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Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and ACT the Way We Do
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Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and ACT the Way We Do

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  651 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
A groundbreaking and truly stepmother-centered way of understanding the tensions that seem to define relations between women and their stepchildren

Half of all women in the United States will live with or marry a man with children. And what woman with stepchildren has not--in order to defuse the often overwhelming challenges of the role--referred to herself as a "stepmonste
ebook, 336 pages
Published May 4th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin (first published January 1st 2009)
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Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me start off by saying that nothing has liberated me from my internal struggles with step-motherhood like this book has. It has allowed me to feel okay about how I feel. Before my marriage I knew I was going to need some good advice on step-mothering so I bought a book on it. (And many others since) Regrettably, it was not this book as it was not yet published. THIS is the book you need. This book was written by a stepmother, for stepmothers. A negative review of this book could only come fr ...more
Christopher Payne
"Stepmonster" is a book from the perspective of and about stepmothers. I should add in my disclaimer here. I was eleven when my father married my current stepmother, I am a divorced father of three girls, sixteen, thirteen and eight, I am currently living with my fiancé (who has no children prior to our partnering), and she asked me to read this. I agreed to do so, since we attempt to do everything in our collective powers to make a happy home for all parties involved. My thirteen and eight year ...more
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So so so so so glad I read this book! As a stepmother I've never felt more validated in my life for every feeling I've ever had of being misunderstood, misjudged, and a complete outsider in my own home. The answer to all of those painful tensions, spoken or not, and painful feelings just isn't to just "be nicer" as if we haven't all bent over backwards already.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that there is an answer, though this book does seem to push the stance of being a more distant and detach
Dec 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm in the middle of reading this book. As a father of a teen who lives with my wife (the stepmother) and me, I'm finding this book enlightening. It's really helping me to understand the dynamics of our home through my wife's eyes. The role of stepmother is so challenging and often so thankless. Reading this book is helping me to clearly see where my response and reactions (or lack of) can really contribute to the unique issues stepmothers face. We checked this book out from the library but are ...more
Jul 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stepmothers
Recommended to Empress5150 by: An article my friend sent me
I initially found this very interesting, informative and helpful. Until I got to the chapters where the author starts delving into bee eating birds and Mormons in some attempt to explain why women who are not mothers don't have the same feelings for a child as their mother does. Which, I think, most of us have already figured out!
I ended up skipping two chapters (as I don't really care about birds or Mormons or how stepmothers in Burma cope; not relevant). The last two chapters were pretty good;
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: human-behavior
I am a stepmother. I am stepmother who never wanted kids. I am a stepmother who never wanted kids who nonetheless has a pretty fantastic relationship with her stepkids.

For these reasons, this is going to be an intensely personal book review.

I learned a few things from this book. 1) 70% of remarriages with children fail . Holy shit. 2) Most of those fail within the first three years. 3) If you make it to 5 years, remarriages with kids actually have a lower divorce rate than the general populat
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a SM, this book hit right on the mark. There are so many different waves of emotions to untangle and understand and after reading this book it made me feel human and not alone.

I would recommend this book to any man/woman who have decided to enter the not-so-popular world of step-parenting.
Michele Hush
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're a stepmother or if you're thinking of becoming one, read this book. It will free you from unrealistic expectations and help you when you're ready to lose your mind.
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are three things that I've done in my life that I'm happy about/proud of but will never, ever, ever recommend that other people do: Get Lasik eye surgery (scariest thing I've ever done); go through natural childbirth (most painful thing I've ever done); become a stepmother (most difficult experience ever and I'm in it for life). Isn't it weird? That I'm so, so incredibly happy to have all of those experiences, but honey, no, I will at best remain neutral if you asked me if you should do th ...more
Elizabeth Raabe
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Nobody wants a stepmother....Stepmothering is born of grief. It is, at its heart, an unhappy business."

