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?

I want a Closer relationship w/ stepdaughter
Hi Cathryn,

I have been a stepmom for 12 years now since my stepdaughters were 2 and 4.  I’ve been an active part in their lives and have always been good to them.  I wish now that I had been more affectionate maybe we would've ended up being closer.  But when they were little my husband and their mom fought a lot and the police were often involved and lots of court visits so when she claimed that I was trying to be their mom I backed off.

Now I do not feel like my older Step daughter and I are close. We enjoy each others company but I’ve noticed that she doesn't confide in me but prefers possibly to talk to her mother.  I don't expect the same relationship just a better one than the one we have.  She is quiet by nature but she started seeing a boy at school and didn't share anything with me and now that he broke up with her she still hasn't said anything we hear about it from her mom.

So she was sad yesterday and I was mean to her because she doesn’t help out around the house and expects us to do everything for her which my husband does but i was hurt and chose to handle it badly. She of course got upset and said she wanted to go to her mother's house.  We went thru that for years, her not wanting to come over and crying for her mom. She is 14 and this did not stop til only a few years ago.  

It was horrible and I will never get over that, the feeling that she did not want to be with us.  I guess I am jealous of what she has with her overbearing mother, I do not have my own children. I have no idea how to make things better since I am not great at communicating when I am upset, I just end up crying and walking away.

What do you think? What can I do?
Thanks for your help

CATHRYN’S REPLY:

Hello there,
I’m a mother by marriage like you are.
I have a stepson and I bet I’d feel differently about a lot of things if I had s stepdaughter. You’ve got a lot of feelings tangled up in your heart and it’s very understandable. Let’s see what we can sort out to help you feel better about things.

First off, if you haven’t read “Get out of my life, but first could you take me and Cheryl to the Mall?” by Anthony Wolf, please rush somewhere and get yourself a copy ASAP. It’s great in so many ways;like he’s been living in our homes. Even though it's not about stepkids, he breaks the chapters into the issue and then a section about boys and a section about girls. He really gives a clear understanding of how to understand and connect with either or both in ways many of us (parents or not) just haven’t thought about.

When you read that, which I hope you will, you'll see he explains how teen girls need connection but don’t want to feel like babies about it. It’s a deep inner conflict which really annoys them BIG TIME and they unconsciously try to feel powerful and better by lashing out, usually, for girls, verbally. They can be connected and hot stuff. There are lots of ideas for you in this book and it can help you in many, many ways.

Secondly, I believe that you and many of us SMOMS are suffering from PTSD after years of high level, out of control, deeply painful and enraging experiences. It makes sense to me that you would feel a wave of old feelings when the same situation occurred recently. To me, this calls for a tremendous dose of Lovingkindness towards yourself. I mean huge does of patience, TLC, very tender self-talk and lots of loving support from family and friends who are willing to love and adore you through this.
Can you order some of that up ASAP? Since feelings don’t disappear until they are resolved, unprocessed (repressed, denied, suppressed, ignored) feelings sometimes leak out, pop out or overwhelm us when we least expect it.

You say you reacted and were mean to her.
Well, you can now model responsible actions by apologizing to her and telling her what was going on with you so that you leave nothing to her interpretation (which will be wrong).

Could you say something like this? “Honey, when you did X, I felt a wave of Y because of Z and I didn’t pause to think about it first, I just lashed out and I’m very sorry. I love you.”

These are just possible words to say things but it would be a powerful demonstration, versus a lecture, about how to handle it when we lose it. She is going to look for ways to handle things and if her mother is over-bearing she is likely to adopt that strategy unless she experiences other ways. She may STILL behave as her mom does but it will be mollified somewhat and recorded in her subconscious that there is more than one way to handle things. This is where SMOMS can be so helpful, even if they never get recognized for it. Make sense?

You have a right to your feelings. Really you do!
There's a lot of unprocessed pain here (or at least that’s my sense).
This is a chance to “recognize, acknowledge, FORGIVE and change.”
You’ve done your best and you seem very willing to self-reflect.
You can make some new choices to help yourself feel more honored and healed from the past AND you can begin to try new ways to communicate in ways that you are more and more comfortable doing.

These are all terrific options and qualities. GO YOU!!!

You CAN get over what happened to you and I encourage you to get some help in doing that for there are some serious emotional waters to navigate and a trusted guide will make the process so much faster and more rewarding. I know this from personal experience.

Your jealousy is also perfectly understandable. The good news here is that you're not without options going forward. You don't have to stay jealous. We can learn from our jealousies and find new ways to give ourselves what we really need (beneath the present form) so that we're not so impacted by the actions of specific others. (This is too big a topic for here but I wanted to put it out there to give you the hope and belief-hopefully-that this is possible.)

Please read that book asap.
Please be very, very gentle with yourself. It feels like there is a harshness about the way you judge yourself (like a parent?) and that’s not going to be helpful for you now. Stay as mindful as you can about your self-talk. Have you read my article about "Negative self-talk"?

Now's the time to give yourself all kinds of emotional support so you can heal from the past and then move forward to create a new future, with new skills, new insights and a healed whole and open heart.

Ask yourself, "What do I need right now to feel a bit better?"
You can do this!
Your letter speaks to your ability and innate talents.
How does this resonate with you?
If you want to reply, please do so, via email or via the mailbox and we can continue this discussion together.

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