Book Reviews

Stepmother & Stepdaughters: Relationships of Chance, Friendships for a Lifetime

By Karen L. Annarino
Reviewed by Patricia Schiff Estess

I know that when my husband and I were first married, we were too busy to read books on the subject of stepparenting. We were knee-deep in the thick of it -- barely able to catch our breath. If you're at a similar stage in your remarriage, have I got a book for you. Stepfamilies: Making It Work. In addition to being short (a must when your eyes have only about 4 1/2 minutes of viewing time before closing at night), it's full of smart ideas to make this new union work.

Like it deals in three large-type pages with how to stay close to your biological child while working to build relationships with your spouse and stepkids. Or a couple of pages on taking the pressure off the stepkids when it comes to finding a name for this new adult. Or a six-page quick read on forgetting about "instant love" and replacing it with "instant care."

I wish I had had this book almost 25 years ago. Even if I had read four pages a night (less than two weeks reading), I think it would have helped me through some treacherous waters more easily or more quickly.

There's another "shortie" I'd like to recommend for stepmothers who have doubts that anything will ever come of their relationship with their stepdaughters -- Stepmothers & Stepdaughters: Relationships of Chance, Friendships for a Lifetime by Karen L. Annarino.

Annarino says that two women have most shaped her life. The first is her mother, Ann, who had the strength and insight to encourage her relationship with her stepmother. And then there is Linda, her stepmother, from whom she not only learned how to do needlepoint and prepare large holiday dinners, but, more importantly, how to hold out hope and be courageous, qualities she especially needed when she was severely injured in a hit-and-run accident.

But Annarino also shares the accounts of dozens of other young women who acknowledge the unexpected friendships that sprang from their relationships with their stepmothers. Though they acknowledge the difficulties (many -- the relationship never goes uphill smoothly), the bottom line is that if, over time, both stepmother and stepdaughter are able to let go of the anger and resentment they may feel, they give themselves a gift -- the opportunity to love each other and celebrate their relationship.

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