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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?

Jealous of sister-in-law & Skids-what can I do?
Dear Cathryn,
I feel like my sister-in-law is putting things in my SK’s minds and I’m finding very difficult to be around her and my SKs together.  On a recent family trip, it was somewhat obvious that every time they came back from spending time with her, they acted different towards me. I’m standoffish, resentful.   Lately, it seems like there has been a lot of tension when we are all together.   My 16-year old SS often shows her affection by hugging her a lot and sitting next to her and sometimes I feel jealous but I have never really been able to show him affection.

I guess it’s because of the past history we had with the BM during custody hearings.  I show my BS a lot of affection and will do so always. I often think ss is missing the affection at home from the BM and I really don’t know as I don’t communicate with the BM.   My sister-in-law was known to cause issues in my husband’s previous marriage and I often wonder if she is again trying to do the same thing and almost like she’s trying to hit me where I’m most vulnerable as she knows that my husband will always choose my SKid’s side.  She doesn’t have children of her own and in the past, 2 sets of different nieces and nephews have come to with live her for different reasons.   We have never really had issues, the issues just recently started after our recent family trip (which btw she organized for my husband as an early b-day present).

Also, it seems if my sister-in-law isn’t a part of something then the SK don’t think it’s a good idea (like when my husband mentioned going on another fishing trip and my SD automatically said “for Aunt’s bday.“ What am I ? Why can’t it ever be for my b-day?   It seems like they are always calling her to come over to the house which is fine but here we go again with showing of affection.  I have never had anything against her so I’m not sure what is going on.  I’m just waiting for my SS to say that he wants to move in with her, that would rip my husband’s heart in two.

Should I be jealous of the affection my SS shows to his Aunt (after all he has known her longer)?
Am I wrong for not showing affection to him?
How can I handle the situation if she is telling them things?

Insight Needed for Peace of Mind

Hello there,

Thanks for your letter. I’m hoping that I can say something that will ease your mind. These are not simple questions and I only have a small bit of info but let’s talk about a couple of things in your letter and see if anything comforts you.

About your comments of feeling uncomfortable when they return from time with their aunt...sometimes we can feel “slapped in the face” energetically when we’re all excited to see our skids and they just sort of glance our way, mumble and keep on moving. That can really hurt and I see why you’d feel badly or worry that she’s saying something about you. However, it could be something that has nothing to do with you.

We’ve noticed that when skids return from time with their bio-moms or perhaps any other woman (this aunt, for example) there can be some issues with “emotional re-entry” into your space. We found it was helpful to give skids some space to adjust to being at Dad’s and/or with you when returning to your home. What if you tried something a bit different? Next time, when they come back from time with their bio-mom or aunt, just greet them cheerfully then move on to whatever you were doing. Happily give them their space. Let them come to you if they want to share or talk. Just be your happy, loving self and interact with them whenever you’re all together (maybe at meals). Sometimes we SMOMS try so hard to connect that skids’ actions unintentionally hurt us even when they’re really just oblivious. I don’t know about your skids but what does your gut, not your worry, tell you about their actions?

From what you’ve said, I can’t imagine why the aunt would be trying to turn your skids against you unless she is jealous of you! Could that be true? Sometimes people step up their efforts if they feel insecure or threatened by another. Could it be she’s just trying to hold onto her place in their hearts? Maybe she’s just enjoying them OR maybe she’s trying to negatively impact your connection with them. Since we don’t know, what if you decided NOT to worry about it, until (or unless) you get some proof. My dad used to say, “when in doubt, throw it out.” In this case, you’d have more peace of mind if you decided that there’s nothing going on and that everything’s alright. Promise yourself that if you hear or learn that there is a problem, that you’ll address it with the skids or the aunt, right away.

If you find that she’s actually telling them “un-truths” about you, I would hope that your husband would step in on your behalf AND it would be the time to speak with the skids directly. We can’t control what others say to them, nor whether or not they believe us but we can look them in the eyes and tell them our truth. Kids are so influenceable so all you can do is be yourself, be honest and trust your intuition. Worrying about what we don’t know isn’t going to ever give you peace of mind.

From what little I know about the situation, seems like you may be feeling left out and that’s a very painful feeling. At 16 your ss will look at you very differently than the Aunt he’s grown up with. It’s harder for stepmoms to connect with the skids on every level when the skids are older and the expression of affection becomes even more tricky when the boys are teens. If you two can kid around, can talk about school, sports and whatever he’s interested in, that’s a whole lot more than many of us SMOMS got from our teenage ss. I think you should be yourself. We smoms, can’t make up for whatever the skids haven’t gotten from their mom’s in life. We can, however, model lovingkindness. That will come across in your tone, your attitude and your energy when around them. There’s no need to force yourself to do more than you are comfortable doing-it wouldn’t be honest, would it? Could your expectations of your relationships with your skids be a bit too high if you’re comparing them with your connection to your own child? Could you be asking too much of yourself? Are you feeling pressure to do more than you are? What if you decided (a more powerful feeling) that everything is OK with them and that YOU are the one who needs more love and less worry? Can you give yourself that gift? Even just try it for a day and see how you feel? Right now, how you choose to feel is the only thing you have control over.

About your jealous feelings...It’s such an awful, gnawing feeling isn’t it? It’s hard to watch others have what we want. Along with showing affection with your skids, she appears to have a close relationship with them and they admire and love her back. You could be right, she could be playing up the connection in front of you or maybe she’s acting as she is for reasons that have nothing to do with you. (For example: She has no kids of her own, so nieces and nephews are her chance to experience the kids.) My sense is you wouldn’t be jealous of her if you felt better, more OK about, your connection with your skids.

Do you want to express and share more affection with your skids? If so, maybe you could shift your attention and energy into looking for more ways to do that. What about planning something with the aunt? Do you like her? if you weren’t feeling suspicious of her, would you enjoy her company? Is your hubby supportive of your feelings? Perhaps you need a big dose of loving attention from the ones you love. You may want to read my article about “Comforting Ourselves” as it is about feelings of jealousy.

What you are feeling is very uncomfortable and if you’re willing, maybe making some different assumptions about what is happening, will give you the peace of mind you are looking for. I hope something here is helpful.

Best Wishes, Cathryn

PS: Please read my latest post about Catastrophizing for more support of your anxiety and a deeper understanding of how to support yourself when confronted with unknowns and uncontrollable issues.
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