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Step-families and Step-parenting

Step-families and Step-Parenting

One Family, Two Family, New Family: Stories And Advice For Stepfamilies
by Lisa Cohn, William Merkel, Ph.D.

Great read for all stepfamilies
Reviewer: James B.

I am the stepfather of three kids, and I read this book at the advice of my wife when we were having trouble with my kids and her kids... and the relationship between them... and reading Cohn's book really helped me understand some of the things that were going on with them and how I should react to them. Reading it helped me figure things out that I never would have if I hadn't. Definitely a must-read for all stepfamilies.

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7 Steps to Bonding with Your Stepchild
by Suzen J. Ziegahn

7 Steps to Bonding With Your Stepchild
Reviewer: Debra K Hohl

   We are a treatment foster home and Suzen was our clinical specialist for almost a year. I have a step child that I was having problems with and Suzen suggested that we read her book and see if it would help. It helped me because I at times seemed like I was in competition with my step-son for his father's attention. It showed me new ways to deal with this and how to come to terms with it. It also helped me with the foster children in our home and really had a large impact on how I dealt with those children. I feel Suzen writes from the heart and some very good points in her book. I would recommend this book highly to any family which is dealing with difficult step-children. It is worth every penny.

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Family Rules: Helping Stepfamilies and Single Parents Build Happy Homes
by Jeannette Lofas

Practical, realistic, and in the "Top Tier"!
Reviewer: TeacherAmy

   As a new stepmother, I've read close to 20 books on stepfamilies, countless books on marriage, and quite a number on parenting. (Can you tell I'm a teacher?) This is one of my favorites, largely because it diverges from the standard "psychology and philosophy" to emphasize the nitty-gritty, practical daily realities of sharing life and household space with children, particularly children who aren't biologically your own.
   Having taught 7th grade and become a pretty vocal fan of clear expectations and consequences, I found I agree with the vast majority of Ms. Lofas' "rules". She has a desperately-needed perspective that benevolent adults are supposed to be in charge of the family, and offers countless practical steps to accomplish things such as: dinnertime rituals, chores, bathroom habits, bedtime customs, manners, adults' bedroom privacy, showing gratitude, tone of voice in communication, not accepting excuses, etc.

   Much of these are exactly the issues that have come up in conversation and required some resolution in our new family. (I genuinely believe this is a helpful book even for families that don't have the added layer of complexity that stepfamilies encounter.) These guidelines are designed to ensure respect, order, and healthy boundaries within families; and to develop responsible character in children. This is one of the few books that I am campaigning loudly for my husband to please read before the children come to live with us.

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Stepcoupling : Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today's Blended Family
by Susan Wisdom, Jennifer Green

A comfort and a help.
Reviewer: Karon Goodman

   In this straightforward book, the authors coin the term step coupling to mean the "ongoing process of forming and maintaining a marriage when children are involved." We all know that we have to pay attention to our marriages to sustain our stepfamilies, and the authors tell us that our success "hinges on the willingness and ability of the partners to grapple with personal and family issues." Then they offer help.

The entire book discusses various personal and family issues that can threaten a stepfamily marriage. Instead of a lot of hard to understand theory, you'll find accessible advice that hits home with so many common problems. Gray boxes throughout provide questions for yourself and for discussions to have with your spouse. Autonomous questions pepper the text, and the authors follow them with practical solutions. Real stepparents, too, contribute their stories and feelings. You'll probably see yourself in several places in these comforting pages.
The book discusses a stepparent's expectations of herself and her family. And in the very helpful section on boundaries, the authors discuss not only physical boundaries but also boundaries on relationships, including the need to sever the ties with former spouses and how to expand your boundaries to include your stepchildren. The section on "family acrobatics" tackles the issue of finding everyone's place in the family. You'll also learn how to strike a balance when your styles and values on parenting, money or anything else differ from your spouse's.

The final chapter is one stepcouple's story in their words, how they've survived twenty-nine years to become the close family they are. You'll find encouragement, advice and compassion in this book that truly understands stepfamilies.

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Stepmotherhood : How to Survive Without Feeling Frustrated, Left Out, or Wicked, Revised Edition
by Cherie Burns

What a wonderful book!
Reviewer: unknown

  I felt very normal after reading this book and have loaned it to a coworker who is also a stepmother. It was wonderful to know that the things that I think and don't say out loud are normal stepmother feelings (like regarding the ex - "How could such a sweet man have been married to someone so horrible?"). Having two stepsons and no children of my own, it was good to see that different family situations were addressed. Most books I have read assume that you have kids, he has kids, and you have kids together - which is not always the case. I would recommend this book to any new or current stepmother!

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Ex-Etiquette for Parents : Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation
by Jann Blackstone-Ford, Sharyl Jupe

Mind-Bending, Inspiring and Packed With Information
Reviewer: Lisa Cohn

   This book, written by a second wife and her husband's ex, is a very comprehensive guide to how parents should behave after a divorce or separation. It covers a broad range of topics, including how to get along with your spouse's ex, how to ease kids' transition from Mom's house to Dad's house, and much more. The authors offer divorced parents tips about how to prepare themselves emotionally to be the best parents they can be. Blackstone-Ford and Jupe suggest parents let go of anger and resentment, embrace forgiveness, identify negative expectations and acknowledge mutual interests-all with a goal of putting their children and stepchildren first.

