Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt; Peg Streep
This title caught my attention several months ago, and I knew it was one book I really wanted to read, having been raised by a mother who was emotionally detached.
In this well researched book, Peg Streep, examines type of mothering that often is not spoken about: "Mean Mothers", and that they do in fact exist. Through scientific research and case studies of adult daughters of unloving and overly critical mothers, the author provides insight as to why some women are just not capable of nurturing their children -- especially their daughters. It isn't just physical abuse, emotional abuse can be just as damaging. The author points out how daughters who are denied closeness, loving gestures and positive reinforcement from their mothers can develop negative self-images, and compulsive behaviors like overeating, overspending and overachieving. Emotional connection and closeness is something that is learned during infancy and childhood. If raised in such a way that a child becomes emotionally detached, and this is not addressed as adults, future relationships are apt to suffer.
The author was a product of such a mother.........."I was no older than three or four when I knew my mother didn't love me. Of course, the way in which I knew this was different from how I would know and understand it at other times in my life, but I knew it nonetheless. I knew it first by the way she stiffened when I tried to sit in her lap or touch her arm, and how she turned her face away when I kissed her. She wasn't like the people who loved me – my father, my grandfather, my great-aunt, or even my teachers – whose faces softened with pleasure when I drew near. "
One of the women interviewed by the author, hit particularly close to home for me (Sarah fifty-two)...."I learned not to ask my mother for anything because she never gave anything freely. There were always strings attached. Holidays associated with family and closeness and even my own birthday were always hard for me and still are. I approach them with low expectations and I am always ready to be disappointed because I always was with my mother. I have trouble asking for help from people, especially women because of my mother's inability to give........."
MY THOUGHTS - Although, perhaps a bit too theory based, I did find a lot of this book very interesting. If your childhood was perfect in every way, then there is no need for you to read this book. If not, then many women might gain a better understanding of why your mother was the way she was when you were growing up. You can breathe easy, since not every daughter who is the product of a "mean mother", will become a "mean mother" herself. It takes work to move beyond the cycle of hurt that some wounded women have experienced, but it is possible to heal and to forgive. RECOMMENDED