Sunday, August 27, 2006

Are you a mother? Of daughter(s)? Be afraid. Be very, very afraid!

Well, okay, perhaps things aren't as dire as all that, but I've found Deborah Tannen's book You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation to be quite an eye-opener when it comes to understanding the basis for some of the miscommunications that occur between mothers and daughters. She talks about the different ways mothers and daughters communicate; not only, for example, with verbal messages but also with hidden "metamessages" and how sometimes their communications go awry when there are very different understandings of the meaning of the underlying metamessages. "Where the daughter sees criticism, the mother sees caring.... Most of the time, both are right."

For more on "metamessages" (for all family members, not just mothers and daughters) read the article I Can't Even Open My Mouth: Separating Messages from Metamessages in Family Talk . It is an excellent discussion of another of Deborah Tannen's books, (the next one I plan to read), I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs, and Kids When You're All Adults said to be "an eye-opening book explains why grown women so often feel criticized by their mothers; and why mothers feel they can't open their mouths around their grown daughters; why growing up male or female, or as an older or younger sibling, results in different experiences of family that persist throughout our lives; and much, much more."


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