Recently, our soon-to-be 12 year old grandson spent his spring break with us. Bryce was our only grandchild for seven years and we had the time and opportunity to really bond with him. It is a relationship that has grown. Whether he visits us in California or travels with us to Nashville, TN, he loves spending time with us as we do with him. Bryce has the distinction of being a stepson, stepgrandson, stepbrother and half-brother to two older siblings. He lives with his bio-mom who hasn’t remarried (and his half-brother and sister). Every other weekend he spends with his dad, stepmom and a step sister. Sometimes I wonder how he keeps track of all the various relationships.
As he approaches his teen years I notice that some of the predictable struggles and conflicts are surfacing and replacing his typical easy-going nature. He is flexing his independence, voicing his opinions and asserting his feelings. I began to search for resources that would support him and keep me out of the middle of an already complicated scenario. I found a book.
Interestingly, it is not a book for adults, although parents are encouraged to read it and there are some specific notes for their use. It is a resource for adolescents who are navigating the unique experience of living in two (or more) family situations.
The book is titled “The Step-Tween Survival Guide”. It is authored by Lisa Cohn and Debbie Glasser, PH. D., both of whom are living in stepfamilies. The target reader is the 9-12 year old son or daughter of a divorced/remarried parent. Eleven chapters are dedicated to helping the young person to not only handle, but to thrive in the stepfamily environment. There is a lot of information so not everyone will relate to every scenario, but the survival tools can be adjusted to help in any circumstance. I especially liked the quizzes and personal assessments. They allow young people to honestly identify and articulate their reactions to typical situations and to contemplate how they are best handled. Throughout the pages are quotes from actual kids who have experienced similar things. There is a lot of sample dialog to practice negotiating and compromising while remaining respectful. Kids are asked to keep a “survival journal” where they record their experiences and outcomes.
The style of this little book is straight forward and age appropriate. It is positive, sometimes humorous and always optimistic. The authors also stress the importance of asking for help if things are out of control or dangerous.
The illustrations are delightful and the referrals to websites and other reading materials are all geared to young people. I am looking forward to Bryce’s reaction to this book as I will send it to him this week.
I recall my own growing up years as being awkward and insecure in spite of being in an intact family. One of the encouraging messages in this book is that children in blended families often end up more amenable to change and accepting of new circumstances. They have learned the art of accommodation without compromising their own needs.
If you have an adolescent in your life, be it your own or your step child, I strongly encourage you to find a copy of this book. I purchased it on Amazon.com using my own funds and no agreement has been made regarding my review of its content.