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The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  309 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 7th 1999 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30)
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Skylar Burris
It’s difficult to tell what sort of book Dr. Lerner really set out to write. A book about how having and raising children affects women emotionally and psychologically? A book of random, select parenting advice? A book of counseling case studies tangentially related to parenting? A feminist polemic? The title would have the reader believe Dr. Lerner had definitely settled on the first topic, but it seems to me that equal time is given to all of these topics, and the book therefore lacks focus.

Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: professionallit
Reading Harriet Lerner is like talking with that great friend you have -- the one who's funny, insightful, and opinionated but sufficiently endearing that you can forgive her shooting her mouth off.

That said, I didn't find this book nearly as insightful as "The Dance of Anger." Harriet gave a voice to many things that mothers feel and experience, but nothing she said really grabbed me and as a result, I found the book a little slow-going.

I also found her a little preachy in terms of her ideas
Morgan Schulman
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is what I imagine it must be like to have a feminist psychologist cool aunt sit you down while pregnant and tell you "like it is". It's thoughtful and irreverent about parenting in a very 2nd Wave, pre-Attachment way (the book is from 1998 and her kids are born in 1975 and 1979), which is very refreshing. More about validation then hands-on advice.

Note: I've seen several reviews of this book say it is anti-SAHM because she mentions in the introduction that she felt she had to put aside her
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of the audiobooks of this authors work because of the slightly patrician, authoritative tone. This was the best yet, the book I wish I had read when my children were very young. It validated many complicated feelings, gave me lots to think about, and was a powerful reading experience.
Jun 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
Nice to read a "parenting" book that is more about the parent than the kids!
Helen King
Jul 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: advice
I enjoyed this book - it was like reading a series of entertaining blog posts which gave snippets on insight on ways you might think about issues and relations with child(ren) and partner. It appeared from reviews that some people have read it to find THE ANSWERS - I think it is pretty clear from the way Harriet writes that there is no single answer - you need to find the paths that work for you and your child(ren) and also need to be adaptable as yours, and their, needs change. She is also quit ...more
Jennifer Heise
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love everything Harriet Lerner has written, and I always learn something from it. Thinking this was about our relationships to our own mothers, I put off reading this... but I shouldn't have. Though this one is less well-constructed than her Dance books, and a lot of the parenting advice has been covered more solidly in The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships and The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustr ...more
Crystal Oros
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
An absolute must read for anyone who is thinking of starting a family!

Its as raw as life and completely sanity saving for those of us who are in constant fear of doing it wrong or feel like they are lacking the maternal drive that we see in other mothers just based on their childs good behaviour.

Harriet talks about the emotions, thoughts & challenges of being a parent, she also gives insight about step parenting, family of origin paternal influences, gay parenting, empty nest and college tra
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
I had heard good things about Lerner's other books, so I was surprised to discover that this one is so poorly written. I don't even know how to describe the style... it's a mix of therapeutic advice/case studies, personal anecdotes, soapbox tangents and a few other things she felt like throwing in.

I appreciated her honesty about the ambivalent feelings that accompany motherhood and admissions of her own shortcomings as a mother, but ultimately her example and voice were not compelling to me. I
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I somehow misunderstood the intended audience for this book, expecting it to focus on the relationship between reader and his/her mother. Once I started, it was obviously written for the mother herself. I wasn't one, yet, but I read it anyway, since it seems like an enormously important subject to mothers, and figured I'd get a head start.

IT WAS SO GREAT! Lerner is an accomplished writer, and likable, and it was comprehensive and interesting. I really enjoyed it and was surprised to recognize s
Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sera by: Sherry
Shelves: parenting, own
This book is a great resource for moms, and for parents in general. I'm sure that I'll be referring to it over the years to come. The book started a little off for me. Although it begins with a good discussion of gender roles, it fails to take it to the next level in discussing non-traditional gender roles in the home (i.e., the working mom and stay at home dad) that made the book feel a little dated for me. However, Lerner quickly moves on to many other topics, which provided great insight into ...more
Jan 14, 2008 marked it as never-mind
Shelves: parenting
Chose not to read it after all because of this review on Amazon:
By A Customer
I was very dissapointed with this book. First of all, this is a book completely biased toward working mothers. Ms Lerner refers to a stay at home in her book as a martyr. She uses this book as a platform for her feminist agenda as SHE sees feminism. The whole book feels like she's trying to work out her guilt over how she mothered. She feels the need to say over and over that we're not responsible for how our children
Oct 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
It was okay. I liked the end especially ("Kids? Why Risk It?"), because it was what I was looking for.

