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…

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?

SS5 keeps throwing his BM in my face! Help!
Hi Cathryn,

My stepson's mom has been out of the picture for 2 months now and she's not going to be seeing him anytime soon according to the court.
She is a pathological liar.
And her lies are obvious.
She was never with him when she did have parenting time and he will tell you that. She has a different boyfriend every couple of months and lives with them!
She is always jumping around from place to place and job to job.
When she did see him she would dress him in clothes that were 2 sizes too small and it wasn't just because she was sending him to us, it was all the time and I know because I can see her facebook pictures.

My husband told me that she used to have a drug problem...not that she does now that I know of but the way she acts makes me wonder.
She also has a daughter who she doesn't even see!
Her daughter lives in another state with the mother’s parents.
She never sees her and yet she wants to fight us for him.
My stepson would tell us that he was not allowed to talk about what went on at her house and had to keep secrets from us.
We told him that it didn't matter to us because we know what we do with him and that is what is important.
Even though inside I am screaming and dying to know what she is really doing.
I have always treated him like gold...I also punish him just like his father does.

But I am always doing fun things with him and doing things with him that he has never got to do before.
He tells me how fun they are and how nice I am and how much he loves me and in the next sentence he tells me that "my mommy does this" "my mommy said that" "my mommy cut her hand one time".

And it is always right after I do something with him or when we are on our way to do something.
He even tells me that these are things that his mom would never do or has never done.
I know how terrible she is but he doesn't and he doesn't need to know right now.

I am banking on the fact that someday he will realize all of this but right now he is only 5. And it is getting harder and harder to keep my cool.

I find myself walking away from him as soon as he starts the "my mommy..." all the time now.

I can't take it any more and I know that she will always be his mother but she hasn't even seen him for 2 months or even tried to! And I am the one who takes care of him!

So I am stuck here in this situation and I'm at my wits end with treating him so good when all he does is disrespect me and throw his mom in my face.

Everyone tells me how well I am doing with him and how he has never had anyone to care for him they way I do...everyone except him!

 I say thanks and how I know how it is to be a divorced child with a deadbeat parent (dad in my case) and that this is how I would want my stepmom to treat me. But inside I am going crazy! HELP!!! Brittany

CATHRN’S REPLY:

Hi Brittany,

Boy oh Boy can I identify with you and your feelings. I had a very similar situation, only the bio-mom was in town and we shared 50-50% custody. He was 5 when he came into my life. I really understand what you’re feeling. I’m excited that you wrote to me and eager to share what I learned in hopes it will save you countless hours of frustration and hurt feelings.

Let’s talk about your line, “I'm at my wits end with treating him so good when all he does is disrespect me and throw his mom in my face.”

Can you open yourself to the possibility that it is BECAUSE you are treating him so well(making him feel so safe), that he feels he HAS to bring his mom into his reality, at the moment he’s having so much fun with you? Some part of him, thinks of her when he is feeling so loved by you. He doesn’t have lots of resources to draw on. He knows how he feels with you and parts of him know he doesn’t have that with her. You remind him of the Mom he wishes he had and if you can be enthusiastic with him, he feels better about being happy with you. This is not conscious on his part, but the feelings and emotional needs will compel people to act, even when they don’t understand why. He’s bringing her up in conversation to meet his needs.

Can you consider that the reason he’s bringing up his bio-mom with you is because he is looking TO YOU for approval and enthusiasm? He wants you to be happy with who he is and it is like a child bringing all his favorite toys to school or to Grandpa’s house. It is a desire for your reaction.

Yes, I know he is only 5. Again, this is not a conscious thing, it’s a human nature kind of compulsion when a child has been deprived of his bio-mom’s unconditional love in the first 3-5 years.

When he brings her up, he might as well be saying, “My teacher cut stars of out paper today.” “My puppy brought me a sock this morning.” “My bike has new handlebars and no training wheels.” He’s looking for you to give him an enthusiastic response (here comes the part you may not have seen yet) because he wants to feel good about something that HE brings to the conversation with you. He’s looking to assuage the unconscious pain of not having a mother like YOU. If you can be excited for him, in the moment, it gives him permission to not feel so badly.

Now you may be thinking this is all huey, but hang in here with me because I have seen it time and time again with kids in the 4-10 age group.

Try this and see for yourself:

Next time he says anything about his Mom, smile directly back at him (if you can) and say something like, “How about that!” or “Isn’t that something!” and watch him beam!!! In that moment he doesn’t know what he’s doing but he knows how good it feels to bask in your happy acknowledgement of whatever he is saying.

Does this make any sense at all to you?

I remember when I learned this. I had just received my engagement ring (3 round stones) I was thrilled with it and when my ss saw it, he smiled and looked at me enthusiastically and said, “My mommy’s ring has 27 diamonds in it!” I took a breath, remembered my mission, smiled and said, “She must really love it, like I love mine.”

He said nonchalantly, “I don’t know” and went on to his next topic happy as could be. I kept my attention on whatever he was saying (because that was always my goal with him-to be present with him) and had the chance to do this 2-3 more times in that same conversation. It was almost like he was now bringing her up so I could feed some deep emotional need he had. (I’ve since learned much more about this.)

It was a shocker but it worked over and over again. I was so relieved to see his actions really had nothing to do with me. hey weren’t an attack. I could see that I was helping HIM, but giving him my enthusiastic acknowledgment and that made it easy to do. I was able to stop making it about her, and realized this dear little boy was just trying to help himself feel better without really understanding wy he felt badly in the first place.

I didn’t need to explain. I just gave him more love and attention. I no longer “framed” him bringing her up in conversation as a disrespectful thing, I saw it as a reflection of him coming to me (yes me) for lovingkindness. It was something I did for him, almost always without stress for the rest of his life. He’ll be 20 next week.

Have you read the book, “The drama of the gifted Child” by Alice Miller? I feel it would be a worthwhile use of your time. It is going to help you (tremendously) AND it is going to give you lots of awareness of how to help this little boy in ways that no one was able to help you when you were little. You can both heal as you learn more about what’s triggering your feelings...and his.

The difference is that you are now conscious of your feelings and have the intelligence and skills and support and willingness to do something about it. You are going to have the chance to be his hero, and your own hero. It is a profoundly powerful book that will help you both, if it feels right for you to embark on this healing journey.

Your little stepson doesn’t know he is hurting you yet. His world is all about him. Virtually everything he does is a call for love, attention and safety (physical and emotional). He is a lucky boy to be loved by you!!!

If this sparks more questions, write to me again and we can go “one more round”. If you wish.

There is so much healing that can take place when we are willing to see what’s really going on, deep down under the wounds. I wish you and your ss, lots of love and healing together.

Take Care, Cathryn
Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055
609.206.2009
Cathryn@smoms.org