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May 04, 2006 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-05-04

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Arts & Entertainment

Author examines the relationship
between mothers and daughters.


Robin Schwartz
Special to the Jewish News

Deborah Tannen: "A remark coming

from your daughter or your mother

is more healing or more hurtful than

the same remark coming from some-
one else."

eborah Tannen's new
book, You're Wearing
That?, is all about
revealing the true meaning
behind such loaded questions.
Subtitled Understanding
Mothers and Daughters in
Conversation, it sheds light
on the communication pitfalls
between the two generations of
female family members.
"Mothers and daughters loom
like giants in each other's lives:'
says Tannen, who will be coming
to Troy May 11 in an event spon-
sored by Metro Parent maga-
zine. "They often struggle to find
the right blend of closeness and
Tannen, who is Jewish, does
not have children but explores
her own relationship with her
late mother in her book, which .
is published by. Random House
($24.95). The Washington, D.C.-
based author also provides prac-
tical advice for breaking down
barriers and improving mother-
daughter relationships.
"Moms often can't resist the
desire to help their children, so
they offer what they see as help-
ful advice Tannen says. "But
daughters, who often feel an
overwhelming desire for their

Laurie and Morgan Tanner of Farmington Hills


May.4 • 2006

mom's approval, sometimes mis-
interpret advice as criticism!'
Tannen has published 19
books and more than 100
articles and is also a professor
of linguistics at Georgetown 4
University. She lived in Detroit
in the early 1970s, when she
received a master's degree in
English literature from Wayne
State University. She's a frequent
guest on radio and television
talk shows, from Oprah and
Nightline to 20/20 and Today.
Her other well-known
titles include You Just Don't
Understand, I Only Say
This Because I Love You and •
Talking 9 to 5. You're Wearing
That? has been on the New York
Times best-seller list since its
release in late January 2006.
The Jewish News recently
asked Tannen for her thoughts
on that special mother-daughter

JN: The "Jewish mother" is such
a familiar stereotype. Are there
any special dynamics at work in
Jewish mother-daughter relation-

DT: In my own research for this
book, I didn't specifically look
at any one ethnic group, but my
impression is that every ethnic
group has similar patterns..
Greek families and African-
American families — any

coMes. o communrcati • n
and conflict, Laurie Sommer and her
daughter, Morgan, of Farmington Hills
agree "cooling-off time" is important
to them. They describe their rela-
tionship as close, especially since
Morgan, 17, is an only child.
"When I'm stressed out and she
bugs me, I take it out on her," says
Morgan about her mom.
"It's hard to communicate with a 17-
year-old because they're independent
and very stubborn," adds Laurie. "She
doesn't always want to sit and talk."

and Mak

of West


Finding The Balance

At times, West Bloomfield's
Amy Sternberg - raising
two teenaged daughters,
Marla, 15, and Leah, 13
- feels like a juggler or an
acrobat. Both girls are in a
hurry to gain more indepen-
Having two girls makes
for some interesting family
dynamics. Amy has a differ-
ent relationship with each
of her daughters, and the
two teens are in the midst
of the sibling rivalry that's
all part of growing up.
"It's a daily challenge,"
Amy says. "There's a con-
stant battle in our house
over who's the mom, and
who makes the rules."
Arguments can erupt over
clothing, making plans or
even who gets to sit in the
front seat of the car. Other
times, like on a recent rainy
Sunday, Amy and the girls
spent the day cooking
together, and everyone got
along beautifully.
This morn says it's _a trick

They say giving each other a little
tine and space usually does the trick.
And, Laurie says, when Morgan's not
"being sassy," there are plenty of
good times.
This mother-daughter duo are part-
ners in the world of dance. Morgan,
a junior at North Farmington High
School, is a competitive dancer. Her
mom has traveled with her to com-
petitions around the country since
Morgan was a little girl. Every sum-
mer, they look forward to a mother-
daughter trip to New York City, where
they shop together and see Broadway

balance, putting her foot
down while giving her
daughters room to grow.
"You don't want to be the
tough one, and you don't
want to be the mean one,"
Amy says. "I want to be
their mom, and I want to
teach them and I don't want
to be their best friend. I
can't be that right now."
Marla is a sophomore
at West Bloomfield High
School; Leah is in the eighth
grade at Orchard Lake
Middle School. Both girls
say wanting more freedom
is their biggest struggle.
"It's really annoying when
you want to do something,
but your parents don't let
yoU," says Marla.
At the same timer both
teens say they know their
mom has their best inter-
ests at heart. "I think she'sav
trying to protect me," says
Leah. Adds Marla, "I feel
like my mom`s doing a read
good job 14-

"We really bond and have a good
time It's one of the special things we
do," Laurie says.
"I can talk to her about more things
now that I'm older," adds Morgan. "I
can relate to her more."
Morgan calls her mother a 'stereo-
typical Jewish mom" who "calls a mil-
lion times to make sure I'm OK" and
Laurie says that's not going to
change anytime soon. "She's my
daughter; she's my life," says Laurie.
"I'm very interested in everything
about her."


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