Author Topic: Book Recommendation: DIFFICULT MOTHERS  (Read 8945 times)


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Book Recommendation: DIFFICULT MOTHERS
« on: June 20, 2012, 02:24:49 PM »
Hi all and Dr. G,

I just found this terrific book by Terri Apter called Difficult Mothers.  Apter breaks down "difficult" mamas into various categories: "The Angry Mother," "The Controlling Mother," "The Narcissistic Mother," "The Envious Mother," "The Emotionally Unavailable Mother." And of course, those of us with NMs are intimately acquainted with all of the above!

Anyway, she writes really well, I think, about the experience of voicelessness:

"In childhood, we thrive on our parent's delight in us and feel diminished by our parent's disapproval. In most cases, we make sense of our parent's different responses and learn what is acceptable and what is not.  We also learn how to defend ourselves, explain our motives, and influence others' views of us.  But when our parent claims to have full and fixed knowledge of who we should be and what we need to do, or when our parent's assessment of us is based primarily on her own needs, then we confront a terrible dilemma.  We have to choose between valuing our own needs, developing our own thoughts, and identifying our own emotions, on the one hand, and maintaining a significant relationship with our parent, on the other.

A mother who imposes this dilemma is often unaware of the precise conditions she is setting.  She may be overwhelmed by her own needs; her vision narrows and cuts off her child's perspective.  When she was a child, she may have experienced prolonged stress from either neglect or abuse that has rendered her unable to manage her own emotions and respond to her child's. Her son or daughter may be the only person who 'hears' her despair, and she may then come to depend on her child and see him or her as her caregiver. She may feel so powerless herself that she manipulates or terrifies or controls her child just to exercise some effect on her world.

Understanding a mother's difficulty does not ease the child's difficult experience. To a child the dilemma--"Either develop complex and constricting coping mechanisms to maintain a relationship with me, at great cost to your own outlook, imagination, and values, or suffer ridicule, disapproval, or rejection"--is a choice between life or death."

very nice when someone is able to articulate a stifling yet ambiguous feeling! Kay x