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 time...help! (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)

B-My 3 yr old stepson seems to be crying all the time!(9/12)
My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year.
I have a 7 year old son that I have most of the time and he has a 3 year old son that we have every Wed and every other weekend. For awhile things seemed fine, we went through the typical transitions that most blended families go through.

For the last 6 months however we’re stuck in a horrible cycle with my ss. He cries over everything, most often if he isn't getting what he wants whether that be his fathers undivided attention or to watch tv or bought something. He asks often to go to his mother’s and does not want to be with us at all.

We make sure that he has one-on-one time with his father but this has escalated to a point where that doesn't even matter. We feel we’ve tried everything and are going to a counsellor for the two of us next week. I’m desperate for suggestions on what to try as we feel we’ve tried everything.

My bf is near his breaking point and often feels like giving up and taking him to his mothers which would end in him never having a relationship with his son again (she would take every opportunity to brain wash my sson that his father didn't want him etc...) but this is destroying our whole family.

It effects everyone in the family not just my sson when he starts crying. Please help.

Thankful for your site. D

CATHRYN’S REPLY:

Hi D, Well nothing like a crying child to pull on every raw nerve. It’s also so frustrating when you are trying to do everything you can possibly do for the child and it is still not working. I bet you and your DH have felt like crying yourselves. I know I certainly did many times.

By the time you read this, you will have been to the counsellor and I’m hopeful that you feel good about the advice you are getting. That will certainly help. With a child this young, there are going to be a lot of issues, even if the bio-mom is the greatest mom in the world, the child is still very young to be separated from his mother, if connecting with his dad and you is not giving him the comfort he needs.

As I’m sure you are aware, there are SOOOO many issues that could be contributing to his behaviors and getting some expert input on how to delineate between true needs and the natural manipulations of a child is going to be a big help. I don’t consider myself qualified to give you advice about what to do for this situation as I’m not a child psychologist.

Perhaps I can offer you some support while you and DH work on helping his son.
Can you find ways to get you and your son out of the fray of the tantrums? So often the squeaky wheel tactic of attention getting does wear on everyone else in the house even with the best intentions. Whatever you can do to help yourself and your son, hold on to your well-being is going to reduce the collateral damage of his distress-filled behaviors.

When my stepson was 8 & 9 his bio-mom had 2 more sons (14-months apart). My ss, became more and more anxious being away from his mothers (he was anxious already but became inconsolable). We talked with 3-4 psychologists and sadly for us, got all the same replies. WE weren’t able to assuage his anxiety, his need for his mom was up, was threatened because of the needs of two other babies in her care, etc. My husband made the excruciating decision to reduce time with him (with rights reserved to go back to 50/50). It was the right thing for his son and it did make things better for awhile. I believe there’s no one way to do these things. As I write this, I pray that you’re coming up with some options that feel, deep in your gut, like the best thing for your ss.

Are you registered on the Bulletin Board so you can get all kinds of TLC from other women, along with any advice and experience from them? Please do so if that feels like the right thing for you. I wish you all the courage and insight you need at this time.

Yours Truly, Cathryn

Hi Again D, I got my files mixed up and just wrote you another reply. I realize there will be some overlap, but just in case anything in this recent reply resonates, I will also post this; hate to delete it after spending time on it. Thinking of you...again, CBD

CATHRYN’S REPLY

Dear D,

Yiikes, This is an upsetting situation. Because he is so young, do you think that it is possible that he just truly does need his Mommy? From what you are saying it sounds like he is learning how to play the “get what I want game” while he is with you, but that is a lot of kids so very hard to know.

By now, you’ve been to the Counsellor and I’m hoping that you got some relief in knowing what to do. When my stepson was little, My DH and I went to multiple therapists because his bio-mom wouldn’t allow her son to go to one. In my state BOTH parents have to sign off on it for kids under 13. What we learned may not be relevant because his was 5 when we got together.

It is concerning that you feel he will be brainwashed by Bio-mom if he gets to spend more time with her. If that is the case, do you think it is already happening? Have you checked out the 2 recommended sites for learning about Parental Alienation Syndrome? There is a lot of free info and resources available through those sites. I would hope that the courts would support you if you made a temporary change in the custody for the best interest of the child...but what is that actually (vs him being manipulated?)

I’m also thinking about what’s best for the child and how to know the difference between true need and manipulation. (Clearly you’re thinking the same thing!)

There is one thing that I may be able to help you and your BF with, that is how to take care of yourselves. I believe kids of all ages can sense when we are at the of our emotional ropes. Here are a few ideas that may give you some relief. You may have also tried all of these things (not being much help to you sadly).

Have you tried this:

Get the “1,2,3 Magic” book by Thomas Phelan. He has many good ideas to stop the bad behavior without any yelling.

Start little age-able rituals that he can be apart of whenever he’s at your home. Things like, feeding the dog or cat, watering (or better yet) growing new plants, listing his Christmas or birthday wishes, planning the family birtjday parties by making a list of all the fin things, making crafts (can 3 year olds do crafts? Finger painting?). The point is to give him things to do that he looks forward to doing when he is with Dad. Weekend rituals, like going out to breakfast with Dad on Saturday (just the two of them) while you and your son, do something just the 2 of you that your son will love. Most kids really get into it and you can keep this up and simply change the events or topics as the boys get older.

Any extended Family who can become part of the comforting team (if that is what you feel he is needing? Aunts, Grandma’s, etc. getting more love is always a good thing but may do the trick. It may also break the “either/or” dynamic that hostile bio-moms try to create. If you bring in new friends or family it will not just be Mom or Dad. But when not with Mom, it could be Dad or SMOM or X or Y or Z when at Dad’s house. As your sson drinks in all the loving attention (because these people have not been exhausted by his antics) it can be good for all of you.

Any other 3 year olds he can become play date buddies with while he is at Dad’s? This increases his stimulation and interest, even at 3 according to the women who’ve talked to me about this.

Can your BF get it in writing that IF he gave his son more time at his Mom’s because it is deemed better for his well-being that it be made clear it is just temporary until he gets older and any sign of parental alienation will be strictly dealt with, etc? Seems being proactive about this could help assuage some of your BF’s nature fears. Parental Alienation is nothing to fool around with. I wish there were a provable law or test for this. Darn it all it is frustrating!

D, I wish you all well. Sorry to not be more helpful.
I’m glad you are on the site and I hope you are getting many more ideas from the SMOM Bio-moms on the board.

Very Best Wishes for helpful tactics to show up for you all, Cathryn
Cathryn's Mailbox
Stepmoms on a Mission®
PO Box 7, Medford NJ 08055
609.206.2009
Cathryn@smoms.org