What do teenage girls really want from their mothers? British Psychologist Terri Apter
offers uncommon wisdom about the "tricky equation" between a daughter's identity and that of her mother. Challenging the idea that girls want to reject dear old mom, Apter suggests that most battles between mothers and daughters are fought to transform the relationship rather than trash it. Arguments become a daughter's way of asking two essential questions: "How can I get my mother to see me the way I am or the way I want to be?" and "How can I keep this important relationship up-to-date and useful to me?" By focusing on how daughters can remain attached to their mothers as they grow, each chapter underlines conflict as means for a daughter to define herself. Apter avoids generalities and targets smart specifics with examples, strategies and sample conversations. She offers an anatomy of a mother-daughter meltdown, nails four patterns of teen lying, and offers guidelines for dialogue about rules and risk assessment. She explains how to navigate food fights, discouraging words, harsh hyperbole ("you are ruining my life!") and the "I know that already" sex talk. Battle fatigued mothers--and the daughters who want to love them without leaving them--will welcome Apter's hopeful, insightful approach. --Barbara Mackoff
From Publishers Weekly
Apter, a psychologist and professor at the University of Cambridge, believes the often turbulent relationship between mothers and their teen daughters is not inevitable and can be improved. Drawing upon numerous interviews with adolescent girls and their mothers, Apter concludes that younger girls often try to emulate their mothers while older ones want to distance themselves from their mothers and not be "like them." Yet, the author stresses, ongoing interaction between mother and daughter is key. The challenge for moms is to avoid the endless cycle of arguments and frustrating conversations and try to be seen by their daughters as more responsive. Apter offers a number of strategies to address common adolescent issues, such as complaints of a lack of freedom, concerns over physical appearance and irritability. Her advice is sound, if not revolutionary: mothers should make an effort to listen to their daughters without passing judgment, either verbally or with physical expressions; and they shouldn't shout or argue but instead wait for their daughters to calm down before having a conversation. Real-life conversations run alongside Apter's commentary, which should help readers identify with many of the situations. This is a solid addition to the teen parenting genre, although the book's heavy reliance on narrative prose, and not bulleted points, will target readers with more time on their hands.
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