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Difficult Mothers: Understanding and Overcoming Their Power
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Difficult Mothers: Understanding and Overcoming Their Power

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  108 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Mother love is often seen as sacred, but for many children the relationship is a painful struggle. Using the newest research on human attachment and brain development, Terri Apter, an internationally acclaimed psychologist and writer, unlocks the mysteries of this complicated bond. She showcases the five different types of difficult mother—the angry mother, the controlling ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 7th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Greta
If there's one thing I appreciate, it's someone putting my experiences into perspective and letting me know that I am not alone in my perceptions. This book addresses the types of mothers who are not all loving, giving, affectionate, soothing, compassionate and perfect. The author does a fine job of describing the behavior of the angry, controlling, narcissistic, envious, and emotionally unavailable (i.e., difficult) mother and the impact she can have on a child's life from the very beginning. S ...more
Kirsten
I didn't pick this book because I felt I had a particularly difficult mother, but because I imagine that I would be a difficult mother myself- "NO. WIRE. HANGERS!" seems pretty reasonable to me :)

Anyway, this book is an insightful look into the mysterious workings of the baby brain, and is great for anyone who is curious about the developmental roots of their own unique personalities. Whether we had a good childhood with great parents or otherwise, this book offers a peek at how those formative
...more
Audrey Coleman
Every chapter in this book won't apply to everyone. It should be apparent within a couple of pages of the "Difficult mother types" chapters if that one applies to your mother or someone you know.
First, the book explains what difficult mothers are - a mother that YOU experience as difficult. A sibling who grew up in the same home often may not feel the same way about the parent that you do.
The book is careful to mention that this "difficult" label can be used to describe either parent - or a car
...more
Charity
I kind of skimmed this book in order to get it off the shelf before my mother visited, so maybe I missed this part, but I don't understand why the focus is restricted to the maternal relationship. Why doesn't Apter address the role of non-mother primary caregivers in a child's life?

The descriptions of the different types of difficult relationships people have with their mothers seem overly narrow and rigid (although perhaps I only think this because my own relationship challenges aren't describe
...more
Rachal
Frighteningly accurate and also very helpful in shedding light onto the strange dynamics a mother child relationship can take on.
Georgia
Interesting but did not offer any profound insight into forming a better relationship with a difficult mother.
Susan
This was a well-written book with a great deal of good information about difficult mothers. However, the subtitle is somewhat misleading. If you are looking to 'understand' difficult mothers, this is a great choice. If, on the other hand, you are looking to 'overcome the power' of a difficult mother you will find very little of substance here.

I suspect the author believes she has accomplished both goals, but that is based on her claims that 'once you have full understanding of a difficult mothe
...more
Triecia Gibney
I read this book to see if it could be useful for some of my patients. The book is very easy to read with no jargon and psychological concepts are clearly explained in layperson language. The book starts with an introductory chapter on some of the different presentations of difficult mothers. This is followed by a chapter summarising in basic terms the science related to mothering, e.g., infant development, the fight or flight response, mentalization and mirroring, before a chapter dedicated to ...more
Sally B
Finally someone who understands my mother. Someone put into writing my life. I am grateful to have been adopted as a baby by two people who could take good care of me, but at the same time my mother was distant and scrutinizing my every move and word. This book helped me understand her better, but it has been difficult to implement her strategies because my mother catches on. I have definitely been able to put my foot down however as a result of the knowledge and wisdom the author provides.
Crystal
I don't feel like the categories were fully developed. I have a mother who was neglectful because of her narcissism. Few of the behaviors described were exhibited, she was just waiting till I was old enough to be kicked out so she could marry a rich man and relive her youth. This book was not helpful at understanding her, teaching how to move past the damaging effects or how to facilitate change in our relationship.
Rosemarie
This is a great book on a very difficult topic. Apter distinguishes very clearly between "good enough" mothers - who are not perfect - but no mother is - on the one hand, and mother/child relationships that cross over into the "difficult" catagory and why they do.

Her definition is the best I've ever heard. "A difficult mother is someone who presents her child with the dilemma: 'Either develop complex and constricting coping mechanisms to maintain a relationship with me on my own terms, or suffe
...more
Kathy
If you want to understand yourself, you need to understand our relationship with your mother. Very helpful, especially if you are familiar with attachment theory and intersubjective theory.
Amazonian
This was a very interesting and pertinent read. I especially liked the way the author translated neuroscience for the masses, to explain attachment theory and the effect parenting has on a child. The distinctions between the 'difficult' mother and the 'good enough' mother were a good addition to the book and injected a measure of realism into the subject. I found the worksheets useful and will be placing this book into my 'self workbook' category to fully utilise the tools provided.
Katie Q
This is very good book particularly if you suspect that the relationship with your mother is flawed. For me the book did not tell me anything that I have worked out myself but it would have been comforting to have had this book earlier in my life. I do recommend this book.
Nik
This book was a self-serving adventure for me. I love pop-psychology, and also I have a difficult relationship with my mom. It was a decent book. Shared some research and I will return to it when I need reminders of my current state of mind concerning this relationship.
Mari
An uneasy but enlightening read - I now understand the chemistry and complex relationship between my mother and grandmother much better. Only time will tell whether this newfound knowledge is of any help I future dealings with my extremely difficult grandmother.
Veronica
If only this book had been around 25 years ago...I think I'll be reading and re-reading this one.
Dindy
Brilliant definition of depression, " is mourning for a loss of one's self...it is closer to the death of a feeling."
Carol
So far, so good. Masterfully written. Highly readable.
Amy
Very insightful.
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