Harriet’s Expanding Heart

Harriet’s Expanding Heart
Rachel Brace and Angela Perrini
Little Steps Publishing

Harriet’s mum and dad are separated and for the little girl that means that in addition to two parents, she has two homes, two different bedrooms, one school and a cat Ginger. Moving between the two homes also means she has to cope with two different sets of rules and routines. No matter what though, she always feels both much loved and safe.

Then one day on a visit to her dad’s, he shares some news: he and his new partner Emily are going to move in together. ‘We’re going to be a step family,’ he tells his daughter. For Harriet this also means a new little stepbrother, Cooper. This announcement leaves her feeling apprehensive and anxious. There follow explanations about what this all means that only leave Harriet with a whole lot of worries whizzing around in her head: what if Dad chooses Emily and Cooper over me? being just one.

After the move some things change, others remain the same for Harriet who experiences feelings being an outsider and sometimes even anger.

It’s going to take time to get used to living with a grown up who isn’t either your mum or dad.

However, little by little with sympathetic understanding and reassurances from her Dad, Harriet begins to feel much less anxious and as her mum explains, ‘there is no right or wrong way to feel’ but no matter what, both her parents will continue to love her very much. She in turn gradually sees that being a member of a stepfamily doesn’t change how much she loves her mum or her dad; it’s more that her heart, along with her family has grown a little bit bigger.

Written by a family psychologist, Rachel’s story, with its straightforward easy to understand language, is especially apposite for new stepfamilies where there are young children. (The author also gives some helpful tips for parents and stepparents.) Angela Perrini really captures the gamut of emotions Harriet experiences during the upheaval in her life.