Hardly more than a single guidepost, though it may give new mothers a psychological boost: to be a good mother, allow room for your own development and needs. Anyone in the vicinity of the women's movement has heard this before, of course; but Atlanta psychologist Matthews does provide illustrative case histories from his practice--in the form of recreated discussions with parents of problem kids. In each instance, whether the child is acting aggressively in the third-grade classroom or simply demanding attention by smart-mouthing her mother in public, Matthews traces the problem to the mother's own lack of self-esteem: the consequence, usually, of devotion to her kids at the expense of having a life of her own. The usual solution, too, is to go back to a treasured job left for the kids' sake, thus sparing them the burden of the mother's ego-identification. Though Matthews eschews terms like ""smothering"" and ""sheltering,"" he does believe that the most dedicated parents often do their children a disservice by unrealistically protecting them from the stresses, frustrations, and anxieties with which all children--even infants--must learn to cope. Close, reasoned attention to one potential child-rearing imbalance.