Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms wrote in, Cathryn replied​.
Cathryn's Mailbox
A- I love my partner, but I also wish his daughter didn't exist! (8/11)

A-About ready to throw in the towel! (4/12)

A-About to become a stepparent and am terrified!(5/12)

A-Are you in the mood for Stepmom's Pep Talk-read this! (3/15)

A-Clarifying Mission Statement for SMOMS. (11/11)

A-Do I love my stepson? Sometimes I don't know.(8/12)

A-Don't know where I went wrong. Please help me!(6/12)

A-Ever Feel Like Leaving? (5/11)

A-Feeling like invisible parent to stepson- help! (12/13)

A-Feeling like the enemy in my own house. Yes I have a teen stepdaughter.(5/15)

A-From BB: Self-awareness can hurt...why is that? (10/12)

A-Holiday traditions? Some ideas from sister SMOMS. (11/113)

A-How can I find the right balance & boundaries? (4/12)

A-How do I deal with all the hurt and anger? (1/12)

A-How to let go of the single life versus being stepmom?(8/15)

A-How to step back in after stepping out? (8/12)

A-I need some better coping skills and I'm open to new ideas.(7/16)

A-Invested so much love, time, energy & $$...seems it's never enough. (2/16)

A-It's too much work- I need help from my partner & Family!(7/12)

A-Not a step mom yet but need some guidance (7/12)

A-Right now, I HATE being a Stepmom!!! (10/13)

A-Self-Pity-an emotional numbing,energy draining tactic-find a new option. (7/15)

A-What about the rage! I "Lost it" last night. Help! (10/11)

A-What are reasonable expectations? (3/11)

A-When to call it quits? What to do? (3/12)

A-Why am I so jealous? What about my irrational fears? 7/15)

A-Why don't I matter in this stepfamily? (12/11)

B-Dealing with SD at my young age (7/15)

B-Feeling resentment towards my stepson and can't connect with him.(2/16)

B-How can I handle my stepdaughter(8) who loves negative attention? (8/12)

B-How do I deal with a bio-mom who doesn't want to get along with me? (9/13)

B-How do I handle my feelings when my stepchild stops saying I love you? (4/16)

B-How do I help her understand chores/rules don't mean that I don’t love her?(1/12)

B-How to help my stepson, when his mom encourages him to lie to us? (10/11)

B-How to make the transition between homes easier for stepkids?(12/17)

B-I am frustrated with my stepkids 99% of the! (5/14)

B-I feel left out and invisible with grown SDs (4/12)

B-I have issues with my teenage stepdaughter and the car...Ugh! (4/12)

B-I have two stepkids I can't control.(9/11)

B-I want a better relationship w/ teen stepson. (6/12)

B-I want a Closer relationship w/ stepdaughter (5/12)

B-I'm at the end of my tether... Stepchildren don't seem to like me. (12/11)

B-It feels like my 5-year old stepson throws his mom in my face! Help! (10/11)

B-Just jealous or maybe time to leave? (6/11)

B-My 3 yr old stepson seems to be crying all the time!(9/12)

B-My husband stays at his mothers when he has his daughter for the night. (10/12)

B-My stepdaughter chooses her bio-mom for school play-it upsets me. (6/11)

B-My stepkids don't recognize how much their dad does for them. (6/11)

B-Struggling w/ a jealous stepdaughter (3/12)

B-What to do about disrespectful 20 yr/old stepson? (4/11)

B-When your stepkids are away on Christmas Day. (12/12)

B-Why do things my stepkids say bother me so much? (11/11)

B-Why does my stepson idolize his bio-mom? (4/12)

B-Why does my stepson's rudeness bother me so much? (12/11)

C-Bio-mom assaulted me & told stepkids it was the other way around. (8/11)

C-Bio-mom back & I'm hurt by her impact-what can I do? (8/11)

C-Bio-mom doesn't want her kids, then does-what's going on? (8/11)

C-Bio-mom doesn't want me present at any of my skids school events.(8/15)

C-Bio-mom is badmouthing me to my stepson & he tells me and my kids.(6/16)

C-Bio-mom used me, I drew a line, she’s angry--now what? (9/11)

C-How to accept bio-mom's "bad" choices? (6/11)

C-How to deal when bio-mom returns into the picture. (1/16)

C-How to handle bio-mom who keeps asking for more $$$? (9/12)

C-No matter what I do, bio-mom still hostile. I feel hopeless and scared.(3/17)

C-What to do when bio-mom turns my stepdaughter against me? (9/16)

