Against my own judgment, I’ve decided to do a little research.

Though I didn’t set out to write a book about being a stepdaughter or stepmother or stepsister, after 5+ years of working on my book, the step-factor —- societal views, family happenings, self-analysis/paralysis —- has become a central thread.  A few months ago, someone in publishing suggested I do some research.  I balked.  No way, I said, I’m not writing a How-To-Guide, and I’m not, in general, a fan of the self-help section; I’m writing a story.

This week, however, my curiosity got the better of me and I headed to the library to see what’s out there.  This is the stack of books I came home with.




One book opens with these 3 sentences:  My marriage was meant to be.  It was also doomed to fail.  You see, I chose a man with children.

Another, on page one, suggested some questions to ask:  What is it that you do or don’t like about spanking?  What other forms of discipline are you for or against?

In another, Chapter 6 is titled:  In This Blended Family, I Only Count When …

To be honest, just glancing at the colorful covers splayed out on the table is totally depressing — they all seem so flippin’ negative — but I’ve already lugged them home so I’m going to spend some time paging through to see what’s out there.


What kind of research have you done (or avoided) lately?

15 thoughts on “Monster

  1. girl in the hat

    Aha. Maybe you’ve stumbled on something that hasn’t really been done before– a positive, loving, writerly piece about the step-issue. That’s really exciting, Teri! I know it’s somewhat crass to talk about a hook, but talk about a hook!

    1. Teri Post author

      I’ve been a step-person since I was 2 years old, so I don’t remember life any other way. And what I’ve realized is that my life is really (in most ways) no different than anyone else’s. Outside is outside, no matter how you got there.

  2. Joseyj

    I do love the title font for How to Live with Other People’s Children. It reminds me of the Erich Segal novels I would take from the library after finding Love Story. Oliver’s Story. Doctors. The Class!!! i forgot how much i loved those books until just now seeing that title. funny.

    hmmm…these are some sketchy books, yes? it’s like they were written before modern psychology. like when my grandmother’s OB told her smoking would help her keep from gaining too much weight when she was pregnant in the 50s.

    (I wonder how many titles they went through before they came up with Living in a Stepfamily w/out Getting Stepped On.)

    i need a book on how to refer to my step parent without feeling the need to give a 5-minute explanation of him and us and my first dad and blah blah blah blah blah.

    1. Teri Post author

      “without feeling the need to give a 5 minute explanation” —- so much of the bad feelings about being a step (kid, sister, parent) isn’t inside the family, but from the outside. All of those people with 2.3 kids and a dog who are curious, curious and certain something wrong.

    1. Teri Post author

      Of course I must have known these books were out there, or I wouldn’t have avoided them for so long. But still, geez.

  3. Lyra

    Oh Teri. It gives me heart palpitations just looking at those titles. I’ve thought about writing an piece about being a stepmom, but then I think there is too much to risk if it was misread. We’re in different situations though.
    Well, if you decide to write on it, I’m here as a sounding board anytime. After all, I know what it feels like in those shoes…

  4. independentclause

    Maybe the research can be a sounding board that you can react against. Find a quote you hate and write against it. Show counterexamples, figure out why it is right or wrong.

  5. joplingirl

    Had a stepmom, am a stepmom. Have been the outsider looking in at every familial group. There is worth in the research and I have to say its not about being positive or negative. It’s about being emotionally honest. Providing a way in for people they’ve never had before.

  6. Averil Dean

    I’m avoiding it. My ms. is riddled with notes that would require me to stop writing and look things up, which I tend to put off until the last possible moment.

    And yeah, those titles… Blech.

  7. Angie LaForest

    Not being a step anything ever, becoming a stepmom was the hardest job I ever had. I am a strict mom so I became the step monster from hell… is there a book about that shit… lol
    You never measure up to the real mom no matter how hard you try.
    I needed to find a book titled ” How to raise lazy step bums without choking them to death”

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