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Stepparenting without Guilt is designed to give the new and seasoned stepparent an honest appraisal of what today's stepfamily looks like and how it behaves. It dispels the myth ...
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Stepparenting without Guilt is designed to give the new and seasoned stepparent an honest appraisal of what today's stepfamily looks like and how it behaves. It dispels the myth that stepfamilies behave like "normal" families, spells out many complicated issues that adults and children in stepfamilies face, and outlines what it takes to make a lasting cohesive family unit.
Stepparenting without Guilt introduces you to the Stepparent Styles: the superstepparent, the rescuer, the dictator, the reluctant one, and the ignorer, the Stepchildren Types: the condemner or critic, the pusher, the darling, the pest, the silent type and the wedge, and the Emotional Minefields: fear, anxiety, guilt, anger, jealousy, resentment, betrayal, abandonment, hurt, low self esteem, stress, and grief and loss.
"This book provides deep and rich support for people confronting one of the most challenging experience of our society. It is excellent." Caroline Myss, Why People Don't Heal and How They Can and Anatomy of the Spirit
When a stepfamily later is created, this coming together of new relationships often exacerbates the previous sense of loss rather than assuaging it - as many of us who remarry have experienced. This is one of the reasons why looking at the experience of stepfamily life is so difficult. More often than not, individuals beginning a stepfamily are required to confront many painful issues at the onset, without much time for reflection. Children have to confront a parent who has gone away and is not always there; both young people and adults have to adjust to one another rapidly while still feeling like strangers; and a previous love that has failed and former family life must be relinquished forever. This makes the many issues of stepfamilies and stepfamily life all the more challenging to examine. And yet they have become the most widespread form of living structure in this country today.
Though my own experiences of being in a stepfamily are unique, I find in talking with individuals, both adults and children who are members of a stepfamily, there are some common threads and themes which run throughout. Frequently what is most common is meeting complicated situations and unexpected emotions abruptly and head on. The more I work with people, the more I wonder: What is a "family" today? Even more importantly: What is a "stepfamily"? Curiously, the latter word is not included in standard American dictionaries though stepmother, stepfather, and stepchildren are. This is more than strange considering the growing number of stepfamilies in this country and around the world and the fact that stepfamilies and extended families are today's reality; they are not the anomaly but most decidedly the norm.
We now have many euphemisms for stepfamilies: remarried, recreated, reconstituted, recoupled, acquired, binocular, second family, non-nuclear family, non-biological family, blended. But those living in a stepfamily know they can be anything but blended in the sense of being mixed together smoothly. For some nothing could be farther from the truth. Put too many different colors together simultaneously and you may be in for some surprises, not all of which are pleasant. Frequently there are painful adjustments to be made in stepfamily life for which we are not adequately prepared - if we are prepared at all. Stepfamilies can hurt in a lot of places, and it is important to address this and the confusion which often results after remarriage with open eyes, even more importantly with open hearts.
1. Stepfamily Ties and Tribulations
Some Facts and Figures
Stepfamily Styles and Types
Myths and Misconceptions
Syncopated Living Rhythms
Unfinished Emotional Business
Before Saying "I Do"
2. Life After Divorce
Spoiled Brat Syndrome
3. Period of Adjustment
Fairy Tales Don't Come True
Escape Fantasy: Divorce
Feelings of Stepparent Powerlessness
I'll See You in Court
In the Child's Best Interests
Who's to Blame?
Negotiating with the Ex
4. A Mom Who Isn't a Mom
Stepmother Stereotypes, Pitfalls, and Myths
Inhibition of Feelings
Appropriate Boundaries and Limits
Stepmother Assets vs. Liabilities
Changing Roles, Changing Times
5. Emotional Minefields of Stepfamily Life
Fear and Anxiety
Grief and Loss
6. Council and Communication
Focus on the Couple
Marriage Work Vs. Parenting Work
Keys to Communication
7. Relationship Saving Suggestions: How It All Can Work
The Summum Bonum
Beyond War Within the Self
Appendix A: Rules in Brief
Appendix B: Addresses You Should Know
Appendix C: Convenient Checklist of Topics for Discussion