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Forced to Be Family: A Guide for Living with Sinister Sisters, Drama Mamas, and Infuriating In-Laws Hardcover – September 28, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0470049990 ISBN-10: 0470049995 Edition: 1st

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Forced to Be Family: A Guide for Living with Sinister Sisters, Drama Mamas, and Infuriating In-Laws + Mean Girls Grown Up: Adult Women Who Are Still Queen Bees, Middle Bees, and Afraid-to-Bees
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470049995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470049990
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,769,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Relationship counselor Dellasega adds to her long list of self-help books dealing with mean and troubled women (Surviving Ophelia, Girl Wars, Mean Girls Grown Up). Chock-full of real-life, victim-oriented stories by complaining women, Dellasega's latest is based on the idea that no one can hurt a woman more than a member of her own family, especially if the aggressor is female. Dellasega, a professor in the College of Medicine and in the department of humanities and women's studies at Penn State, offers depressing tales of women betraying their sisters and mothers-in-law humiliating their sons' wives. No longer a symptom of what used to be called a dysfunctional family, Dellasega labels this unrest Relative Relational Aggression or Relative RA. By the end, one can't help but long for the sensible advice of the late Ann Landers. Once, when someone wrote in to her asking what to do when a family member was rude to you, Landers told her to simply say, Excuse me? But then where's the drama in that? (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Relationship counselor Dellasega adds to her long list of self-help books dealing with mean and troubled women (Surviving Ophelia, Girl Wars,Mean Girls Grown Up). Chock-full of real-life, victim-oriented stories by complaining women, Dellasega's latest is based on the idea that no one can hurt a woman more than a member of her own family, especially if the aggressor is female. Dellasega, a professor in the College of Medicine and in the department of humanities and women's studies at Penn State, offers depressing tales of women betraying their sisters and mothers-in-law humiliating their sons' wives. No longer a symptom of what used to be called a “dysfunctional family,” Dellasega labels this unrest “Relative Relational Aggression” or “Relative RA.” By the end, one can't help but long for the sensible advice of the late Ann Landers. Once, when someone wrote in to her asking what to do when a family member was rude to you, Landers told her to simply say, “Excuse me?” But then where's the drama in that? (Oct.) (Publishers Weekly, August 20, 2007)

More About the Author

Last 32 years=Mom
Last 25 years=Professor (Humanities and Women's Studies at Penn State University)
Last 12 years=Author of nonfiction self help books for women
Last 10 years=Founder & Director of Club and Camp Ophelia
Last 7 years=Published fiction author
Last 5 years=Oma/Omee/grandma
Last 2 years=Author of books for nurses
Last 1 year=fiance :)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Dr. Cheryl Dellasega has done it again.
Patricia L. Gadsden
A great read for those looking to gain a deeper understanding about relationships with the women who have shaped our own perceptions.
Shileste Morris
It's a must read for all of us who yearn for more meaningful connections with the women of our families.
Sherry L. Musselman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Linden on April 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm giving this book two stars instead of one, because I think someone could find it helpful. It spends a lot of pages dealing with issues between sisters, and issues between mothers and daughters. For people with those specific issues, this might be an excellent book.

However, I read this book hoping to find some insights into problems with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, more specifically looking for some explanation or understanding of my sister-in-law's behavior, and perhaps so tips for both situations. Unfortunately, the chapter entitled "Mothers and Sisters By Law" mostly informs the reader that there are websites where people are able to share their woes, talks about competition between sisters from a sister-in-law's point of view, and shares some statistics. For a book that admits that family problems are most commonly with mother-in-laws and sister-in-laws, this chapter reads like a last minute report. You know the one when the student stays up all night trying to make a few hours worth of research seem like they spent weeks on it? That one.

At the end of the chapter the author admits that she is one of the fortunate few that has always liked her sisters-in-law. Really? That's nice. But then the chapter ends. The only enlightening bit about sisters-in-law in the entire chapter is that "One expert I spoke with assured me that sisters will never get along with their brother's wives because of territorial issues." The author attributes this sentiment to cave-woman instincts, but does not elaborate. At one point there is a reference to "take-backs," a type of behavior wherein one party insults the other and then claims to have been joking, but there are no examples given, and no tips to be found for dealing with it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Liz Hamilton on August 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book provides vivid anecdotes about relationship aggression (some of which I would categorize as abuse)and does an excellent job of describing the nature of the problem. It provides relatively little information, however, about how to deal effectively with these difficult family situations. More how-tos would significantly strengthen this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Siobhan Laverdiere on August 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I picked up this book, I was really hopeful it would provide new insights into female Relational Aggression (RA) within families, particularly in-laws. However, I found this book just a repeat of some of the other stuff I've read by this author, and when it got to the chapter on in-laws the book fell short. The ideas seemed incomplete and just left me going "Huh? And?"

Also, there was a little too many personal stories and articles in this book for my liking and not enough of the author's voice. While I do like the idea of other women sharing their stories, the continual poetry, personal memoirs and articles made for choppy reading. Also, it seemed more like this book should have been advertised as a collection of women's experiences more than an insightful analysis on female RA within the family dynamic.

In addition, I think the last segment about "what to do" about female family RA was too idealistic; while some good advice was given, the scope was too limited (i.e. the need to reconcile or just choose whether to put up with it because there's no escaping a family and there's still the notion of pleasing your spouse by putting up with it).

In my personal experience, having a reasonable discussion with a bully usually doesn't work and can even escalate their aggression because they know they're being called out on it. If these individuals were 'reasonable' they wouldn't be bullies to begin with. Therefore, sometimes reconciliation or mutual respect is not possible and what this book failed to mention was that it doesn't matter where bullying occurs (even in a family). You have the right to cut ties with other women who abuse you, period-- sometimes that might be the only way to save your self-worth and/or marriage.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By angusmacscottie on January 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author resurrects all the old cliches about mothers-in-law, backbiting sisters, and other assorted dysfunctional family members. The book was surprisingly uninforming. Anyone could have written this book. If you want masterful advice as to how to deal with these people, read Dickens, he's covered just about all the problems families pose, with more panache, pathos, and genius.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Karate Mom on November 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading "Forced to Be Family" and hope that EVERYONE reads this before their next family gathering. The stories Dr. Dellasega shares in this book are real, touching, and sometimes emotional. There were so many I could relate to personally.

It really made me think about myself and re-examine how I interact with the various women in my life, both family members and friends. Some of the quizzes in the book are amazing, and it was an eye opener to me when I honestly answered the questions in regards to close family members.

I am so glad I read this before my family gathers over the holidays. I am planning to use the tools in this book to make MY holidays smoother and really think about how I choose to react to the various personality types I'll face over the next few months.

Every woman needs to read this book!
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