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?

I want a better relationship w/ teen stepson
Dear Cathryn,

I've been with my boyfriend for about 6 1/2 years, I understood from the very beginning that it was a family package. I am 27 years old, with no children of my own, so to say the least my parenting skills are far from perfect. When I met my stepson for the first time 6 years ago, things were pleasant but brief due to the fact that at that time he was living with his mother in Florida. About 4 years ago, my boyfriend filed for custody. His son was living in pure filth. So when it was made known that his child was not being cared for, my mission was to do everything I could to support and help in winning the case.

My s.s's mother only showed up to one hearing and flaked on the others. So by default ( HER NOT GIVING A CRAP ABOUT HER CHILD), my boyfriend was awarded complete sole and legal custody of his son. I was thrilled, but I also realized how difficult things were going to get.

I help financially support my s.s., help with homework, attend parent teacher conferences, paid for daycare, cook, clean and try to provide everything that I can. Our relationship is less than perfect. A lot of arguing and resentment on his part. He never hears from his mother and it breaks my heart, but to alleviate the pain, I have become a human punching bag.

When things get this way, I don't let go right away. I am upset and I make that known. My boyfriend feels that I don't put nearly enough of an effort. "My son needs a mother not a sister. If I had the money I could hire someone to do the things that you do for my son."

Needless to say my relationship has suffered. My boyfriend hangs marriage and children over my head. I want things to be different. I want to embrace this child as my own, but I don't know how. I don't think it's fair for my boyfriend to hold the fate over my head like this.

How can a non-mother learn to be a mother? What do you think?
Sincerely, Anna


Dear Anna,

WOW is my first reply!
I must say that I felt a bit of anger towards your boyfriend for talking to you that way. I feel so protective of you as I write this for I feel he’s not being very kind nor compassionate towards you. I do recognize that I NEVER know the whole story but I feel the need to stand up for the you who’s been, doing all this work for HIS son while being held emotionally hostage by her dreams for a marriage and children of your own...for years.

Let me take a few breaths before I right back…

OK, let me see what I can offer to you in this situation.

Read this book about teens. It’s loaded with insights and ideas AND even breaks each chapter into separate sections about girls and boys, so you can focus on the boy sections. “Get out of my life, but first could you take me and Cheryl to the Mall?” by Anthony Wolf. He will explain a lot of things that will give you many new choices (that usually gives us hope also).

There are so many relationship issues that I’m not sure how to best spend my 30 minutes. It shows a stunning lack of appreciation for all that you are doing, and a mother would do them all as well, for your boyfriend to say what he did about you being like a sister and replacing you with “staff.” Not sure where to do on that one, other than to ask him for specifics.

I hope you will stop being a human punching bag for this skid. Get him a real one and tell him you’ll talk to him about just about anything after 3 minutes on the bag. (Give him an egg timer or timer of some sort so he punches for the full 3 minutes.

Secondly, as hard as this is to read, there’s no amount of pain you can absorb from your ss to make up for the pain his bio-mom has caused him. You can be a witness for him, you can listen to his feelings, you can help him see he is NOT her. You can give him all kinds of opportunities to see the good things about himself. You can get him to talk with a counselor who understands the wounds bio-parents cause their kids when they abandoned. You CAN do a lot of thing for him (many of which I bet you’re already doing. However, you are NOT his bio-mom and that is something you can never change.

Here’s another thing to think about...Please don’t take any more of his crap for a few reasons.
you don’t deserve it.
It’s unkind and has consequences.
3. It doesn’t help him feel better and in the long run only gives him more evidence of why he was abandoned.
4.If you allow him to treat you badly, you model that it’s alright to punish other woman for what his bio-mom has done to him. (I know you are not trying to do this at all!) Too many times, well-meaning people trying to make up for what others have done, unconsciously provide a momentary outlet for the rage while unintentionally reinforcing that this kind of lashing out is OK. Jeepers that was a long sentence. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?

