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

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  195 Ratings  ·  28 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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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jun 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting but did not offer any profound insight into forming a better relationship with a difficult mother.
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If only this book had been around 25 years ago...I think I'll be reading and re-reading this one.
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Frighteningly accurate and also very helpful in shedding light onto the strange dynamics a mother child relationship can take on.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: help
Great book

This is an extraordinary book. Clearly written, insightful and without gobbledegook. Refreshing distinguishment between difficult and good-enough mothers. Great description especially of mother-infant interactions.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was very eye opening.
Audrey Coleman
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-discovery, psych
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
Triecia Gibney
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Pierced Librarian
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone struggling with a mom-relationship
Insightful and encouraging book.

It was very informative and had a lot of examples, but a little thin on the 'how' to overcome the difficult mother. I understand that the author was laying out that if you have the knowledge to understand a difficult mother, then you basically can overcome the difficult mother.

Some quotes I liked. They came at the very end of the book.

"...our mother's approval is not worth what we have to give up in exchange."

"Ultimately, the challenge is not to resolve matters
Nov 18, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
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
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 31, 2015 rated it did not like it
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.
Sally B
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I certainly did not have a difficult mother, we all have loved ones and acquaintances that have. This book focuses on parental issues but is not necessarily limited to only that. Extremely eye-opening and insightful as to how and why life issues are dealt with by all people, whether they be mothers, fathers, grandparents, bosses, co-workers, children, or even yourself. Great read and relevant for anyone that doesn't live in complete isolation.
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um livro interessante sobre este tema. Acho que uma citação ajuda mais do que a minha opinião :" But you can gain the courage and power to say "I find your coldness, condemnation, manipulation ir mockery unpleasant, but these will not change who I am nor they will deatroy me".
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, nonfiction
Excellent book! I spent years trying to figure out why my relationship with my mother was such a mess. This book spells it out in detail. Now I get it.

If you think you need this book, you probably do. If your mom is/was awesome or even acceptable, don't bother.
Bookish Enchantment
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle-touch
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.
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very insightful.
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant definition of depression, " is mourning for a loss of one's is closer to the death of a feeling."
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting read, research backed and comes from a place of solution- finding.
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
So far, so good. Masterfully written. Highly readable.
Megan Meloche
rated it it was amazing
Aug 30, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jun 07, 2013
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