Monday, December 28, 2009

201 - Mean Mothers; 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

14 comments:

  1. I'm sorry that your mother was emotionally detached. My mom was so young when she had me and honestly she was far from mean. I'm glad that there were things you got from this book that allowed you to understand her a little bit more.

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  2. Thank you for this review. I never would have known about this book if you had not written about it. I had a "mean Mother" and would like to understand her better.

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  3. This sounds like it would be a worthwhile read. Thanks for your great review, Diane.

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  4. Thanks Staci...

    Joemmama....you are very welcome, I hope you find this book helpful.

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  5. This sounds a lot like my mom. I'm interested in seeing the theories behind this because I'm not sure why she is the way she is...

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  6. I think I need to get hold of this book. My mum wasn't really mean, but she has mental problems, so a lot of the issues present in this book will probably be relevant to me. Thank you for drawing it to my attention.

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  7. Wow. What a brave thing to write a book about; I've seen this, I've worried about it, and I am sad about it.

    And I am sorry, too, that you had to live through this.

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  8. Thank you for turning me onto this book!

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  9. I am fascinated by this book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Your review was very good and your caveat is important I think. :)

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  10. I had a mother like this and it's always led me to have trouble forming attachments to other women in my life. I think this would be a very healing read for me and I will be picking up a copy when I can. Sorry to hear you had the same problem with your mom, it can be difficult to move beyond that kind of hurt.

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  11. Staci, Joemmama, Wendy, Saveophelia, Jackie, Beth, Amused, Wisteria and Zibilee ... thank you for your sweet comments, and those of you who had a difficult childhood because of your mother, I hope you will find this book helpful.

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  12. I'm sorry to hear that your mother was that kind of mother ... I'm sure it was hard and confusing. I'm glad there is a book out there to address these types of issues so that poeple don't feel alone or unlovable -- that this is something that happens alot. I had my own issues with my mother but not in this arena.

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  13. Wow, this sounds like a book that hit close to home for you. Great review.

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  14. Thanks Jenner and Kathy -- yes, it was a pretty lonely childhood.

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