Cathryn Bond Doyle—A Stepmom on a Mission.
Stepmom Consultant, Mentor, Trainer & Author
Founder and Moderator of Support Group, Stepmoms on a Mission (2000)
Author: Stepmoms on a Mission: A Compassionate Exploration to Find Answers, Options and Hope. Self-published in April, 2018. Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
By age 40, Cathryn Bond Doyle had spent 18 years in a retail banking career that took her around the world speaking, training, writing and consulting with financial executives and branch staff. The common theme of her work was helping people overcome their fear of change and improving staff communications and customer service skills in comfortable ways.
In 1996, Cathryn became an enthusiastic Stepmom to a 5-year-old boy and her career took a magical turn. Tired of traveling and eager to get to know her stepson, who was with her 50% of the time, she shut down her business to care for him. In 2000, three months after being politely kicked out of a local stepparenting support group, she started her own group called- “Stepmoms on a Mission.”
For the next 18 years, Cathryn supported more than 10,000 stressed-out Stepmoms via her website, smoms.org, and worked to expand and hone her skills through 1,100+ consultation hours with experts in varied aspects of family psychology. For 4 of those years, she tested out her new approaches in private sessions and workshops, taking the last 20 months to compile and refine her body of work. On April 4, 2018, Cathryn published her long-requested book, “Stepmoms on a Mission: A Compassionate Exploration to Find Answers, Options and Hope.”
This 612-page instruction manual is a resource of specifically tailored, Stepmom-tested skills and strategies, well-explained insights and dozens of practical tips. It also includes personal stories contributed by twenty Stepmoms.
Cathryn’s book provides a much-needed sense of connection, understanding and hope to any Stepmom looking for answers. Her candid stories and customizable approaches offer proven pathways past resentment, rage and pain, helping her readers find relief and become wiser, kinder and more empowered in all stepfamily situations. These days, Cathryn is a Stepmom on a new mission: helping millions of Stepmoms grow stronger, tackling their stressful circumstances while staying lovingly connected with their partners. She helps them show the world that a self-aware, loving Stepmom can play a valuable, unique and healing role in her new stepfamily–a role that deserves respect from her community and society in general.
14 Possible Talking Points for a Cathryn Bond Doyle Interview
(Replies will be tailored to the time allotted.)
- You became a Stepmom in 1996 but didn’t start Stepmoms on a Mission until 2000. What happened to you that made you want to start your own group?
- What’s your Stepmom story? You spent 18 years in the business world before you became a Stepmom. I also read that you shut down your business to become a full-time Stepmom when you inherited a 5-year-old stepson. What was that like? And what drove you to seek out that stepfamily support group in the first place?
- What is your Stepmom Mission?
- What makes your group different from other support groups? What are the fundamentals of your approaches that have proved so successful?
- I understand you are also passionate about changing society (and Hollywood’s) evil or wicked stepmother stereotype. What do you want to change it into and how in the world are you going to do that?
- I suppose that the women you are working with are all under stress. What are the top 2-3 causes of stress for the Stepmoms who contact you?
- What’s the single biggest factor in whether or not a Stepmom is going to have a happy or a stressful stepfamily experience? What can she do to help herself if she falls into the potentially stressful category?
- You write about stepkids getting caught in something you call a “Loyalty War” and how stressful this is for these kids and their Stepmom—tell me more about this loyalty war situation.
- Back-to-school season can cause a lot of stress for Stepmoms. What are some common causes and cures for Stepmoms and their partners?
- When Stepmoms reach out to you for support, what are they most often looking for?
- What are 2-3 of the most common “missteps,” (as you call them), that Stepmoms make? Talk about what they can do differently if they are making these missteps.
NOTE: I’m happy to offer your listeners a free chapter from my book that describes the 13 “Understandable, Unintentional, Common and Correctable” Stepmom Missteps.
- I know that many issues for Stepmoms are complex and deserve more time than we have today. What are some quick tips you can give to our listeners who are Stepmoms or who want to support a Stepmom?
NOTE: I could offer your listeners a free excerpt of a chapter from my book, “31 Proactive Tactics to Improve Stepmom Well-Being and Stepfamily Relationships.” These tips are more upbeat and proactive and less about dealing with stress and trauma.
