A lot of stepmoms ask me about resources for their stepchildren that will address stepfamily issues. They want to find books with characters who are part of a stepfamily, so their stepchildren can relate to the characters and the types of issues they’re having. This helps stepfamilies open up a dialogue on how the children feel about having two homes and stepparents. So when I found a unique children’s book that does just that, I had to share it with all of you! The book even includes a song that you can sing with your stepchildren.
I interviewed the author, Shannon Forster, and she told me all about her inspiration behind Love Grows and Grows: A Blooming Story for an Extended Family as well as her passion for helping stepfamilies. Shannon lives in Weston, Florida, where she is a wife, mom, and stepmom.
Tell us about your book. What’s the story?
My book has characters styled as human-hybrid flowers; which themselves are a metaphor for growth and the evolution towards love. The story follows young siblings Flora and Leaf as they transition into a new and unfamiliar life between two homes- one with Mom, and one with Dad and his new wife. Their journey highlights the challenges associated with creating extended families: a child’s apprehension of meeting someone new, and eventually choosing to accept and embrace this person to become a part of their world. With love and patience, we see a mom and a stepmom model a wonderful example of how to put their children first, working together to create a blended family with happy and confident kids. This example of unconditional love is what empowers Flora and Leaf to embrace a new definition of a typical family, and cultivate a new “normal” that benefits everyone involved.
What inspired you to write the book?
Being a member of our community, I feel it is important to create something positive, and to give back to others whenever possible. When beginning my journey to create this book, I was shocked to discover that this had never been done before! (Half of marriages end in divorce, and most have children). After I got divorced and became a single mother, I wanted to do everything I could to make this new life transition as easy as possible for my children. In doing so, I immediately befriended their stepmother, and my children loved her from the first day of meeting her.
Throughout the years, I have had countless parents approach me and ask me how I created such a calm and peaceful environment for my kids. I knew I had a lesson to teach so many other families; that divorce and co-parenting can be wonderful, not frightening. When I went to the library and every local book store to see what they had for children to help them with this, the answer I always received was, “We don’t have a book for children to help them with this.” I just couldn’t believe it! I went home that day and began to create what is now called, Love Grows and Grows: A Blooming Story for an Extended Family. Since being published, I have had so many parents and children hug me and tell me thank you for writing this story.
How did you come up with the name of your book? What is the message?
The title, Love Grows and Grows: A Blooming Story for an Extended Family, outlines the single most important rule I have ever taught my children. “Love grows and grows,” was something I would say to them all the time. When I became inspired to write this story, I envisioned the characters as hybrid human flowers. The more flowers you add to a garden, the more beautiful it becomes. Thus, the concept of flowers always blooming and growing when nurtured serves as a terrific metaphor to deliver my message of embracing extended love.
What lesson do you hope to teach children?
I hope that children and their families walk away with the courage and trust to believe in themselves. I want people to realize that great things can come from accepting an unknown, seemingly unforeseeable, perhaps even scary future. So many children (and adults) are extremely confused and apprehensive of change when faced with a new family dynamic. Part of our role as parents is to create a positive and even fun environment for them to realize that this change can be good—perhaps even better than the status quo.