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!

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 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?

Feeling like invisible parent to stepson- help!
Question: I need help!!! I came into my stepson's life when he was 2. I was his teacher at daycare. When his father and I started dating in 2013 his mother was completely out of his life. She had weekly visits and stopped coming to see him. I am the only mother figure he has. He doesn't remember his real mother and never speaks of her.

My stepson doesn't listen to me. He constantly throws fits in which his dad gives into because he "feels sorry for him". When is this going to stop? I can't take the constant feeling of being an invisible parent. Please give me some help. Thank you, V.

Reply: Hi V, It makes complete sense that you don't like feeling invisible. It is going to trigger all kinds of present and past upsetting feelings. I really see this as a 2-part challenge. New ways to work with your stepson directly and new ways to work with your Partner.

There are some good child-raising books out there ("1,2,3,Magic" By Thomas Thelan worked well for us and others for finding non-yelling ways to respond to behavior issues). If you decide to join the forums, there are lots of stepmoms (many who are also bio-moms) who will be a great source of specific ideas & lots of other resources for working with your young stepson in new ways.

Getting your partner to help you in new ways can be a bit more challenging. Giving into their children, not following through with consequences and over-looking their kids bad manners are all very "charged topics" for most of us stepmoms on a mission. We want to be backed up by our partner & have our feelings, words and decisions respected. None of us like being dubbed or judged harshly as the "House police" by our stepkids or our partners.

In many ways we already feel like outsiders, coming into these new family units and often work very hard to find our happy, healthy role as a way to become included. This all makes sense.

What to do?

If you can make a list of all the behaviors that you and your partner seem to want to handle differently, it's a good place to start. Ask your partner to make his list too. Sit down with your partner and look at the list. Can you find common ground? Can you share with each other which things are most important and share "Why"? Can you agree to find new ways to handle areas where you have disagreed in the past? (Meaning not yours and not his but a joint new approach.)

Most of us learn, when we do this, that our number one goal is to raise the stepkids to be responsible, polite, well-rounded kids and this can mean that sometimes our stepkids aren't very happy with our choices.

Many divorced fathers, often feeling guilty, worried or emotionally exhausted by the end of their earlier relationship, just want to avoid any kind of conflict with their kids. The value and details of manners, responsibilities, lessons learned, etc. pale in comparison to the stress they can feel in the moment their child is angry at him.

Sadly, but since the beginning of time, children have a way of figuring out who the "easy" parent is and they play them to their advantage. You'll see that this is as old a practice as parenting. Yes, even 4 years olds. I bet you could tell us some "good" stories.

See if you can find a new way to work with your partner to achieve your newly expressed goal. TO feel like a parenting team. to be included, seen and appreciated for the way you contribute to your stepson's life. Use direct words and specific examples so the vision you have of what's possible is clear. I'm going to phrase some conversation starters in my words based on what little you said so please revise them to fit your personal feelings.

Maybe you say something like this to your partner:

"Honey, I would like to find a way to feel more like a teammate of yours when it comes to disciplining your son. Right now I feel _______when you override what I tell me."

"I'm feeling like the maid and nanny sometimes when you ignore what I've just told your son. It makes me feel powerless, invisible and it hurts my feelings. I know we have different styles AND I know we both want the best for your son. Will you please work with me to figure out how we can be on the same side on more issue so I can feel better. I have some ideas to share.?"

"Dear, when you give in to your son after I've already told him "No" it feels very disrespectful to me AND I know you aren't trying to do that. Can we please talk about new ways you and I can be a parenting team so I feel included in this little family of ours?"

Sometimes we think our partners know exactly what we're feeling and what we need from them. Sometimes...not so much and it can be very helpful to specifically ask him to help YOU feel better.

You can also look for ways that you can turn over certain parenting responsibilities to him. This can be another way for you to feel better about yourself and more available to be seen my your partner in non-parenting ways.

Wishing you all kinds of new discoveries that make you feel better and better. Your stepson and partner are so lucky to have you in their lives.

Please take care, Cathryn

More Resources: If you want to register as a Guest Member of the site (Free for 30-days) there are 3 articles that come to my mind about how to help you and your partner talk about this in a new way.

"The Nobody's right/Nobody's wrong approach to relationships"
"Understanding Defensiveness in stepmom/partner Relationships" This is 2-parts and both are available for downloading or streaming as podcasts.
Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055