The Smart Stepmom: Practical Steps to Help You Thrive (2024)


1,423 reviews32 followers

May 26, 2017

This was an encouraging book to read. This book gave me hope. It also gave me something much greater: the freedom to let go, not try so hard to make everyone play nice, and some measure of peace. It is full of practical advice and real-life stepmom's perspectives. The book addresses "yours," "mine," should we have an "ours," adult stepchildren, and more. It really does cover the gamut. Which is nice.
My favorite line: "Without the father's support, trying to parent his kids is like - as one stepmother said - Setting your hair on fire and putting it out with a hammer!"
I knew stepmothering would be hard. It's well known in the family that I was not the ideal stepchild myself. However, some of the challenges that have come my way I did not (nor do I think I could have in a million years) anticipate. I'm glad for resources like this to help me along the road.


Arijana Anderson

48 reviews3 followers

June 12, 2024

As a person dating someone with a child this book was hard for me in the best way. It provided so much revelation, wisdom, truth, and exposure to topics I hadn’t thought about. It gave me an articulation of questions to ask, what to look for, and potential hardship I may face. I appreciate the book was faith based. My heart was often heavy due to my questioning if I am mature enough to navigate marriage into a blended situation. I appreciate the heart and purpose of the authors and am continuing forward in encouragement and truth.

There are certain things I loved about the book like the perspectives. I disliked the areas where it seemed like I have to always grin and bear it. So due to some of that I questioned a lot if I could truly do this because I cannot live a life walking on eggshells.

Step mom life requires a lot of maturity, selflessness, real God given love, and relinquishing control of ALL the things you have no control over. So I will see what the future holds as I read more information and ask the hard questions of myself and my partner.

Theresa Mary Stem

187 reviews13 followers

July 22, 2023

I bought this book because I was at the end of my rope with my husband’s grown children. While this book clearly has Christian tones, and at times can be overly religious, it still had some good insights. I found myself rolling my eyes at a lot of the references to religion and mostly skipped over those parts. Ironically, the chapter on adult stepchildren was not very helpful and truthfully I found their advice on how to deal with adult children to be tiptoeing around them. This is not helpful because basically they’re adults, they should act that way. But I did come away from this book with a better insight into the stepparent/stepchild relationship. It may not help in my case but it’s helpful to know in general.


938 reviews42 followers

December 17, 2018

Lots of ideas as to how to tackle issues--with a christian base. In fact, every chapter had a "prayer" that you could read/pray to have God help you being a stepmom. I liked that there were two chapters for my husband to read (and then us talk about). It was good to have him understand what issues I was feeling (in a nutshell). Each chapter also had discussion quesitons...that could have been useful if I was discussing or talking to people about what I was reading. But since I was reading this on my own I didn't really talk over the questions by myself.

    books-for-grownups non-fiction

Charity Craig

Author7 books28 followers


April 19, 2019

Just what I needed when I was first wading into our new blended family. Some of the practical tips were helpful, but its real value was helping me set my expectations for what being a stepmom was going to be like. I would highly recommend this book to new stepmoms or even someone thinking about committing to a relationship that will make you a step mom.


Elaine Skinner

688 reviews29 followers

December 9, 2013

My close friend married a man with four children from a previous marriage one month before I married a man with one child from a previous marriage. Both of us were inexperienced dealing with split families as our parents were still together and neither of us had children of our own. She was given a copy of this and immediately went and bought me one after reading only a few chapters. This book was a blessing!!

I found it to be eye opening and very helpful. It gave me things to think about that might never have occurred to me. It even has a detailed chapter dedicated to dealing with the biological mother and in laws. There is also a chapter for the father to read to help him understand the part he will play in forging a relationship between the stepmother and stepchildren. Chapters about blending the stepmothers children and the husbands children, adult step children, children who live with you full time or part time, and things you need to know if the mother has passed and you are marrying a widower, etc... This book will not have all the answers because everyone's situations was different but it will give you a place to start.

