Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt” as Want to Read:
Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  20 reviews
An exploration of the darker side of maternal behavior drawn from scientific research, psychology, and the real-life experiences of adult daughters, Mean Mothers sheds light on one of the last cultural taboos: what happens when a woman doesn't or can't love her daughter.

Mean Mothers reveals the multigenerational thread that often runs through these stories—many unloving mo
...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by William Morrow (first published 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mean Mothers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mean Mothers

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 317)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Diane
This title caught my attention several months ago, and I knew it was one book I really wanted to read, having been raised by a mother who was emotionally detached, and often verbally abusive.

In this well researched book, Peg Streep, examines type of mothering that often is not spoken about: "Mean Mothers", and that they do in fact exist. Through scientific research and case studies of adult daughters of unloving and overly critical mothers, the author provides insight as to why some women are ju
...more
Jen Johnson
This is a really emotionally draining read, but very informative and easy to read. It brought tears to my eyes several times. Highly recommend if the subject is if interest to you.
Rachel Brady
Here is a book for women raised by emotionally absent mothers. Peg Streep draws on scientific research, interviews, and personal stories to suggest reasons why unloving mothers might be the way that they are. She stresses the importance of approaching these questions from a multi-generational angle. Most importantly, care is taken to explain how damaged mother-daughter relationships affect the psychological make-up of the daughters. Streep discusses a wide range of emotional unavailability and e ...more
Ab
This was a really good book about what effect the societal myths of motherhood and expectations of mothers in different decades has on daughters. The author admits to a biased view, only telling anecdotes from the daughters' perspectives, not the mothers'. But this book isn't about the mothers, exclusively. Part of the significance is that it is a focus on the daughters and how they responded to mothering of various types (most extreme are those with verbally abusive & hypercritical mothers) ...more
Nilchance
Not so helpful at "overcoming the legacy of hurt" so much as a statement that yeah, some mothers are mean, and it sucks that people don't often believe this. I actually got some side-eye from my mother-in-law for reading this book ("oh, is it about me? do you think I'm mean?") as an interesting meta-comment on Streep's main point. It would have been better marketed as a survey of women from abusive mothers than a vaguely self-help book on how to cope with having had an abusive mother; did the pu ...more
Miquela
Tried to read this for bookclub. One incomplete snapshot after another about Mother's that did not show love to their daughters. I wanted why, and how to overcome and something that tied it all together. Really awful. But will make for a great topic at bookclub. Made me grateful for my mother, the good, the bad and the ugly but she wasn't one of these mothers. I was a Mean Daughter!
Hava Liberman
This book is a very helpful exploration of the impact of having a mean mother, and delved much more than I expected into the consequences for daughters when they become mothers themselves.
Autumn
Brilliant. Streep does a great job of examining and affirming the experiences of unloved daughters while also dissecting the myth of maternal instinct.
Breanna
Very difficult to read at first but the concluding two chapters really wrapped the whole book up nicely, I did like the book very much in the end.
R
first, a preface...i didn't get this book because my own mother is/was mean. far from it!

i got this book from the library after seeing the author being interviewed on a news program, and i decided to give it a try.

i'm an only child. i am a perfectionist. i'm type a. i'm very critical. and i am a mother of three. which is not a good mix.

i've found my critical nature spilling over into my mothering style, and as my children have grown up i've seen them occasionally treat each other with the same c
...more
Readnponder
I had to force myself to finish this book. It seemed a bit whiny to me. But then, I don't share the dilemma in which the author tragically found herself. I was reading it so I could better understand the mother/daughter dynamics of a close friend.

