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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Mother Dance

1. Are there "right" and "wrong" reasons for having kids? What are they?

2. How does his new life differ from her new life after the first baby comes along?

3. What changes (from within and without) need to occur to make shared parenting a realistic goal?

4. How is a marriage changed and challenged by the arrival of the first child?

5. What do you know about your own mother's experience of mothering throughout the lifecycle? What stage was the most difficult for her?

6. On raising daughters, Lerner says, "Your daughter is watching you." What did you learn from watching your own mother about what it means to be a wife, a mother, a single parent, a daughter, a friend, a sister, a worker, and, ultimately, a human being? What lessons do you want to pass on?

7. What is a "good mother"?

8. What is the biggest challenge of raising daughters? Of raising sons?

9. Discuss Lerner's comment, "If you're raising a mama's boy, go for it!"

10. Discuss the difference between productive and nonproductive guilt. Discuss fear and worry in a mother"s experience.

11. What do you think are the most helpful messages a mother can impart to her adolescent daughter about sex? About food? Is your answer different for sons?

12. How are kids affected by the "emotional climate" between their parents, married or divorced?

13. Discuss your label, role, or "job description" in your family of origin ("the weak one," "the good one," "mother's best friend"). What roles andlabels do your kids have? At what cost?

14. How can you best foster communication with kids about emotionally difficult issues (illness, suicide, divorce, job loss)?

15. Why is the role of stepmother so difficult? How can you try to avoid the usual pitfalls?

16. What are the biggest challenges a mother faces when her first or last kid leaves home? How is it different if she is single or married?

The Mother Dance
by Harriet Lerner

  • Publication Date: April 21, 1998
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0060187689
  • ISBN-13: 9780060187682