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The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Lifeby Harriet Goldhor Lerner
Synopses & Reviews
Despite wall-to-wall books on parenting, there is a conspicuous silence about the mother's experience of mothering and how her life and relationships are transformed when children come along. This is a book about being a mother-what it does and what it feels like from the inside.
A mother and psychologist, Lerner combines personal tales with vivid examples to explore the complexity, truth, and turbulence surrounding motherhood. She reveals how children are the greatest teachers of life's most profound spiritual lessons, and she offers her best advice to help mothers make sense of an overwhelming experience.
With stories that run the gamut from the hilarious to the sobering, Lerner spells out what happens to a woman-and her relationships-from the time when the first baby comes along all the way to the empty nest.
" The Mother Dance is one of the wisest and most honest books on parenting I have read. As a parent myself, I ate up story after story, insight after insight."
" I love The Mother Dance; it's wonderful-true, touching, practical, spiritual, sanity-saving, and I laughed out loud a number of times, with recognition, surprise and gratitude."
" Harriet Lerner pioneers on behalf of women's whole humanity. Each chapter in The Mother Dance is worth the price ofadmission."
" In The Mother Dance, there are no mistakes in parenting-only learning experiences told with a great sense of humor."
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
When I started this book, I had one son in high school and another in college. I completed the project two years later from the vantage point of a newly empty nest. I've valued the opportunity to look back at my own complex experience of mothering, and I've not hesitated to share the best and worst of it. Your kids will make you love them in a way you never thought possible. They will also confront you will all the painful and unsavory emotions that we try so hard to avoid. Children will teach you about yourself, and about what it's like not to be up to the demands of the most important responsibility you'll ever have. When you become a mother, you learn that you are capable of deep compassion, and also that you're definitely not the nice, highly evolved person you fancied yourself to be before you became a mother. The novelist Fay Weldon puts it best. " The greatest advantage of not having children must be that you can go on believing you are a good person. Once you have children, you realize how wars start."
2. How does his new life differ from her new life after the first baby comes along?
3. What changes (from within and without)need to occur to make shared parenting a realistic goal?
4. How is a marriage changed and challenged by the arrival of the first child?
5. What do you know about your own mother's experience of mothering throughout the lifecycle? What stage was the most difficult for her?
6. On raising daughters, Lerner says, " Your daughter is watching you." What did you learn from watching your own mother about what it means to be a wife, a mother, a single parent, a daughter, a friend, a sister, a worker, and, ultimately, a human being? What lessons do you want to pass on?
7. What is a " good mother" ?
8. What is the biggest challenge of raising daughters? Of raising sons?
9. Discuss Lerner's comment, " If you're raising a mama's boy, go for it!"
10. Discuss the difference between productive and nonproductive guilt. Discuss fear and worry in a mother's experience.
11. What do you think are the most helpful messages a mother can impart to her adolescent daughter about sex? About food? Is your answer different for sons?
12. How are kids affected by the " emotional climate" between their parents, married or divorced?
13. Discuss your label, role, or " job description" in your family of origin (" the weak one, " " the good one, " " mother's best friend" ). What roles and labels do your kids have? At what cost?
14. How can you best foster communication with kids about emotionally difficult issues (illness, suicide, divorce, job loss)?
15. Why is the role of stepmother so difficult? How can you try to avoid the usual pitfalls?
16. What are the biggest challenges a mother faces when her first or last kidleaves home? How is it different if she is single or married?
From the celebrated author of The Dance of Anger comes an extraordinary book about mothering and how it transforms us — and all our relationships — inside and out. Written from her dual perspective as a psychologist and a mother, Lerner brings us deeply personal tales that run the gamut from the hilarious to the heart-wrenching. From birth or adoption to the empty nest, The Mother Dance teaches the basic lessons of motherhood: that we are not in control of what happens to our children, that most of what we worry about doesn't happen, and that our children will love us with all our imperfections if we can do the same for them. Here is a gloriously witty and moving book about what it means to dance the mother dance.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 311-317).
About the Author
Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., is one of our nations most loved and respected relationship experts. Renowned for her work on the psychology of women and family relationships, she served as a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic for more than two decades. A distinguished lecturer, workshop leader, and psychotherapist, she is the author of The Dance of Anger and other bestselling books. She is also, with her sister, an award-winning children's book writer. She and her husband are therapists in Lawrence, Kansas, and have two sons.
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