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You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation

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Deborah Tannen's #1 New York Times bestseller You Just Don’t Understand revolutionized communication between women and men. Now, in her most provocative and engaging book to date, she takes on what is potentially the most fraught and passionate connection of women’s lives: the mother-daughter relationship. It was Tannen who first showed us that men and women speak different Deborah Tannen's #1 New York Times bestseller You Just Don’t Understand revolutionized communication between women and men. Now, in her most provocative and engaging book to date, she takes on what is potentially the most fraught and passionate connection of women’s lives: the mother-daughter relationship. It was Tannen who first showed us that men and women speak different languages. Mothers and daughters speak the same language–but still often misunderstand each other, as they struggle to find the right balance between closeness and independence. Both mothers and daughters want to be seen for who they are, but tend to see the other as falling short of who she should be. Each overestimates the other’s power and underestimates her own. Why do daughters complain that their mothers always criticize, while mothers feel hurt that their daughters shut them out? Why do mothers and daughters critique each other on the Big Three–hair, clothes, and weight–while longing for approval and understanding? And why do they scrutinize each other for reflections of themselves? Deborah Tannen answers these and many other questions as she explains why a remark that would be harmless coming from anyone else can cause an explosion when it comes from your mother or your daughter. She examines every aspect of this complex dynamic, from the dark side that can shadow a woman throughout her life, to the new technologies like e-mail and instant messaging that are transforming mother-daughter communication. Most important, she helps mothers and daughters understand each other, the key to improving their relationship. With groundbreaking insights, pitch-perfect dialogues, and deeply moving memories of her own mother, Tannen untangles the knots daughters and mothers can get tied up in. Readers will appreciate Tannen’s humor as they see themselves on every page and come away with real hope for breaking down barriers and opening new lines of communication. Eye-opening and heartfelt, You’re Wearing That? illuminates and enriches one of the most important relationships in our lives. “Tannen analyzes and decodes scores of conversations between moms and daughters. These exchanges are so real they can make you squirm as you relive the last fraught conversation you had with your own mother or daughter. But Tannen doesn't just point out the pitfalls of the mother-daughter relationship, she also provides guidance for changing the conversations (or the way that we feel about the conversations) before they degenerate into what Tannen calls a mutually aggravating spiral, a "self-perpetuating cycle of escalating responses that become provocations." – The San Francisco Chronicle  From the Hardcover edition.


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Deborah Tannen's #1 New York Times bestseller You Just Don’t Understand revolutionized communication between women and men. Now, in her most provocative and engaging book to date, she takes on what is potentially the most fraught and passionate connection of women’s lives: the mother-daughter relationship. It was Tannen who first showed us that men and women speak different Deborah Tannen's #1 New York Times bestseller You Just Don’t Understand revolutionized communication between women and men. Now, in her most provocative and engaging book to date, she takes on what is potentially the most fraught and passionate connection of women’s lives: the mother-daughter relationship. It was Tannen who first showed us that men and women speak different languages. Mothers and daughters speak the same language–but still often misunderstand each other, as they struggle to find the right balance between closeness and independence. Both mothers and daughters want to be seen for who they are, but tend to see the other as falling short of who she should be. Each overestimates the other’s power and underestimates her own. Why do daughters complain that their mothers always criticize, while mothers feel hurt that their daughters shut them out? Why do mothers and daughters critique each other on the Big Three–hair, clothes, and weight–while longing for approval and understanding? And why do they scrutinize each other for reflections of themselves? Deborah Tannen answers these and many other questions as she explains why a remark that would be harmless coming from anyone else can cause an explosion when it comes from your mother or your daughter. She examines every aspect of this complex dynamic, from the dark side that can shadow a woman throughout her life, to the new technologies like e-mail and instant messaging that are transforming mother-daughter communication. Most important, she helps mothers and daughters understand each other, the key to improving their relationship. With groundbreaking insights, pitch-perfect dialogues, and deeply moving memories of her own mother, Tannen untangles the knots daughters and mothers can get tied up in. Readers will appreciate Tannen’s humor as they see themselves on every page and come away with real hope for breaking down barriers and opening new lines of communication. Eye-opening and heartfelt, You’re Wearing That? illuminates and enriches one of the most important relationships in our lives. “Tannen analyzes and decodes scores of conversations between moms and daughters. These exchanges are so real they can make you squirm as you relive the last fraught conversation you had with your own mother or daughter. But Tannen doesn't just point out the pitfalls of the mother-daughter relationship, she also provides guidance for changing the conversations (or the way that we feel about the conversations) before they degenerate into what Tannen calls a mutually aggravating spiral, a "self-perpetuating cycle of escalating responses that become provocations." – The San Francisco Chronicle  From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation

  1. 4 out of 5

    P.

