Title: Mom Still Likes You Best
Author: Jane Isay
Review: I come from a large family and I have to say that we were fighters. We fought over the TV, the food served, our parents attention, etc. We competed for grades, attention, love(in our own minds), sports, etc. We were pretty much a normal family. We wanted to spend time together and yet we wanted time apart. Our relationships were difficult at times and close at others. I read this book to see if the author could help me find a way to improve those relationships now that we are all adults.
The author pointed out that sometimes we fall back into the roles we had as children when we all get together(doesn’t happen often for us, we live far apart from each other.) I’m the oldest and I see that now and then. The stories and interviews of siblings helped me see where we were falling into traps we had set years ago as kids. Who was the boss, who was the whiner and the tattle tale? Who always cried ruining the fun? All of these things happened growing-up and sometimes echoes of those behaviors crop up at family gatherings. I saw myself and my siblings in the pages of this book. It was fast to read, interesting and it really made me think about how I treat my family now.
I have five children and they fight. I would love to see them have a good relationship with each others as adults. The author points out that the parent’s behavior towards their children makes a difference in the way they treat each other as adults. I hope to help improve those relationships, not harm them. I think I need to read a few parenting books next.
If you want to find out about how to improve your relationship with your family, this is a good book to read. I found her interviews interesting and heartbreaking also. There are no startling revelations, just stories about how others have fared. Many siblings never have a real relationship after they grow-up, too much baggage between them. She calls these relationships, Wedding and Wake ones. Maybe that isn’t the end of the world. As siblings we had no choice in the matter, but now we do. Be thankful if you enjoy spending time with your brothers and sisters, you may be in the minority.
Publisher: May 4th 2010 by Doubleday
Quick Review: 3 stars (out of 5)
Why I Read It: I have six siblings, 4 sisters and two brothers. I wondered if this book would give me some insight into our relationships as adults.
Where I Obtained the Book: From our local library.
Synopsis: “The greatest gift a parent can give a child,” one woman’s mother told her, “is a brother or sister.” If you find yourself nodding in agreement but also having reservations, you’re not alone. Most people have experienced mixed feelings about their siblings over the years. Many of us have asked ourselves:
What kind of gift are siblings, if we fight with them and if they hurt our feelings?
How could we come from the same family and have such different values?
Who needs a brother or sister who isn’t there for Mom and Dad when they are old and need our help?
Ambivalence is at the heart of our sibling relationships. These positive and negative feelings are natural, and unavoidable. When we were kids and our parents were not around, we behaved like children to each other, which means we weren’t always nice. As adults, many of us recall those childhood experiences; they often become our iconic memories, and they can make us feel good or bad. I have learned that it is possible to reframe the childhood moments we cannot forgive or forget. We can begin to see our brothers and sisters through an adult perspective, if we so choose. Brothers and sisters who are close have already done this—they don’t idealize their siblings, and they can accept and laugh at the very behavior that drives other people crazy. It’s also possible to rebuild most broken relationships—if you want to. It takes a thread of love and lots of effort and determination, but over time you will be amazed at the results.
So if your relationship with brothers and sisters is complicated, welcome to the world. Once you relax into the reality of mixed emotions, you’ll stop suffering so much from the past and stop feeling so guilty about whatever you might have done. Maybe you can enjoy more of the positive, laugh at some of the negative, and make peace with the fact that human experience is something in between.
So what is the gift of siblings? It’s the life-long quest for compromise, acceptance, and humor.
Author Biography: I grew up in a family that gave advice. My mother, Dr. Rose N. Franzblau, wrote a psychology column for the New York Post, long before Dear Abby and Ann Landers got their start. My mother lived a heroic life. She had been orphaned in the 'flu epidemic of 1918 and raised her four sisters all by herself. You can read about her in a section entitled “Rosie and Her Sisters,” in Mom Still Likes You Best. My father was a teacher of rabbis and a psychiatrist. You can imagine how easy it was for him to know what was best for everybody. I wisely went into publishing, where the only advice I could give was about improving books, not lives!
I loved being an editor. I spent the first fifteen years at the Yale University Press, publishing professors who wrote in areas that interested me: psychology, child development, psychiatry, archaeology and law. When I left Yale to come to New York publishing, I continued working with experts, but began to help them write for a general audience. At Basic Books I had the honor of working with Robert J. Lifton on his landmark Nazi Doctors, with Howard Gardner on his path breaking Frames of Mind, and with Alice Miller, whose The Drama of the Gifted Child and the Search for the True Self changed so many lives. At Addison-Wesley, I participated in the birth of “narrative nonfiction,” working with Melissa Fay Greene on Praying for Sheetrockand with Buzz Bissinger on Friday Night Lights. My years at Putnam brought me to Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia, Antonio Damasio’s Descartes’ Error and Patricia O’Conner’s Woe Is I. My life at Harcourt included publication of Rachel Simmons’sOdd Girl Out.
When my sons, born in New Haven and raised in New York, were in their late 20s, I found myself searching for someone to write a book about the complex relationships between parents and their grown children. I couldn’t find anybody to do it, and I knew there was a big audience for the book (me included). By this time the publishing world was growing more difficult, so I decided to take a chance and “jump the desk,” to write Walking on Eggshells.
After the pleasure—and success—of Walking on Eggshells, I realized that I loved writing books even more than editing them. My next subject, siblings—in love and at war—had already been brewing in the back of my mind before my first book had even hit the press. So once again I headed out across the country, in person and on the phone, to hear the stories of brothers and sisters. Mom Still Likes You Best: The Unfinished Business between Siblings is the result. I hope that it will bring solace and optimism to people who struggle with their sibling relationships, and a sense of joy to those who are already close.
I live in New York City, with my husband, Jonathan, and Roscoe, our shelter terrier. We are a block away from Central Park and a short bus ride from my Manhattan family, my son Josh and his wife and two children, and a subway ride away from my son David and his wife and son. It’s a good life, one I love and hope to experience for a long time. My oldest grandson expects that I’ll live to 100, or 1,000, depending on his mood. I hope to reach one of those ages.