Mothering Alone: A Plea for Opportunity

Author(s) : Mary Kay O'Neil

Mothering Alone: A Plea for Opportunity

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : 2022
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 172
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 96456
  • ISBN 13 : 9781912691319
  • ISBN 10 : 9781912691

Reviews and Endorsements

This excellent book on mothering alone centres on the author's interviews with women from a program that gave single mothers and their children help with lodging and education. The voices of the women shine through and illuminate many facets of the experience: social and economic aspects, family and traumatic issues, resilience, and much else. Skillfully interwoven with these moving comments are examples from clinical practice and literature, and discussions of the biological, psychological, and social aspects of mothering alone. This impressive book has much to offer anyone with professional or other interest in the topic of mothering alone.
Joseph Fernando, MPsyc, MD, Director, Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis

‘This carefully argued and deeply moving book gives a powerful picture of the challenge to women electing to raise a child on their own. Many personal elements in a woman’s life make a difference: education, resources, intergenerational support, and, perhaps above all, personal resilience, and psychological strength. Mary Kay O’Neil’s work here also makes a clear case for the need for serious and deep social supports. Mothering alone works best in cultures that provide supports in respectful and deeply compassionate ways. This is a book to learn from, whether the reader is a clinician, a teacher, a parent, or a bystander. Mothering alone is daunting work that needs all our support.
Adrienne Harris, New York University

Mary Kay O’Neil, a psychoanalyst with a background in social work and psychology, describes her research in a Canadian programme designed to help those “mothering alone,” and combines these research findings with her own deep understanding of psychoanalytic literature, focusing on (amongst other topics) infant and child development, the development of sexuality, the female psyche, the pain(s) and pleasure(s) of pregnancy , childbirth, and of adults remaining together and separating.
The text is richly illustrated by fictional and factual accounts from literature and film, as well as from her own psychoanalytic clinical practice and her research interviews. Always respectful of the multiplicity of influences which can help or hinder healthy growth, she focuses on what helps, what is needed, what are the factors which can allow a mother to care for her child, to allow them both to flourish. There is hope everywhere in this book, but the hope is not naive or trite, it is a recognition of the powers of resilience, autonomy, and the capacity to care even under extremely difficult circumstances.
Subtitled “A plea for opportunity,” this volume makes a strong case for the importance of attending to both internal and external factors in order to give the best possible hope to mothers, their children, and those who will follow in future generations. This is a thought-provoking, compassionate, and important book which I can unreservedly recommend.
Dr Julian Stern, FRCPsych, Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and formerly Director of Adult and Forensic Services, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, London

This important book gives a much-needed voice to the challenges faced by those who “mother alone.” Such mothers are often among the most vulnerable or marginalized members of our society. Frequently, they do not have the resources central to nurturing children effectively. Mary Kay O’Neil powerfully illustrates the need for and benefit of providing opportunities for mothers to develop those resources. A mother who takes the opportunity to improve her circumstances will also improve the circumstances of her children, and in doing so will benefit the future of our society. Mothering Alone: A Plea for Opportunity should be read widely. It is an important book for those whose work and interests touch on the lives of these families, including those involved in child protection, education, and governance. This book bears witness to the strength of women who parent alone, to their resilience, and to their courage and tenacity in trying to do their best for their families. Society must give these mothers opportunity to achieve that best.
Susan E Lang, retired judge of the trial and appellate courts of Ontario

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