“The Mother’s Voice” by Kathy Weingarten

Subtitle: Strengthening Intimacy in Families

I read this by coincidence, and it fits perfectly with themes I’ve been thinking about lately. Kathy Weingarten, a family therapist, addresses double binds that society creates for women around acceptable roles and definitions of success. She talks about dominating behaviors in men and how to address them. She weaves her personal story of motherhood, illness, and family together with societal trends. Throughout, she maintains awareness of intersectional issues of race, class, sexual orientation, and gender.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she realized that her need to focus on her health conflicted directly with her need to be a “good mother” by focusing wholly on her pre-adolescent children. This contrast brought to light the invisible constraints society placed on her thoughts about mothering. She includes thoughts about the roles of wives and fathers as well.

At age 7, her son bullied her daughter, then 3 years old. She withdrew from his dominating behavior, and had to consciously reconnect with him. As she connects with him as “like her” rather than disconnecting as “alien, unlike her,” she has leverage to change the roles society prescribes for boys, sons, and men, as well as for mothers.

When she shares her true feelings and thoughts with her children in age-appropriate ways rather than maintaining a perfectly serene front, she builds real connections with them and allows them to see her as a separate person.

I appreciate how much consciousness and intention Weingarten brings to her mothering.

Some passages become repetitive, perhaps in an attempt to convince the reader, but that is a minor flaw. Overall, this is a beautifully written, carefully thought out, intimate gift of a book. Highly recommended.

Currently out of print.

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