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2 Beaverton Child Care and Parenting- Mothering

Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace


Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace Cover

ISBN13: 9780385527934
ISBN10: 0385527934
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. The author begins by quoting some of the unattainable definitions of being a “good mother” that doom women to fail in the pursuit. What are some definitions of “good mother” that youve come across in your experience? How do you think society defines a good mother? Do you agree with the author that these expectations are generally too high?

2. What do you consider a responsible, attainable ideal of a modern mother?

3. Are you familiar with any of the blogs the author mentions-Salon, urbanbaby.com, or other similar sites? What is your experience with them?

4. What do you think of the authors declaration that she loves her husband more than her children? Is there a hierarchy in your household between spouse, children, home, self? Do you think there is a right way to organize affections within a family?

5. Discuss the idea of being honest with ones children. How far do (or would) you take this in your home? Where would you make exceptions?

6. The author concludes by saying that her parenting goal, rather than to be “good,” is to be “mindful.” Can you summarize your parenting goals in a single word (or phrase)? Do you think it is important to have a guiding principle like this?

7. The author describes her evolving relationship with her mother-in-law as having been initially tainted by jealousy (her own), and then improving as the children were born. Have you gone through anything like this? Do you think her mother-in-law was as guileless as Waldman claims in this evolution?

8. In reference to Zekes ADHD diagnosis, the author discusses her feelings that the facts of family are sometimes disappointing when compared to our unrealistic expectations. What are your expectations for your children? Which ones derive from your children themselves, and which from your and your spouses traits and experiences? Are you fair to your children with regard to your expectations? Do you think the concept of “fairness” applies here?

9. Discuss the authors difficult experience with Rocketship. Why does she choose to include such a detailed description of the events in this book? Do you consider the decision to terminate the pregnancy to be a parenting decision? Were any of the events and decisions she shares surprising or helpful to you?

10. The division of labor in the household is an important theme in the book-both in terms of the authors actual experience and the statistical information she cites. How does this play out in your family? Do you and your partner discuss these issues, or just let them determine themselves? What are your jobs in the home?

11. The author describes at length her feminist upbringing, and how her home in liberal Berkeley, California helped shape her outlook on motherhood. Similarly, how did your upbringing, either liberal or more conservative, contribute toward who you are as a parent?

12. What do you make of the authors opinions on optimism vs. pessimism? What are the relative benefits of each? Does ones optimism or pessimism play into the idealized role of a “good mother”?

13. Are there any passages in the book you would like to share (or have already shared) with your partner or friends?

14. What lessons do you take from the book? Were any passages particularly meaningful to you? What do you think is most useful about the book, and about Waldmans philosophy?

15. Why do you think the author chose to write this book? Do you think it was successful in its aims?

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Bev, April 9, 2009 (view all comments by Bev)
This is the first time I have ever read a book by Ayelet Waldman. I was inspired by Ayelet's honesty and the huge helping of self that she squeezes into every sentence. The love that she has for her children is so raw, so honest that at times you almost feel that you are invading their privacy but it is because of this honesty that you begin to understand that for everything mothers do for their children they do it because of love. Right or wrong, there are really very few bad mothers, only mothers who try in their own way to be a 'good' mother. Ms Waldman holds nothing back as she shares her family's decision in favor of an abortion and also of the diagnosis of bipolar disease that runs in her family. This book opens the door to understanding more about ourselves as mothers, I learned a lot from it and want to thank Ayelet for having the courage to write it.
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Product Details

Waldman, Ayelet
Doubleday Books
Waldman, Ayelet Gilbert
Authors, American
Parenting - Motherhood
Topic - Family
Motherhood -- United States.
Authors, American - 21st century
Topic - Marriage & Family
Child Care and Parenting-Mothering
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.48x5.84x.97 in. .79 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Family
Biography » General
Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » General
Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » Mothering
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General

Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace Used Hardcover
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$3.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385527934 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In the tradition of recent hits like The Bitch in the House and Perfect Madness comes a hilarious and controversial book that every woman will have an opinion about, written by Americas most outrageous writer.

In our mothers day there were good mothers, neglectful mothers, and occasionally great mothers.


Today we have only Bad Mothers.


If you work, youre neglectful; if you stay home, youre smothering. If you discipline, youre buying them a spot on the shrinks couch; if you let them run wild, they will be into drugs by seventh grade. If you buy organic, youre spending their college fund; if you dont, youre risking all sorts of allergies and illnesses.


Is it any wonder so many women refer to themselves at one time or another as “a bad mother”? Ayelet Waldman says its time for women to get over it and get on with it, in a book that is sure to spark the same level of controversy as her now legendary “Modern Love” piece, in which she confessed to loving her husband more than her children.

Covering topics as diverse as the hysteria of competitive parenting (Whose toddler can recite the planets in order from the sun?), the relentless pursuits of the Bad Mother police, balancing the work-family dynamic, and the bane of every mothers existence (homework, that is), Bad Mother illuminates the anxieties that riddle motherhood today, while providing women with the encouragement they need to give themselves a break.

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