Ron L. Deal, founder of “Successful Stepfamilies” and licensed marriage and family therapist, has teamed up with Laura Petherbridge, author of WHEN “I DO” BECOMES “I DON’T,” to develop a comprehensive source of practical insights and step-by-step encouragements for stepmoms. Unlike the stereotypical fairy tale portrayal of the wicked stepmother character, Deal and Petherbridge explain that, in the majority of households, nothing could be further from the truth. The vast majority of stepmoms desire nothing more than to take part in creating a successful marriage and passing on a legacy of loving support to their stepchildren. The glitch, however, is how to move from desire to realization. For most stepmoms, the journey is anything but easy and, as many admit, can be the hardest task for a person to undertake.
The authors realize how difficult this role of “stepmom” can be, and Petherbridge speaks from firsthand experience as she offers her own personal remembrances of being stepmom to her husband’s sons. She cites that stepmoms (like every living person) bring to the new marriage their own past experiences, insights and limitations, which must be recognized and acknowledged, otherwise injured feelings and short-circuit relational growth will occur between everyone in the family.
Deal and Petherbridge offer readers (which should include stepmoms, stepdads and every person in the original family unit) great insight and countless practical suggestions for working through every conceivable family dilemma. In the two-section text, stepmoms will gratefully learn that they are not alone in feeling that sudden urge to “run away from home,” and that feeling like an “outsider” within the walls of their home is also a common response. Smart stepmoms will learn how valuable it is to understand their spouse’s kids, be it the children’s loss, grief, or other troubling emotions. Proactive stepmoms will seek to further empathize with stepchildren’s expressions of loyalty to their mothers and find ways to help their husbands to parent in an engaged manner.
Stepmoms will likewise be eager to pass along this material to their husbands, where both sexes learn how to team up to make a strong and dynamic bond that will filter down into the lives of their children. In two chapters, Deal and Petherbridge focus specifically on educating dads on the challenges their new wives face as stepmoms and how their words, choices and actions impact the kids and their marriage.
Lest readers forget, ex-wives continue to play a significant role in the stepmoms’ lives and will always do so (the authors even explain how this is true when the first wife is now deceased but her memory lives on). What happens during holiday, vacations and the ominous Mother’s Day? Read on to discover the most effective and kindest avenues for making, creating and establishing new traditions that will warm everyone’s hearts. It is hard to imagine a more extensive resource material on this challenging topic of entering into and living out the role of stepmom. Excellent from start to finish, stepmoms (and those who love them) will be comforted, encouraged and energized to stay at the task of rearing, loving and accepting their stepchildren.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on October 1, 2009