    I made it to page 119 of this book. I went in wanting to learn some techniques to break through the rut of typical mother-daughter quarreling patterns, instead I found a rehashing of why they happen. And a not particularly insightful one. It's not that the things Tannen is describing aren't true, they are just kind of obvious. There's a huge chapter explaining the concept that mothers and daughters tend to compare themselves to each other. WOW. And sometimes Tannen's explanations of the reasoning I made it to page 119 of this book. I went in wanting to learn some techniques to break through the rut of typical mother-daughter quarreling patterns, instead I found a rehashing of why they happen. And a not particularly insightful one. It's not that the things Tannen is describing aren't true, they are just kind of obvious. There's a huge chapter explaining the concept that mothers and daughters tend to compare themselves to each other. WOW. And sometimes Tannen's explanations of the reasoning behind the extreme reactions of daughters to mothers and vice versa are less than satisfactory. At the very beginning she has an example of a mother telling her daughter that she likes her daughter's hair combed back. The daughter responds that she is wearing it down today. Her mother says "I just think it looks better the other way." Tannen goes on to say that there is a metamessage of criticism in the mother's response. I say, what's meta about it? That is plain criticism. Maybe I'm biased as a daughter, but I would have liked to see some discussion of how to approach the way that mothers use criticism AS caring and expect daughters to accept that and maybe offer ways to get past it. Instead she simply describes the behavior over and over.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kimberlie

    I don't know if I should count this as read or not. I listened to about 2/3 of it, but when it was due at the library I didn't care to finish so turned it in. It had some great insights into adult mother/daughter relationships, but I guess I was looking for something more applicable to my daughters and me now. I don't know if I should count this as read or not. I listened to about 2/3 of it, but when it was due at the library I didn't care to finish so turned it in. It had some great insights into adult mother/daughter relationships, but I guess I was looking for something more applicable to my daughters and me now.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alana

    Many people often tell me that I need to change the way I interact with my mother. Yet very rarely am I given solid advice from people who understand psychologically or otherwise what a struggle this is and how to even begin to change. A relationship with a mother and daughter is already unique not to mention the added dynamics that life throws in. This book was a tool for me; a stepping stone in reframing the way I interpret comments and behaviours thereby affecting the way I respond to them. A Many people often tell me that I need to change the way I interact with my mother. Yet very rarely am I given solid advice from people who understand psychologically or otherwise what a struggle this is and how to even begin to change. A relationship with a mother and daughter is already unique not to mention the added dynamics that life throws in. This book was a tool for me; a stepping stone in reframing the way I interpret comments and behaviours thereby affecting the way I respond to them. Already I am aware of the metamessages in my conversations with my mom and this has had a positive impact on our relationship. I recommend this book to all daughters who cant seem to understand their mothers and to women with daughters of their own. Since I've had the book, three co-workers, who are also mothers have began reading and the inevitable 'workplace book war' ensued, as well as various discussions on individual mother-daughter relationships. Admittedly, this type of writing is not my favourite but it has changed my life if not completely, significantly enough to write such a review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is a really insightful book about relationships between mothers and daughters. It helps to understand the relationships between mothers and daughters when we know that we see each other as reflections of ourselves. I had to laugh when I read the chapters where mothers and daughters expressed their conflict over hairstyles and clothing. It seems for some mother/daughter pairs this doesn't end at the end of the daughter's teenage years. Another aspect of the relationship dynamic is that the m This is a really insightful book about relationships between mothers and daughters. It helps to understand the relationships between mothers and daughters when we know that we see each other as reflections of ourselves. I had to laugh when I read the chapters where mothers and daughters expressed their conflict over hairstyles and clothing. It seems for some mother/daughter pairs this doesn't end at the end of the daughter's teenage years. Another aspect of the relationship dynamic is that the mothering role is of such deep and intense importance to both women that it is a source of deep emotional insecurity and need for reassurance. Mothering is a task that can never been done perfectly, yet it such a critical aspect of family life and society. Women cannot help but feel inadequate to the task, yet they deeply seek affirmation that they are doing well enough. A couple of important things I gleaned from this book is that the reason these relationships are so intense is twofold-- because they are both important and intimate. The other important message of this book is to recognize the relationship between connection and control in mother-daughter relationships. Mothers come from a place of protection and love, and daughters tend to see that as controlling. Daughters reach out for connection and a mother's solicited advice sounds like she doesn't trust her daughter or think she can handle her own problems. These dynamics lead to problems and conflicts, yet the same dynamics also lead to reconciliation and reaching out in love. What both mothers and daughters are seeking is love, intimacy, connection, and to be seen for who she really is. The best way to improve communication is use humor, and to recognize the real message behind the words and respond to that in a loving way.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ☆A.J.☆

