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The Shelter of Each Other

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  562 ratings  ·  67 reviews
In The Shelter of Each Other, Mary Pipher does for the American family what she did for adolescent girls and their parents in her bestselling book Reviving Ophelia: she opens our eyes wide to the desperate realities we are facing and shows us a way out. Drawing on the fascinating stories of families rich and poor, angry and despairing, religious and skeptical, and probing ...more
Paperback, 282 pages
Published March 25th 1997 by Ballantine Books
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4.08  · 
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 ·  562 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
This is a must-read for families.

Although this was written in the 90s, I think it's even more relevent today. Pipher says that in a deteriorating society, we all need to find shelter within our families. She compares her mother's family in the 1920s-30s to a family she helps in couseling in the 90s. Her mother's family had no money, but plenty of time. The 90s family had plenty of money, but no time. Her mother's family's problems were external: natural disasters, economic depression, crop failu
Jun 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up on a whim since we have it and her other book "Reviving Ophelia" in our home library. Suffice it to say everything she wrote in here resonates strongly with me. Our society and our culture have become more toxic as the years have passed. Advertisers and businesses look at people in America as "consumers" - not as people. The continuously promote and market to segments of our population that, in the past, would have been considered sensitive (i.e. children) and what they peddle i ...more
Adrienne Sweat
Mar 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I actually couldn't even make it through the first chapter. I was so hoping this book would be valuable. But I just can't get over how much Pipher generalizes and makes broad statements about families as if all families are the same. I feel like her views on family and what makes or breaks them, as well as people individually, is so heavily biased by the small set of people she works with, that it leaves little room for the diversity that exists in North America alone. But perhaps that's because ...more
Jun 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Because I previously read Pipher's book Reviving Ophelia and found it to be very useful and insightful, I decided to give this book a try, and I am very glad that I did. In this book, Pipher explains why the American family is decaying and what to do about it. For me specifically she inspired me to reduce and be more selective about my media consumption and to be wiser in my use of time. After reading this book I wrote down a list of things that I can and will do in my family to make it strong a ...more
May 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
I felt Pipher is right on about her opinions on what families need today. The TV needs to be turned off, and people should be creating their own stories and memories. Her case studies presented didn't impress me or really illustrate her points further for me, but I enjoyed her messages. Families should be making conscious decisions about what media is entering their homes and also be conscious about the effect today's popular culture is having upon their specific families. A family's history is ...more
Jeanine Marie Swenson
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sharing several family stories about her own and client's backgrounds, therapist Mary Pipher, Ph.D. touches on some recipes for family success. Focusing on collaboration, balance, understanding and love, this guidebook highlights many individual and family therapy principles to find meaning and purpose in the midst of crisis and challenge. Dr. Pipher also lovingly critiques the therapy professional to foster 2nd order change.
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Borrowed from Endicott College library.
Most of it was good. Gave me a perspective of American culture in the 90's in relation to the family; also perspective of good and not-so-good families. Made me realize we have a fairly healthy family. Only one problem, a big one -- she leaves God out of the picture.
Deborah Kimokeo
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Mary Pipher definitively lays out something missing in much of our society, the shelter of each other. The book expounds on the distance people in our country are separated from their families and the subsequent results. I was touched by this book on many levels, professionally, personally, and as a citizen.
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humanism
How families can help each other by sticking together rather than quarreling. Too often, family members in the mistaken notion that they are right refuse to listen to and respect each other. This book explains about the disintegration of the family during the past one hundred years and how we need to change to bring our families back together.
Jan 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book got me thinking about the sociology of family - several years before I got my degree in Soc. I loved her analysis of how our speed and entertainment-oriented culture whittles away at the family. Her famous book. Reviving Ophelia, is a must read for moms and daughters.
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book many years ago, but it is still relevant. I use the concepts for making families work in my own life and with the families with whom I work. Good stories to support the concepts presented and easy to read.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Very good. Very applicable. Maybe the author/doctor is Mormon!
Mar 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Also read back in the mid-1990's and I remember being in adoration of this woman's writing because she wants people to love and respect each other. Good ideas on how to start in this book.
Lauren J.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Had to read this book for a class.

It works from the basic assumption that families are good, well-intentioned, and safe; the outside world and culture are not. It is us (the family) vs them (not family). Her conclusions (and very, very, very broad generalizations and suggestions) all come from that assumption. It doesn’t address anything outside of an idealized family unit that is experiencing “normal” family issues.

Her idealized of family and familial relationships skew everything else. If a m
Apr 17, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked this book up because I loved the title. Being shelter for each other seems like a wonderful aspiration for families.