My take away:
-- be careful about transmitting your food and body issues to your kids. Forbidding food (sweets and chocolates) will only make them want those more. Don't force your kids to Clean Their Plates. Encourage them to eat when hungry and stop when full.
-- No couple can maintain the same workload as before. But it doesn't have to be the mother (or father) completely giving up one's career
Dec 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Mothers who think
Shelves: motherhood
If you can't already tell from many of my book selections, I'm very into books on the experience of motherhood. The brunt of this one is that we have less control over our kids than we think we do and should stop taking so much credit and so much blame for the things they do right and the things they do wrong. Lerner tackles such prickly issues as new motherhood, equality in parenting, sibling relationships, and talking to your children about food and sex with candor and wit. I especially liked ...more
Margaret Zhang
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it
There's nothing like reading your first Harriet Lerner book...

Unfortunately, though, this was one was my fifth Harriet Lerner book, so the tears and gasps of insight that I relished when I read "The Dance of Intimacy" were absent. Nonetheless, I am very grateful to have read this... I wanted something that would give me a clear and unadulterated look at both the pros and cons of motherhood. This book fit the bill. I would recommend it to any woman who's wondering whether she should consider moth
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
I started reading this book as I was beginning potty training with my daughter. She spent considerable time looking at books while waiting to potty, so I decided to pick up a book too. I found a lot of wisdom in this book. The sections that talked about how children effect marriage, the things young boys and girls are learning that you didn't know you were teaching, talking about sex and sexuality with your child, and the sibling order were all helpful and fascinating. This will be one I return ...more
Jan 31, 2009 rated it liked it
This was my first Harriet Lerner book (although I own several others). I really appreciated reading about her experience as a mother of two boys. One of the most striking parts of the book for me was this:
"How we navigate our relationships with our own siblings is perhaps the most crucial variable {in our children's future with each other}, since that's the blueprint we hand them. Also, we pay out with our kids whatever remains unsolved in our own first family..." pg. 224. That was a relevant in
Diana Sandberg
May 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Didn’t finish this one. It was ok, but perhaps shows the perils of trying to be “fair to all sides” when one has a stake in one side: she tries to be balanced in depicting various approaches to motherhood, but I was glad I didn’t read it before I had kids. The message that having kids is an intrusion on a woman’s life, an unfair intrusion that she must brace herself for and seek to ameliorate as best she can, was pervasive. I got the impression that if I were to tell her that I just don’t experi ...more
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting and thought-provoking insights into all the stages of motherhood. I enjoyed listening to this on tape; it gave me a lot to think about at my stage in life--children leaving the nest, the first grandchild on the way. It would be a good book for mothers and their grown daughters to read, discuss, and share. While I don't always agree with Lerner's point of view, she expresses herself openly and honestly; and I appreciate that.
Another wonderful book by Harriet Lerner. This was an eye-opening read about what it means to be a mother. The stories she shares from her own life are so engaging. Interestingly, I ended up reading this book while I was suddenly participating in "mothering" my sister's two little girls while she left for two and a half weeks for an emergency. This gave me added interest as I read. Definitely recommended, especially if you're considering motherhood ...
Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting, psychology
I read this when I was pregnant and it gave me a good idea of what awaited me. I appreciated Harriet Lerner's own stories as well as the experiences of other mothers. This book is an honest portrayal of the realities of being a mother and how it can change your life in positive ways as well as the challenges.
The book was a mix of obvious observations and good advice. For example, step parenting is hard, but keeping the biological parent involved and owning his or her parenting is important.

I most appreciated the feminist perspective on parenting, and the reality based examples and advice. I didn't enjoy the writer's sappy commentary about her sons leaving home, which was recent to her writing.
Jul 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I seem to recall, this book was very popular when it was released. I enjoyed some of her analysis about the generational differences in women's childrearing and her musings about how motherhood profoundly changes us.
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Admittedly skimmed through to the sections that I most wanted to read, but what I did read was excellent honest real and full of insight. This is the first Harriet Lerner I've read and it makes me want to go out and find more.
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Good, but not her best, and nothing particularly groundbreaking here. I do enjoy seeing the world through Lerner's eyes, though, and this book offered that on parenting and motherhood. It was worth the read.
Maria Dahman
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is a grab bag, each chapter like a novella on a different topic, though all related to parenting and family life. She is wise and insightful. I was compelled through each chapter despite the shifts of focus.
Mar 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Honest and insiteful, if you are not a cookie cutter mommie this book is for you.
Dec 20, 2010 rated it liked it
A little fun pop psychology about being a mom. I found this very silly at times, and very insightful at times. Overall, I'm glad I read it, but the word to insight ratio could be improved upon.
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
Very fun read. Love Harriet Lerner.
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I would not have understood this book before I had a child. It was very helpful because it dispels all the oppressive mommy myths.
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Harriet Lerner was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the second of two daughters. Her parents, Archie and Rose Goldhor, were both children of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. They were high school graduates who wanted their daughters to "be someone" at a time when women were only supposed to "find someone."

"Achievement was next to Godliness for my sister, Susan, and me." Harriet notes. "My f
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