    Although I started a bit hesitantly with this book, and not really expecting to like it that much since I am neither a mother, nor my daughters have reached adulthood, but somehow I was soon captivated by the style of the writing. The writing although edged on the scientific scale, the author did a marvelous job in making it simple and straightforward...where needed...and presented her work in an extremely interesting mould.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Wonderful study on mother/daughter relationships and communication

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “Spent my life trying to escape my mother, now the rest of my life trying to find her.” This book really spoke to my heart and to the psychological pain points I had with my own mother. It’s too late to remedy my relationship with my own mom as I mourn her recent passing and expectations unfulfilled. I think I can help stop perpetuating cycle with my own tochter. Learning more about meta-messages and Complementary schism o genesis was a revelation to me. And also looking at the how different pers “Spent my life trying to escape my mother, now the rest of my life trying to find her.” This book really spoke to my heart and to the psychological pain points I had with my own mother. It’s too late to remedy my relationship with my own mom as I mourn her recent passing and expectations unfulfilled. I think I can help stop perpetuating cycle with my own tochter. Learning more about meta-messages and Complementary schism o genesis was a revelation to me. And also looking at the how different personal relationships that a person can have depending on at what stage of life they meet you and point of view. Another important facet of this book was looking at how mothers are more scrutinized, verbally judged and how women are treated differently by each other and societal standards. Resentment when mothers focus on daughters appearance rather than what daughters feel is more important. Big 3 criticism 1. HAIR 2. Clothes 3. Weight 4. Parenting Hair-what others notice but bever express but mothers feel obligated and entitled to criticize hair. Why hair?? Something so intimate about combing hair An expression of how close we are Full circle - combing old mothers long thin hair Girls intimacy as friends playing with hair Grooming among primates to reflect and reinforce alliances Women are overwhelming judged by appearance Value is judged by how she mothers Widespread tendency to blame the mother Motherhood criticism cuts deepest Focus on what she does, not how she looks Preoccupation with appearance makes her feel disappointed that she’s not focusing on characteristics she feels are more important. ————/———//———————— ———-//———————————— Mother of all relationships Deepest love and deepest anger and hate Face to face with reflections of ourselves Forces fundamental questions about ourselves Understanding required The others point of view Daunting struggles for control Cycles of misunderstandings Minimize rapport of hurt Complex Uniquely intense Source of great comfort and great pain Rejection Disapproval Push and pull Central Conundrum Double meaning of connection and control Closeness always carries with it the need to consider how your actions will affect the other person. Word or action interpretation Bonds or bondage Message-literal meaning Meta message- implications of those words How it’s said or the fact that it’s said at all. Crying literal meaning Meta message of caring Intimacy has fled Not getting details right Mom doesn’t know day to day specifics after she moved out. Caring Seeking sympathy from mom because no one else will every care on that level on things that don’t matter. Personal intimate conversations React or respond wrong Meta message turns compliments to criticism Returning hurt for hurt Focusing on your own emotional experience rather than your daughters Deep down mother may be right. Respond with anger out of proportion because mothers opinion weighs so heavy Hurtful generalizations Great expectations unfulfilled Connection Perceived obligations Daughter mother emotional transfer and absorption My problems become her problems History of hurts Seeking subtle revenge Talk such a huge role Understanding conversations is key Understood and approved of Caring and criticizing Sounds like a compliment but implied something else Why are you so sensitive? Avoid topics that hurt raise barriers on important topics. Criticism of offspring. Mothers bite their tongues and refrain advice Role reversal when mothers age and don’t take safety advice. The ironic “You can’t make me...” House critics Cleaning Decorating styles Norms of peer group differ generational Habitual indirectness She doesn’t want your advice, she wants your blessing Don’t give grown daughters advice When is it best to keep silent or speak up Women Verbal Behavior of young girls: Exchange secrets to negotiate alliances If you don’t like another girl you freeze them out If you are friends you share stories and know what’s going on in each other’s life Inclusion vs exclusion Mother daughter relationship feelings of inclusion or being left out Family A fortress against a hostile world. Refuge and comfort Daddy’s girl Mommy’s boy Favoritisms Imperfect love Culture attitudes towards women Expectations a mother will always drop everything to be there Mothers-always interruptible and always available Assuming a mother will always be available Taking her for granted Indirectness seen as underhanded and manipulative Men’s style more direct Women’s style of sharing stories and dads not Cherish closeness or seek distance adjustments at different stages Girls Emphasize sameness to bond and connect Leap frogging generations Reflecting the world she grew up in Belittle or not sane values in tour realm of work because of generational differences Leads to disappointment Moms give Attention to appearance **Minimize accomplishment to bring back down to sameness of each other Deflation because of envy Her inappropriateness and awkward reactions we lived in completely Different realms The closer we are to a person the more likely we are to compare ourselves. Way to avoid is Minimize the difference is to minimize others accomplishments. -deflate when you envy -dismissive response Physical connection-treasure or recoil The power shift of withdrawal of self or grandchildren Never acknowledged perspectives Complementary schism o genesis Trigger Mothers are more likely to be judged and verbally scrutinized. They are less likely to react angrily as a man and therefore an easy target inside or outside of the home. Mother on a pedestal Long way to fall Competitive mothering The ultimate female olympics Job you can’t be fired from Life long Always changing Empty nest - demoted to part time and then emeritus status Dark side of mothers Romanticism or demonize Fear of witches is fear of women’s power either as a mother or as a sexual desired women Keep your distance or be devoured Mutual monsters of the teen years Love is for your growth and your pruning Children are for their mother’s pruning Becoming a mother is a hostage to fortune Competitive rivals Envy? Mourn the loss of the mother you always wanted How much connection is right? Negligence or too intertwined Parallel truth -if mothers don’t “see” their daughters, neither do daughter see their mothers. People are not fixed in time. We change and we remain the same. Regard as fixed. Immutable Will not let daughter change. See as she use to be instead of now. React differently They respond differently There in lies the power Reframe Reframing in she is caring for you

