Book Reviews for Hell....p, I'm A Stepmother 

 

Book Review by Margaret Moran – Coordinator of Parenting Programs, Centacare, QLD, Australia as published in the Australian Journal of Guidance & Counselling – Volume 12 Number 1, 2002 

 

The book contains 22 topics and each is quite complete. The author includes the stories of many step-parents as well as her own experiences. These stories are invaluable in helping to “normalise” the difficulties of stepparenting. The inclusion of a “hints list” at the end of each chapter enables the reader to reflect, in a concrete way, on his or her behaviour and possibilities for change. This is very useful to help make personal links.Of particular interest is the chapter on Grief. The author’s comment that “after all, stepfamily live comes about as a result of loss” is indeed challenging and encourages the reader to acknowledge their loss, and allows themselves to begin to grieve appropriately.The inclusion of a list of “helpful services” and “useful reading” demonstrates the practical nature of this book. I would recommend “Hell…p! I’m a stepmother” as a valuable resource for stepparents, professional educators and Counsellors who work with this ever-increasing special population. I believe the material it contains can be useful to enhance and supplement existing programs.Book Review by Counselling AustraliaSonja Ridden’s own honest and realistic experience of stepmotherhood sets the tone for this excellent book. With the acknowledgement that around one third of today’s families are step-families she gives insight into the highs and lows of taking on such a relationship.Each chapter deals with one of the many possibilities that may occur in the step-parenting role (there are chapters for Dad’s too) with headings such as “expectations”, “happiness is a choice”, “I’m a failure”, “grief”, “anger” “special needs or problem child step-parenting”, “the other mother/father”, “stress & depression” and “forgiveness”.This book does not just outline real or potential problems, but offers solution choices in order that we parents (adults) take responsibility for our own behaviour within the stepfamily. Sonja also shares examples of other’s experiences learned from her role as a Counsellor – the end result giving reassurance that we are not alone in our own family situation.Constant reminders of positives in sometimes difficult situations are scattered throughout the book. By no means a ‘bad news’ story, the book has been written with good doses of humour. As a resource for our clients. “Hell…p! I’m a Stepmother” provides an easy to read text with summarised hints at the end of each chapter – none of which are too long for the often exhausted, unappreciated, short of time step-parent to find time to read!I particularly liked the sections for parents taking care of their own ‘couple’ relationship as each partner struggles to deal with his/her/their children. Sections on intimacy, communication, time out, conflict and support give real hope for each to work towards a loving and rewarding family experience and their own personal growth.A quote which touched me deeply has been included by Sonja at the beginning and again at the end of her book“When we long for a life without difficulties, remember that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure” (Peter Marshall)What a comforting thought! Finally, Sonja gives information on services and other useful reading to support people in this situation. I highly recommend this book to step-parents and Counsellors working with sep-parent clients. By far the most practical and useful information on the subject that I have read.

 

*****

 

Book review by Jill Elvy-Powell – (Counsellor in private practice) and published in “Counselling Australia” – Spring Edition Vol 2/no 3 Journal of Australian Counselling AssociationsBook Review by Relatewell (Family Relationships Institute)

 

Hell...p, I'm a Stepmother by Sonja Ridden published by ACER Press is an excellent and very readable book that will help step parents at any stage. It is also a must for those who are becoming involved in a partnership which will require one or both partners to learn to be step-parentsThere are many strengths in this book. It emphasises that people do not become step parents. They grow into step parents by facing the complexities and challenges of a step family. Sonja Ridden uses her experiences both as a step parent and as a counsellor/psychotherapist to spell out the complexities and match them with practical strategies combined with valuable insights.The author has adopted a multi faceted approach to step parenting which allows her to focus on specific target groups.These include full time step parents, week-end step parents, previously single step mothers, step mothers who have already had children, step mothers who plan to have children of their own, previously single step fathers, custodial step fathers, to name a few. This ensures the book is practical and down to earth. It develops a variety of scenarios whether step children are young or adolescent, single sex or both sexes and whether partners have had previous experiences as parents or not.The author does justice to the many varied and complex facets of step family life. A major focus is the gamut of feelings involved in step families.This book reflects the best of John Ralston Saul's philosophy that to be fully human we need the qualities of imagination, intuition, common sense, ethics and reason. These qualities permeate every chapter whether its "before we take the big step" or during "the step family life cycle".There are five qualities that characterise the author's approach. There is humour, compassion, emphasis on reflection and not taking oneself too seriously.It is a practical, down to earth book, with each chapter summarised at the end with a list of hints. A key word throughout the book is possibilities. The author thus avoids the trap of providing recipes rather than leaving step parents to take in ideas, reflect and decide their own strategies in the light of their distinctive situation. Another key word is transition.Every chapter emphasises communication between partners and the importance of nurturing the complex relationship system within the step family.No one is left out. The child with special needs, the problem child, the other mother (father) are given special mention. There is nothing sexist about the book. Men and fathers are equally challenged and equally respected.In summary, this is an excellent practical and comprehensive recourse for step parents with a sound philosophical and psychological underpinning.

 

Relatewell (Family Relationships Institute Inc.) 

 

*****

 

Book Review by Relatewell: (Family Relationships Institute)

 

Hell...p, I'm a Stepmother by Sonja Ridden published by ACER Press is an excellent and very readable book that will help step parents at any stage. It is also a must for those who are becoming involved in a partnership which will require one or both partners to learn to be step-parentsThere are many strengths in this book. It emphasises that people do not become step parents. They grow into step parents by facing the complexities and challenges of a step family. Sonja Ridden uses her experiences both as a step parent and as a counsellor/psychotherapist to spell out the complexities and match them with practical strategies combined with valuable insights.The author has adopted a multi faceted approach to step parenting which allows her to focus on specific target groups.These include full time step parents, week-end step parents, previously single step mothers, step mothers who have already had children, step mothers who plan to have children of their own, previously single step fathers, custodial step fathers, to name a few. This ensures the book is practical and down to earth. It develops a variety of scenarios whether step children are young or adolescent, single sex or both sexes and whether partners have had previous experiences as parents or not.The author does justice to the many varied and complex facets of step family life. A major focus is the gamut of feelings involved in step families.This book reflects the best of John Ralston Saul's philosophy that to be fully human we need the qualities of imagination, intuition, common sense, ethics and reason. These qualities permeate every chapter whether its "before we take the big step" or during "the step family life cycle".There are five qualities that characterise the author's approach. There is humour, compassion, emphasis on reflection and not taking oneself too seriously.It is a practical, down to earth book, with each chapter summarised at the end with a list of hints. A key word throughout the book is possibilities. The author thus avoids the trap of providing recipes rather than leaving step parents to take in ideas, reflect and decide their own strategies in the light of their distinctive situation. Another key word is transition.Every chapter emphasises communication between partners and the importance of nurturing the complex relationship system within the step family.No one is left out. The child with special needs, the problem child, the other mother (father) are given special mention. There is nothing sexist about the book. Men and fathers are equally challenged and equally respected.In summary, this is an excellent practical and comprehensive recourse for step parents with a sound philosophical and psychological underpinning.