Toxic Friends Author Susan Shapiro Barash Writes New Book about Mothers and Daughters

“You’re grounded forever…but first, let’s go shopping” – have you ever heard yourself says these words, or some other bizarre, mixed message, to your daughter?  These exact words are the title of the newest book, released today, from bestselling author Susan Shapiro Barash, author of Toxic Friends and Tripping the Prom Queen, pictured here with her daughters.

You’re Grounded Forever…but First Let’s Go ShoppingThe Challenges Mothers and Daughters Face with Their Daughters and Ten Timely Solutions (St. Martin’s Press, released October 1st, 2010, $24.99 ISBN 978-0-312-59564-7) is Barash’s twelfth book and may be one of the most complicated subjects she’s written about. The relationship between mother and daughter is such a strong bond and yet so tenuous.  

In this book, Barash offers the background of the main challenges we have with our daughters and her ten solutions on how moms can help alleviate these and build a stronger relationship with their daughters.

She interviewed over 200 women of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds with daughters ranging in age from 3 to 35. What she found is that it doesn’t matter where you came from, what you look like or really even who you are, the relationships we have with our daughters all have the same challenges and issues in common.  

Barash spoke to Family First and here are some of her big ideas to take away:

Mothers are their daughter’s first role model. They are looking to you for understanding and inspiration. If we are particularly critical of their appearance or we aren’t smart about boundaries or our romantic life, your daughters see all of that and try to make sense of it for their own lives.

As difficult as it can be to let go, mothers must allow their daughters to make their own decisions so she learns how to navigate HER life. Your responsibility includes telling her about the big things – pregnancy, relationships, sexually transmitted disease. And you want to be there to listen.

We need to set boundaries with our daughters – AND STICK TO THEM. This is very challenging for so many moms because we know the struggles our daughters have because we’ve had them too, says Barash. Unlike with a son, we can put ourselves into our daughter’s shoes because we’ve lived that. That can makes us weaker.  We tend to give in, especially when it comes to material items because we know what we would have wanted when we were younger.

In the book, Barash profiles the types of moms we can be: The Pushover, The Revisionist, The Single Mother, The Strung-Out Mother, Merging Mothers, Last-ditch Mothers, Competitive Mothers with details of how each type of mom can be particularly influential (or ineffective) in their daughter’s lives.

Barash discussed the need for boundaries versus rules.  Our daughters react to 2 things – the rules she knows have been established, and her perception of her mother’s “rank” in the family. When a mom becomes uncertain about her role as a disciplinarian for her daughter, she loses her own sense of self, according to Barash.

“Your daughter will benefit from a mother who holds the bar high, is serious, focused and undeterred. Although it may take some time, ultimately she will respect you for these values,” writes Barash. She warns that when you are too much of a friend to your daughter, you confuse her about the relationships she has with her peers.

Body Image Is Tricky – She says we must be very careful about weight, clothes, and especially materialism. We want to encourage individualism and self-esteem. Barash says “don’t trade wardrobes with her.” You want her to be her own person, not a mini-Mom. (Plus if she likes your clothes, do you need to rethink what you are wearing – is it appropriate for your age?)

Our Daughters Must Find Their Own Place in the Family – The final chapter is all about family structure and how the dynamics affects our daughters. In this chapter, Barash writes a lot about how divorce and blending families can affect our daughters. She has written extensively about blending families in her prior books including The New Wife: The Evolving Role of the American Wife, Second Wives: The Pitfalls and Rewards of Marrying Widowers and Divorced Men, and Women of Divorce: Mothers, Daughters, Stepmothers – The New Triangle.

Besides the many difficult situations divorce can bring to our daughters’ lives – including materialism from the “wealthier” parent (typically the father due to higher income) and the resulting resentment the other parent may have from being unable to provide or coming off as strict or not fun – Barash also details other family structures. These include Celebrity Families (a la Brad and Angelina’s unique family structure) One Daughter/Many Sons or Single Mother/No Father Figure, as well as the structure of what she calls “Traditional Nuclear Families” such as the Smug Status-Conscious Families  – which brings us back to the title – take her shopping for material items even if she’s not behaving the way you want her to.

Each chapter has big idea takeaways at the end to make up the “Ten Timely Solutions” for moms. So much of this book verbalizes what you may be thinking about your relationship with your daughter but have never admitted to yourself or truly thought through. Once you read this book, you will see your relationship differently and you will be able make changes right away for a healthier and stronger bond with your precious daughter.

About Susan Shapiro Barash

(from her website) Susan Shapiro Barash is an established writer of nonfiction women’s issue books and has authored twelve books. She teaches gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College. A well recognized gender expert, Barash is frequently sought out by newspapers, television shows and radio programs to comment on women’s issues and blogs for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today. She has two daughters and a son.

Leave a Comment