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Sheppard

    One point take away: Stop being judgmental on how your daughter, or any child, looks. Focus on the most important thing: the relationship. When mother's communication is focused on how daughter looks via clothes, hair or weight (the Big Three that cuts across all cultures) then the conversation has little hope to get where is needs to be: on where the daughter is emotionally and spiritually. This continues on to the next generation. When a (grand)mother is judging how her granddaughter looks or t One point take away: Stop being judgmental on how your daughter, or any child, looks. Focus on the most important thing: the relationship. When mother's communication is focused on how daughter looks via clothes, hair or weight (the Big Three that cuts across all cultures) then the conversation has little hope to get where is needs to be: on where the daughter is emotionally and spiritually. This continues on to the next generation. When a (grand)mother is judging how her granddaughter looks or the actions she is taking, the mother of the granddaughter feels criticized for the way she is raising her girl. In my opinion, this can only lead to isolation and loneliness in the later or aged years as daughters and granddaughters don't feel they can share their inner self. Furthermore, how you react to your daughter when she "scrapes her knee" is how she expects to be treated by other adults, especially a spouse, later in life. When a little girl scrapes her knee then overly soft soothing talk can be appropriate. When she is an adolescent, it's not, and other adults may not give it. Continuing to do so puts her at a disadvantage to expect it and wonder why its not coming - contributing to feelings of unfulfilled expectations.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Mothers are viewed by their daughters through an intricate, specialized window. It's very easy for Mom's and daughters to misunderstand their daughters. In communication there is a message and a meta-message. Tone, sarcasm, body language all contribute to the meta-message. the message might be, "I don't care.", but there can be many meanings to this. Often it's best for Mom's to not say anything. The daughters are looking for encouragement. The tables pretty much reverse at some point. I read the Mothers are viewed by their daughters through an intricate, specialized window. It's very easy for Mom's and daughters to misunderstand their daughters. In communication there is a message and a meta-message. Tone, sarcasm, body language all contribute to the meta-message. the message might be, "I don't care.", but there can be many meanings to this. Often it's best for Mom's to not say anything. The daughters are looking for encouragement. The tables pretty much reverse at some point. I read the last chapter first, and I 'got' the whole book. I appreciated her repeated descriptions and elaborations when I read the entire book, so I was able to understand and appreciate her points and the last chapter better. At the moment I can't express well what she had to say. As I read the book I thought that my daughters and I communicate well compared to how many mothers and daughters communicate. I was happy about that, and I think we'll get better with time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Excellent opportunity to make sense of the complicated relationships that you are in--that whole 'can't see the forest for the trees' dilemma. As one of three sisters, it's always interesting to me that my sisters and I have such different relationships with the same mother...and to see how she has a different relationship with her own mother (as compared to her sisters). Now with a daughter of my own, I'll try to remember some of Tannen's talking points--keeping us seeing each other for who we Excellent opportunity to make sense of the complicated relationships that you are in--that whole 'can't see the forest for the trees' dilemma. As one of three sisters, it's always interesting to me that my sisters and I have such different relationships with the same mother...and to see how she has a different relationship with her own mother (as compared to her sisters). Now with a daughter of my own, I'll try to remember some of Tannen's talking points--keeping us seeing each other for who we are, and not the reflections of what we'd like the other to be.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marlana Portolano

