Beyond just dealing with stepfamily issues
I started dating a widowed man with two teenage children about six months ago. His daughter had issues with her dad dating from the beginning of our relationship. Having survived a very difficult step-family situation myself, I was compassionate about her feelings, but I had no idea how to deal with the situation. Luckily I found Dr Papernow's book just as I was on the verge of making some big errors such as trying to push us all into spending time together as a way of establishing intimacy.
Dr Papernow's book has been invaluable in providing a road map through this difficult situation. It has helped me to understand why my boyfriend's daughter is having such a hard time with us dating while his son is fine with it, and to have sustained compassion for her when she gets upset about me being in her dad's life and begins to act out. It has also helped me to be patient with myself and the feelings that come up for me as the stuck outsider in the situation. And I have learned from the book that less is more and forcing all of us into an intimate family situation is not the way to establish a relationship with his kids.
Beyond just dealing with stepfamily issues, Dr Papernow also provides a section on interpersonal skills that I found tremendously helpful. Even as someone who is studying psychology, I didn't know some of the basic techniques that she describes, and she presents them in such a clear manner that they are easy to understand and apply. I have used these skills in a number of situations since learning them, always with great success.
Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships is an invaluable resource for anyone that finds themselves in a step-family situation currently, or grew up in a step-family and wants to understand some of the dynamics that occurred. I think it is so important for people to be educated about this important subject to prevent all the pain and trauma that can occur for both children and adults in clumsily handled step-family relationships and I am so grateful to Dr Papernow for providing this book.
The book presents the concept of "stepfamily architecture" and the five challenges it creates, and delineates three different levels of strategies―psychoeducation, building interpersonal skills, and intrapsychic work―for meeting those challenges in dozens of different settings.
The model is designed to be useful both to stepfamily members themselves and to a wide variety of practitioners, from a highly trained clinician who needs to know how and when to work on all three levels, to a school counselor or clergy person who may work on the first two levels but refer out for level three.
It will also be useful to educators, judges, mediators, lawyers and medical personnel who will practice on the first level, but need to understand the other two to guide their work.
Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships: What Works and What Doesn't http://tipsandsteps.com/shortlink/eh
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She's frank about the harrowing process of becoming a stepmother, she considers the myths and realities of being married to a man with children, and she counteracts the cultural notion that stepmothers are solely responsible for the problems that often develop.
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