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The Myth of the Perfect Mother: Rethinking the Spirituality of Women

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  43 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
The church places many expectations on modern Christian women, especially when it comes to motherhood. Often women are discouraged and frustrated, feeling they can never measure up. Carla Barnhill asserts in "The Myth of the Perfect Mother" that much of what we understand to be God's ideal is actually based on secular culture. Barnhill addresses several issues mothers stru ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Baker Books (first published 2004)
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Nov 15, 2007 Angie rated it really liked it
THis book far surpassed my expectations. I thought it would be a fluffy, satirical piece about how you're not alone, every mom loses it, etc. It was a well thought-out, deep analysis of the ways that Christianity has set moms up for failure with this "cult of the family" focus that implies you are not complete without becoming a motherhood, and that also implies that you are responsible for your children's physical, emotional, spiritual, social, mental, and academic well-being and if they fail a ...more
Jan 07, 2010 Becky rated it really liked it
I definitely didn't agree with everything the author said (particularly regarding gender roles, or in her view, the lack thereof), but she starts a GREAT and much-needed conversation about how the church should view women and help women. Here are some of the points she makes:

* It's time women in the church stopped beating each other up over whether we work outside the home or not. The Bible does not actually address this specific issue, and the stay-at-home mom with lots of leisure time for her
Catherine Gillespie
Jul 06, 2015 Catherine Gillespie rated it liked it
Shelves: faith, parenting, culture
Although I disagreed on certain points and emphases of Carla Barnhill’s book The Myth of the Perfect Mother: Rethinking the Spirituality of Women, overall I think she made some strong points that are often overlooked by Christian women.

I thought the strongest point in the book is Barnhill’s identification of the “shiny happy mommies” problem affecting the church. Because we feel like our worth or our faith are validated by having perfect families, it’s exceedingly difficult to be honest and vuln
Dec 11, 2010 Sara rated it liked it
One of the best books I read all year. Barnhill writes about mothering as a spiritual practice that invites us to grow in our relationship with God as we grow in our relationships with our children. As we practice the virtues of love, patience, kindness, humility, etc. with our children, we are strengthened to use those virtues in other areas of life as well. It was incredibly encouraging in this respect.

Barnhill also addresses the idolatry that Christians easily slip into, justifying "serving
Feb 07, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
here's a summary of the blurb on the back cover: "our christian culture tells us that the good mother is always loving, always patient, and always happy. Her house is clean. Her children are obedient. her husband is happy. who are we kidding? real motherhood is about scheduling your day around your children, getting up too early (amen!), and sometimes struggling to find enough time to take a shower. Too often the church presents ideals of motherhood that are slightly unrealistic. mothers are tol ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Dena rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I appreciated the author's emphasis on spiritual formation and living by a calling as a credo for the Christian life. She observes where the Western Church has diverged from this emphasis where women, especially mothers, are concerned. Namely, she calls attention to the "cult of family" that the Church overemphasizes in its programming, potentially leaving women of all walks to feel in a "constant state of incompleteness," whether they're single, married, or with children. She feels the church h ...more
Mary Saou
Jan 06, 2016 Mary Saou rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
Barnhill's commitment to address the much-needed issue of expectations placed on Christian mothers is laudable. She does indeed stir up points to spark conversations that the church is less inclined to have. However, her tone and follow-through didn't do it for me. That is probably a matter of personal preference-- I don't have tangible points to say "she should have done this" or "this was lacking." It's hard to find a book on motherhood I can identify with, as there are thousands of ways to ta ...more
Jun 12, 2014 Sarah rated it did not like it
There were many times I wanted to throw this book across the room. At the time I thought the author was way off base with some of her statements. Especially about it being wrong to home school your kids or send them to private school because we're supposed to be "the light of the world". Our children are not "missionaries" to their schools. They're KIDS! I would have to read the book again to remember any more specifics, it's been a while, I don't remember really liking any of it though.
Julie Verner
Aug 28, 2009 Julie Verner rated it really liked it
Shelves: mothering
Ms. Barnhill writes about our experiences as mothers, striving for perfection, and how we spiritually define what we do. It is a faith-based read that explores the negative impact of the myth of the perfect Christian mom. She advocates that we consider redefining what it means to be a Christian mother.
Sep 13, 2007 Gwen is currently reading it
Recommends it for: moms
I am currently reading this book and I have to tell you after the first chapter, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. FINALLY a book about being a godly mom that isn't heaped with condemnation and the idea of perfection as achieved by 1,2, and 3. This is going to be a great read and I am THRILLED that I found it!
Jan 26, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing
this book hit a nerve with me--really loved it.
Sep 07, 2009 Ann rated it really liked it
thought-provoking; great book for discussion.
Jul 08, 2008 Melissa rated it liked it
Thought provoking, but kind of short on practical solutions.
Sara Langford
Apr 07, 2008 Sara Langford rated it it was amazing
Great insight. The author challenges one's thinking of how we and the Church view motherhood.
Lisa Topp
Feb 10, 2008 Lisa Topp rated it liked it
The title says a lot about the theme of this book. I'd have to look at it again to comment more.
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