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Mothering Without a Map: The Search for the Good Mother Within Paperback – February 22, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Black (In the Shadow of Polio: A Personal and Social History), whose mother became too ill to care for her when Black was four and died when she was six, questions how being a motherless daughter affects her ability to relate to her children. Starting from the premise that "nothing... exerts an influence on how a woman raises a child as powerfully as does her own mother," Black sifts through her own feelings, searches through psychological literature, and interviews 50 women between the ages of 20 and 70 about the effects of being under-mothered. Although Black acknowledges that others can sometimes step in to fill the void left by a mother who is absent from her daughter's life because of illness, alcoholism, drug abuse or death, her focus never waivers from what happens when the mother-daughter tie tears and the daughter is left without a role model. Unlike Hope Edelman in Motherless Daughters, Black is less interested in the loss itself than in its effects on mothering, which, in her case, made her wait until she was in her 40s to have children. Black views good mothering as satisfying a child's five basic needs laid out by psychologist Abraham Maslow ("physiological, safety, love, esteem and self-actualization") and is careful to concede "there is no right way to mother." While psychological jargon like "allomother" or "insecure attachment" can obscure Black's point, her interview subjects offer other women afraid of motherhood reassurance that it is possible to be a good mother without having experienced good mothering.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Kathryn Black writes with personal and professional authority about an important topic. Shes an excellent writer with fresh, positive ideas. -- Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia
Top customer reviews
As many of the women in this book, I felt the pain of inadequate support from my mother. I have been forced to distance myself from an unsupportive and often destructive mother. The baggage from the loss of her own mother and the unresolved issues of her childhood have contorted her into an unhappy, joyless and often mean adult.
Through this book I have been given a different perspective on what it might have been like for her to grow up without a mother at all and why that would have been so difficult for her. I find my perspective has softened a little and my curiosity and sympathy have been awakened toward her. I find myself wondering about what she was missing and how it might have contributed to who she has become.
I think the best message that I received from this book is that it is possible to be an ordinary good mother even if you didn't have one yourself.