By Dana DeMercurio
Thanks to popular fairytales like Cinderella and Snow White, stepmothers have gotten a seriously bad rap for being evil, villainous and downright cruel to their stepchildren. But stepping into this new role in a blended family isn’t easy on a woman! Finding the right parenting methods, having courage under fire and dealing with the (often times dreaded) ex can take a serious toll on a stepmom’s ability to survive and thrive as a wife and stepparent. For those seeking some outside help, here’s our list of top manuals to guide stepmoms through the rough patches of their role.
1. “The Everything Guide to Stepparenting,” by Erin Munroe with Irene S. Levine, Ph.D.
This comprehensive stepparenting manual is at the top of the list for a reason! With 21 chapters beginning with “dating a parent” to “moving in” to “getting married” to “rules and disciple for your infant, toddler, young, teen or adult stepchild,” this book truly is the “everything guide” to stepparenting. Learning how to build an emotional bond with a stepchild while creating boundaries is the common thread that links the chapters together, along with tackling the different personalities and behaviors of children who may or may not recognize their new stepmom as an authority figure. There’s even an “unforeseen problems” chapter that addresses situations such as biological parent illness or death and extreme behavioral issues of a stepchild.
2. “Teach Yourself: Successful Step-Parenting,” by Suzie Hayman
Being a stepmom isn’t all about the kids according to therapist, author and stepmom Suzie Hayman. In this practical guide to stepparenting, Hayman introduces the importance of family communication, how to balance different and often times conflicting points of view between family members and dispelling the myths associated with being a stepmom or stepparent. Hayman plainly states that “love does not conquer all and love and good intention alone may not be enough to secure a good relationship in the face of the stress and pressure of stepfamily issues.” She does believe, however, that love is always a great foundation, but to be a successful stepfamily, all members will need understanding, patience and serious effort.
3. “But I’m Not a Wicked Stepmother! Secrets of Successful Blended Families,” by Kathi Lipp and Carol Boley
Written by two fun-loving and God-fearing stepmoms, Lipp and Boley provide real-life experiences in their down-to-earth book on how to love and care for other people’s children. After doing research for their book, these ladies learned that “second marriages only stand a 40 percent chance of survival…[we] want to improve not only your chances of survival as a stepmother but also your enjoyment of and satisfaction in the role.” Their secrets to stepmothering success include “believing you are a valuable gift to your family,” staying flexible and understanding your role as an authority figure. To learn more, click the image below.
4. “A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom,” by Jacquelyn Fletcher
Professional turned wife – it happens all the time! What’s so scary about that? Stepkids, that’s what! Fletcher’s what-to-expect guide draws from her personal experience on stepping into a new role as both wife and stepmother all while juggling a career. Readers will take away lessons on how to utilize their professional behavior at work and translate that into methods used for stepparenting, such as team-building, organization and goal-setting. It’s an easy read geared toward women who currently have no children but are considering boarding the stepparent ship full steam ahead. Its positive and upbeat tone is refreshing, thanks to the absence of ex and/or kid-bashing that so many other books include.
5. “Stepping-Stones for Stepmoms: Everyday Strength for Blended Family Moms,” by Karon Phillips Goodman
Christian-life author Karon Phillips Goodman offers stories of strength, quotes of encouragement, uplifting prayers and inspiring stories for fellow stepmothers in her guide book for blended family moms. Whether women are in need of spiritual or emotional healing, restful and refreshing direction, or simply looking for helpful tips on marriage and stepparenting, Goodman’s book provides ample support for all kinds of moms.
6. “Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do” by Wednesday Martin
The realities of being a stepmom are excellently pinpointed in Martin’s true-to-life book about emotions associated with stepparening, including anger, confusion and resentment. Martin includes interviews with fellow stepmoms and their stepchildren, along with drawing from vast pools of research in psychology, literature, anthropology and evolutionary biology. Martin truly unpacks the mysteries of being a stepmother and lightens the load for readers experiencing mixed emotions about their new role in a blended family. Her approach to stepparenting advice may seem unorthodox to readers, as she brings to light ugly truths such as “step kids are as unessential to stepmoms as stepmoms are to them.” In the end, Martin’s goal is to open the door to a conversation that is often overlooked in society and within blended families – and she does so successfully.