Review by Karon Phillips Goodman
Author of The Stepmom's Guide to Simplifying Your Life
"If you want to feel empowered, inspired, comforted and renewed about your steplife, read this book. In his straightforward and calming manner, author Ron Deal brings hope and healing into a stepparent's life in this easy-to-follow volume based on Christian principles. For the stepparent-to-be, the new stepparent or the veteran, this book is a lighthouse in a stormy world, reassuring us that we can find our way.
Right from the introduction, the overwhelmed reader breathes a sigh of relief and enjoys the reminder that there are, indeed, healthy stepfamilies out there, and having one is a real possibility. Deal gives us a deeply comforting and proactive approach to our steplives, zeroing in on the practical steps we can take right now. We're all willing to work hard for our families, but if we don't work on the right things, it won't matter. Work smarter, Deal says. That involves two things very much within our control: understanding stepfamily life and making intentional decisions about living that life.
Deal points out some "key stepping-stones" that we'll need every day. These attitudes and perspectives will enable us to overcome obstacles and take advantage of the opportunities around us. They include Spiritual Integrity, Listening and Understanding, Perseverance, Commitment, Patience, Flexibility and Humor. It sounds basic, but Deal shows us how to master these skills so that we can have a more healthy and peaceful life all around.
With strikingly appropriate Biblical parallels, Deal likens the steplife we all want to the Promised Land the Israelites found after years of wandering. May of us stepparents wander for years, too, often wanting to give up. Deal's reminder that God won't abandon us either is just the beginning of the comfort and inspiration this book offers.
Deal lays out the seven steps in the journey to the "Stepfamily Promised Land." Each one is clearly explained, and their presentation contributes to the book's message of encouragement and possibilities. Deal includes studies of a stepparent's expectations, how important the marriage is in the success of the family, parenting with former spouses and much more. You'll see yourself time and again in his words, and more importantly, you'll see how you can make positive contributions to your family, starting today.
The author includes stories of stepfamilies in trouble and stories of those who have made it to the Promised Land. Understanding that the journey is tough for others, too, gives the reader a sense of belonging, along with the impetus to step through the tough times because something good awaits.
Each chapter of the book includes questions and discussion topics to help couples understand each other's perspective and to guide them in making responsible and healthy decisions. Now that's working smarter."