Most helpful critical review
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Mean and uninformed
on January 2, 2009
The book is written in a familiar conversational style that may be good for some readers, and has advice some readers may find useful. Basically, it seems, if your relationship with your mother is frustrating, aggravating, all that stuff in the title, but basically good, this book is for you.
If your mother has ever significantly harmed you, do not get this book. (Unless you want to get it to light it on fire with friends, or something.)
I can't really put this in strong enough terms - if your mother has a personality disorder of any kind, if she's molested you or allowed other people to do so, if she has any kind of pronounced pattern of abuse or manipulation, you might be far better off with Victoria Secunda's "When You and Your Mother Can't Be Friends," which is far more compassionate, reasonable, empathetic, and informed.
What McGregor has to tell you about your mother is basically what someone might have told you in the 1880s if you were beaten by your spouse. That you deserved t, basically, and that the person who beat you had your best interests at heart, and only did it because you made them, and so on.
McGregor would perhaps have been wiser to limit the reach of her book to people whose relationships with their mothers had been difficult, but not included psychological disturbance or violence. She doesn't, and in a few short paragraphs dispatches the concerns of these people she seems to know very little about. Her advice for people who have been the victims of abuse: "Your mother only wants the best for you!" She quotes a woman convicted of killing her children who wrote Erma Bombeck a fan letter. In the letter the woman says that Bombeck's book was so good, if only she'd read it earlier she might not have killed her kids. McGregor presents this as evidence that, I guess, mothers are basically innocent of any crimes against their children, even when they killed them.
For people who have been in dangerous situations with their mothers, well, it's not just that it's bad counseling, it's also bad to know that someone espousing this stuff can be called a professional, given endorsements, praised, etc.
Use the book for what you can if you have to, but there are a lot of better things out there.