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Starting Over.Mating in CaptivityMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MotherstylesMurder in the InnMysterious CreaturesNecessary NoiseOdd Girl OutOpenOpening to Love 365 Days a YearOphelia's MomOrgasmsOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming Your Difficult FamilyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting on the GoParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerParents and Digital TechnologyParents Do Make a DifferencePassionate MarriagePlanet JanetPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Raising AmericaRaising ElijahRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Kids in the 21st CenturyRaising Resilient ChildrenRay's a LaughRelationship RescueRelax, It's Just SexRespect-Me RulesRomantic IntelligenceRoom For JSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf-NurtureSelfish, Shallow, and Self-AbsorbedSex Addiction: The Partner's PerspectiveShidduch CrisisSickenedSingleSlut!Socrates in LoveSomeone Like YouSong for EloiseSpecial SiblingsSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Staying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop SignsStop Walking on EggshellsStop Walking on EggshellsStrong, Smart, & BoldSummer of the SkunksSurviving a Borderline ParentTaking Charge of AngerTelling SecretsThank You for Being Such a PainThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe AwakeningThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Birth of PleasureThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Bully Action GuideThe Burden of SympathyThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe CorrectionsThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe DisappearanceThe Dream BearerThe Educated ParentThe Emotional RevolutionThe Employee Assistance Treatment PlannerThe EpidemicThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good DivorceThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Hostile HospitalThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Little FriendThe Love HexagonThe Moral Intelligence of ChildrenThe Neuroscience of Human RelationshipsThe New I DoThe Normal OneThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Philosophical ParentThe Psychology of Parental ControlThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Reflective ParentThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of WivesThe Spider and the BeeThe State of AffairsThe StepsThe Story of My FatherThe Velveteen FatherThe Virgin BlueThe Visitation HandbookThe Whole ChildTo Have and To Hurt:Two Is EnoughUnderstanding MarriageUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUnhitchedUp in FlamesWe've Got IssuesWhat about the KidsWhat Goes UpWhat Is Secular Humanism?What It Means to Love YouWhat Our Children Teach UsWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen Mars Women DateWhen Someone You Love Is BipolarWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhy Are You So Sad?Will You, Won't You?WomanWorking With Emotional IntelligenceWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!
in the Mirror is addressed to mothers about to embark on the challenge of
raising adolescent daughters. It is
not, strictly speaking, a professional book.
Although one of the authors is a physician -- actually, a surgeon
specializing in otolaryngology -- she does not draw on her own professional
experience. Instead, she and her
colleague combine summaries of current literature on adolescent development
with reflections on their experiences, and those of friends and colleagues, as
daughters and as mothers. The result is
an optimistic, "you can do it" guide to "hands-on"
The book maintains a very valuable dual focus. Middle class mothers are typically going
through their own mid-life "changes" just as their daughters go
through adolescence. As their daughters
step into the prime of life, they face all the losses that go with age. Inevitably, tensions arise that must be
faced honestly. Any mother will react
to her daughter's emerging sexuality, and to her striking out for autonomy, at
least partly in terms of what these events say to her about her own past life
and future prospects.
On the other hand, the mother, as
the adult in the relationship, must be the responsible party, keeping her
emotional reactions in perspective in order to work for her daughter's
well-being. Self-reflection is in
The authors try to debunk or
re-frame what they see as distorted cultural myths. A "Good Mother," in their view, does not need to be a
cross between Mother Teresa and Martha Stewart; she is doing well if she enters
into an honest, flexible relationship with her daughter. Not all adolescents are prickly, rebellious,
or in turmoil, victimized by "raging hormones"--though it is
certainly true that adolescence is a time of radical change and a degree of
struggle. Peer influence is not uniformly
dangerous; mothers need to appreciate the value of their daughters'
The book takes positions in
opposition to several prevalent trends: an "age compression" that
forces children into adolescence earlier and earlier; an increased sexualization
of popular culture, and a feminine ideal that emphasizes bodily beauty at the
expense of other personal values. It
takes a stand straightforwardly in favor of close parental supervision and the
setting of limits. "Hands-on"
parenting includes knowing an adolescent's whereabouts; monitoring TV watching,
Internet use, and musical tastes; and establishing family rituals such as
On the other hand, the authors'
attitude is not entirely authoritarian.
They see the chief task of motherhood as engaging with one's daughter in
an extended dialogue, a real two-way exchange.
In this conversation, the mother's values and behavior will be open to
observation and criticism. However,
both parties will respect certain boundaries of privacy.
The book touches on an enormous
range of difficult topics, including divorce, step-parenting, adoption, sex
education and sexual orientation, and drug and alcohol use. Its extensive bibliography makes it a useful
starting point for an investigation of these issues.
The chapter on "Troubled
Waters" summarizes the standard scientific and public health literature on
such serious emotional problems as depression, anxiety disorder, social phobia,
obsessive-compulsive disorder, and eating disorders. It offers concrete advice, hope in the efficacy of treatment, and
compassion for the mother's suffering.
in the Mirror is an appealing book.
Its authors are strong in their opinions but not nasty, blaming, or
backward looking. They have succeeded
in conveying a unified vision of the crucial task of mothering an adolescent
daughter in today's world.
2003 Marion Torchia
Marion Torchia is a Washington DC-based writer and health care analyst.
She is particularly interested in the moral dimensions of our attitudes towards
health and behavioral health.