Author and gender studies teacher Susan Shapiro Barash examines the fraught mother-daughter relationship in You’re Grounded Forever… But First Let’s Go Shopping (St. Martin’s Press). Don’t let the whimsical title fool you: there’s not very much that’s funny in You’re Grounded Forever. Here, for example, Barash talks about the women she interviewed for the book:
What was universal in the voices of the mothers with whom I spoke was their despair, their sense that it should be different, that their efforts seemed in vain when they considered the results. And the haunting questions: Had they done what they could for their daughters? Had their decisions and guidance been helpful or a hindrance in the long run?
With this much pressure, Barash tells us, raising daughters is difficult, especially since, “Past generations’ rigid rules for mothering girls have been replaced by rules encouraging a mother who is more of a pushover — cushy, with a coddling mentality. Even mothers who think they can micromanage their daughters’ lives and seem to have an edge seem to struggle to achieve boundaries.”
If all of this is true, one must ask, what’s a mother to do? In truth, Barash spends more time dissecting the problem than she does in sharing big solutions. Although one gets the feeling that this may be the nature of the beast: mothers and daughters doomed forever in a sort of ageless and dangerous dance.
Though, in fairness, “doomed” may be too strong a word. Relax, Barash seems to say: there is no panacea. Love your daughters right, keep them safe but treat them fairly and trust them to find their way.