This book has been an absolute godsend for me; if you're considering marrying someone with children, it's worth reading. I (single and with no children of my own) got married in 2007 to a widower with two boys and was completely blindsided by how difficult life as a stepmother and life in a stepfamily turned out to be. I wasn't naive--I knew it would be challenging and had done research on th
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read for since I'm a stepmother but didn't find it related to my situation at all. She portrayed all the husbands as unsupportive of their wives and oblivious to their children's behaviors. I don't know maybe I'm lucky and found the only man in America that believes a marriage is a partnership, whether it's his first or second marriage. I've never felt like my husband puts me second when it comes to his son and he always backs me up if his son is misbehaving at home or school.
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Oct 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: step mothers, step parents, women who are interested in men with children, step children
Recommended to Shellie (Layers of Thought) by: FSB Associates

This is not a self help book. That Wednesday Martin has a Ph.D in comparative literature helps the reader understand the methodology used within the writing of Stepmonster. Where she does just that – compares literature from various sources. This provides the reader with a virtually seamless and multidisciplinary book about step mothering. It is a myth busting mélange of information to help the reader understand this complex and misunderstood relationship.

Examining fairy tales from all over the
Lisa Leigh
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book describes the experience of being a step-mom PERFECTLY and describes how some step-dads feel very accurately as well (since my kids have my current husband as a step-dad and I had a step-dad growing up). Although it didn't offer a ton of practical advice, just knowing that we (step-familes) are not alone in what we are going through is amazing & very helpful. I recommend this book wholeheartedly if you know anyone in a step-family situation. And the book title is not refl ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hands down the best book I've read in a long time. I finally feel less alone in the complex world of stepmothers, "blended" families, and don't feel as "crazy," when it comes to my trials, tribulations, thoughts, hurts, confusion and triumphs. A must read for anyone who is a stepmom, wants to understand us, know what to say (and whatnot to say!) and for husbands of step moms. All the heart eyes for this book.
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
A must read for any Stepmother, one of the few books out there that covers the good, the bad and the ugly side of the stepmothers journey. A validating book.
Elisabeth Watson
If you're married to a man who has children, this could be a godsend. In particular, Martin addresses the issues around adult stepchildren, which is unusual.
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life
This book is all about the realities of being a stepmother: feeling like an outsider, the kids disregarding and disrespecting you all the time (and the husband indulging them), having to live in someone else's rules and mess, being expected to put everyone else first and magically, automatically love some often-unlikable people.

It was a refreshing but arduous read. I've felt pretty much every single thing in the book, despite not even officially being anyone's stepmother. It's incredible to disc
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, stepfamilies
This book is helpful to stepmoms at any point on their journey, and I wish it had been around when I first became a stepmom. Unlike other books for stepmothers, it doesn't offer advice. Rather, Martin surveys and synthesizes studies done on stepfamilies with a focus on what research tells us about stepmothers (vs. other members of the family); these studies are drawn from the fields of sociology, anthropology, psychology, and history, as well as contemporary media and pop culture. Martin pulls n ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best most validating book I have ever read about being a stepmom. It is like Wednesday Martin knows my life!
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four years ago, I had this insane idea that I'd combine two families and we'd seamlessly blend and live happily ever after. Four years later, I felt like a complete failure. If I got one thing from this book, it's that my step family isn't necessarily a failure, but normal.

I was under the impression that I would need to come into this new household and become the mother. My step daughter and I would bond and I'd have this relationship with her like the one I have with my two boys. Things wouldn'
Everyone knows the story of the Evil Stepmother. She only has her own interests at heart. She treats the stepchild like a slave. She yells, berates, demeans, and discourages. She may even be trying to kill you.

