As a stepmom in a blended family, I found this book helpful in many ways. The authors offer what seems to me to be sound advice, and the many examples...moreAs a stepmom in a blended family, I found this book helpful in many ways. The authors offer what seems to me to be sound advice, and the many examples they quote from actual stepcouples helped put my experience in perspective. They also cover a wide range of subject material, and so almost every possible issue gets addressed in one way or another.
But in spite of these positive qualities, this book has such serious faults that I cannot recommend it. It's primary flaws are three:
a) It equates first families with biological families. Throughout the book, the authors use the term "biological parents" or "biological bonds" to describe the relationships between an original family unit, pre-divorce. It seems never to have occurred to them that there are such things as adoptions in this world. Or that, for example, in a family composed of a lesbian couple with a child, only one mother is biologically related to the child, though both are the child's original parents.
What makes this mistake so damning is that they repeatedly assert that biological bonds are stronger than non-biological bonds between parents and children. Repeatedly, they say this. As if it were a well-known truth. This is NOT what the science says, nor will it seem particularly relevant to the millions of adoptive parents out there (or to the millions of children who have little to no relationship with one or more biological parents). What intelligent, well-trained therapist would repeatedly assume that all original families are biological? These authors are somehow cut off from the professional field they claim to represent.
b) Organization. ORGANIZATION! Oh my god, the horrible organization. This flaw has numerous sub-flaws that contribute to making it into a Mega Flaw. Here are the two biggest:
-- The book has lumped an astonishing array of anecdotes and discussions into a few chapters with broad themes. These broad themes tell you very little about the specific topics that will be discussed in the chapter, so if you're really interested in only some of the topics covered by the book, you will have no idea how to navigate directly to those parts. For example, who would guess that there would be discussions of allowances, family finances, decision-making authority, chores, household cleanliness, and hating your step-child's friends -- all in a chapter entitled "Blending Your Sometimes Opposing Styles." Not helpful.
-- The book uses the following bizarre way of breaking up the sub-sections of a long chapter. Here it goes: They usually begin a chapter with a 1-2 paragraph intro to the topic at hand. And then they introduce each new topic with a short anecdote, usually in italics, but sometimes in bold. Sometimes there will be a series of italicized anecdotes that connect to one another. But sometimes a new anecdote opens a completely new topic. And sometimes the anecdotes are in bold -- which, I think, means that the authors are trying to cue up a quite different theme than what came before, but to be honest, I never really figured out what it meant. Let me be clear: in the many, many subsections of a chapter, there are no section titles, no section breaks indicated by white space or lines or bold-print subtitles. Nothing but these short paragraphs that are set in bold or italics. It's impossible to know what's coming next or even the key theme of the section you are in.
3. Research methodology? The authors do not cite any of the published studies on step-families. Which is strange enough. Their advice seems to be coming from their own views, and they do not seem informed about any of the literature on the subject. But they don't even explain the basis for their own research. Who are these people whose anecdotes they shared? Are they clients from the main authors' practice? Has the main author conducted an extensive research study? And what are the authors' credentials for offering such sweeping, self-confident advice on any and all topics related to parenting and step-coupling? They say nothing about any of this.
Altogether, the book, I think, is not trustworthy. It's also unnavigable and crudely ignorant of nontraditional primary families. I guess I'll keep looking. (less)
We've found this book very helpful. But -- even more helpful? -- thrift stores (don't be afraid!) -- hand-me-downs (soooo fantastic) -- cloth diapers (pr...moreWe've found this book very helpful. But -- even more helpful? -- thrift stores (don't be afraid!) -- hand-me-downs (soooo fantastic) -- cloth diapers (prefolds + covers work great, are EASY, and save thousands) -- homemade baby food (chop, steam, puree, freeze. It's really that easy.) -- Craigslist (baby items obsolesce so fast. There's a glut of high-quality used stuff on Craigslist. People generally are forced to sell at less than 50% of what they paid new, even if the item is highly desirable and in perfect condition. There's really no reason to pay new for almost anything except maybe cribs.) -- neighborhood listservs. Our high chair, for example, was picked up from a neighbor looking to unload it. I also got a load of breast pads (bleach, then stop worrying about it), a baby sling, bath toys, and a baby gate this way.
There's no need to spend even the bargain prices this book includes, though this book is very helpful if you're looking to make a significant purchase and you need guidance. It helped us choose a crib, a jogging stroller, and a breast pump, and it helped me winnow down my shopping list before the baby ever arrived.(less)
I'm very glad to have a book like this in my toolkit as a faculty developer. In one well-edited volume, this book synthesizes almost all of the releva...moreI'm very glad to have a book like this in my toolkit as a faculty developer. In one well-edited volume, this book synthesizes almost all of the relevant literature on how faculty -- not tutoring centers, not admissions counselors, not financial aid counselors, but teachers themselves -- can increase the likelihood that unprepared students will succeed in their courses. The information isn't new to those of us in the field, but the package is perfect for consolidating and practically translating the information on teaching strategies for student success.(less)