C-When bio-mom sends stuff from life w/your partner-what to do? (5/11)

D-How do I cope w/DH's need for perfect family? I'm more realistic. (4/12)

D-Husband still has divorce guilt and his kids are in their 30’s--ugh! (10/14)

D-I think the problem is my partner. Why is he fighting my efforts?(6/15)

D-My partner doesn't understand why my feelings are hurt. (7/11)

D-My partner feels divorce guilt so lets his ex interrupt outlives (6/18)

D-My partner w/3 bio-kids is not trying to bond w/ my 2 kids.(8/11)

D-Partner sets no Boundaries for SD20-what to do? (8/11)

E-A bio-mom worried about her daughter's new Stepmom. Will we help? (2/12)

E-Bio-mom is online stalking and has issues w/ pictures of stepkids. (6/12)

E-Dealing w/ Deceased Bio Mom's Extended Family (5/12)

E-Dealing w/ unkind stepkids, ex-wife, MIL costing me my relationship? (2/12)

E-Help w/situation that dad, biomom & stepkids all agree on but not me! (3/11)

E-How do I change my attitude towards my new inherited family? (4/12)

E-How do I stop SD from lying to me, DH, BM, and BM's boyfriend? (8/12)

E-How to deal with a lying stepdaughter, her bio-mom & ex-stepmom? (1/12)

E-I feel jealous of my partner's ex & unheard by my partner. (10/11)

E-I want my bed back! (5/11)

E-Jealous of sister-in-law and my stepkids. What can I do? (8/12)

E-My partner found out he has a daughter-I feel terrible (10/12)

E-Stubborn partner and sexually active teenage SS (8/12)

E-Transitions and Coparenting Struggles (3/16)

E-Trouble coping w/BF's newborn and his ex-spouse. (7/12)

E-What boundaries do I need to set with husband and stepdaughter? (11/11)

E-When BM causes drama, how to preserve my relationship w/ stepkids?(6/12)

A-About to become a stepparent and am terrified!(5/12)
In all honestly I feel awful even having to look for advice and not having the instant feeling of excitement and happiness that I’m going to become a step parent. The situation isn’t all that straight forward so Im hoping if I give you a little background that it will change things.

My fiance and I have been together for a year now and I can honestly say I never thought I would be this happy and to say that he is everything I wanted. It sounds like something from a book but he truly is. We have made all sorts of plans for our life together and are due to be married next year.

When I met him he told me he had a son from his previous marriage when he was very young which I had no issue with at all, I myself come from parents who divorced and both remarried and I gained 3 step sisters, 1 step brother and eventually 2 half sisters. He has had no contact with his son, as shortly after the divorce went through she moved away with his son, leaving no forwarding address etc. He was completely unable to find them until very recently he has managed to find her location and phone number.

He is now saying he’s going to take her to court and fight for access rights or full custody. I realise that him getting full custody is unlikely, his son has no memory of him and there’s no need to remove him from the situation. However they live in the USA and we are shortly moving to Dubai.

I’ve been through a similar situation myself when I was a child with my Dad when he remarried, all of a sudden wanting to be a family. It’s disruptive, stressful and can turn very bitter, often with the child being used a tool to hurt the other parent.

I myself have no children and have never been sure whether I wanted them purely on the basis of what I experienced when my parents divorced.

I love my fiance more than anything and I have expressed no concerns whatsoever to him about his gaining access to his son, if anything I’ve encouraged him. He is his father after all and I know how it feels as a child to think one of your parents doesn’t want you.

However, I cant help feeling like Im going to get completely lost in this whole situation and pushed to one side. My entire life I have put others first and always put my own dreams to the back of my mind as not being important. Now I finally meet someone who wants me to decide what 'I' want and it seems that no sooner have I accepted that it’s possible it’s going to be taken away from me.

I feel dreadful about not automatically being happy at having a step son but I know how hard I made it for my step mother. I can’t help but feel that karma is going to bite a chunk out of my butt for my behaviour to my step mother.

I know all of this is my own premonition of things to come but I’m very very anxious about it all and can’t voice any of these feelings to my fiance as all he needs from me right now is support and to help him fight for what he has wanted for so long.

Any advise you can offer, even if its just to tell me to slap myself and get on with it would be very very gratefully received.

Regards, Missy


Dear Missy,

I promise you that I’m not going to tell you to slap yourself...ever! The feelings that you are having make perfect to me. If you think you may be getting carried away, read my stepmom article about “The pros and cons of Catastrophizing” to see if that’s what you’re doing. My sense is that your feelings are asking you for help. Let’s honor their discomfort and see what they may be trying to tell you. OK?

