth about his mother’s age but something told me to take the high road so I did one thing better. I responded by telling him that some women feel really sensitive about their age. “Why?” he asked innocently. I told him there were many reasons but it all had to do with how they felt about themselves and nothing to do with other people. Over the years, as he’d feel increasingly sorry for me (especially when I turned 50 and his mom, according to him was only going to be 40) I’d graciously accept his sympathies and remind him about not asking adult women their ages and why. I believed it was a kind thing to do for there was going to come a day when he figured it out and maybe, because of what I said, he’s understand her lies and not be shattered by them. Can’t say how he feels. I know he knows but not how he feels about it. I tell this because my decision to take this tact, helped me resist calling her a liar when he was just so eager for us all to get along. So many of my decisions were a sincere attempt to help him, figuring I had more tools and support to deal with her than he did. Not sure if this gives you any ideas or not.

Good luck in this upcoming visit. May you find lots of ways to help yourself recover and prepare. Best Wishes, Cathryn
Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055
609.206.2009
Cathryn@smoms.org