An estimated 1 in 5 Australians are part of a stepfamilies, that’s 5 million people.
Are you one of them or about to become one of them?
Do you need help to guide you through what this means?
Karalee Katsambanis has written and published THE book any new (and probably some more seasoned) step parents should buy. I might also just be the book that saves your sanity, relationships and family.
My first experience of being a step parent was before I was a parent myself. It was a rather daunting prospect as the only experience/role model I had was the wicked stepmother in Cinderella. This wasn’t going to be much use as a step-parent to two young boys one 11 and the other 14 who had spent a large part of their lives in another country.
So, I took a deep breath and just got on with it.
I do remember one of the first discussions I had with my two ‘new’ sons, it went something like this. ‘I’m not your mother and I don’t want to be the wicked step mother. I won’t tell you what to do, that’s your father’s job. I’ll be supportive, helpful and respectful. I expect the same from you.’
I wish Karalee’s book had been around all those years ago. I wouldn’t have felt so alone as my stepchildren and I navigated our respective ways through this new relationship and all the ups and downs of teenage-hood.
The chapter headings give you a real flavour of the content.
- The split, the savageness and silliness
- Surviving the fortnightly access visits
- A new baby
- Taming that green-eyed monster
- When it comes to presents what do I do?
- Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and any other occasion you can think of
- Allergies, agonies and all that jazz
- Hairy balls and the period talk
- The role of children
It’s filled with sensible advice and tackles many of the questions you might have but are too afraid to ask; helps you navigate your own, sometimes conflicting, emotions, provides insight into some of the more challenging step-parenting events and tips on how to engage and manage the ex, grandparents, teachers and well-meaning friends.
In addition, there’s some important background in to the legal and child protection systems in Australia along with what you can or cannot do to ensure that child support and spousal maintenance is paid. It differs in each state of Australia, but the outcome of non-payment is a real stress in most step parenting situations.
There are two over-riding messages in Karalee’s book.
1. You are not alone in how you feel (inadequate, unsure, the wicked step-parent);
2. Respect – for yourself and others. This is not to say you allow yourself to be pushed around, rather if you treat everyone with respect the longer term outcome will be way better.
For more information head to Karalee’s website: www.karaleekatsambanis.com