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You Don't Really Know Me: Why Mothers and Daughters Fight, and How Both Can Win Hardcover – April, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; English Language edition (April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393057585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393057584
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sara on December 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm a mother of 3 daughters - the eldest a teenager. I was excited about a book to help me throught these very difficult years.

I found the book to be very well researched and an easy read. The author was amazingly detached though she is the mother of 2 daughters. The author offered her sympathy to mothers - that's certainly appreciated.

The dialogs were interesting; specifically repeating the horrible things that other girls say to their mothers. The dissections of various conversations were wothwhile.

However, while I understand that including other family members make any analysis more difficult, the fact that these pairs seemed to exist in a vacuum (very little mention of other parents and especially siblings) made the situations appear unreal and therefore difficult to apply to normal families.

The book was useful in interpretting the hidden meanings of some accusations that a teenage girl uses. The strategies and advise on how to improve one life with a teenage girl as part of a familty were scant. Only in those extreme cases of eating disorders were several approaches discussed. In essence, the message I took away was, "we should just get thru this knowing that it can't last forever." I could accept this about the pain associated with childbirth, but not the behavior of a nasty teenage daughter - it can go on for years and affects not only the long suffering mother but everyone in the house right down to the dog.

I found it painful to finish this book since I had some pretty high hopes when I began it and the author clearly understands her subject well. I think fathers could benefit from reading this book as they don't typically understand what might be going on. I would recommend it to other parents.
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