    I read this in an afternoon. It's very similar to her other books in that it simply documents several collected examples of conversations, categorizes them, and then offers some light linguistic explanation of what's happening in each category. While not the most enlightening read, especially in linguistics, it's good for pointing out some of the verbal pitfalls that inevitably happen between mothers and (especially teen or adult) daughters. The main message for moms seems to be: just hold your I read this in an afternoon. It's very similar to her other books in that it simply documents several collected examples of conversations, categorizes them, and then offers some light linguistic explanation of what's happening in each category. While not the most enlightening read, especially in linguistics, it's good for pointing out some of the verbal pitfalls that inevitably happen between mothers and (especially teen or adult) daughters. The main message for moms seems to be: just hold your tongue, because whatever you say is likely to be all wrong.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This was kind of a fun book, but a lot of what she (the author) says is obvious. There ARE a few things that make you kind of think, "oh.. that makes sense" and so on, but overall nothing too groundbreaking. This was kind of a fun book, but a lot of what she (the author) says is obvious. There ARE a few things that make you kind of think, "oh.. that makes sense" and so on, but overall nothing too groundbreaking.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Why do moms and daughters hurt each other with words? Read this and understand the relationship you share better - how to say what you mean and understand each other. A joyful but honest look into a very complicated relationship.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    The title captures the misunderstandings that can cause conflict between mothers and daughters. Dr. Tannen collects the most amazing exchanges and seeks healing for all. Communication and relationships remain challenges.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cbpax

    A pretty good review of how mothers and daughters communicate. (Only the title is pointed via Mother TO daughter and my daughter was much more likely to say that to me than I was to her!). I did enjoy the read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    love her books. Must-read for mothers of teenage girls or for mothers and daughters of any age!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jerzy

