Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt
By Peg Streep
(William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780061651366, 256pp.)
Publication Date: October 2009
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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 mothers are the daughters of unloving or hypercritical women—and explores what happens to a daughter's sense of self and to her relationships when her mother is emotionally absent or even cruel. But Mean Mothers is also a narrative of hope, recounting how daughters can get past the legacy of hurt to become whole within and to become loving mothers to the next generation of daughters. The personal stories of unloved daughters and sons and those of the author herself, are both unflinching and moving, and bring this most difficult of subjects to life.
Mean Mothers isn't just a book for daughters who've had difficult or impossible relationships with their mothers. By exposing the myths of motherhood that prevent us from talking about the women for whom mothering a daughter is fraught with ambivalence, tension, or even jealousy, Mean Mothers also casts a different light on the extraordinary influence mothers have over their female children as well as the psychological complexity and emotional depth of the mother-daughter relationship.
Peg Streep is both the daughter of a mean mother and the devoted mother of an adult daughter. She is the author or coauthor of nine books, including Girl in the Mirror: Mothers and Daughters in the Years of Adolescence and the bestselling Necessary Journeys: Letting Ourselves Learn from Life, both with Dr. Nancy L. Snyderman. Streep holds degrees in English from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. A native New Yorker, she is married and lives in Burlington, Vermont.