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FAMILY MIRRORS by Elizabeth Fishel

FAMILY MIRRORS

What Our Children's Lives Reveal About Ourselves

By Elizabeth Fishel

Pub Date: June 4th, 1991
ISBN: 0-395-44261-3
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

 A highly personal exploration of how children mold parents and parents mold children, and how together they continually re-create the family. Fishel wrote about her relationship with her sister (Sisters, 1979) as a starting point for examining such relationships in general. Now she uses a similar technique--employing her experiences with her two young sons plus interviews with and questionnaires from parents to talk about how families are formed and re-formed and how the individuals within them change when a child is born. As mothers ``mirror'' facial expressions to babes in arms, so do children mirror to parents their own pasts. Fishel categorizes four types of parents--the ``Traditionalist,'' the ``Rebel,'' the ``Compensator,'' and the ``Synthesizer''--by how they deal with the past. She devotes separate chapters to three critical issues--separation, anger, and self-esteem--and to strategies for breaking painful or ineffectual patterns. Full of appealing personal anecdotes, the book is informed by family- systems theory and by a rather eclectic, often uncritical reading list plus interviews with professionals (including sister Anne, now a clinical psychologist). The informal style is comfortable but occasionally leads to some mushy, overly romantic thinking. A good book for parents who want sympathetic company and some direction on the road to self-discovery. Introducing each chapter are poems on parenting from various writers; they alone make the book worthwhile.