   The authors also promise parents that bad relationships with ex-spouses will change, if only parents are willing to take some emotional risks with their ex-spouses and their ex-spouses' new partners. They offer their own inspiring story as an example.

   As a member of a family with "his, hers and ours" kids, I found some of the well-meaning stepparenting tips to be a bit simplistic, but that's a minor criticism, given this book's potential to change the way divorced parents interact with one another. I hope divorced parents everywhere read this book with open minds and hearts, and embrace its message. Their children and stepchildren will likely benefit in a big way.

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Keys to Successful Stepfathering (Barron's Parenting Keys)
by Carl E. Pickhardt

Well thought out and complete. Most helpful!
Reviewer: Thomas Fronczak

Pickhardt shares his years of experience as a psychologist and offers a very useful resource for step fathers and bio-fathers for understanding the multiple changes that affect step families. Issues of multiple alliances, boundaries, even gender differences about step fathers relating to step sons and step daughters, and more are all included in this book which helps normalize the process of step family development. He is very accurate in his description of the developmental process of step-family development, estimating a minimum of 2 years for step families to come together as a working unit. Highly recommended.

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Stepliving for Teens : Getting Along with Stepparents, Parents, and Siblings (Plugged In)
by Joel D. Block, Susan Bartell

At Last! A Book for Teens in Stepfamilies
Reviewer: Barb Perlmutter, MSW Stepfamily Consultation and Counseling

   I would highly recommend this book for teens (and pre-teens) as well as parents in stepfamilies, or those people in the process of forming stepfamilies. The format of "Stepliving" makes it particularly accessible for young readers. The authors approach this difficult subject with an honesty and integrity that is rare in self-help books. The book is realistic, helpful and full of useful tips and real-life experiences teens will easily relate to. The experience of being a teen AND being in a new stepfamily can be a tremendous challenge. This book will both reassure the reader that their responses are normal and assist them in taking responsibility for making change and accepting what can't be changed about their stepfamily.

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A Stepmom's Book of Prayer: Seeking God, Growing Strong, Finding Peace
by Karon Phillips Goodman

When those waves of emotional stress come, read this book!
Reviewer: Kay Adkins

   In my own stepmom experience, storms of anger, envy, fear, insecurity and despair came all too often to disable my effectiveness, not only as a stepmom, but in work, friendships and other family roles as well. When I read Karon Goodman's newest book--A Stepmom's Book of Prayer--I found I wasn't alone. This book takes stepmom's to the throne of God, the One who has the wisdom and the power to help us persevere, maintain our integrity, and grow in our own personhood in spite of so many seemingly endless trials.
   Goodman's book is a shopping list of things we stepmoms can trust to God and allow Him to work on, first and foremost in our own hearts. She shows us how we can depend on our Heavenly Father to walk with us through every stepfamily dis-ease, and how He can keep us on track by supplying us with those vital ingredients of honesty, courage, understanding, forgiveness, and even joy. Goodman states, "When we understand how protected we are with His words of truth, the chaos others cause becomes far less important than we thought it was. It is still real and painful, of course, but our path is through God's footsteps, in holding onto Him through the storm and not wallowing in what hurts."--How true!

   Goodman honestly and caringly shows stepmoms how their whole perspective can change when we depend on God for strength, courage, guidance, and love. Stepmom's will want to read this book again and again, every time a new wave of emotional stress hits, to re-focus on the Source, and have their hope renewed.

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Encouraging Words for New Stepmothers
by Jean A. McBride

A must-read for all stepmothers
Reviewer: Llynnet

   There is so much support for stepmothers to be found in the pages of this little treasure. Jean McBride's simple, loving, and practical words of encouragement can help to smooth the often bumpy road of stepparenting. From how to deal with the ex-wife, to vacationing with your blended family, to simply acknowledging that it's okay to not be the perfect stepmother--you'll find plenty of good advice and comfort in these short essays. This would make a great gift for any stepmother.

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Help! A Girl's Guide to Divorce and Stepfamilies
by Nancy Holyoke, Scott Nash (Illustrator)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Grade 4-8-This excellent self-help book draws on letters that have been sent to American Girl magazine over the years. The readable, general text includes advice from girls who have experienced parents' divorce, their dating and remarrying, and living with stepfamilies. In addition to offering words of encouragement to youngsters in these same situations, some of the letters pose questions or ask for help. This inquiry-and-response format and the inclusion of multiple-choice quizzes and peer input result in a reader-friendly nonfiction title. Yet there is plenty of solid information here. The upbeat and lively presentation stresses that divorce is never the child's fault and emphasizes that it is usually the best solution to the parents' problems. Plentiful full-color and black-and-white cartoons further enhance the book's appeal. Jane Hurwitz's Coping in a Blended Family (Rosen, 1997) includes a resource list of books, Web sites, newsletters, hot lines, and even a board game. Zoe, Evan, and Ellen Sue Stern's Divorce Is Not the End of the World (Tricycle, 1997), written by teenage siblings, takes a more in-depth approach. Nonetheless, Help! offers just that-help-and should be added to most collections.
Barb Lawler, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA

Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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