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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. More here.

Live webchat with Sam Baker, author of The Stepmothers' Support Group, Tues 8 Sept (1-2pm)

(61 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-Sep-09 13:23:59


On Tuesday 8th September, Sam Baker, Editor of Red Magazine and author of The Stepmothers' Support Group will be joining us for a sponsored webchat between 1 and 2pm to answer your questions and talk about her own experiences of being a step-parent.

If you're unable to join us please send your questions in advance to this thread.

Pinkjenny Fri 04-Sep-09 16:47:09

I'm not a step-parent, but I'd love to ask her who she thinks buys the overpriced merchandise in Red Magazine.

<prepares to be deleted>

poppy34 Fri 04-Sep-09 20:01:41

Sorry but i am a bit hmm about this - why are her experiences as a step mother any more valid than anyone who may post on here?

poppy34 Fri 04-Sep-09 20:03:15

Valid prob not right word but basically I am sure she is nice etc

BonsoirAnna Sat 05-Sep-09 10:01:31

I'm not convinced either. The stepmothers' discussions on here are fabulous and on-going - lots of us know lots about one another's family dynamics. You need a lot of detail to talk meaningfully about stepparenting.

moondog Sat 05-Sep-09 10:46:12

It's someone else with a crappy book to flog. No more, no less.

What makes her an expert?

And yes Pinkjenny, I'd also like ot know why Red is a shite read. I cancelled my subscription a few years back for this reason.

Stayingsunnygirl Sat 05-Sep-09 11:57:44

I've read the book and enjoyed it. The characters seemed believable, and so did the situations.

Fruitysunshine Sun 06-Sep-09 21:15:36

I read some of the book and did not finish it. I am a stepmother, divorcee and second wife so can see it from all angles but my own real life experiences and those of my friends, who are mostly stepmums too, do not match a lot of the content of the book. I was also confused about the fact it is meant to be a work of fiction yet there were clearly references to real life groups and user names from certain websites. Of course, according to the legal jargon it is purely "coincidental".

DrLisa Mon 07-Sep-09 10:36:11

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

champagnesupernova Mon 07-Sep-09 14:23:18

Hi Sam
What was editing Cosmopolitan like? I ask because I used to work for a very dowdy magazine and even then every day was fun because of all the ab-fab PR stuff we dealt with.
Can't imagine what it was like at cosmo, where it was all sextips and orgasms.

When you were in your editorial meetings discussing your "20 different ways to sizzle in bed" coverlines, did you ever imagine you'd be doing what you're doing now?

duffy Mon 07-Sep-09 15:18:28

I imagine she's got something to say about step-parenting because she's written a book about it. I'd be a bit disappointed if I wrote a WHOLE BOOK about a subject and didn't learn something.
So Sam - would love to know what you think is the single most important bit of advice you'd give someone about to become a step parent?

(Many thanks in advance)

Mickie Mon 07-Sep-09 16:17:22

Not a step mum myself but having had children brought up on a diet of wicked Disney/Fairytale stepmothers (can anyone name a good one?) I wonder how you get over the perception that, particularly for small children, all step mothers are wicked - and if you've ever come across that particular prejudice!

Sorry, it's a bit of a flippant question, but I'd also be really curious to know why stepmums are always the literary baddies (assume they aren't in your book)?

wordswidenight Tue 08-Sep-09 11:10:29

I really loved the book - it was fun but really sad in places too.

I found Clare's situation the most difficult and moving of the novel - what inspired you to write this character? How do you think you would have dealt with her situation? I can't imagine being in her position, and really sympathised with her!

Kitty60 Tue 08-Sep-09 11:16:37

How did you manage to juggle writing the book, with your job and being a step-mum? I don't think I could manage!

holly99 Tue 08-Sep-09 11:18:58

I found your book a really uplifting read and could really relate to it - I know you're not strictly an 'expert' but do you have your own stepmothers' support group that you've drawn on stories from in writing this? If not, would you ever set one up? It sounds such a good idea!

holly99 Tue 08-Sep-09 11:26:35

PS - I love Red magazine!

Jacqui10 Tue 08-Sep-09 11:32:41

Loved the book!! Both entertaining and poignant.

You're a step-mum yourself - Have you encountered similar situations to those in the book? Are they based on your own experiences?

Whentwobecamefour Tue 08-Sep-09 11:40:00

Bit of along post as need to give you some background!!

I have been with my dp for three years, and have a dd and ds from my previous marriage (7 and 5), and two dsds (9 and 7). My two live with us all the time and my dsds live with us half the time. The children all get on brilliantly, call each other sister and brother, and my dp has a prety good relationship with his ex, as indeed do I (it was a mutual break up). I am also very close to both dsds and feel like they are my children.