My stepson lives with his father and I full time, a topic not covered fully in this book, but I still found it to be extremely helpful! A word of CAUTION: This book is brutally honest and at times while reading it I felt a little discouraged and frightened about what I was taking on. Many stepmothers are quoted in this book saying "If I knew what I was getting into I am not sure I would do it all over again." However, their honesty led to many discussions with my husband and lots of soul searching. Being a stepmother is not for the fainthearted or for those who give up easily.

I highly recommend this book to anyone marrying a man with children.

    favorites non-fiction


1,166 reviews3 followers

January 22, 2013

Realistic. Practical. Depressing. You will feel a whole slew of emotions when reading this book. The authors provoke thought and give advice on how to be a positive role model, deal with kids/husband and handle communication, holidays etc...

Many items are not issues in my current realtionship with either daughter or dad but it made me feel like in the future, it could be. With the age of my step-daughter I don't see many of the problems of a lonely, hurt child who mourns over her biological parents' divorce. She has been nothing but welcoming and accepting of me but if there ever is an issue, I think I will be better prepared of how to handle it...(though I'm sure the hours of obsessing over imaginary situations where I felt rejected or hurt by her words or actions or my husband's inaction were not healthy, at least I have a sense of how to ask for God's grace and show love even when I do not feel it).

Favorite quote: "Humility lessesn hurts, opens emotions, and creates saftey in relationships because it does not look to satisfy its own interests but those of others. Humility is so powerful that it softens the heart of God....


Tiffany Cusick-Bristol

139 reviews1 follower

March 31, 2014

This book has made me reevaluate my parenting on all levels and provided great insight as well as perspective. It makes me feel better to know other women are going through the same struggles as me and have survived.

Jamie Morfoot

12 reviews

August 25, 2019

Probably one of the most helpful books I’ve read. There were parts that validated thoughts that I have and helped to normalize some of my feelings I have about my step son, his bio mom, and my husbands relationship with both of them. It helped me to take a step back and without intending to sound harsh “no my role” and not be so hard on myself or my step son. It helped me to remember his perspective and some of my husbands emotions that may lead to certain behaviors and to not take them personally. Not giving 5 stars because I felt at time it got a little faith based heavy. I didn’t find it distracting but I think it could be and also wasn’t necessary in all parts.

Elizabeth Unrein

4 reviews5 followers

December 19, 2017

At the start of the book, the authors explain that while faith is an important part of their lives, that this book should still be useful for non-Christians. While there are definitely useful takeaways, so much of the advice given is "pray" and "Ask God for help in healing your relationship," which is worthless to non-Christians who want practical advice.

I also agree with many of the Amazon reviews that the book is too negative. While step parenting is surely difficult, couldn't they have found *someone* who had a positive relationship with their stepkids?



79 reviews

January 23, 2020

I wish I would have read this earlier. I am certainly aware of the many many mistakes I’ve made, but it was nice to know that some of the struggles I’ve experienced are normal. Knowing you’re not alone is comforting. There’s some great advice and tips for stepmoms in many different situations. Highly recommend.

Chanel Mulbah

7 reviews

September 7, 2023

I didn’t read through the whole book. I just couldn’t get into due to not relating. It mainly spoke of ex-wives which isn’t always the case when becoming a step parent. I was looking for more about boundaries and how to allow husband to take lead. It may have been more helpful before I was married to know this.


50 reviews6 followers

July 11, 2017

I didn't like this book as much as I needed it. It will definitely be a reread; and hopefully some parts of its wisdom will make their way into my soul.

This was my "book I previously abandoned" book for my 2017 Reading Challenge.


Heidi West

3 reviews

January 5, 2018

This book is amazing! I love the prayers at the end of the chapters along with the questions to help you really reflect and grow. I felt relieved that I am not alone and I really appreciated the raw honesty of the contributors. A must read.


Susie A. Gertz

10 reviews1 follower

February 14, 2018


There is a lot of good in this book. Although I don’t agree with all of it. There is a lot that is helpful. It is hard to find up to date all inclusive step mom and adopted mom into.

Tae Shepler

2 reviews2 followers

January 12, 2021

Hard to read, lots of raw (very real and somewhat discouraging at times) truth, but it’s real and needed and I appreciated the attempt at helping Stepmoms and blended families walk out a path that can feel somewhat lonely and very hard to navigate at times.


