Lesson Plans


About the Author:


Susan Philips is the Co-Director of College Path LA, a program to help first generation immigrant students through the college application process. She also consults with LACER Hollywood Stars, an organization that promotes quality after-school programming in arts, literacy and sports in several inner-city middle and high schools. Susan received a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California and a teaching credential from the University of California at Irvine. This is her third book. Stepchildren Speak: 10 Grown-up Stepchildren Teach Us How to Build Healthy Stepfamilies, a collection of interviews with stepchildren, is her first. In the Heart of Another: Immigrant Women Tell Their stories, is her second. Susan lives in Los Angeles.

An Intricate Dance: Stepparents Tell Us How They Found Their Rhythm

Dance coverAgain Susan Philips uses her extraordinary personal interview skills to bring to light both the miseries and the joys of stepparenting along with a good deal of advice for all present or prospective stepparents.  In 2005, she published Stepchildren Speak: 10 Grown-up Stepchildren Teach Us How to Build Healthy Stepfamilies. This was the first time anybody had thought to ask stepchildren about their experiences, what worked and what didn’t in their opinion, and the book won a parenting award. In 2013 at the request of stepparents who liked the book but felt their stories had gone unheard, Philips proceeded to write An Intricate Dance: Stepparents Tell Us How They Found Their Rhythm.

She interviewed nine stepparents—four dads and five moms. They come from different backgrounds and different parts of the country. They tell how they have coped with problems as mundane as dishes left in the living room and what to have stepchildren call them to things as serious as rivalry among stepsiblings and demanding biological parents. All nine stepparents pour out their stories and end them with what they have learned in the process. In the final chapter, Philips pulls out the commonalities in the stories, the wisdom gained from first-hand experience.

A full section at the back of the book is a Stepparent Workshop Guide. It includes nine sessions, each on a primary lesson gleaned from the stepparents’s stories.  It is easily facilitated by counselors, ministers, rabbis, or even stepparents themselves, adaptable to classroom or living room. Step-by-step directions and reproducible handouts make it user friendly.

Quotes from the stories:

Sarah: “You’re going to step up at times and do so much for the family; you’re going to step back sometimes when you really think that someone should pat you on the back and say thank you, but nobody does. You are also going to be stepped on.”
Joan: “It’s hard to be a stepmom. It’s hard to be a mom, but being a stepmom has been so much harder than I ever thought.”
John: “Before you marry a person with children, be sure you want a stepchild in your life. If you are not sure, I could see how this could be a great strain on a relationship.”
Fran: “The greatest joy of being a stepmom is love. It sounds saccharine, but I love my stepkids so much and they love me, and I really know that.”
Paul: “I’ve learned that if you can’t cement the re-lationship with the mom, make sure you do everything you can to hang on to the relationship with your kids. That is primary.”

Price is $15.95 plus $4 for shipping. If you need multiple copies, to avoid excessive shipping costs, please call 503-206-8853.

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