Stepfamily Success: Practical Solutions for Common Challenges

by Natalie Nichols Gillespie
Reviewed date: 2008 Apr 29
248 pages
cover art

There is a dearth of Christian books on step-parenting, and Gillespie's book helps to fill the void. Gillespie is a veteran at step-parenting, and draws partly on her own experience.

The book is divided into five main sections.

  1. The Marriage: The most useless section of the book. Gillespie wants to emphasize that in a second marriage, the most important thing for everyone is to work on the marriage and keep it strong. But there is a plethora of marriage resources for Christians. We don't need to to waste precious pages in this book about stepfamily issues.
  2. The Kids: Losing control of your kids is a big thing to deal with, even if you're the one who has custody and you're only giving the kids up for the weekend. Resist to urge to try to control the way your other parent runs their household. For stepparents, Gillespie warns to keep expectations low. Don't expect the kids to bond with the stepparent. It's realistic to hope that the kids will respect the stepparent, but don't expect anything more. To help the kids respect and bond with the stepparent, the stepparent should not be involved in discipline for at least the first few years.
  3. The Former Spouse: When dealing with the former spouse it's important to show Christian love and respect at all times, even if that respect isn't returned. The kids will be deeply hurt if you ever say anything critical or negative about their other parent.
  4. The Authorities: When the authorities get involved--and they probably will--keep your head. Don't panic. Pray, keep your mouth shut, don't invite the authorities into your house, and call your lawyer immediately. Don't lie to the judge; don't lie at all.
  5. The Support: Gillespie gives God and the Bible a prominent place throughout the book, but in this last section, she includes an entire chapter of Bible verses that give comfort and advice to stepfamilies. She also lists books, websites, and organizations that exist to support stepfamilies.

The first section is kind of disappointing because it focuses on the marriage, not on the problems unique to stepfamilies. My second complaint is that there is very little advice for a stepparent who is coming into the marriage without kids of his or her own. In Gillespie's marriage, both she and her husband had children from a previous marriage, and it's clear that Gillespie isn't thinking much about families where only one spouse has kids already.

Archive | Search