Resources for Maternal Ambivalence and Regret

For Providers
The Monster Within: The Hidden Side of Motherhood By Barbara Almond
Mixed feelings about motherhood—uncertainty over having a child, fears of pregnancy and childbirth, or negative thoughts about one’s own children—are not just hard to discuss, they are a powerful social taboo. Barbara Almond brings this troubling issue to light. She uncovers the roots of ambivalence, tells how it manifests in lives of women and their children, and describes a spectrum of maternal behavior—from normal feelings to highly disturbed mothering. In a society where perfection in parenting is the unattainable ideal, this compassionate book also shows how women can affect positive change in their lives.

Mother Love/mother Hate: The Power of Maternal Ambivalence By Rozsika Parker
Many a loving mother has had fleeting feelings of hatred toward her children–the desire to hurl a howling baby out the window or to lock a teenager out of the house. Rozsika Parker argues that these ambivalent feelings not only are common but can actually have a creative impact on mothering.

Mother Love/Mother Hate illustrates how a mother’s desire for devotion coexists with the impulse to hurt and desert. Parents will find Parker’s insight into the conflicts that beset them illuminating and deeply reassuring. Reversing the conventional psychoanalytic approach, in which maternal ambivalence has been understood chiefly from the point of view of the child, this book gives precedence to the mother’s perspective. Drawing on interviews with mothers, clinical material from her practice as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and a wide range of psychoanalytic and literary sources (including Virginia Woolf, Anne Tyler, Simone de Beauvoir, D. W. Winnicott, Melanie Klein, and John Bowlby), Parker explores experiences of maternal ambivalence in a culture painfully and profoundly uneasy about its very existence.

Torn In Two: Maternal Ambivalence by Rozsika Parker
More and more women confess uneasily to finding motherhood as much a source of pain as pleasure. Rozsika Parker presents a new understanding of maternal ambivalence, suggesting that the coexistence of love and hate can stimulate and sharpen a mother’s awareness of what is going on between her and her child. Drawing on interviews, clinical material from her practice as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and a range of literary sources, Torn in Two is original and accessible. With new readings of the work of Klein, Winnicott, Bowlby and others, this book offers invaluable–and often reassuring–insight into the conflicts confronting women at every stage of motherhood.

For Providers to Recommend to Clients
The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life By Harriet Lerner
Written from her dual perspective as a psychologist and a mother, Lerner brings us deeply personal tales that run the gamut from the hilarious to the heart-wrenching. From birth or adoption to the empty nest, The Mother Dance teaches the basic lessons of motherhood: that we are not in control of what happens to our children, that most of what we worry about doesn’t happen, and that our children will love us with all our imperfections if we can do the same for them. Here is a gloriously witty and moving book about what it means to dance the mother dance.