    Since Tannen is a linguist, I was imagining a lot more in-depth linguistic analysis than what's actually here. This book was well-written and had quite a few good insights, just not what I expected. It's mostly a collection of grouped anecdotes, illustrating many different ways in which you're "damned if you do, damned if you don't." (If you, as a parent, try hard to show your affection by being close & personal with your child, that can push the child away. But if you try to give the child resp Since Tannen is a linguist, I was imagining a lot more in-depth linguistic analysis than what's actually here. This book was well-written and had quite a few good insights, just not what I expected. It's mostly a collection of grouped anecdotes, illustrating many different ways in which you're "damned if you do, damned if you don't." (If you, as a parent, try hard to show your affection by being close & personal with your child, that can push the child away. But if you try to give the child respectful distance to show you treat them as an adult, that can leave them feeling lonely. Hard to show intimacy without intrusion. And so on for many other scenarios.) Big-picture advice: As the child, make your parents feel needed. As the parent, make sure the children feel your approval. That'll go a long way towards addressing most of the issues in this book. Finally, despite the subtitle, much of this book applies to any parents-vs-children relationship; I recognized my own family in many of these anecdotes. (Except all the constant complaints about each other's hair, weight, clothes. Who the bleep are all these shallow people who nag at their relatives' appearance all the time? Tannen explains that many mothers feel the world judges *them* based on *their children's* appearance/success, and society doles out "bad mother" labels much more easily than "bad father." Daughters are special targets because, for example, men can get away wearing the same nondescript, inoffensive hairstyle for every situation, but there's no equivalent for women. I guess that makes sense, but still, it's hard for me to relate.) A couple of bits I especially liked: * p.13: Distinguish between message vs. metamessage -- what was literally said vs. the implication of those words. If your implication is critical and you are challenged, you might be tempted to respond by "crying literal meaning" -- e.g. after a backhanded compliment -- I didn't literally say you are poorly dressed, so why are you taking offense? But if your metamessage implied it, the grown-up thing to do is admit it and talk about what was meant vs. heard/implied. * p.15: A wife has a cut on her finger and absent-mindedly shows it to her husband, who responds with "Put a bandaid on" instead of sympathy. Of course she knows to put a bandaid on. She wanted him to respond not to the wound but to the gesture. A good illustration of why it's often better to say "That stinks" instead of giving advice. * p.23: "knots created by the double meaning of advice: while it offers to help, it also implies that you're doing something wrong; otherwise you wouldn't need advice." * p.47: Daughter reacts strongly to mother's advice because she values mom's approval so much it gives her great power. But mom nags only because she no longer has the authority she used to and now feels powerless. So, I guess many moms really do go overboard, and daughters really do overreact. The child can try to break the cycle of criticism by making sure the parent doesn't feel neglected or taken for granted. * p.50: Middle-aged women can be stuck in a "disapproval sandwich" :( between their own moms and daughters. * p.57: To break the cycle of criticism, a parent can try to offer blessings but not advice (unless asked specifically). * p.64: Some interesting observations on differences between boys and girls at play: boys negotiate status in a hierarchy, while girls negotiate inclusion/exclusion from the group. So women grow up sensitive to feeling excluded, while men grow up sensitive to feeling put down or pushed around. OK... But *why* do these differences arise? Futher reading: The Wonder of Boys: What Parents, Mentors and Educators Can Do to Shape Boys into Exceptional Men * p.83: Two takes on "troubles talk" e.g. at the family dinner table: Women often bring up concerns from earlier in the day as a way to build rapport, inviting others to express sympathy or bring up their own similar experiences. But men often see home as the place to avoid thinking about work problems; troubles-talk feels like bringing dirt into the house, so they don't talk about it. So if the woman keeps bringing up problems anyway, the man assumes she needs help solving them. That's infuriating when she's just trying to build rapport. Besides, to the kids, it can look like: Mommy has problems, Daddy doesn't, so she must be less competent. All kinds of issues arise from this difference in how we treat "troubles talk." * p.93: "many women are disconcerted when someone declines to... offer the expected reassurance of sameness." If you admit a weakness, it's meant as an opening to emphasize connection; it's confusing & frustrating when others ignore that opening and try to correct you instead. * p.129: Don't forget that a younger sibling might not get to see the rifts and disagreements between parents and an older sibling. So the younger may legitimately *feel* like everyone aligns against them, more than they really do. * p.133: Getting out of a spiraling conversation cycle, one of those arguments you can't stop returning to: Just bite your tongue. If you can't -- then make a plan with each other, set a date to make your case, feel heard & understood, then leave it alone after that. Don't just fall into the conversation over and over or blindside the other party with it. * p.160: [From an older woman with middle-aged daughters: parenting never ends.] "Most young mothers think that there's a time frame on mothering... We think that at a certain age your kids are launched. My friends and I often laugh about this. It was such a naive concept. Your relationships are interlaced all your lives." * p.169: [from Adrienne Rich -- mostly way too extreme, but this part I identify with sometimes:] "My children cause me the most exquisite suffering of which I have any experience... Sometimes I seem to myself, in my feelings toward these tiny guiltless beings, a monster of selfishness and intolerance. Their voices wear away at my nerves, their constant needs, above all their need for simplicity and patience, fill me with despair at my own failures..." * p.228: Remember that people change; don't get stuck on "I know you've always loved X or hated Y..." whether it's about outgrown childhood whims or early missteps as a struggling young parent. You've both grown. To break the cycle, try sharing "more stories of [your] triumphs and fewer of [your] problems" and also "showing understanding and expressing confidence." * p.238: Sometimes you might as well ask flat-out and directly: "What do you mean by that? Do you intend that do be hurtful?" It's uncomfortable but "if we speak differently than we usually do, the other person will have to react differently too." * p.244: "If you stop moving closer, the other person will stop moving farther away. Conversely, if you stop backing up, the other person will stop moving toward you. There may be a moment of discomfort as you stand firm or even take a step in the other direction, but it's surely better than moving inexorably and pointlessly across a room..." Finally, a quote from the author that's not about parents & kids: * p.204: "In the early days of e-mail, many of us who used it regarded it as a private and intimate medium... [In 1980] I exchanged e-mail with a few close friends... In 1993 I returned to my university from a research leave and was horrified to discover that my private domain had exploded into the public sphere. Everyone in my department was using this medium to exchange messages and, worst of all, to conduct department business. I felt invaded, almost as if my home had been broken into." The Luddite in me longs for the days when we didn't have an onslaught of emails to deal with :) Was it really that bad to visit a physical bulletin board or chat with colleagues down the hall, instead of allowing everyone in the world free access to add items to your to-do list?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    As someone without a background in qualitative research - in fact, quite the opposite, with my astrophysics degree - it's sometimes hard for me to remember that this type of research is valid and accepted. It ends up just feeling like anecdotes to me. But Deborah Tannen's analysis of individual conversations makes up the bulk of this book, and it is actually pretty illuminating. She picks illustrative examples of mother-daughter conversations and focuses on the "metamessage" of what each party i As someone without a background in qualitative research - in fact, quite the opposite, with my astrophysics degree - it's sometimes hard for me to remember that this type of research is valid and accepted. It ends up just feeling like anecdotes to me. But Deborah Tannen's analysis of individual conversations makes up the bulk of this book, and it is actually pretty illuminating. She picks illustrative examples of mother-daughter conversations and focuses on the "metamessage" of what each party is really saying with the meaning behind their words, then patterns these types of metamessages into different themes. This book fits into a pattern I've read before (e.g. Brene Brown's Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead), of sociological studies done by the author fitted vaguely into book format. I enjoyed the anecdotes and Tannen's analysis of the conversations, but it never felt like a cohesive story or narrative like nonfiction books sometimes do. She does wrap up some of the learnings in the last chapter, subtitled "New Ways of Talking", by briefly revising some conversational patterns from earlier in the book and reflecting on how mothers and daughters might change their interactions to break out of these negative patterns. I appreciated that.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hazel