Now, anyone who has dated and/or married someone with a child/children knows all too well that the stereotypical stepmother is one that not only the children latch onto, but too often the stepmother as well. With half of the women in the United States living with, married to, or going to b
Kater Cheek
I chose this book because of my policy of reading self help books for problems I don't have. I am neither a stepchild nor a step-parent, so most of the conflicts in this were foreign to me. That was good, in that I learned about other people's relationships, but bad in that it didn't really hit me at a personal level.
Although a chapter in this book explores parenting relationships among human cultures other than ours, and another one discusses parenting among non-human (bird and primate) culture
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read soooooooo many books about stepmothers, only to be left disappointed and sometimes MORE angry after finishing them. This is the one and only book that I have read that actually pertains to my life. I think that as a mental health professional myself, I took it very hard when I just couldn't master my role as a stepmother. I have a happy and successful life with fulfilling relationships. . .I have overcome past trauma and hurts. . .I am a kind and empathetic counselor. . .heck, I live ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
She herself is a stepmother, writing in a kind of raw honesty of the numerous potholes along the way for a new wife who simultaneously becomes a stepmother. Historically much is alluded as to the wicked or evil stepmother and that mantra somehow has gained traction over the ages. I like her approach to the subject in not trying to sugar coat what are some very real, very confusing emotional travails. While she contends - and I agree - that the stepmother will find herself in a one down position ...more
Feisty Harriet
Being a stepmom is one of the hardest, loneliest, and most emotionally fraught things I've ever done, and so much of it is completely out of my control it seems there is no cure for the issues I'm dealing with. This book is the first I've read that at least addresses that my deepest fears and hurts surrounding this role are TOTALLY NORMAL, and also talks about some of the reasons why this may be. That being said, this was a bit hit and miss for me. Some chapters or sections were spot on. Others ...more
Jun 02, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
been reading up on the subject to see if im crazy -or not. have yet to roll my eyes while reading this (common during others)....
okay, didnt read all the chapters in this book - skipped the anthropological and biological science ones (where she looks at stepmothering in the animal kingdom and non-western/tribal situations to show that it is not a unqiue or modern phenomena, but quite natural). this book was okay, nothing that i havent already read in a few other books (which i havent listed)...i
Diane Drennan Pavia
Required reading for any stepmother, or anyone who wants to try to understand a stepmother's situation. Very honest, almost painfully so sometimes, but that's what's needed to get past the judgments and expectations of ourselves and others and start dealing with reality. It was a relief to know I'm not alone in some of my thoughts and feelings, that I'm not crazy, and that the "problem" is not always mine. The research section was very interesting but started to get drawn out and repetitive, IMH ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
I enjoyed this book mainly because I was looking for some validation in feeling the way I do about being a stepmother. The book delivered.

I could've done without the chapter on the bees, the gorillas, etc. I just skipped through it since I was not interested in the science behind these studies.

Overall, I found the book to be somewhat pessimistic in outlook.
As if it was saying, "here's your life, your circumstances, yes you feel like this and its ok but now deal with it." I was looking for more t
Jessica Richards
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
This book is the best book I have read on stepfamilies. I have struggled with my role for 11 months now and have finally seen the light. This book provides an accurate description of the less than glamorous life of being married to a man with children. After reading this book, I feel set free from many of my internal struggles that have sucked the life out of me in this past year. Dr. Wednesday Martin's research was well displayed in this book - a must read for any stepmom.
Jonathan-David Jackson
Am interesting book, but since I'm a stepfather I felt almost unwelcome through most of it. I know it's directed at women, but it was recommended to me by a stepparent support group. It did help me relax in some ways with my parenting, and has made me a bit of a better stepfather and able to like my kids a bit more, I think.
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Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., is a social researcher and the author of Stepmonster: a New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do (2009). She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today ( and blogs for the Huffington Post and on her own web site ( She has appeared as a stepparenting expert on NPR, the BBC Newshou ...more
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“Stepmothering arises from, and cannot be disentangled from, loss. In all senses—etymological, historical, and social—the stepfamily experience is sutured to, inextricable from, the experience of mourning.” 1 likes
“The National Stepfamily Resource Center, or NSRC (formerly the Stepfamily Association of America), a consortium of stepfamily experts and a clearinghouse of helpful information for stepfamilies, actually urges therapists and other professionals in the field to avoid the term “blended family” precisely because it engineers such unrealistic expectations and elicits feelings of failure and guilt.” 0 likes
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