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You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation Paperback – December 26, 2006


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You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation + You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation + That's Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081297266X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972665
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tannen (You Just Don't Understand; That's Not What I Meant; etc.) continues to study human interaction through conversation, this time attempting to peel back the layers of meaning that make up conversations between mothers and their teenage and older daughters. While Tannen intends to clarify the ways in which mothers and daughters relate to each other verbally (through direct conversation; indirect messages, or "metamessages"; compliments or insults disguised as judgment; etc.), her own message is muddled by an overabundance of anecdotes and examples and too much stating the obvious. In chapters such as "My Mother, My Hair: Caring and Criticizing" and "Best Friends, Worst Enemies: A Walk on the Dark Side," Tannen seeks to examine every angle of various discussions and makes obvious comments, like "Where the daughter sees criticism, the mother sees caring.... Most of the time, both are right." She then expands on her comment with lengthy and often unnecessary explanations. While Tannen is astute in her observation that "Our relationships with our mothers go on way beyond their lifetimes, no matter what age we are when we lose them," she fails to clear up the mysteries between mothers and daughters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Talk is essential to women's relationships, best-selling (You Just Don't Understand, 1990) linguistics professor Tannen maintains. This book responding to readers' feedback about the mother-daughter chapter in her I Only Say This Because I Love You (2001) argues that satisfying conversations between mothers and grown daughters can be the ultimate healing agents, a kind of Holy Grail for women. Or not. "Words are like touch. They can caress or they can scratch." The illuminating extracts from mother-daughter colloquies that she cites bring to life both the soothing ointment and the ripped-open scars possible in interchanges on issues indicated by the chapter titles "Involvement or Invasion," "Great Expectations," "Incompatible Style Differences," and "Difference Equals Distance," as well as age-old sources of conflict for this extraordinarily intense kind of relationship. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Deborah Tannen is the acclaimed author of You Just Don't Understand, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly four years including eight months as #1; the ten-week New York Times bestseller You're Wearing THAT?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation; I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs and Kids When You're All Adults, which won the Books for a Better Life Award; Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work; That's Not What I Meant!; and many other books. A professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, she has written for and been featured in newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Time, and Newsweek. She appears frequently on TV and radio, including such shows as 20/20, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Colbert Report, Nightline, Today, Good Morning America, and NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She is university professor and professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, and has been McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University. She lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C., area.

Customer Reviews

If you have a daughter or a mother, this is a great book.
Aida Bergman
I think this book gives great insight to what takes place but very little to point to a solution.
Carolyn D'Amico
This book was helpful in understanding why moms and daughters feel and act the way they do.
Coalspark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 90 people found the following review helpful By K. Corn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If nothing else, this little volume reminds mothers that their words have more power and impact on their daughters than they may realize....and vice versa. I absolutely agree with Tannen that mothers should avoid discussing weight, clothing and hairstyles unless ABSOLUTELY necessary (would you want anyone critiquing you in those areas, especially if the advice was unsolicited)?

While much of the book is common sense, there are many insights at well. The intimacy between mother and daughter can so easily turn into hurt and pain. Tannen gives solid info on treading through those dangerous waters with a fair shot at maintaining deep bonds throughout life.

One tip I found particularly useful: Communicate via email or in writing when things get really hard. Somehow putting down one's thoughts on paper, editing and rewriting one's words can offer a calmer perspective and avoid impulsive and angry reactions. In other words, allow some breathing space before continuing the conversation...or find another way to communicate without speaking directly.

Good advice - because, in the end, it doesn't really matter HOW you maintain the mother/daughter bond...it just matters that you do.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Sergejeff on March 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I must say, I read the book with an open mind but I really got so much more than I could have ever dreamed of. This book is a must for Mom's and adult Daugthers. My daughter is reading the book now and already I can see the effort she is making to understand me better and I certainly will think before I speak (to her) from now on. I truly did not see how I was coming across to my daughter. The book has truly opened my eyes, made me think and has helped me a find a neutral and effective way to communicate with my 20 something daughter.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Beverly Armstrong on April 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book HAD to be written for my daughter & me!! My daughter had started reading it & was not even past the 2nd chapter when she was yelling, "MOM!! YOU JUST HAVE TO READ THIS!!" Ohmigod, It is DEAD ON our relationship. Unlike some books that before you finished it, would have you seeking professional help, this makes me feel WONDERFUL that we are obviously not the only ones with all these same feelings and interactions. How comforting in itself! I absolutely love this book so far & am looking forward to reading the rest of it. HIGHLY recommended :) Thanks for writing such a good one. Beverly (& Jennifer) Armstrong
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By DC Reader on February 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It never occurred to me that my mother and I are "typical." What a relief.

Yes, the book is "light" in parts. Yes, Tannen's own issues and angst come through loud and clear, as though she truly needed to write this book to purge her own demons. But it is also extremely enlightening. Many AHA moments.

The book is a blueprint for mending fences, reading signals, and growing up. Either the mother or the daughter has to be the adult. It doesn't matter which one. The rewards for learning how to put the past behind are tremendous.

And as an only daughter who lives 1200 miles away from my 84-year-old mother, with brothers who all live 15 minutes away from her, I might have to give up all the resentments I've invested so heavily in toward the boys for ignoring mother's needs. Now I understand that our mother is not interested in receiving their help - she wants mine.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sheila C. Geeslin on March 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book. It was hard not to see myself, my mother and my daughter. First half of the book points out the error of our ways but the second half gives some practical advice on how to stop hurting those you love.
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41 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn D'Amico VINE VOICE on February 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found "You're Wearing That? : Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation" to be a little too stereotypical of what we assume the mother/daughter relationship has to be. Too many moms think they need to talk until they're blue in the face and then, as a result, their kids just tune them out, learn to rebel and resent. The time for talking is when they are young, pre-pubescent, when they are all too willing to listen. This is where you lay the foundation, give them roots. The teenage years are where you listen and moms especially are failing at this as is evident from this book. Deborah Tannen points out how moms feel the need to control their daughters and what I see to be a desire to have a mini-me. When moms fail to see their daughters as independent beings with their own tastes and dreams, sparks will fly as well they should. I think this book gives great insight to what takes place but very little to point to a solution.
Becoming independent, high achieving adults who make a positive difference in life only happens when you give your children wings. "You're Wearing That? : Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation" would have earned five stars had it taken the time to point that out.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jennie Weems on November 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It took me a while to get through the book because I would read a few pages and then have to spend some time processing. Obviously it didn't apply totally to the "issues" I was having with my two grown daughters but it was a huge help. It got me to stop and think about words and conversations, how important they are and how "loaded" they can be. I like that it wasn't a "fix it" book, she is a linguist and not a therapist. So the focus was just on how we talk to each other. Sometimes that awareness is all that is needed.
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