No relationship is more fulfilling, infuriating, emotional, and problematic than that of mother and daughter. Now, in a work filled with truth, surprises, and humor, renowned psychologist and author Martha Manning offers mothers and daughters of all ages a new way to understand each other. Challenging the accepted premise that this powerful bond must be severed for emotional growth, Manning shows us why this precious attachment is never outgrown, how, if it is damaged, it can be healed, and what will enrich this ...

See more details below
The Common Thread

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price


No relationship is more fulfilling, infuriating, emotional, and problematic than that of mother and daughter. Now, in a work filled with truth, surprises, and humor, renowned psychologist and author Martha Manning offers mothers and daughters of all ages a new way to understand each other. Challenging the accepted premise that this powerful bond must be severed for emotional growth, Manning shows us why this precious attachment is never outgrown, how, if it is damaged, it can be healed, and what will enrich this lifelong commitment while fostering essential independence. The key is empathy, and Manning provides potent tools to help us build stronger ties and celebrate the crazy twists, joys, and secrets inherent in this most glorious of life connections.

Combining personal experiences and scrupulous research, The Common Thread helps each of us develop a mutually empowering relationship -- and laugh, too -- as we more deeply connect with and appreciate the mother or daughter we love.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061873621
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,191,687
  • File size: 455 KB

Meet the Author

Martha Manning, Ph.D., is a writer, clinical psychologist, and former professor of psychology at George Mason University. She is the author of Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface; Chasing Grace: Reflections of a Catholic Girl, Grown Up; and All Seasons Pass: Grieving Miscarriage. Manning has been recognized by the National Institutes of Mental Health for her work in education and advocacy and was awarded the American Psychiatric Association 1996 Presidential Award for Patient Advocacy. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, Ladies' Home Journal, and New Woman. She has been featured on Dateline NBC, Good Morning America, C-SPAN, The Early Show, NPR's "Voice of America," and other radio and television programs.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

The Common Thread
Mothers and Daughters: The Bond We Never Outgrow

Chapter One

Mothers and Daughters: The Big Deal

Why do we spend hours thinking and talking about our mothers and daughters? Because it's the longest-running show in town and we've had front-row seats for our entire lives. Some of us got our tickets for free, and others paid dearly for them. The plot has endless twists and turns, contradictions, secrets, and surprises. We will never understand it all. We may edge closer to some answers about why our relationships with our mothers and daughters are the way they are, but we'll never make it all the way. We aren't supposed to. Insights? Yes. Answers? Never.

Whenever I tell women that the subject of my writing is mother-daughter relationships, it doesn't matter whether I'm shooting the breeze with two or giving a speech to two hundred, the response is always the same. A collective groan rises up, followed by statements like "Oh, God!" and "You should interview me" and "I have stories you wouldn't believe!" The response is as reflexive as "You're welcome" after "Thank you." It almost seems that we are fulfilling some cultural mandate when we groan about our mothers. Among the multiple dimensions of all mother-daughter relationships, the aspects we are primed to emphasize are those that drive us crazy.

When women say, "Oh my God, I'm turning into my mother!" they don't exactly shout it proudly from the rooftops. We often shudder when we catch ourselves repeating phrases that we swore would never become part of our repertoires, such as "Young lady..." or "As long as you live under my roof..." or "I don't care if the entire seventhgrade is allowed to do it..." "Accusing" a woman of turning into her mother is a handy weapon in verbal confrontations for people like spouses and children. When a loved one makes the comparison, a woman's reaction is much closer to "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" than to "Really? What a compliment. Thank you." In a Salon "advice" column, Mr. Blue (a.k.a. Garrison Keillor) responds to a letter of urgency — "My wife," writes the troubled husband, is "turning into her mother!" The problem with this transformation becomes instantly clear in the writer's description of his mother-in-law (and, indirectly, his wife): "a wretched, spiteful, miserable martyr, who drives my father-in-law to drink a pint of Canadian whiskey every night."

The irony is that the majority of groaning women admit they have essentially positive relationships with their mothers. The two bickering old women in my office would have said they do, too. If you ask the question "Do you love your mother?" the majority of women will answer, "Yes, of course." Admittedly some will then immediately wish to amend that statement with a list of qualifications. "Yes, I love her, but..."

The Long Life of Early Expectations

We want our mothers to love us perfectly, completely, and unconditionally. We want them to love us as they did at first sight when we were newborns. At the same time we expect them to treat us with all the adult respect to which we feel entitled by virtue of our age and experience. Unlike our relationships with friends, lovers, or husbands, which have their roots in adolescence and adulthood, the relationship between a mother and daughter is radically different. The sense of loving and being loved — even before birth — carries weighty expectations: that the connection will forever be as strong, as connected, as free from boundaries and conditions as it was in the honeymoon stretches of infancy and early childhood.

Mothers can be similarly unrealistic about the ways their daughters should love them. Despite the intensity of the connection, it is rarely ever "equal." For example, an adolescent daughter's "I hate you" usually carries less weight than a mother's use of the same words to her daughter. A mother's scorn over a child's painting packs a far more powerful punch than any rotten thing a child can say to a mother. It's never an even exchange. It's not supposed to be. In most cases, a daughter takes up more space in her mother's mind than her mother does in hers, an insight that can be found even in ancient texts like the Talmud: "A mother is always attached to her daughter but not so a daughter to her mother."

Thinking Back

In A Room of One's Own, her groundbreaking treatise on sexism, society, and art, Virginia Woolf had it right: "We think back through our mothers if we are women." Any attempt to understand ourselves without considering our mothers, and their mothers, and their mothers, will eventually dead-end in a sign that says "You can't get there from here." To move forward, sometimes we must first move back. My mother and aunt still turn over questions about my grandmother, now dead ten years. "When do you think things changed for the worse?" they ask each other. "Why were you the 'good' daughter and I the 'bad' one?" "What made her so unhappy?" With nine grown daughters between them, my mother and aunt are still working out a relationship in which one of the major players is dead. But that doesn't matter. The mother-daughter relationship remains alive for women, long before birth and long after death. It is the lens through which they filter their past, as well as their present and future, experience. "Why don't they just let it go?" my sisters, cousins, and I ask one another. As far as we're concerned, this particular plot of land has been farmed entirely too long. But when it comes right down to it, why should they stop talking about their relationship with their mother? As long as they continue to till, seed, and water that soil, their work will unite them as sisters and will...

The Common Thread
Mothers and Daughters: The Bond We Never Outgrow
. Copyright © by Martha Manning. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword: The Safety Net: Right Mommies and Baby Birds by Rosie O'Donnell ix
Introduction: The Old Lady and Her Mother 1
1 Mothers and Daughters: The Big Deal 9
2 Empathy: The Strongest Bridge 33
3 Pregnancy and Childbirth: Raw Materials 60
4 Infancy: Mutual Attachment and Synchrony 94
5 Childhood: Learning the Language of Feeling; "I Can, Therefore I Am" 122
6 Adolescence: Identity, Differentiation, and the Door That Swings Both Ways 162
7 Young Adulthood: Turning Out and Turning Into 209
8 Midlife: Interdependence 255
9 Later Years: Shifting Needs 293
Afterword: Elephants and Other Big Mothers 314
Notes 331
Acknowledgments 353
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)