32 reviews

December 10, 2023

I would recommend this book to the discerning stepmother who either has a high tolerance for religious/male headship language or would consider those themes features instead of flaws. Overall, I feel encouraged. If you read this, take what's helpful and leave the rest behind.


2 reviews

April 4, 2022

A bit idealistic in advice.

Amanda McGarvey

320 reviews1 follower

June 17, 2024

SUPER helpful and encouraging book!!


Jennifer Brevick

2 reviews

March 5, 2019

Blended Family Wisdom

Hard, but much needed, read for blended families, specifically stepmoms. For blended families, the sooner you read this, the better.


256 reviews5 followers

February 2, 2012

I feel like I have the best blended family situation - my husband is an engaged father to his 11 year old son, his son likes me and my 4 year old daughter, we all get along and my husband is very respectful of me. That being said, there are still a lot of dynamics at work within a blended family that I did not anticipate and I can see how there could be a lot of drama. This book covers many different topics - adult step children, holidays, dealing with his ex wife, and even two chapters for your husband to read. I would recommend this book to any stepmother - but I think the sooner you read this book after you assume the role of "stepmother" in a child's life, the better off you will be. And I especially suggest that someone who is even dating and considering marrying a man with children read this book. It's great to address potential problems before they arise - and to also know what you're getting into.



16 reviews

April 26, 2010

They referred to a good amount of biblical passages. That might help some people, if you are into that. I found myself skimming over those sections. There is also questions to ponder with your partner at the end of each chapter. I could see this being helpful too, in case you needed some help communicating your feelings/anxiety, etc. to your partner.

I would recommend this to other step-mamas and leave it nonchalantly in the bathroom so your husband will be tempted to pick it up and give it a quick read too!


184 reviews10 followers

April 14, 2015

I first picked up this book during my engagement to a wonderful man with three teenagers. The first few chapters terrified me. I decided not to read it. When a friend sent me the same book several months into our marriage, I considered it a sign that I should try it again. My experience and perspective had changed. This is an incredibly helpful book for stepmothers. I cannot recommend it enough.

Erin Caldwell

307 reviews2 followers

September 30, 2010

I have read a LOT of stepparenting books in the last few years, but this was one of the best. I wish I had read this one several years ago. The authors covered a lot of topics not covered in other books, and they seemed more realistic with their suggestions. There was not a lot of self-glorifying storytelling that many stepparenting books seem to be solely written for, either.

Jen Jenn

1 review

November 15, 2011

If you are a stepmom or going to be a stepmom.. It's best you read this book because it prepares you. Wished I had read this book before I became one... saves you a lot of heartache. It really describes the many things that I have gone through or are going through right now.. The writer uses godly counsels, too which is why I think this book makes a good handbook for a stepmom.


3 reviews

May 18, 2015

Overall, a well written and informative book with excellent advice and suggestions. However, I didn't care for the religious references and what I perceived to be Bible thumping at times.
This assumes the reader is a church attending Christian which may not be the case.
I ignored the religious aspects and got what I wanted out of it.
So I recommend this book with this caveat.


819 reviews7 followers

May 13, 2020

Good insight into blended families - VERY helpful in validating some of my own feelings esp. over the last year since my stepson has moved in full-time - also interesting to think about how this applies to my son's stepmother
New book from Divorce Care video



595 reviews7 followers

February 1, 2011

Day late and a dollar short, but it is never too late to learn. How's that for a series of cliches?

This was a very good book. I very much recommend reading it to anyone who is thinking of becoming a stepmom. You NEED this information.


352 reviews

May 22, 2013

I read lots of stepfamily books. This is a great series. My husband is currently reading The Smart Stepdad. I'm hoping the author writes a Smart Stepsiblings.
p.s. I just reread this review from 2 years ago. ha! was still optimistic. we don't recommend the stepfamily life!

Rebecca Henderson

Author4 books20 followers

December 19, 2012

Practical, realistic, encouraging, and challenging. This book has given me a lot to think through as I prepare to marry a man with four sons, and I will revisit these concepts and advice in the days and years to come.

The Smart Stepmom: Practical Steps to Help You Thrive (2024)
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