on 3 April 1999
The Courage To Be A Stepmom reflects author Sue Patton Thoele's considerable experience in the area of empowering and encouraging women to grow spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. Perhaps more importantly, Ms. Thoele's willingness to draw extensively from her own experience as a stepmother brings the subject matter alive and will leave most readers feeling that it really is okay to take some wrong turns on the long and sometimes arduous journey from novice to "stepmother emeritus."
The Courage to Be a Stepmom skillfully covers the basics-keeping expectations reasonable, going slowly, strengthening the marriage, and so on. There's good, practical advice to be found in its pages. However, it moves ahead of many of the contemporary books on stepparenting and stepfamilies in its ability to present its subject in the context of personal growth. Ms. Thoele, often through personal example, encourages stepmothers to continually look within and work with their feelings, expectations and beliefs as they face the challenges of building a successful stepfamily. The underlying premise of the book is that you have to be willing to grow yourself if you want to promote growth in your stepfamily, and secondly, that this is an extremely challenging, sometimes painful, but potentially quite rewarding process.
Particularly strong, I think, are her chapters on taking care of yourself. Sue Thoele adeptly blends together established concepts about nurturing the self with anecdotes derived from the nearly forty stepmothers she interviewed for the book. What emerges is a compassionate model for caring for others from a position of caring for yourself. These chapters will be particularly useful to new stepmothers who have a tendency to be self-sacrificing in an effort to win the approval of both their stepchildren and their new spouse-a strategy that almost invariably backfires.
The Courage To Be a Stepmom succeeds in its goal to emotionally prepare and inform stepmothers who are new to the role as well as to support and encourage those who are several years into the process. It will be an important tool for women seeking to "survive-and eventually thrive-as a stepmom."
on 17 January 2005
I am a mother of two adult children and have been a stepmother of adolescent children for two years now. They live with their mother but see us regularly. This book is set in 5 parts and focuses, as it should on you, as stepmother, and the kids. Yes, the X is mentioned with good tips regarding not only how to deal with her but how to 'survive' the various interactions with her X, the in-laws (her now former), and maybe even you without becoming wicked and manipulative yourself. I learned how much this situation really pulled me out of my very centered self and into a morass that bubbled up after we were married. I learned to refocus on my marriage and nurture that relationship above all else. Another valuable lesson I took away about her pain was that our dating was one thing for her to know about but that our marrying signaled the absolute end of her marriage with no going back even though she was the one who walked away from their 16 years together. Her post-vow nastiness sent me into a state of shock that prompted me to learn how best to deal with all of it. The Courage to be a Stepmom is certainly one of the good ones no matter the age of the child/ren or how vengeful the X. Sometimes I read portions aloud to my husband because the author expressed my inner turmoil in words he could hear objectively. Often I would read a section, then set the book aside to ponder the message, digesting it and then go back to take in some more. I am in an ongoing process and with the info in this book (plus a few others), my loving husband and a few 'been-there-done-that' friends I am finding the courage to be a wonderful stepmom.
on 16 April 1999
Sue Patton Thoele's book, "The Courage to Be a Stepmom" is well written and speaks to stepmothers as not just stepmothers but as women and caretakers who need to remember to take care of themselves as well as their stepfamilies. Her book demonstrates to stepmothers not only the various stepmothering issues and coping strategies but also how to take care of their spiritual, mental, and physical well being throughout the process. Ms Thoele's book also sites personal experiences from her own twenty-five years of stepmothering and her book is wholesome, healing, and easy to read. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it to all stepmothers as well as women thinking about becoming a stepmother. Thanks, Angela Thacker
on 19 May 1999
In a candid, warm, and down-to-earth tone, Sue Thoele explains her own struggle with stepmothering and gives no-nonsense advice on how to create and nurture a healthy family while nurturing yourself, also. This is a must-read for every woman who finds herself in the stepparenting role. This is the warm hug and friendly smile that stepmothers everywhere so desperately need!
on 4 January 2008
Probably the best book I've read so far on this topic. It is well written, clear, enjoyable, and absolutely packed with practical and analytical advice. I think the authors background as both mother, step-mother and psychotherapist makes for a very balanced and insightful view of the subject. Unlike some books which drift into "Us and Them" territory, this offered real support for my feelings but without devaluing the needs of others in the step-family relationship. No scare-tactics or ultimatums, just a helpful and realistic look at how we can best get through the "step-muddling" process.