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?

What boundaries do I need to set with husband and sd?
Dear Cathryn, Here’s my situation. I’m a stepmom in a tough predicament.  My husband recently gave the car to his 17 yr old daughter to go across the state to see a boyfriend she only met skyping.  She was to come home on Sat night and didn't.  She went to her mothers (?) we think and hasn't been home since.  

When sd wants to do something dad doesn't want, she goes to her mothers...no rules, etc. there. She is an honor student carrying 3 D's.  

Her father is so afraid of losing her that he parents out of fear and guilt.  He still feels bad about the divorce but mom has cheated with many many  men all of her life and currently going through another divorce with 2 young children.  

How do I live in this and still respect my husband and sd?  
Is respect not earned?  

Her dad and I are good enough for $$.  Patterns between parents aren't good.  
No boundaries or communication.
How do I continue to stand by and watch the sd self destruct and how can I respect my husband for lack of boundary setting?  

I realize that he and bio mother are the parents....I have raised a child previously and encouraged my husband to set up a behaviour contract for phone usage, car usage, etc. To no avail.  Because my husband rotates a 24 hour shift, I have done pickups for children.  

Life becomes very difficult with my husband when I set up boundaries and I told him I would pick and choose what I do with and for the kids.  Of interest is that his older son left 2 yrs ago in a snit because he didn't want to play by the rules.

He went by his mother and failed to graduate high school....He has just come back into our life now.  Sd is playing the same ticket....HELP!!  

Part of me wants to just pull up and leave as I don't know how to detach from it all.  Counseling has been tried to no avail.  I have chosen to pretty much back away from it all but this takes the cake.  What about her safety when 2 parents have their heads in the sand?  

Thanks for your help and support.  Amy

CATHRYN’S REPLY:

Dear Amy, I can certainly understand why this situation is upsetting. There are a couple of things that come to mind right away.

It’s very hard to watch someone doing something that we feel is wrong. It’s very easy to go into judgment about their choices/actions and this state of judging creates a riff between us and the people we are judging as bad or wrong. (If you want to read my article about “Feeling Judgmental?” that will give you more insights into this tempting state of mind.) As you are feeling more and more right (which from all accounts you are, it’s going to widen the gap between you and your hubby. This can be very painful and I understand the desire to escape from this seemingly unending source of pain.

However, you do have some choices. It is time to make a decision. Do you want to be right and disconnected or happy and connected? (I wrote a Smommentary-essay about smom-ing- by the same title if you want to read that for more compassion and ideas about this choice.)

Can you decide to leave the parenting choices to them AND free yourself from any sense of responsibility for the skids? This can be challenging especially when we’ve been involved in their care, see a track record of similar decisions and results AND believe we are right. Making the decision to turn over the whole arena of skid decisions (and consequences) is something you CAN do so it will feel more powerful than the standing on the sidelines pleading your case and/or waiting to say, “I told you so” out loud...and thinking..”You dumb bastard.” As you realize that you DO have a choice, you may see that given the situation and circumstances it is the choice that gives you the most relief and gives your relationship the best chance of connection.

The choice to stop thinking about their child-rearing choices is an important step. Instead of feeling like a victim of their “dumbness” you can realize that they have made it clear they are not interested in your feedback and they are the parents and NOW you are making a choice to take care of yourself.

When we make this powerful choice, we are also going to have to face the feeling of being somewhat disconnected. This is going to bother or not bother you depending on your own emotional tapestry. Many times we caring stepmoms do, help, serve, contribute out of a desire to be connected to the people in our lives. This isn’t wrong, it’s noteworthy. If our need to be connected clouds our ability to honor our own boundaries and do what is good for us and our needs, then it’s time to switch out attention to ourselves so we can set new boundaries--which you are doing. Good for you.

Whenever we are feeling resentment, it usually means the exchange between giving and receiving is out of balance. As we adjust what we give out, we may find we feel better about the situation. This increased sense of well-being is good feedback that we’re on the right track in terms of boundaries. It can be hard at first because people are used to being served by us, but as we realize what’s happening and how out of balance things are...that anger can be positively used to help us set and keep new boundaries. You’re on the right track.

In terms of losing respect for your hubby...I can also completely understand that. Bee there, felt that. I wrote about it in a post that is now in “Cathryn’s Mailbox” and it is about a new way of dealing with Divorced Dad’s guilt. Please read that and I believe it will address several of your thoughts and hopefully give you more compassion for yourself and your hubby in this nightmare experience he’s going through-even if he can’t/won’t admit the full impact of what he’s feeling.

Creative problem-solving and new emotional boundaries are two big challenges here. Can you find a way to re-direct your attentions to something other than their bad parenting decisions so you can get back in touch with the love and admiration you had for the man you married? How can you help him, instead of judge him? How can you help yourself and set new boundaries KNOWING deep down that since you can’t change them, you care going to have to change yourself...if you want to be able to feel good about being there.

M coach Kit used to say, “Nothing changes until you do.” This is a situation where you are really out of control of what these folks in your life do. As you can move into accepting that hard reality (it was hard for me anyway), it can be so empowering to being focusing on what you can change, do differently and re-frame as your responsibility (or not your responsibility).

You may even feel some relief as you let go of feeling like you have to be the voice of reason among the folks in your world right now. What can you do with this newly freed up energy? What project have you been meaning to start? Finish? What can you now focus on that you can control? Your health? Fun? Study? Hobby? Job? Other relationships?

Regarding your SD and her behavior. This is indeed infuriating but for a whole other reason, in addition to her lack of concern for her own welfare or responsibilities. When we watch skids do things we were NEVER allowed to do or never got the chance to do, it sets off all kinds of internal emotional alarms. If you review the other letters in the Mailbox, you’ll see i’ve written about this from deep personal experiences.

If you want to follow-up on anything here, just send me another email and we can have “round 2” together. I’m happy to do that as these are meaty and important issues. If you want to work privately, we can do that also.

From my perspective your well-being and your connection to your husband is the most important thing, in that order. Realizing that you CAN make decisions to help yourself, even if the results don’t look as you planned, will be very freeing. You will be able to use what is happening to learn so much about yourself, your needs and what makes you feel safe and happy...IF you choose to take this approach.

I wish you lots of insights, Ah Ha moments and new choices and boundaries to help you feel like the joyful, happy, powerful woman you were when you first fell in love with your Hubby. Good Luck in your process, Cathryn
Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055
609.206.2009
Cathryn@smoms.org