The timeworn stereotype of the conflict between the evil stepmother, the angry mother and the daughter caught between them is simply no longer true, says gender studies professor Susan Shapiro Barash. According to her research, fully 75 percent of adult daughters of divorce now consider their stepmothers to be confidantes and supporters. The key is how these three women in the new triangle so prevalent in modern life relate to each other. In the most positive scenario, a stepmother adds a new dimension to her stepdaughter’s life and the stepdaughter reaps the benefits of two mother figures. But the path to a happy relationship is not always an easy one.

In her groundbreaking book, WOMEN OF DIVORCE: Mothers, Daughters, Stepmothers—The New Triangle (New Horizon Press, November 2002), Susan Shapiro Barash explores the dynamics that take shape among the three women who find themselves members of the new “extended” family. A divorced and remarried mother herself, Barash has witnessed firsthand how differently divorce affects daughters and sons. She has conducted hundreds of interviews with mothers, stepmothers and daughters of various ages and ethnic groups to find answers about the impact divorce and remarriage has had on their relationships with each other.

With seventy-five percent of divorcees remarrying and the majority of those second marriages involving children, the conflicts and adjustments between mothers, daughters, stepmothers and stepdaughters are a day to day reality in many women’s lives. Barash’s pioneering research is among the first to look exclusively at the effects of the husband’s/father’s remarriage on the three women impacted: mother, daughter and stepmother. Insights from psychologists, sociologists and divorce attorneys lend added weight to Barash’s breakthrough findings about the after effects of husbands’/fathers’ remarriages on each of these three categories of women.

WOMEN OF DIVORCE deals openly with feelings and behaviors and it examines how women can work to overcome negative expectations and unhealthy patterns when forging relationships with their new mothers or daughters. Barash looks at every side of the new triangle: mothers and daughters, stepmothers and daughters, as well as the often uncomfortable alliance between mother and stepmother. With concise, accessible advice, she provides many of these women with their first and only opportunity to see the truth about their lives, empowering them to build bridges of understanding, prevent discord, and benefit rather than suffer from their new family situation.

With Over 65 percent of remarriages involving stepchildren, over half of them daughters, such familial relationships can be uncertain and filler with regret. WOMEN OF DIVORCE offers reassurance, as well as hands-on, relationship-building advice. It is essential reading for any woman who finds herself at one of the crucial points of the new triangle caused by divorce and remarriage.