MOTHERING by Rudolph Schaffer
Kirkus Star


Email this review


An examination of mothering which finds merit in the research strategy of mothering as interlocution--a two-way street of signals, sensations, reactions--and which suggests that too often mothers' subtle accommodations in these exchanges have been overlooked. Like the other authors in this series (Dunn, Garvey, Macfarlane), Schaffer underscores methodological obstacles, stresses the importance of behavioral context, and refers to familiar sources (Wolff, Brackenbill, Stern), many of them British. Although he dismisses ""mystique"" as ""the province of the poet""--which seems to be a jab at Macfarlane--in reality, he's neither disputatious nor contemptuous, just mindful of the limitations of research. Aware of how frequently ""value judgments have commonly been dressed up as mental-health judgments,"" he appraises rigorously, rejects early theories, looks at other cultures for comparisons, and concludes that mothering is a skill, an assemblage of techniques best performed by those with particular personality attributes, male or female, relative or interested outsider. That puts fathers, grandmothers, and decent daycare setups back in the picture. A meticulous assessment of actualities, circumspect in less explored areas.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1977
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press