Step Wise: A Parent-Child Guide to Family Mergers
Step Wise: A Parent-Child Guide to Family Mergers is a no-nonsense guide full of practical tips for step-parents who want to foster healthy relationships with their step-children. Written in 2001 by a stepfather and stepdaughter, the book is based on the wisdom of their shared experience.
Step Wise is a layman’s-guide. Divided into 45 insights, the book is designed to be user-friendly. It is short, an easy read, and not daunting in the least. Psychological terms are notably absent. Instead the work carries a parent-to-parent tone peppered with self-effacing humour.
James Dale and his stepdaughter Alex Beth Schapiro set out to provide hands-on tools for new step-parents. While a few of their suggestions may be contested by some (“You cannot buy your stepchildren’s affections. But you can rent them.”) the majority of the common-sense tips hit the mark, and many of them are crucial for the success of a happy home. Dale and Schapiro grasp the fundamentals of a stepparent / stepchild relationship: “The kids already have a father or mother […] don’t try to replace him or her on the roster.”) They respect the dynamics of a blended home: “Never, ever, ever take your stepchildren’s side against your spouse […]” Most importantly, they understand that trying too hard is often what gets in the way, that pushing things along can hurt rather than help.
There are two constants threaded throughout Step Wise. The first is an emphasis on being patient, relaxing, backing off, and allowing time to work its magic. In fact, the title of their very first chapter is Wait. The second recurring theme is for step-parents to go easy on themselves. They should accept they are fallible, they are human, they are bound to make mistakes- many, many mistakes – and that is OK.
The bulk of tips offered in the pages of Step Wise are full of common sense. Stepparents who read this book will walk away with more tools in their arsenal and a greater awareness of what works with stepchildren.
Step Wise is a good read it portraying the advantages of step-parenthood, and that two families can be better than one.
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