Welcome to Stepmoms on a Mission!
If you’re considering working with me privately, becoming a Forum Member or taking a future workshop, I thought you might be wondering, “How can she call herself a Stepmom teacher and mentor? or “Why does this woman believe she can teach me something useful?” so…I created this page to answer those valid questions about my background so you can decide for yourself.
Although I’m not a psychologist or therapist by degree, you will learn a lot about psychology, relationships, boundaries, beliefs and communication skills as we work on your unique situations. One benefit of being a teacher and mentor, and NOT a therapist, is that I’m free to share my personal stories, feelings and Stepmom experiences with you.
So, how did I acquire my knowledge about human behavior, psychology, communications and relationships over the past 40 years? That’s a good question. I’ll be as descriptive and succinct as possible.
College and Corporate Experience
I’ve been studying human behavior since I was little, trying to figure out why people did or didn’t do things. I went to college to learn about management and organizational behavior and graduated from University of Hartford, Magna Cum Laude in 1978. Went right to work for IBM, as a Marketing Rep. to learn ethical selling and marketing skills. In 1980, was hired by a bank holding company (First CT Bancorp) as Director of Electronic Banking to start a new ATM program. Back then ATMs and debit cards were brand new, threatening to tellers and scary to most consumers. Because our bank didn’t have the budget for bribing customers to change behavior with gifts, I got permission to train the branch staff (60 branches) how to listen compassionately for fears and respond kindly to objections, and then how to talk with each consumer about their specific needs without any judgment. It worked like a charm! In three years, we set international records for consumer ATM acceptance and usage that was twice the US average. These results gave birth to my speaking and consulting career…sharing experiences with others with the same goals.
Took the Entrepreneurial Leap
In 1984, I went out on my own as a consultant, working with IBM, Diebold, ATM Networks and financial executives on retail banking strategies and running training programs for branch staff using sales psychology and high integrity interpersonal skills to help everyone feel comfortable facing fears, embracing change and making new choices. I spent 12 months in the UK and several weeks in Mexico and South America. Although I had translators to help me in those countries, I learned that while the language and cultures might vary, our emotional needs and responses as human beings were consistently the same. This was a pivotal discovery.
Transitioned to Motivational Work
In the early 90‘s I also started doing motivational speaking, privately coaching executives in speaking and presentation skills and mentoring sales people.*
Became a Stepmom on a Mission
In 1996 my world changed dramatically when I became a Stepmom to a 5-year old boy who lived with me half of the time. With the desire to get to know my stepson and needing a break from 12 years of traveling, I took a break from my consulting career and instead worked locally mentoring sales people and caring for my new stepson whenever he was with us. It was a freely-made, joyful, hope-filled decision. If you want to read more about my Stepmom journey, here’s a link to the Preface of my Book.
Career Turned to Stepmoms
When I started SMOMS® in 2000, my mission was to help Stepmoms acquire ever-increasing levels of calm confident competence, conscious wisdom, new skills and personal insights so they can feel happier no matter what their partners, stepkids (or their mother) do, say or imply. I also want to show you how you can rebuild and maintain a strong loving connection with your partner when you two are faced with stepfamily stress. It’s still my goal.
From 2007-2014, I went into serious study mode while continuing to work with the SMOMS on the site. During those years, I ended up investing in over 1,100 hours of personal training from various authors, therapists and consultants to develop Stepmom-specific insights, relationship approaches and emotion-processing skills for myself and other Stepmoms interested in becoming more self-aware, less resentful and feeling empowered. Over the years these skills have been revised, field-tested and validated by thousands of Stepmoms via workshops, consultations and the smoms.org Forums.
My Book is Born!
After 13 years of writing, dreaming about, re-writing and then 20-months of dedicated efforts (and the help of a brilliant sister SMOM Editor), my long-requested, long-imagined, 612-page instruction manual for Stepmoms was published in April, 2018. You may want to get a copy for self-study or to have a resource close-at-hand whenever something upsetting occurs. It’s called, “Stepmoms on a Mission: A Compassionate Exploration to Find Answers, Options and Hope.” Now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. More about the book.
My Approach to Teaching and Mentoring
From experiences as both a student and a teacher, I’ve found that the most comfortable, efficient and effective way to open-up, learn, grow and bring about lasting change is to work with a trustworthy, non-judgmental and patient teacher who believes in your potential for change, wisdom and happiness. This is the kind of relationship I strive to have with every client. I also know that my Gramps was right. In 1984, when I told him I was going out on my own, he gave me the best advice ever—“Only take advice from those who’ve already done what you’re trying to do. They’re the only ones who have a right to give you advice—everyone else is just giving you opinions.”
While your stepfamily situation is unique and probably complex, chances are good that I can relate to whatever you’re feeling, either personally or from working with other Stepmoms under duress. You can get a sense of my approach and whether or not I can be of service to you if you review my body of work on smoms.org or read my book. Please know I also welcome your emails or calls if you have questions about my ability to help you.
The good news is that there are answers for whatever you’re dealing with as a Stepmom. If doing this work with me feels like a good fit for you, please reach out. Join us and become part of a trusted circle of compassionate, dedicated and supportive sister Stepmoms on a Mission.
With Warm Regards, Cathryn
PS. Therapy can play an important role in our growth. I know from personal experience that working with a wise therapist can help us deal with the issues we may unconsciously carry from our past into our present relationships. However, experience has proven that sometimes what’s applicable for a bio-mom or family therapy is NOT effective for a stepmother in a stressful stepfamily situation. PLEASE refuse to settle for a therapist who isn’t helping you feel better. Keep looking. Find a therapist who has already done his or her own personal growth work and who demonstrates to you that he/she is aware of the unique aspects of being a Stepmom and of being in an intimate relationship with a divorced father. Ideally—find a therapist who is a Stepmom herself.
*I’ve written and recorded a live speech about how you can turn your frustrations into positive actions. Click here to read the article or listen to a live recording.