Review by ELAINE DONG
YOU'RE GROUNDED FOREVER ... BUT FIRST LET'S GO SHOPPING
By Susan Shapiro Barash
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
This books starts off by exploring the minefields of mothering a daughter. The author very succinctly lays down the 10 issues most likely faced by the mothers of daughters.
They sound very much like common sense, and hold a lot of promise. As an example, the first chapter is titled “I’ll just say you aren’t feeling well?” with the subtext explaining it as making excuses/endless explanations; chapter three is “What colour would you like that Prada bag in?”, being a topic about material indulgence; chapter five is “Do you need to be eating that?” which is about fixations of food and weight, and so on.
The topics covered deal with the above as well as sex and love, self-esteem, independence, personal authority, achievement and ambition, female relationships, the value of beauty, and boundaries.
However, upon closer read, I found the initial promise falling quite a bit short of the mark. The writer has a rambling way of writing, and never seems to get to the point. While the above are all topics I am interested in as a mother of girls, I found myself speed-reading through the chapters just so I could get to the point the writer is trying to make, and yet still ended up with a question mark in the end.
Yes, the book is filled with real-life scenarios, as the author interviewed 300 women for this book. While these stories give a voice to mothers everywhere, again, the issues they’re concerned with don’t seem to be answered. One would think there’s a scenario, followed by an analysis of the problem, and finally a solution. In reality, after each scenario, the author rambles on a little more, before moving on to the next scenario. It’s like she’s using the stories to move her arguments forward, never stopping to resolve the issues within.
Imagine if you will, a train made up of story after story, of how mothers fail to communicate with their daughters or impart key values. Yes, the train will end up a long one with 300 stories or so to tell, but you’re left wondering, where is it going?
At the end of each chapter, there is a summary of sorts. For example, at the end of chapter one, which deals with making excuses for your daughter, the author summarises it as follows:
Do not enable your daughter to cope through the excuse.
Address what it is in your life that incites excuses.
Be aware of what you’re teaching your daughter.
Warn your daughter of social excuses.
Encourage your daughter to be independent and to solve her own problems.
Steer clear of ongoing excuses.
The summary is the only part I found useful in that whole chapter. The book would have been better structured if these points had been used as sections within the chapter, to focus the reader’s attention. By having it at the end, you find yourself asking when and where these points were made within the chapter!
The author, Barash, has written 12 books on women’s issues. She is also a well-recognised gender expert who writes for American news website The Huffington Post and the Psychology Today magazine. Surely someone with such experience would know how to bring across her points better and not leave the reader with so many questions throughout the book?
Though I love the idea of this book, and the valid points it tries to make, overall, the book is a disappointment.