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?

Bio-mom is online stalking & has issues w/ pictures of skids.
Hi Cathryn,

My boyfriend and I have been living together for over 3 years and needless to say his ex has NOT made it easy for us...for me to even be in the relationship. It's been up and down, up and down. Recently she moved two hours away and we only see the kids every other weekend, which is fine.

Everything has been peaceful after two years of her social network stalking. I have made everything private and blocked her. Recently I downloaded the new "instagram app" well I’ve had it for 6 days and she found me!!! There was some pics of the kids when we went to the zoo this past weekend. Now she’s threatening to "stab me" and that I’m not allowed to come for the picking / dropping off of the kids anymore or she will come after me and that I'm being disrespectful of taking / posting pics of HER children as they are not mine. My boyfriend doesn't care in fact he takes the pics half the time.

Am I wrong? I don't feel that I am disrespecting her. I feel like I'm just living life. This has been an issue for 2 years any type of social networking {facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc} she finds me and harasses and nitpicks everything so I have to delete or block. It's exhausting. in fact she might find me here as well Sad The only thing I’m allowed to do is come get them with him since we have to use my car. I’m not allowed to do anything else kid related.

Please help.

CATHRYN’S REPLY

Hi there,

Boy oh boy I can certainly understand why you would feel exhausted and upset. Whenever someone else has such control and/or impact over our lives it can be infuriating! Here are a couple of things that come to my mind when I read your letter. Ultimately and your BF will have to decide how much to push and when to retreat on these issues because you know the whole situation.
Over the last 16 years, I’ve noticed that one of the hardest things for some bio-moms to accept, is that their ex-husband seems to be having a great time with another woman and HER kids. It seems like a “I didn’t want him and I don’t want him to be happy (ever again) form of envy. I’m not a bio-mom so I may be wrong here, but let’s say that’s how she’s feeling.

She’s out of control of what happens to her kids when they’re with you and their dad. This is often hard for both parents, but the bio-moms seem to have more complaints about how things “Look” to the community. In your case, the community is the world wide web (that’s a big community) and so I’m wondering if she’s distracting herself from whatever she’s feeling (insecure, jealous, left out, bitter, etc) by making it her obsession to track you all on-line. This is a common human avoidance strategy.

I found a way to have compassion for bio-moms by imagining how I’d feel if my husband’s ex-wife somehow got to take care of my beloved cats (Lily & Maddie). This was a real eye opener and heart wrencher as I felt all kinds of discomfort in the unknown of how they would be treated. If I saw her posting a photo on the web and it was not clear that the girls were “Cathryn’s Cats” i feel certain I’d not be happy about it. Does that make any sense to you?

Now having been on your side of the fence for 16 years, I understand why you want to share you family life with others and I wonder if there is just a teeny, tiny twinge of excitement that you feel, when you post photos of her kids, your BF’s Kids and your possibly future stepkids looking like the happy family we all dream about? Could that be true for you? If so, I completely understand.

Whether you get a secret or not-so-secret kick out of posting pictures of her kids under your name or being part of their everyday life, I think there are some ways you may be able to offer an olive branch of peace and still feel like you are free to “live life.” Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. What if you make sure your photo captions state that the kids are your BF’s kids so it is clear they are NOT yours? Not necessary but if painless to you, may show her the “respect” or maybe take the steam out of her objections.

2. What if your BF made a point of being the one to chose and display the photo under his on-line apps?

If these ideas feel a bit “icky” I wonder if it may be that you’re so longing to be a family that what you’re doing now is the only way you know how to give yourself a much needed sense of belonging and being included (such a wonderful feeling). Could it be that you are feeling a bit left out and the on-line stuff is a way for you to distract yourself from this yucky feeling?

Clearly I don’t know, just putting it out there for you to consider.

This stepfamily, divorced parents, bio-mom vs bio-dad stuff can be so incredibly painful and hard and exhausting. Believe me I know this to be true. It seems that now the key thing for you to do is to figure out how you can feel included, share your life and take yourself out of the line of fire and off her Radar screen. Make sense?

Also, if your BF is willing to take a stand about pick-ups and drop-offs, that would be cool. Where I live bio-parents have the rights to choose baby sitters and care-givers for kids while they are in their care and maybe he could even give you a letter to carry with you that authorizes you to act on his behalf in doing X , Y and Z for his kids. COuld that help you? Sometimes this works and sometimes it just inflames the bio-mom. If she is hostile (versus kind or civil), which it sounds like she is, you may never be able to do anything that is OK with her. That can be very hard to accept. Took me 13 years, sadly.

So, what can you do?

Look deeply into your motivations and be brutally honest with yourself.
Is this a power struggle between you and the bio-mom?
Are you getting some greater sense of inclusion or power by doing what you know will trigger her?
Are you trying to claim some “rights” for yourself in your family because you feel BF may not being standing up for you enough?

It’s all very human if this is true so no need to beat yourself up about it-just own it and then you can look at things and make some new choice about how to proceed.

What are some choices?

1.You can decide to live with her upset and the consequences of her wrath.
2.You can decide to modify your actions, show her some major compassion that she may never acknowledge but your BF may appreciate.
3.You can come up with some creative new ways to give you the feelings you were getting from the on-line pictures or pick-ups and start doing some of those to see how you feel.
4.You can make the fact that they are her children clear in all pictures and present yourself as the lucky stepmom (even if not married you are surely in that role.)
5.You and your BF could brainstorm about ways to spare yourselves the strain of her anger and see what you come up with?

What are some other things you can do that give you a chance to focus your attention on giving you what you want in ways that don’t engage her in a head to head power struggle? This is where creative problem solving and “taking the high road” come in very handy.

If you think you are likely to be in this bio-mom’s life for the duration, whatever you can to, while still feeling you are respecting yourself, is a good investment in time and energy-from my point of you. Oh and the part of her not feeling respected? I’ve noticed that sometimes when a hostile bio-mom doesn’t know what else to say, she says this and it tends to distract us (am I doing that?) from the actual situation.

What’s your reaction to this and how do you feel about these ideas?
If you want to reply to me, just send me an email or write in the mailbox again and I will be happy to continue this process with you.

Good Luck with your Soul Searching and creative thinking.
I hope to hear from you again.

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