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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
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"Missional Motherhood" by Gloria Furman
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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.
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. My husband has never treated me that way.
Because the author is not an expert (beyond her personal experiences), the book is heavy on humor and stories and lighter on advice and insight. I've seen better books on stepmotherhood.