I found the book a bit uneven. The first third of the book was all about romanticizing the values of the Depression era while vilifying the modern day ("modern day" being the mid-90s when the book was written--heaven only knows what Mary Pipher thinks of our world now). She talks about how happy her grandparents were growing up on the Nebraska prairie, and contrasts it wit
May 23, 2010 marked it as to-read
c 1996 trade paper

from the library computer:
Kirkus Reviews

~ Psychologist Pipher (Reviving Ophelia, 1994) provides a sharp, often unsettling critique of many of the values that currently define our lives, coupled with solid advice for rebuilding families. Maintaining that ``much of our modern unhappiness involves a crisis of meaning and values,'' Pipher contends that technology and consumerism have become the gods of the '90s. Hours spent viewing cable television programs and commercials not only
May 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Even though this book was written in the 1990s, I was intrigued by the title and premise of it so I decided to read it. Mary Pipher is a beautiful writer, a natural storyteller with a gift for telling detail, so that kept me reading the book when I otherwise probably would not have. It just seemed a bit overwrought to me, and really is more appropriate for a troubled family seeking answers. Much of the book focuses on therapy. She seemed to separate families into two extremes. There's the kind t ...more
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
My review of this is the same as for her other book, Reviving Ophelia. I give it 4 stars because the good stuff is SO GOOD. There is really fantastic, important cultural analysis throughout the whole book. I'm so glad I read it. But her writing style is a little...fluffy, as opposed to dense and concise. So that's a bummer to have to wade through at times. Still, it is totally worth the laborious sections.

Maybe I'm just an impatient reader, because I have this exact complaint about a lot of writ
Jul 31, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people that think the past was a better place
Shelves: nonfiction
It's an interesting premise: that marriages/families were more sucessful in the past because their stresses were external and thus more dependant on one another, which created a stronger bond in the long run. I'm not sure I agree that outside stresses created a stronger bond, maybe a more immediate and requiring less conscious effort to sustain - but stronger? I'm not sure. and is that better, don't know? and maybe we are at a point where we need to redifine dependance and it will be based on em ...more
Carol Willis
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book might be 17 years old, but we still need the author's message: That to be healthy, children need families, tribes, tiospayes, that our culture is not supportive of families and raising healthy children, and that we can individually and collectively take small and large actions to shelter each other. She's a therapist, and she even has rather pointed words for her field, saying they have too often undercut rather than helped families.

As I finished reading it, I felt myself missing my fa
Mb Boss03
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Pipher, the acclaimed psychologist and author of Reviving Ophelia, is dedicated to helping us rebuild our families and withstand the onslaught of out-of-control consumerism, impulsiveness, entitlement, violence, and isolation. The Shelter of Each Other describes the crises and obstacles we Americans face daily in trying to maintain and protect our families, develop character, and demonstrate commitment to our ideals....
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All parents and their extended family, in support of children, social workers
Recommended to Rachel by: Emily G.
This book really broke down more of my judgement of other parents. Parenting is just... hard. Our culture doesn't support us. The main message is to widen your circle of support and begin to rely on those around you to help you. I didn't change my behaviors so much, but the main growth that I made in reading this book was to really see how unsupportive nuclear family scenario works against us. We need community. And everyone is doing the best that he or she can.
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2008
I cannot say enough good things about this book! I think it is very timely (even if it is 10 years old) and well written. Pipher talks very adeptly about the importance of families, how families have been torn apart by the larger culture and how to fix this problem. I think everyone needs to read this book. Pipher ends the book with a really hopeful tone, giving the reader a feeling that one person can make a difference and that the ills of society really can be repaired.
Oct 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was an eye-opener...on how much the culture affects our families...and how much it rips us apart. Pipher really illuminates a lot of problems with current psychology and counseling...and how it can sometimes be more detramental than effective. She has counseled for a long time and wrote Reviving Ophelia. I really liked this.
Jan 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
An interesting book about the struggles different families go through. Mary Phipher writes about how technology and media have changed the dynamics of families in bad and good ways. She writes of the importance of families and communities. It really motivated me to reach out to family and neighbors.
Heather Downs
Pipher has an interesting argument about how psychology has damaged the family instead of rebuilding the family. I think she has some great points about the negative impact of consumerism on family life. She falls short in looking at the pressure of gender roles. She hints at being political, but glosses over some of these points.
Oct 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
I have recommended this book over and over to everyone that I know. Do not be turned off by the fact that it is non-fiction. It is an amazing book and should be read by everyone.

From Newsweek:
"Eye-opening . . . Pipher's simple solutions for survival in this family-unfriendly culture are peppered throughout the heart-wrenching and uplifting stories of several of her client"
Apr 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting, nonfiction
Normally, this kind of book is not my style - I've always thought this genre looked at the past with rose-colored glasses and ignored the problems with earlier times. But I thought Pipher did a good job acknowledging the problems from both periods and incorporating the strengths into a new model. It still seems relevant 10 years later.
Joanna Bedggood
Ho hum. If you have read Reviving Ophelia, then you have already read this book. What a disappointment, after being so engaged by Reviving Ophelia. Within the book, she has about 5 points to make, then these are repeated over and over. Boring.
Deirdre Keating
May 13, 2008 rated it liked it
I don't remember feeling like she offered anything specific to remedy the problems she describes so well, but maybe I need to reread it. I liked her discussion of TV and media---how we allow things into our home via the screen that we never would allow otherwise, etc.
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