culture where the family is the focus
of life — tend to have more parental
My first book is about New York
Jewish conversational style, in which
people do stand closer, talk louder and
get more involved.
My own mother was born in Russia.
Criticism was not the biggest problem I
had with her, but she was encroaching.
She took it for granted that because she
cared, she could mention everything
that was on her mind — the thought of
ever biting her tongue never occurred
JN: What are the biggest complaints
from mothers and daughters, and why
is there so much miscommunication?
DT: The biggest complaint from
mothers is "She takes everything as
criticism:' From daughters, it's "My .
mother's always so critical."
Many other complaints I heard from
mothers had to do with feeling left out.
The mother-daughter relationship
is really a more intense form of all
relationships. Daughters want their
mother's approval so much that any
hint of disapproval gets blown out of
proportion. A lot of the tension and
complication built into the relationship
comes from the fact that the person
you most want to think you're perfect
is also the one who's most likely to see
JN: What are some simple things moth-
ers and daughters can do to improve
DT: For both mother and daughter, it's
to acknowledge the criticism is there.
For the mother, that might result in her
deciding.to bite her tongiie and hold
back on advice unless it's really essen-
tial. For daughters, reframing how you
interpret things, realizing [her mother]
really may just be trying to be helpful. -
Another thing is for mothers to
remind themselves to praise, encourage
and expect competence. Sometimes the
best thing you can say is,"I know you're
going to make the right decision."
For daughters, involve your mother
in ways you feel comfortable so she's
less likely to intrude in ways you don't
want. Also, have a sense of humor.
Agree on some shared reference to
remind the other "you're doing it again."
Just the fact that you share this refer-
ence can bring you closer. ❑
Deborah Tannen speaks at
a Mother's Day event 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 11, at the-Troy
Hilton. Tickets are $20-$40.
Premium seating includes an
afterglow reception and book
signing. For tickets or more infor-
mation, contact Metro Parent
magazine, (248) 398-3400 or
Open And Honest
Kimberly and Beverly Dovitz of Bloomfield Hills
Talking openly and often is the
secret to the close relationship
shared by Beverly and Kimberly
Doyitz of Bloomfield Hills. Kimberly,
23, is a senior at Eastern Michigan
University. She currently lives away
from home in Ann Arbor but says
she checks in with her mom almost
every day. She's one of two children.
Her brother, Jeffrey, is 25:
"I'm really lucky," Kimberly says.
"We really don't have a lot to argue
But, when they do argue, it can
be intense. Like the time Kimberly
came home with a body piercing her
mother didn't approve of.
"I went ballistic," Beverly says. "I
was screaming and yelling, and I
insisted she take it out because it
was something I really felt strongly
about. You have to pick your battles."
Beverly and Kimberly say blow-ups
like that are few and far between.
The reason, they say, is that they're
honest with each other.
"Parenting is not what it used
to be," Beverly says. "When I was
younger with my mother - I lied
about everything, and we don't want
Kim to lie. She trusts us enough to
"I think when you're not open,
that's when you run into problems,"
adds Kimberly. "My personality in
general is I say what's on my mind"
Kimberly considers her mom an
"extremely important" part of her
Beverly feels the same way about
her daughter. "Being a parent is the
toughest job, and you say to your
kids all the time, 'Just wait until you
have kids.' You want to protect them,
to teach them and prepare them for
- Robin Schwartz
IA a y 4