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on December 3, 2011
This was a total disappointment. If I could have given this zero stars, I would have. I am a 35 year old widow with two children and dating a divorced man with two children. We have just recently started introducing the two families. I was hoping for some real-life experience advice. There is nothing in this book that I couldn't have reached using my own common sense. I'm fairly certain I know to "be patient with your step children" or "be an active listener" or "show an interest in their interests" or "don't talk bad about their mother". Really? Unless you have NO children of your own. . . maybe, just maybe, you could find something useful in it. If you are walking upright and have any shred of intelligence yourself, skip this and keep shopping for something more useful. I wish I had.
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on November 22, 2011
I was so excited to read this book. Unfortunately, it was one of those books where I was waiting for it to actually "start". There were a few good points here and there, but not many. My boyfriend and I recently blended our two families and have five children between us. I was hoping for some good, solid advice and ideas, or to at least to feel validated with some common feelings that we are experiencing . . .there was none of that. The authors came off as "preachy" and offered a "one size, one size fits all" philosophy. If there is one topic that should NOT be classified as "typical", it has to be this one. There are so many different scenarios out there , and the dynamics of each family very unique. For instance, the book states that the step mother should not discipline their non-biological children. This would be great in a perfect world where we could wait until daddy gets home, but when step-mom is the main caregiver, it just doesn't work. That was just an example of how their one track advice could perhaps not work for every family, so no attacks, please. :-) I will be searching for another book that will better suit my needs. I am open to suggestions!!!
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on September 29, 2014
I gave this book an honest try and an honest hope that I would find something useful to help "love him, love his kids."
As others have mentioned, there is nothing in this book to help a person who is already in the thick of a step-situation and desperately looking for some unknown wisdom to change the miserable struggles.
1. As another reviewer mentioned ... the authors are a bit preachy. They tell the reader what to do throughout the book and in areas that are really no one's business.
I felt that they were constantly telling the mean-spirited step-mother (which we all surely are) to "be the adult," "act like the adult," "don't complain," "don't expect anything to go your way because the step-children are more important, and such expectations are not becoming of an adult," etc. etc. etc.
The language is pretty bossy and constantly reprimanding; the authors really treat the reader as a child.
2. The advice in the book is basic knowledge ... logical interaction with others. Nothing one needs a book for. I suppose it may be a useful tool for those who have absolutely no (and I mean zero) experience with children or people in general ... such that they need such elementary suggestion on how to get to know someone. But most step-mothers have that knowledge in hand, and this book really just covers some pretty natural territory for basic human interaction, making it quite unnecessary for most.
3. I read every word of the book several long chapters in, but finally had to start skipping when they dwelt on step-pets. And indicated that every step-child's pet should make the visitations with them. Along with that topic, I found many of the other topics somewhat irrelevant to step-parenting, such as reminding couples that cars need maintenance and providing definitions to off-the-wall religious terms or how to introduce a cultural meal. I could go on ... discussing how to decide if you want to work or be a stay-at-home mom, how to manage your bank account, managing bills, retirement accounts, etc. So many things that are not exactly the issues of step-parenting. While they may be useful topics for marriage in general, again, it's such basic knowledge that most people think about on their own every single day.
4. As for the actual step-parenting information, I was disappointed in most of the book's suggestions.
The authors made it sound like the biological mother (the ex-wife) should always be involved before the step-mother. That the ex-wife's ideas of discipline should be first and foremost in the the step-mother's house. If the ex-wife and step-mother can get along, sure! That is wonderful situation and so nice for the kids. But even then, it is ridiculous to think that the step-mother, the current wife, should ever seek to run her own household the way another woman would.
5. It is equally as ridiculous to advise that the step-mother contact the ex-wife as a general rule for good step-mothering, and that she should keep trying until it actually happens. While it is a nice notion to get to know the ex-wife on friendly terms, creating a very amenable and workable situation, there is no such rule. But the authors write in such a way that makes it sound like a critical must to all success for the step-mother, as if she has no choice but to call the ex-wife and be chummy with her, asking the ex-wife how she would like the children to be disciplined or how to make their favorite meals. According to the authors, if the step-mother is in any way reluctant to do this or has any kind of animosity towards the ex-wife, she will never really deserve to be satisfied with her situation.
6. The author goes on to suggest that the step-mother give the ex-wife a chance to vent about her ex-husband. I have no earthly idea how that could possibly be productive for anyone. Is this supposed to be about the ex-wife or getting along with the step-children? After this chapter it sounded more like the goal was to get along with the ex-wife and less to do with loving the husband or the children.
7. I found the constant advice to give the children everything they need to be comfortable a bit tedious. They go on and on about never expecting anything from the step-kids especially if they are teenagers; don't make them do anything that they are unhappy with, don't disrupt their routine even a tiny bit, include them in every decision, etc. This is definitely one of the books that put the step-mother second to all else, which will do nothing but make her feel expendable. Did not agree with their "step-kid's happiness is most important" approach at all.
8. I was completely put off by the absolutes in the book. One of which was the instruction that "Every child should have an opportunity to spend the night at a friend's house or have a friend stay over at your house. It's a part of growing up that every child should experience."
No it is not. Perhaps these authors are unaware that most people in therapy trying to overcome addictive behaviors or traumatizing abuse experienced these things at sleep overs. If the authors like sleepovers, that's fine. But to use language in an advice book that indicates that all good step-mothers should make this happen or they will fail their step-children is just overreaching and, quite frankly, misinformed, as there is much to be cautious of at sleepovers.
9. The authors did reiterate that it is most important for the husband and wife to be unified, that the new union should take precedence, that they should support each other. That was good and pretty consistent. They also usually backed their "make sure the step-child is happy" comments with statements that said no child should be allowed to disrespect the step-mother and that the step-mother should never be a maid, but they were not as many as the statements that seemed to put the step-child as the most important concern.
10. As others mentioned ... this book was not written for all step-mothers in general. In my opinion, it seemed mostly geared to the step-mother who married a man who has full custody of his kids. They do throw in mentions of other situations, but they seem to focus on the step-mother who is in constant contact with her step-kids.
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on December 20, 2013
This was not at all helpful to me. I started it and gave up on it quickly because I found the advice to be very basic and obvious. Creating a blended family is one of those things that you do, and when you look back on it you have no idea how you did it at all. It is really difficult, yet somehow manageable. I suppose a good partner is key.

