The Woman Who Gave Birth To Her Mother 


Tales of Transformation in Women’s Lives

A book of stories about women and their relationships to their mothers. It is also a book about story-telling, and the way talking about the mother has the power to transform a womaThe Woman Who Gave Birth To Her Mothern’s life. In every story a woman comes to a crossroads in her own development, where she is required to “give birth to her mother,” a symbolic act of self-liberation. The stories are intense, poignant, highly charged with the drama of love and separation, and finally extremely funny, as a mother narrates the story of her daughter’s wedding on a decrepit barge.

From the author’s introduction: “The Woman Who Gave Birth to Her Mother…advances into an unexplored emotional territory that is created by a daughter’s ability to rework or even shatter what is habitual and limiting between mother and daughter. In this moment, it becomes possible for the daughter to create the mother she feels she has always needed and deserved. She re-creates her real mother, or she creates a symbolic mother to hold and foster her psychological and emotional development. That, to begin with, is what I mean by the phrase ‘to give birth to one’s mother.”

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“Chernin goes beyond the familiar mother-daughter psycho-babble to look at the journey many women have traveled as they try to come to terms with this most powerful and complicated relationship. The book features real, incredibly moving stories about women who finally face their ambivalence, hurt, and love. From these accounts, Chernin gleans seven stages of change: idealizing the mother; revision (the beginning of a more realistic perspective); blaming; forgiving; identifying with the mother; letting her go; and, finally, giving birth to her (metaphorically, of course), a process Chernin details in the book. I hope this book stirs and inspires all of you as much as it did me.”

– Linda Loewenthal, Editor
Quality Paperback Book Club

“Drawing on accounts of mother-daughter conflicts that she heard about as a practicing psychoanalyst, Chernin provides a method for resolving the problems that can dominate this relationship in her perceptive and creative study.”

– Publisher’s Weekly