The author is careful to say she is addressing the situation of just plain MEAN mothers and not those who struggle with physical or mental illness. It's also clear that the limited number of choices for women and the expectations of society that all wom
...more
Launa
Sometimes you come across something that touches you in deep and necessary ways...even when you aren't looking for them. This book did that for me. I happened to stumble across it in the Kindle store and ended up borrowing a copy from my local library. It spoke to me as a daughter, but more importantly to me as a mother to a daughter. Lots of food for thought :)
Jurate Stanaityte
I'll just leave a quote that attests to the value of this book:

"Nowadays, getting out of the way—making sure it’s not about me—is easier in some ways and harder in others. I asked my daughter, as I was writing this, in what ways I had sometimes failed and what she needed from me now, as she approached twenty-one. Her answer had all the clarity of truth: “I need you to simply keep accepting me as who I am, and to support my actions as I come into my own light. I sometimes feel that you expect me
...more
Diane Maxwell
The more I read about personality disorders the more I question social norms. There really is no normal, the media, society and culture project an image! The image is good, wholesome, healthy, right and just! Not all mothers fit this model. Mothers can create and they can destroy! Mothers are also a product of their own mothers!

Bad mothers aren't always bad! It would be easier if they were, psychology easier! The games played, rules changed, manipulations, are confusing. The more books written i
...more
Meredith
Was a little disappointed with this book and found myself skimming and sipping certain sections. Being the daughter of a narcissistic mother I had hoped to find more in this book to relate to. There we re a few examples that I could relate to but for the most book did not find the book to provide that much insight or information.
Brenda
Very good book. So helpful in dealing with women's relationships. I understand my own mother alittle better after having read this.
LaLaLa Laura
a painful book to read. some good points I can take with me.
Eileen Granfors
Heavy and emotional--read it over the course of a few weeks--a couple chapters at a time.
Heather Gudenkauf
Interesting book. Just for the record: my mother is NOT a mean mother!
Sky
Jun 13, 2011 Sky is currently reading it
There's some horrifying stories and I'm just on the first chapter....
Amirrah Aden
Amirrah Aden marked it as to-read
Jan 22, 2015
Moira
Moira marked it as to-read
Jan 14, 2015
Miranda Stoger
Miranda Stoger marked it as to-read
Jan 14, 2015
Rebecca Jones
Rebecca Jones marked it as to-read
Jan 11, 2015
Caroline Vassallo
Caroline Vassallo marked it as to-read
Jan 10, 2015
Rachel
Rachel marked it as to-read
Jan 04, 2015
Cait
Cait marked it as to-read
Jan 02, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship
  • The Emotionally Absent Mother: A Guide to Self-Healing and Getting the Love You Missed
  • Live Your Best Life: A Treasury of Wisdom, Wit, Advice, Interviews and Inspiration from O, The Oprah Magazine
  • Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect
  • Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers
  • When Your Adult Child Breaks Your Heart: Coping with Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, and the Problems That Tear Families Apart
  • How to Be the Loving, Wise Parent You Want to Be...Even with your Teenager!
  • The Bullying Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Social Aggression and Cyberbullying
  • The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood
  • Goodbye, Santa
  • Escaping the Chrysalis: Introduction to Gestalt Techniques for Self-Esteem Transformation
  • The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South
  • Panic And The Inner Monkey
  • Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You
  • The Mother Trip: Hip Mama's Guide to Staying Sane in the Chaos of Motherhood
  • Shaken: A Story of Emotional Abuse and Depression
  • Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America
  • Teaching Kids to Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century
Mastering the Art of Quitting: Why It Matters in Life, Love, and Work Spiritual Gardening: Creating Sacred Space Outdoors Altars Made Easy: A Complete Guide To Creating Your Own Sacred Space Sanctuaries of the Goddess: The Sacred Landscapes and Objects An Awakening Spirit: Meditations by Women for Women

Share This Book

“As Louis Cozolino Ph. D., observes, a consistent theme of adult psychotherapy clients is that they had parents who were not curious about who they were but, instead, told them who they should be. What Cozolino explains, is that the child creates a "persona" for her parents but doesn't learn to know herself. What happens is that "the authentic self"--the part of us open to feelings, experinces, and intimicy--remains underdeveloped.” 15 likes
More quotes…