The issues I wanted help with was understanding the role of being the 'add on', ideas for how to navigate the immediacy of such a new and different life. What I got was advice about how one not ought to expect the kids to fall in love with you right away. I didn't want them to, and I never expected them to. What I want was to find out how to keep them from resenting me for something I didn't even know I had done.

My advice - play it very quietly and take it very slowly. Three years in and we are still breaking new ground that is really fairly basic. Earning the true trust of a child simply takes time, and then more time. I approached them as though we had something to work out together. This meant many quiet moments, while we all tip toed forward together.
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on November 18, 2011
I thought this book was okay. It is an easy read and I got through it in a couple of days but it kind of missed the mark. It does bring up some issues that would be good to discuss with your significant other prior to marriage but it doesn't really give you much advice other than, "let it go" "change your thinking". This book would be best read prior to marriage and issues could be discussed with a therapist or family couselor prior to the marriage to help prevent issues from coming up but it isn't that usful if you are already married and having issues.
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on September 2, 2009
A wonderful guide for successful stepparenting. As veteran stepparents and grandstepparents ourselves, we found the book to be incisive, comprehensive and a truly invaluable reference for meeting the many challenges of a blended family. Following the suggestions outlined is definitely a recipe for success. A must read. We strongly recommend it.

Bill & Sarah Collins
Retired U.S. Navy CPO
Retired Nurse
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on March 11, 2010
Wish I had this book at the beginning of my relationship with my stepsons. Excellent advice, easy to read and understand.
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on September 9, 2009
This book serves as a practical guidebook for all types of families - blended or not. It features easy to read chapters arranged in progressive stages from building initial relationships to ironing out basic responsibilities and finally, securing life-long success as a family. A perfect blend of helpful hints, tinged with humor, this book makes for the perfect reference for savvy stepparents, and parents alike, hoping to improve communications, trust and the general cohesiveness of the family unit.

Tracey Gordon, MS
Clinical Research Associate
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on September 13, 2009
The classics scholar, Basil Gildersleeve, once wrote, "Not to see a thing in its connections is not to see it at all."

Wenck and Hansen see the connections when it comes to establishing blended families. They have written a user-friendly book of great scope, providing competent, practical and insightful advice about a myriad of subjects---for example, how to start a relationship with stepchildren, establishing good channels of communication, staying positive, dealing with split custody, curfews, discipline, the children's biological mother, and much more.

If you are curious or stressed about your role as stepmother, this may well be the book for you.

Frank Sparzo
Professor of Psychology, Emeritus
Ball State University
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on September 26, 2009
Kudos to the authors! The myriad of issues tackled in this book makes it a very thorough resource. While it appears that the intention behind the creation of this book is to provide guidance to stepmothers or potential stepmothers, I saw it as tool for couples who are dating, married, and/or considering having children. Love Him, Love His Kids takes the scariness out of the adventure of step-parenting, and left me with the optimism of knowing that these relationships truly can be prosperous.

Keema Walden, Ph.D.
Holistic Health Practitioner
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