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The Single Girl's Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife: Becoming A Stepmother With Humor And Grace Paperback – April 5, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 146 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sally Bjornsen is an author and commercial photographer's agent. A full-fledged stepmother, wife, and collaborative co-mama, she lives happily in Seattle with her husband, their son, and her two stepsons.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; First Edition edition (April 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451214196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451214195
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow. I just finished reading this last night. I was entertained by some of it, and very much wanted to like it, but in the end -- especially the end -- I was extremely disappointed. Potential readers know this: If you are looking for anecdotes about stepmotherhood you'll find plenty of them here... have a cuppa, have a laugh, know that there are others in your boat. But if you're looking for wisdom and practical solutions, steer clear. It's light and quick reading at best, and definitely does not provide sound or professional advice. The predicaments in this book are pitiful and a little sad, and the only answer continually expressed throughout is to lay down and take it -- and, in effect, build resentment. If you're the type of person who does that sort of thing and can actually operate happily taking a back seat for the rest of your life, you will love this book. If you're the type of person who believes ALL parties in these (often but not always) chaotic situations deserve respect and should compromise, then you'll hate it. Guilt is a definite by-product of divorce when children are involved, but your guilt-ridden husband has just as big a part to play in this scenario as you do, such as respecting you and being able to stand up to an ex-wife -- who is often times a bigger problem than the children themselves, and not necessarily because she's a "psycho" (not all ex-wives are the devil). The simple point is, if you choose to settle for the back seat, a husband who chronically avoids conflict will happily leave you there. Finally, I can barely come up with the proper words to express how horrified I was at the advice in the final chapters to have "your own baby" so you not only are accepted by your husband's family (which, by the way, includes you at the helm!Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Sally's book is really good for people who are very willing to compromise much of their lives to accommodate their new partner and stepkids. However, for many women, some of her advice is a little creepy. One subject is: "His Kids Come First - Learning to Love Second Place." She provides an example of a misbehaving stepkid tripping the author, the author falling down, the author scolding the kids, and then dad rushes to the kid's aid, not to the mom who was tripped. Her point is that kids are dependents, so they will necessarily come "first." But who wants to come 2nd? And why phrase it like that? At best, a stepmom needs to tie for first or she will always resent taking a perpetual backseat to the partner and his ex in all matters of scheduling, parenting, discipline, etc. The voices of many of these women profiled are actually quite sad. The undertone to much of their commentary is that of feeling left out and not fulfilled.

The section on deciding to have your own kids is particularly frightening. At one point the author likens having one's own biological children to truly finding a place in your partner's "kingdom." I think that speaks volumes that if you don't lay out really healthy boundaries and high expectations for inclusion and respect, that you will be left feeling like you're not really a part of the family. Who in the world should have to produce a child to begin to get the acceptance, love and respect of ones partner and stepfamily? Creepy, creepy stuff in many sections of this book, but a very good read if you have doubts, as Sally may help you clarify if being in this kind of family structure is what will really work for you.
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Format: Paperback
This book addresses many of the issues faced by women who marry men with children, such as kids, exes, money, and inlaws. It is not a "single girl's guide" - it is designed for new stepmoms. For that reason, it may be useful for the new stepmom who has little clue what to expect. The book is humorous and focuses on being optimistic and upbeat, and could be a supplement to other step-parenting books.

However, the book made me sad, both for the author and for other women who have suffered some of the situations described in this book. The author uses a lot of humor to tell stories (and there are lots of stores, especially her own stories) and illustrate her point, but her humor is a thin disguise for some of the more painful things she experienced. For example, she describes an incident where her stepson tripped her on purpose, causing her to fall flat on her face in public, and then she watched her husband comfort the child after she barked at him for tripping her! She talks about being excluded from the world of biological mothers because she's not a "real" mom. She then advises the reader that stepmothers will always come in second place after the kids, and to accept it! This sort of advice is patently wrong and encourages stepmothers to to settle for crap instead of what they deserve. I'm with "E. Miller" - her book is filled with creepy and disturbing things.

As a stepmother, I acknowlege some of the difficulties the author discusses - money issues, weird ex-wives, disciplining the kids - they come with the territory. However, I STRONGLY disagree with her about taking second place to his children - it is not acceptable for a man to treat his wife like she is less important than his kids, or allow his children to treat her disrespectfully.
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