    A friend of mine shared an article that Tannen wrote about her mother. I enjoyed the article and was interested to read her books. Tannen's field is the study of conversation, and in this case explores mothers and daughters. It was enjoyable to read the various anecdotes exploring from the viewpoints of both mother and daughter and how these relationships shift over time; the reasons for the reactions that many experience. She also briefly points out the differences between the way men and women A friend of mine shared an article that Tannen wrote about her mother. I enjoyed the article and was interested to read her books. Tannen's field is the study of conversation, and in this case explores mothers and daughters. It was enjoyable to read the various anecdotes exploring from the viewpoints of both mother and daughter and how these relationships shift over time; the reasons for the reactions that many experience. She also briefly points out the differences between the way men and women relate--men/boys establish relations through activity; women/girls bond through conversation. It is this aspect which makes the mother-daughter relationship more prone to extreme reactions to words said or unsaid; the volume of verbiage gives more opportunity to misunderstanding or misinterpreting. Most of this to me is common sense, though at times it's comforting to see others have the same experiences. One note was the difference in conversations between mother/daughter and father/daughter: her typical example is that the father would get off the phone after a minute or two (dealing with cars, computers, money, or the like) and say, well I guess you want to talk to your mother. This fits with Tannen's assessment that women are the communicators in a family.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mohammed Sofian

    Comprehensive review of understanding how conversations between mothers and daughters work. Also , remind me of my mother and her mother and how they argued alot and still loved each other. It turned out to be normal to have such debates. As a muslim , in our religion we mistakenly have this idea that arguing with both parents are considered big sin and you can be sent out to hell if you did so. Yes you have to obey your father and mother and have respect for both of them because they raised you Comprehensive review of understanding how conversations between mothers and daughters work. Also , remind me of my mother and her mother and how they argued alot and still loved each other. It turned out to be normal to have such debates. As a muslim , in our religion we mistakenly have this idea that arguing with both parents are considered big sin and you can be sent out to hell if you did so. Yes you have to obey your father and mother and have respect for both of them because they raised you and shed sweat and money to make you have what ever you please in this world. Totally agree, but what im trying to stress here is the idea that " it is okay sometimes to argue with your parents and have conflicts and disagreements , you dont have to feel guilty about it and say "iam a sinner and will be sent to hell because of an argument " as along as you always try to make things out with them , in spite of any past wounds they've caused you. This book backup this idea very well. I felt so relieved when i saw the arguements, disagreements and the subconscious inner feelings between mothers and daughters. I believe we can apply the same principles to sons and fathers as well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I read about 1/3 of this book and the other pages flipped through and read chapter headings etc... Pretty good. I found it funny how it talks about hair, weight, and ___ as the triple threat. I felt blessed that my own mother never went there, but a sadness that she never really went anywhere deep. I liked pg. 156 "perfect role model" idea how some daughters think how can I ever be as good as my mom who seems to have everything together. Never thought of this perspective before. pg. 181 Competing I read about 1/3 of this book and the other pages flipped through and read chapter headings etc... Pretty good. I found it funny how it talks about hair, weight, and ___ as the triple threat. I felt blessed that my own mother never went there, but a sadness that she never really went anywhere deep. I liked pg. 156 "perfect role model" idea how some daughters think how can I ever be as good as my mom who seems to have everything together. Never thought of this perspective before. pg. 181 Competing for the biggest prize: Father, the daddy daughter relationship... It is hard to witness any alighment-between sisters, perhaps, or between a father and son- that locks you out. But surely there is a special pain a woman feels at the specter of the man she loves receiving lavish attention from--and lavishing his loving attention on-a younger woman, even if that young woman is her daughter... pg. 226 she sees the old me, when past memories make you where you were not how you've developed and where you've come. Pg. 230 lighten up, humor helps

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This excellent study of communication between mothers and daughters was a fascinating read(though I heard it in audiobook format.) I had eyed this title a few times but worried it would hit too close to home. My own relationship with my mom was stormy to say the least until my mid-20s and now that my little one is 11, our closeness is being tested. So I didn't know if this would make me defensive and less receptive and/or weepy. I'm happy to report I was open to learning more about the dynamics This excellent study of communication between mothers and daughters was a fascinating read(though I heard it in audiobook format.) I had eyed this title a few times but worried it would hit too close to home. My own relationship with my mom was stormy to say the least until my mid-20s and now that my little one is 11, our closeness is being tested. So I didn't know if this would make me defensive and less receptive and/or weepy. I'm happy to report I was open to learning more about the dynamics and complications in communicating between women whose relationships are fraught with natural challenges and societal pressures. Tannen interviewed dozens of women on various topics so you hear a variety of perspectives, all candid, many poignant. I appreciated the chapter on tips for navigating conversations. If yes the tears will come but mine didn't until the end of the book. Excellent work from a communication guru.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    Struggled to finish this. I was hoping this book was going to be similar to 'Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different--And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men' by Steve Biddulph----a quick, informative read that broke each phase up of a boys' life and how it changed in relation to what they needed and who they needed it from. This book was completely opposite. Basically a bunch of open-ended excerpts of endless Mother-daughter relationships (mostly adult relationships) and how what o Struggled to finish this. I was hoping this book was going to be similar to 'Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different--And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men' by Steve Biddulph----a quick, informative read that broke each phase up of a boys' life and how it changed in relation to what they needed and who they needed it from. This book was completely opposite. Basically a bunch of open-ended excerpts of endless Mother-daughter relationships (mostly adult relationships) and how what one says to the other can come across different than the original intent. Needless to say, it was very long, very boring, and said nothing about the requirements in building a strong, healthy young woman.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I listened to the audiobook version of this and I thought it was a very interesting read. I liked that it talked about the various relationships between mothers and daughters. While I didn't think the author offered many solutions for some of the arguments that occur, I liked that she discussed the possible reasons mothers and daughters react a certain way. Having daughters in my life it definitely had me thinking as to the way I talk to them and what changes I could make. I also started thinkin I listened to the audiobook version of this and I thought it was a very interesting read. I liked that it talked about the various relationships between mothers and daughters. While I didn't think the author offered many solutions for some of the arguments that occur, I liked that she discussed the possible reasons mothers and daughters react a certain way. Having daughters in my life it definitely had me thinking as to the way I talk to them and what changes I could make. I also started thinking about the examples I've encountered in my personal life and the examples of close friends and families.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Tivnan