The sad reality is that ONE important woman treated him badly. That’s the truth of this situation. However, it doesn’t give him permission to punish you or ay other woman. You can play a healthy part in helping him see that by setting up boundaries. ( I wrote a couple of articles about boundaries and recommend some books in you’re game.)

You can help him see that there are many positive, resepctful ways of having a relationship with a woman. You can show him (you already have I bet) that there are plenty of ways to keep a home, treat each other, care for those who need our help and love. He needs to see that every woman is not like his bio-mom. These are all loving ways of mothering and it sure sounds to me that you’ve already done this.

If you read the book, “The frama of the gifted child” by Alice Miller, you will understand how to help him and yourself in more detail. I recommend this book to everyone, almost, because there is such truth and wisdom in helping us understand how to process the rage, pain, fear, isolation, shame, etc that we feel in healthy ways so we don’t have to unconsciously repeat them in our adult lives.

If you want to help you and your ss, read this and then you can be his “Enlightened witness.” This will change his life even more than you already have. If you set up healthy boundaries and he is unwilling to honor or respect you, then detaching from his care and from his disrespectful behaviors will be a next step. He needs to understand (and experience, if only from you) that not everyone is going to take his crap without consequences. Please the “stop trying and lovingly ignore your stepkids” plan article for more about this.

Now, back to your boyfriend. Goodness Anna, I’m sorry for the pain I can imagine you must be feeling after trying so hard, wrapping your whole life around this man and his son and for him to tell you to stop being like his sister,etc.

There’s no way I can honor the complexity of this situation, here.
I bet if you look at those books and once you begin to see that you have a role to play but that it needs to be on your terms. I want you to feel that you can stand up for whatever you need and want. I don’t want you to be under pressure to silence yourself, do things you don’t want to do and/or feel you have to do whatever he wants or you’re not going to get married or have your own child. This is emotional blackmail. This is hurtful behavior! If he holds this over you as his girlfriend, I fear what he’s going to hold over you as his wife!! Is this what you truly want for yourself, your life, your unborn children? Will he do some therapy with this or is he sure his way is the right way...take it or leave him? I agree that it’s not fair, what your boyfriend is doing. I wonder if it’s a bit like how your father treated you as a child? The book will help you with that if it’s true.

This is hard stuff. You’ve invested so much of your life with these two. However, you have another 50-60 years of life ahead of you. I just read the book “5 Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware (?) not sure of her last name. It’s a wonderful book of self-discovery and insights, if you want to check it out.

Have you read the threads and case studies about feeling resentful? I can sure understand how you would feel that way. Maybe you will get some ideas and suggestions that fit for your situation in those articles. (They’re in the mailbox forum right now).

I’ll be thinking of you and hoping that something here and/or in the books gives you the support you need right now. YOU are worthy of being free and valued and loved and cherished. No worries about being a non-mom. Be Yourself!

With Love, Cathryn


Cathryn, Thank you so much for your insight! I'm purchasing one of the books as we speak and my boyfriend and I will be staring couples therapy with the next week or so.

After I posted my letter to you, I decided to pack up my pooch and head off to the Poconos to visit my best friend for the weekend. That week was beyond catastrophic, so I needed to leave and clear my head. It really threw my boyfriend for a loop, let me tell you. But it was very necessary. When I got home we had a much needed discussion and right now it's a working progress on both of our parts. He wasn't always so harsh and unforgiving.

I think all of his fueled anger towards his son's mother and his guilt and hurt for his son has been pent up for so long that it had no where else to hit other than towards me. It's no real excuse on his behalf but I'm starting to understand more of what has happened and what is happening outside of my point of view.

I'd love to keep you posted if that's ok?



Hi, This is all good news. Yes, Please keep me posted. How would you feel about your follow-ups being on this mailbox forum? You taking actions and sharing your path could inspire others.

No pressure, your choice.

Wishing you all good things!


Awesome! Words really can't express how amazing it feels to know that I'm not alone.
Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055