As I started reading your letter I was thinking about all the times you’ve had to put yourself second to the needs of others. Then, you said it yourself! What you are experiencing is, in psychological terms, called an “unconscious compulsion to repeat” patterns and behaviors from our childhood. To learn more about this VERY important issue, so you can make things more conscious (you’ve got a good start already) and feel more empowered, please rush to read the book, “The Drama of the Gifted Child” by Dr. Alice Miller. It will explain so much and can help you see many things. It certainly was profound for me and so I recommend it to everyone willing to dig into their own Psyche’s.

When you were a child, you HAD to take a lot of changes and were forced to deal with the decisions of others. Can you tell yourself that you are NOT a child anymore and that as an adult woman, you CAN speak up for what you want and need from the “love of your life”? There’s no need for you to stay quiet as he goes through this process. (what part of you is telling you that you have to choose to stay quiet? I bet it is the little girl you used to be trying to keep you safe.)

You were forced to stay quiet in the past so it is a well-worn path for you. It makes complete sense. The little girl who you used to be doesn’t realize that things are different now. This is what is meant by things being unconscious versus conscious. This discomfort you are feeling is wanting you to find a new adult solution. Can you see that this DOESN”T have to be the same for you?

You can speak up and I imagine the adult you wants to speak up. This is a partnership with your Beloved, right?! Speaking up may be a new, un-worn path for you and this situation is giving you the chance to find your voice. I bet you have a very wise, loving, thoughtful, unselfish, brave, articulate voice, yet there’s a belief within you that silences you. Can you feel that self-silencing urge? It was once helpful to feel you from angering, upsetting those you love but this is a NEW situation and you are an adult woman now. Can you give yourself a chance to create a new belief about speaking up? Are you willing to stand up for yourself like you couldn’t as a child? Can you feel the energy and emotions (sadness, hurt, fear, anger) about all those times you were silenced, disregarded, ignored? As you become more aware that you have choices NOW, you can use that energy to mobilize you, urge you, support you in making new choices, speaking up and creating a life where you DO have choices over what happens to you. (This is a very good thing!)

Can you imagine what you’d say to your Beloved if you knew that you were free and safe to say whatever you’re feeling AND that you will still be totally loved and honored? This is probably a new path...and a glorious path for both of you.

Can you imagine this scenario where you can be supportive AND share your feelings?
Can you visualize that your beloved can have his dreams AND you can have yours?
Can you find the courage and faith to express your feelings to him AND trust that together you can craft a new path for this newly emerging life together where BOTH of your feelings, needs and wishes are EQUALLY regarded by both of you?

As you feel certain this man is the one for you, can you believe that your well-being, feelings, needs, etc can be equally valued by both of you? I’m asking a similar question from a few different viewpoints in hopes that any resistance or conflicting beliefs will come forward.

Chauvinism, various cultures, some societies and religions teach that men and women do NOT have equal say in a relationship. If any of these influences is present in your lives, you will be faced with some choices. Choices that you can make conscious and then decide if you want to follow them...r not! WOW, imagine the idea of being able to create your own list of beliefs and your own personal relationship based on what’s best for each and both of you. This is the opportunity that you have here.

While much of how successful you will be is based on the reaction of your Beloved to your expressed feelings and needs, the first step is for you to get clear about what you want, what you need, what you feel you have a right to in your loving relationship and what beliefs you hold which are stopping you from getting what you now, as the adult lovely woman.

From what you have written, I’d say you are on the verge of creating a magnificent life or on the brink of falling into the old patterns of the past. Your awareness of your feelings is a great indicator of your ability to become conscious of whatever has been buried. The more conscious we are, the more powerful we feel in our lives and the more freedom and choices we get to make.

Great work writing out what’s happening.
This feels like much more than a stepmothering issue, it is about the kind of life and relationship you want to create as an adult.
I’m glad you found us. I believe you have the ability to heal from your past and make a new present and future for yourself.

The more important question is this...Do you believe you have a right to have a voice about your feelings, to heal from your past and to share this dream with a man who will understand and fight for your happiness as much as you want to help him with his?

I’m going to be hoping that the answer is “Yes” and I wish you all the joys that come with self-revelation and ever-going consciousness.

May you find your strong true voice and use it, trusting that creating a life that’s joyful for you is also going to be joyful for your Beloved.

Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055