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WHAT OUR MOTHERS DIDN'T TELL US: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman Paperback – March 7, 2000

3.4 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Young women are the unhappy victims of their mothers' generation's feminism, says Danielle Crittenden in What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us. Though they usually don't realize it, feminism has "seeped into their minds like intravenous saline into the arm of an unconscious patient." Crittenden says that feminism doesn't provide answers for the questions that distress young women, such as, "Is work really more important and fulfilling than raising my children?" and "Why does my boyfriend not want to get married as much as I do?" The modern dilemma, she says, is that the success of feminism has cut women off from those aspects of life that are distinctly female desires, such as being a wife and raising children. Crittenden wants us to take a step back from sexual freedom (which she says ends up harming the woman, who gets used and dumped), career (only a tiny minority have stimulating, gratifying jobs), and zealous personal autonomy (often an indication of being too fearful and weak to take on responsibilities), in favor of commitment, marriage, and child rearing. She argues that feminist fervor has failed modern women, and gives her suggestions for how women can recapture meaning, fulfillment, and happiness. --Joan Price --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The founder of the Women's Quarterly, which in four years has attracted lots of attention, pro and con, argues that today's young women are unhappy because they have been taught to put independence first and blame men for everything.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 Touchsto edition (March 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000C4SOUW
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,577,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There's a very obvious reason this book and its author find themselves at the center of controversy: the logic of this book rings all too true. As I read it, I was at first offended, then sad, then convinced that someone had bugged my home, office and brain. Crittenden is, by any standard, an astute observer of today's woman. She illustrates the unspoken sentiments of millions of women. As a single 35-year-old woman, I would love nothing more than to deny the truth of her rather grim assessments, but in my heart, I know she's right on the money in her evaluation of virtually every single woman I know. What's more disturbing to me is that I can't say these feelings I have are the product of any pressure to be married from the outside. They are the product of a natural longing the majority of women throughout the ages have had. I have been oppressed by no one into thinking I'm lesser for being single, but I have to admit I do feel somewhat unfulfilled and incomplete. There's more to life than just earning a paycheck or having the luxury of painting your toenails at three in the morning (I always laugh when I read articles on the so-called advantages of singlehood- as if things like ordering takeout or rearranging furniture on a whim can take the place of a the satisfaction of marriage and motherhood!) While I don't believe marriage is a cure-all and singleness is a curse, I do believe that this generation has perhaps too quickly dismissed the natural patterns and longings of womanhood to our everlasting regret. Why would a job-any job- give anywhere near the same level of delight as having and raising a child? A job can be gone in an instant, but I've never heard of a mother being downsized. Unappreciated, at times, yes- but God knows we've all felt that on the job, too!Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I understand there are people who do not like this book. However, there are also many women who would have benefitted from reading something like this a long time ago. I personally know many women who are single in their 30s and it is primarily due to the fact that they were taught at a young age that all they need is themselves and any dependency on men is weak and/or pathetic. I hear "He wants to get married, but marriage is such a bad deal for women". These women pretty much all want children and the guys they date are great. So, what's the problem? Many of us grew up with pressure to NOT become a wife/mother. Many of us had mothers who joked (negatively) about "housewives." I should also add for this review that my experience is mostly with middle-upper-middle class, college educated, liberal people.

This author suggests that women think earlier about marriage/having children and some think her advice is "unrealistic." It's not. I did it, am 31, and totally done with the baby thing. My oldest is already in elem. school. For most college degrees, you can complete college by age 22. That is plenty early to have a family young and have a degree waiting for when you want/need to use it. You do need to live a relatively simple life tho. You aren't going to be able to afford the top of the line car, house and vacations if you follow her advice. There are trade offs, but it is certainly not "unrealistic" advice.

As a 30 something, I also see men of my generation with very different expectations than our father's had. Our fathers grew up expecting that they would have to support familes. In my generation, men grew up expecting women would work. So, when women now have babies and decide they really want to be home after all, the men are blindsided.
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Format: Hardcover
"What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us" absolutely stuns me. Aside from the author's obvious felicity with words, and the depth and breadth of her knowledge, I found myself pretty much shocked as I went from chapter to chapter. Simply put, Ms. Crittenden has done an excellent job of research and of drawing ideas to their logical conclusions. Based upon hundreds of interviews, and what were probably endless hours at the Library of Congress reading tome after tome about the conditions of women, Ms. Crittenden has written a policy book that I believe every couple should read--both the man and the woman. Single people in their twenties and thirties should read it--it will starkly clarify for you much of how the world works. But reader beware: cheesy as this may sound, the honesty of the book is not for those whose minds are caulked by ideology. You will find yourself challenged. But ultimately, Ms. Crittenden writes with what seems to be unanswerable logic, and also with great heart. I truly hope that this book sets off the national debate that it should.
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By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a woman in my late 20's, I grew up convinced by our culture that the desire to be a wife and mother, and to stay home with children was less meaningful than, inferior to, having a career. I have secretly felt like an aberration for desiring those things above the pursuit of a career, even as I completed a graduate degree and joined the work force. Similarly, many of my female friends have gotten PhD's, gone through arduous years in medical school, put in long hours at law firms, traveled like maniacs for consulting firms- all to hit their 30th birthdays with an overwhelmingly difficult dilemna and sense of disappointment: "Now I have made strives in my career and I just want to get married and have children. How in the heck do I make this all happen?! Are my years of law school all for naught? Is it wrong to want children- am I "selling out"?" Worse, many of them wonder where all the eligible single men have suddenly disappeared to. In my opinion, it is the love of a partner, children and family that sustains and inspires us more than anything else. When I look back over my life as an older woman, I would like my memories to be filled with the joy of loved ones who needed and cherished me. This is not an unworthy goal! Crittenden reaffirms this in her book and liberates women who have felt oppressed by those who would tell them that the only way to make a significant mark in this world is to throw on a suit/uniform and join the workforce.Read more ›
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