The Truth about Stepfamilies: Real American Stepfamilies Speak Out about What Works and What Doesn't When It Comes to Creating a Family Together

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As divorce and remarriage rates soar, stepfamilies are quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception. In The Truth about Stepfamilies, professional journalist and longtime stepmom Anne O'Connor shares personal stories of parents and children from across the country about their struggle to create their own family and traditions amidst the history that each person brings to the new household. She answers all the tough questions that this new family unit must face. Where does the new stepparent fit in? Who ...

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Overview

As divorce and remarriage rates soar, stepfamilies are quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception. In The Truth about Stepfamilies, professional journalist and longtime stepmom Anne O'Connor shares personal stories of parents and children from across the country about their struggle to create their own family and traditions amidst the history that each person brings to the new household. She answers all the tough questions that this new family unit must face. Where does the new stepparent fit in? Who disciplines the kids? How do you manage the ex? Who pays for what? How are the kids affected? And—most importantly—does it ever get easier? O'Connor offers solid, practical advice bolstered by real-life examples to give readers the tools they need to create a happy, healthy family. The Truth about Stepfamilies shows that with knowledge, support, and hard work, life in stepfamilies can move from bitter resentment and anxiety to respect, tolerance, and love between family members.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Library Journal, 4/1/09
“[O’Connor’s] readable and insightful what-to-expect info outlines the typical developmental stages of stepfamilies and how many of them achieve peace.”
Publishers Weekly
Minneapolis-based journalist O'Connor has translated eight years of personal experience as a stepmother plus in-depth reporting among stepfamilies across the country into a lucid guide to the labyrinthine family dynamics that result from divorce and remarriage. "The work of creating a well-functioning stepfamily is the hardest thing" that people in these reinvented families say they have ever done, O'Connor writes. With this helpful and sympathetic volume, she aims to help stepfamilies struggling with issues such as creating boundaries between immediate stepfamilies and "outer" (original) families, negotiating family roles, raising children in separate homes, disciplining children in a stepfamily, and dealing with feuding adults and money-related strife. Many of her highly readable chapters weave in anecdotes that illustrate suggested coping strategies; others begin with a list of the dramatis personae, followed by a brief ethnography of a specific family system, with each family member's point of view represented. As divorce and remarriage rates continue to soar, this guide should be valuable to a broad spectrum of Americans negotiating new family structures. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this readable book-the result of in-depth research and months of shadowing several stepfamilies-journalist O'Connor (herself a stepmother) uses eight case studies to illustrate the many different perspectives of members in a stepfamily. Through the insights that readers gain from these viewpoints, the author helps them identify what works and what is important in creating a family. O'Connor's overarching message is that children can prosper in stepfamilies when there is cooperation and understanding. We see how people can change and how individuals can gain peace by altering their own behaviors. Though not a how-to guide per se (for that, see Mary Ellen Hannibal's Good Parenting Through Your Divorce), this still offers guidance through the use of example. O'Connor, consequently, refers to and echoes the advice of Lynne Oxhorn-Ringwood and Louise Oxhorn in Stepwives. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Kay Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569244944
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2003
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.77 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2011

    Didn't fit my situation

    *Disclaimer - I haven't finished the book, not sure I will. This book appears to be intended for stepfamilies created out of divorce, where both parents are still alive and part of the childrearing (I am widowed). So far, it has focused on the relationships of the adults involved: mom, dad, stepmom, stepdad. I was more interested in the dynamics of the parent-child-step parent relationship, not the "outer cirlce" as the author refers to the ex-spouse, etc. I essentially gave it a neutral 3-star rating. I cannot judge it's quality of information b/c it uses step family environments I am not familiar with.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2004

    helpful - and lacking

    I have specialized in providing professional education and therapy to stepfamilies since 1981. I am (a) a stepfamily researcher since 1979, (b) a stepgrandson, stepson, ex-stepfather, and stepbrother, and (c) an invited Board member of the Stepfamily Association of America. <p> I recommend this book to those who want a readable, realistic overview and 'report from the field' from eight real American stepfamilies. I don't recommend it to readers who seek to understand and avoid - or resolve - the core problems that cause widespread stepfamily discontent and re/divorce in our country. If unseen or ignored, the core problems prevent average co-parents and supporters from following well-meant advice such as author O'Connor and her interviewees offer. <p> The real stepfamily examples O'Connor provides are representative and instructive. However, the book omits explanation and illustration of five core hazards that every stepfamily faces:<p> 1) co-parents' psychological wounds; <p>2) blocked grief in adults and kids, and how to reduce it;<p>3) adult unawareness of five key topics: (a) human personality formation and function, (b) high-nurturance families and relationships, (c) effective communication skills, (d) healthy 3-level grief, and (e) stepfamily realities and norms. <p>4) needy, love-struck unaware partners choosing the wrong people to re/wed, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time; and <p>5) little effective stepfamily help available in most communities and the media. <p> For more perspective on what to do about these hazards, see the nonprofit educational 'Stepfamily inFormation' site (sfhelp.org)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2004

    Attention Step Parents, Parents, Therapists: READ THIS BOOK!!!

    For anyone who has tread the stepfamily road, or stood by watching a friend or loved one do it, this book is 'sanity reading'!!!! Anne O'Connor is humorous, practical and specific about what to expect and offers helpful ways of coping and surviving the inevitable challenges faced by adults and children in step families. She has been on this road and knows that no one has all the answers about it. As a psychologist, I've read this book, used it with and recommended it to families. Read this book and pass it on to others!! It will make a great 'home-warming' gift for those new and old to the stepfamily process.

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