    This book offers much insight into the hows and whys of mother/daughter interaction. The first 7 chapters are especially helpful in clearly pointing out how we love and yet so often misunderstand each other. This complex relationship is so significant and I am glad to have become aware of having sometimes sent wrong messages to my own daughter over the years. In discussing this book with her we have been able to overcome some hurts, clarify positions and laugh. It is very well done and I recomme This book offers much insight into the hows and whys of mother/daughter interaction. The first 7 chapters are especially helpful in clearly pointing out how we love and yet so often misunderstand each other. This complex relationship is so significant and I am glad to have become aware of having sometimes sent wrong messages to my own daughter over the years. In discussing this book with her we have been able to overcome some hurts, clarify positions and laugh. It is very well done and I recommend it to all mothers and daughters, regardless of age!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I read this book as research for the novel I'm writing, but I learned some things that will be useful in my relationship with my daughter now that she is a young adult. What I found most interesting was the way that intention and message get mangled between mothers and daughters in ways it does not in other relationships. I have a good relationship with my daughter, but we have our "moments" and I think what I learned from this book will make things even smoother, and when we do have moments I'l I read this book as research for the novel I'm writing, but I learned some things that will be useful in my relationship with my daughter now that she is a young adult. What I found most interesting was the way that intention and message get mangled between mothers and daughters in ways it does not in other relationships. I have a good relationship with my daughter, but we have our "moments" and I think what I learned from this book will make things even smoother, and when we do have moments I'll be better able to deconstruct where things broke down.

  27. 5 out of 5

    BJ Brown

    Hard to put a finger on what's happening in conversation with mothers and daughters that differs from conversation between women friends and women siblings beyond the sheer intensity of the stakes--the tensions between connection and competition, the fine line between care and criticism, the conflicting messages and metamessages both sent and received, the shifting alignments. . .it's all there, but for higher stakes created by the unconditional acceptance we expect on both sides. Hard to put a finger on what's happening in conversation with mothers and daughters that differs from conversation between women friends and women siblings beyond the sheer intensity of the stakes--the tensions between connection and competition, the fine line between care and criticism, the conflicting messages and metamessages both sent and received, the shifting alignments. . .it's all there, but for higher stakes created by the unconditional acceptance we expect on both sides.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    E-audio loan ran out before I was done. Had some good insights. Could be very worthwhile for people struggling with mother daughter relationships, or similar relationships! However, I felt Tannen may have been stepping outside her professional expertise and into the realm of opinion in some of her interpretations. My first introduction during college in the 90's to her work was more mind-blowing for me, which probably makes me feel underwhelmed now. E-audio loan ran out before I was done. Had some good insights. Could be very worthwhile for people struggling with mother daughter relationships, or similar relationships! However, I felt Tannen may have been stepping outside her professional expertise and into the realm of opinion in some of her interpretations. My first introduction during college in the 90's to her work was more mind-blowing for me, which probably makes me feel underwhelmed now.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jana Coffey

    I found the material of this book interesting in general and helpful in realizing how my mother and I have certain ways of interacting (both good and not so good ways). I appreciated the section on how to change the "script" so the interactions didn't follow the same old patterns. I found the material of this book interesting in general and helpful in realizing how my mother and I have certain ways of interacting (both good and not so good ways). I appreciated the section on how to change the "script" so the interactions didn't follow the same old patterns.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I began reading this book hoping it would give me tips to talking with my teenage daughter. The reality was that I received a better understanding of my conversations with my mother. I would have given more stars had the book not been written like an academic paper.

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