August 1, 2008

Stepfamilies: How They're Not Supposed to Love

Stepkids: A Survival Guide for Teenagers in Stepfamilies …and for stepparents doubtful of their own survival by Ann Getzoff and Carolyn McClenahan (Walker and Company, 1984, ISBN 0-8027-0757-2)

This book was written by: Ann Getzoff and Carolyn McClenahan, who are licensed marriage, family, and child therapists.

What is in this book: Frequent discussions about sex. Apparently, stepfamilies in 1984 were seething cauldrons of hormones and temptation, and the authors discuss how “a common problem for teenage stepbrothers and stepsisters is sexual attraction” (p.112); “Some stepmothers do behave in a seductive way with their stepsons”(p.127); and they discuss the dangers of “Mr. Hot Pants,” the type of stepfather who “comes on in a very sexy way with his stepdaughter”(p.73), although they acknowledge that “sometimes the girl has provoked the assault by parading around half dressed or acting in other sexy ways around her stepfather”(p.125). What makes these problems worse is that “when a teenager becomes sexually active, she usually doesn’t go backwards and stop having sex”(p.48).

What is not in this book: Instructions on how to build a shelter in the woods, how to start a fire without matches, or how to find water in the desert. Instead, this book addresses how to survive the fact that your stepparents “don’t have the same love feelings for you that your natural parent has”(p.36).

Would you recommend this book to Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, or Micky Dolenz? No, they have all gone on record stating that they are “not your stepping stone.”

Would you recommend this book to Ashton Kutcher? If I were Ashton, I’d spend less time worrying about my relationship with Rumer, Scout LaRue, and Tallulah Belle, and more time trying not to get Bruce Willis so pissed off that he feeds me my teeth.

What was interesting about this book? The hip lingo employed by the authors to connect with their audience. They discuss the importance of “hanging loose,”(p.9), what to do when your stepmother’s cooking makes you want to “barf”(p.37), and why “leveling”(p.151) with each other is essential. Note that the last term appears to be an effort to keep up with the slang that kids on the street are using these days and not an attempt at furthering a secret, pro-mason agenda. They also use the phrase “intact family”(p.2) to describe the opposite of step-families, presumably to soothe readers from broken families by using a term with no judgmental connotations.

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Music Wench said...

ROFL As someone who has a wonderful stepson and who has a great relationship with him and with his maternal side of the family, I am surprised these people were licensed to help anyone.

Love your reviews, btw. :)

PMJG said...


In fairness to the authors, the quotes might not be a completely accurate representation of the book.

I might have been able to use this back when my parents got divorced if I could have been persuaded to read it.

You sound like an exception to the stepfamily rule, but I'm glad things are working out for you!

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