- You talk about helping Stepmoms and their partners. What tips can you give a Stepmom and her partner that would help them stay close in the face of stepfamily stress?
- Connecting with their stepkids must be important to new Stepmoms, yet I imagine that the age of the stepkids makes a big difference in how easy or difficult this is. What advice can you give to our listeners to help them be as successful as possible at any age?
If listeners are primarily men, the topic of the show can be, “Married to a Stepmom?” I can also offer a free excerpt from my book bonus chapters titled, “23 Tips for the Partner of a Stepmom.” There is so much to discuss and several of the 23 ideas are quick and easy to implement. I can adapt to the time allowed.
Cathryn is happy to take callers’ questions, that said, if time is short, it is better NOT to do this because most Stepmoms have complex situations and are likely under stress. Without realizing their underlying need for compassion, they may end up taking a lot of time to explain their situation before they are ready to hear any advice. For tele-summits or webinars, screening the calls and asking Cathryn a specific question is better for the listening audience.
For more about Cathryn’s book (Table of Contents, Preface, Intro, Photo) https://www.smoms.org/book/
Cathryn Bond Doyle has spent decades studying and teaching about self-awareness, embracing change and creative problem-solving in human behavior and relationships. After graduating from the University of Hartford in 1978 with a business degree in Management, she became a marketing representative at IBM selling computer systems to financial institutions. Her expertise in new retail banking products led her to go work for a bank as Director of Electronic Banking for First Connecticut Bancorp in 1980, overseeing the installation of online branch teller systems and ATM machines at the 3-bank holding company. While at the bank, she set international consumer usage levels for ATMs and debit card acceptance, nearly twice the national and international averages at the time.
She began speaking around the country about her unique consumer and employee training programs, and then went out on her own in 1984 to establish an international speaking and consulting career in retail banking. Cathryn began speaking at regional, national and international banking conferences in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Mexico and was a speaker at seven annual European self-service banking conferences in Edinburgh, Scotland. She lived in England for 12 months between 1994-1995, working for several banks and building societies. She also made several training videos for banks, shared ATM networks and MasterCard. The common theme of her work was helping people overcome their fear of change and improving staff communications and customer service skills in comfortable ways.
In 1996, Cathryn became a stepmother and her focus and life goals changed almost immediately. In the process of settling into her new role, with a 5-year-old stepson living with her half the time, she found herself dealing with the unknowns and complexities of new relationships. Much to her surprise, she learned quickly that her previous training and experience didn’t help her handle the stepfamily traumas she was experiencing. In her quest for greater understanding, less stress, a closer connection with her husband and a chance to care for (and get to know) her new stepson, she shut down most of her consulting practice and went to work on gaining new skills to improve her responses and approaches to stepfamily situations.
Cathryn started a stepmothers’ support group, Stepmoms on a Mission (SMOMS), in 2000. This face-to-face group of women met weekly for two years and then became a monthly meeting and an online community when she created the smoms.org website and forum in 2002. During these two years, she also authored a monthly relationship column and hosted a bulletin board for phenomenalwomen.com, the second largest website supporting women at the time. Through these experiences and beyond, she discovered that many of the new lessons she was learning in her own stepfamily life were also helpful for other stepmothers. Together, she and her sister SMOMS worked to increase their self-awareness and skill sets, heal their personal emotional “hot spots,” build stronger relationships with their partners and become their most empowered selves. This represented a dramatic shift in Cathryn’s career plans and one she remains passionate about continuing.
From 2007-2014, Cathryn invested a tremendous amount of time, money and energy to work with various experts so she could learn more about dynamics related to families, couples, the impact of our upbringing on our adult behaviors, beliefs and power struggles so she could find answers. As a result of this effort, she has developed new approaches and skills specifically designed to help women feel strong and confident in their role as stepmothers while also improving their relationships with their partners and stepkids.
Noteworthy: For the first 13 years of Cathryn’s work with Stepmoms, she offered all her support services and materials—FREE—to members of her site and countless readers of her many public forums. She began charging for her services in 2013 when she conducted several workshops to test and refine her many new approaches and continues to offer vast amounts of free content to the public on her site, smoms.org.
Cathryn’s book represents the beginning of the next phase of Cathryn’s work helping Stepmoms and their partners. Additionally, since 2016, she has been advising and training therapists who want to better assist their clients dealing with Stepmom-specific issues.