All in all we have a very strong family unit - although there are problems, most of them we can deal with expect perhaps this one problem.

My youngest dsd (7) doesn't like my dp and I kissing or hugging (we do quite a lot of it!!) - when we do she has a massive sulk with much crying! We have talked to her about it a lot, and she says it has nothing to do with her Mummy she just doesnt like it (her Mum has a dp of 1 year who doesn't live with her and she doesn't mind them kissing and hugging). We are a very tactile family, so there are plenty of hugs and kisses going round, all the time!!

She is incredibly close to her Dad and would quite happily spend every second of her time with him, she is quite a dependent but outgoing child and a bit emotionally immature for her age.

I am aware that it's just jealousy on her behalf, but don't know how to explain this to her, or if indeed I should. We have long talks after she has had one of her sulks, but as she doesn't understand why it makes her feel unhappy, and as she doesn't understand adult relationships, it doesn't stop it happening.

What would you suggest we do?

jepa Tue 08-Sep-09 12:53:01

My dh has 2 dcs (20 & 22) from a previous relationship whom he has quite a haphazard relationship with them i.e. lots of contact followed by months of nothing. I believe fault for this lies on both sides. I spent the first 6 years of our marriage trying to be the 'good' stepmother, including them in everything, helping them with job applications, college work etc, frequently making sure they came to us but have now given up as I felt the relationship was continual 'give' for nothing in return. All I had hoped for was that they would enjoy our company and think of us occasionally but I perceived that never happened, and that whenever anything went wrong I was always be 'the bad guy'. I therefore withdrew from a pro-active role and left any organisation, invites etc to my dh (their father). They now barely come over (as he rarely invites them) and I've sneaked a look at some text exchanges between him and them which again blame me for the current situation.

I am at my wits end to know what to do. I want them to be part of our lives and I feel my husband should take a pro-active role in their lives but this doesn't happen. Our dcs ask when their big brother and sister will visit but I feel at a loss when answering? What should I do?

SamBaker Tue 08-Sep-09 12:53:59

Testing! Will be here in 5 mins

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 08-Sep-09 13:00:32

A big welcome to Sam Baker who is joining us for a chat and to answer your questions until 2pm this afternoon - welcome to mumsnet Sam...

SamBaker Tue 08-Sep-09 13:03:10

Hi everyone

Thanks for sending in your questions. It's good to hear everyone's feedback. I wrote SSG after writing an Editors' letter in Red magazine about being a stepmum and how I thought we got a raw deal. I got a massive response and loads of emails from people saying they didn't have anyone to talk to about, which made me think there was an appetite for a novel that addressed some of the issues.

Researching SSG I spoke to loads of stepmums with loads of different experiences, so whilst some of my experiences did go into the book, so did lots of other people's, and it's all fictionalised.

When anyone asks me I always refer them to mumsnet's step-parenting forum because there's nowhere else that has such a full and frank conversation.

Now I'll get cracking on your questions


SamBaker Tue 08-Sep-09 13:04:39

Thanks for your question wordswidenight

I love Clare too. It’s funny because when I was writing her she really sprung to life on the page. I very much wanted SSG to not just be about stepmothers – it’s a book about modern relationships – single mums, single dads, stepfamilies, the whole thing - so Clare brought an entirely other perspective to it. She’s really admirable but she wears her hardship heavily. Without giving too much away, over the course of the novel she learns to let that go a bit, by finding herself entirely on the otherside of the stepmother fence. I can’t even begin to imagine how I would have coped myself with so much grown up responsibility so young.

SamBaker Tue 08-Sep-09 13:05:46

Hi Ottavia

I'm not an expert, I only have my own experience to go on, but in my experience don’t try to be their mum. They’ve already got one. You need to find a different role to play in their lives.

SamBaker Tue 08-Sep-09 13:07:52

Thanks for your question mickie. It's not flippant at all. I think the fairytale perception of stepmums has a lot to answer for. You never hear about evil stepfathers, do you? Maybe it’s because women were more likely to die in childbirth and get ‘replaced’? The question I would ask is, where is the father in all these situations? Think about Cinderella for instance. I’m not trying to rehabilitate Cinderella’s stepmother, but when she comes in, moves her daughters in and banishes Cinders to the kitchen to clean the hearth, where is the dad? He’s off hunting on his steed is where, paying zero attention to his daughter. If Cinderella’s dad had put his foot down then it would never have happened (and it wouldn’t have been good copy).

In SSG they aren’t all good. They’re just human. For instance Clare feels very anti her own stepmonster, and with good reason, but there are always two sides to a story. If not three. Someone said, there’s three sides to every story, my side, your side, and the truth. That’s certainly the case here.

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