When Mothers Talk: Magical Moments and Everyday Challenges from Birth to Three Years

Author(s) : Ilene S. Lefcourt

When Mothers Talk: Magical Moments and Everyday Challenges from Birth to Three Years

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : August 2024
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 186
  • Category :
    Forthcoming
  • Category 2 :
    Child and Adolescent Studies
  • Catalogue No : 97802
  • ISBN 13 : 9781032399119
  • ISBN 10 : 1032399112

Also by Ilene S. Lefcourt

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When Mothers Talk is an intimate book about early child development and motherhood which offers an extraordinary view of the first three years of life and practical information that rarely gets talked about.

Ilene Lefcourt's unique experience leading groups for over 35 years with mothers, their babies, and toddlers informs every page. Lefcourt sensitively links mothers' childhood memories with current mother-child interactions, and exquisitely details mothers' unfolding insights. Vivid examples of mothers' memories, with hidden answers to typical questions and concerns, trigger the reader's own memories, self-reflection, and new ideas. The narrative approach of When Mothers Talk speaks directly to the reader and activates an experience similar to being in a supportive mother-baby-toddler group.

Experienced and new mothers, infant mental health students, and experienced professionals will find this original book, grounded in long-established ideas, exceptionally informative and inspiring.

Reviews and Endorsements

Ilene Lefcourt’s When Mothers Talk is a treasure - an original, creative window into the experiences of mothers, babies and toddlers. Her first book, Parenting and Childhood Memories, was full of parent-infant stories that beautifully illustrate how parents come to have deep empathy for their children and for themselves. Now she invites us into the intimate talk among mothers – the pleasures, the stresses, and the awakening of childhood memories - fairy godmothers, witches, and good enough mothers. This new book reveals solutions that different mothers find to everyday stumbling blocks. Bravo!
Beatrice Beebe, Ph.D., clinical professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University; Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute

Having a child is an extraordinary opportunity for self-understanding and growth. Ilene Lefcourt guides mothers through the maze of reverberations from the past. There is no single way to answer the myriad questions posed by mothers. The most productive and helpful way for a mother to find answers is to walk with peers and find her own path. For decades, Ilene Lefcourt has offered mothers the opportunity to discuss these issues in a protected and caring environment and for each mother to find her own answers.
Every step in a baby and toddler’s development and each difficulty awakens a memory and provides an opportunity to share reflections, learn useful information, and discover explanations of developmental phenomena. What may feel like a failure for a mother may represent for her child a space available for progress, and an opportunity for success. This process may consolidate a child’s sense of self and mother-child connectedness.
In this rich journey, the leader’s gaze sets the course. Like a good fairy, Ilene Lefcourt wonders and questions with mothers. She accompanies, guides, and supports them with confidence in their ability to wonder and question. When Mothers Talk is an opportunity for every mother to take a journey with this exceptional expert leader.
Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern, M.D., pediatrician, child psychiatrist, supervisor at the University Hospital of Geneva, director of the Swiss Brazelton Center

When Mothers Talk is a rare gem to keep close. Ilene Lefcourt integrates decades of scientific research with her insightful empathic imagination to deeply understand everyday mother-baby and mother-toddler interactions. She is able to imagine a baby’s and toddler’s emerging thoughts and feelings that accompany a developing sense of self. This insight into a baby’s developing mind provides a treasure trove of information.
The relationships among women during early motherhood – mommy-friends, resonate with childhood memories and provide a framework for maternal care. Mothers’ personal stories about their friendships add a vital perspective to the challenges mothers encounter and the pleasures they enjoy. "During the first three years of motherhood, not only do mothers nurture their babies’ development, but they themselves change in many ways." Ilene Lefcourt beautifully describes intricate details of this complex process. The readers’ own memories are awakened and lead to new ideas.
Susan Coates, Ph.D., clinical professor, Medical Psychology Columbia University. faculty, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research

Yes, there is an inner world with fantasies and emotions in babies, toddlers, and their mothers! Ilene Lefcourt gives the readers quite a feast revealing this fact, sharing with us her vivid experience leading mother-baby-toddler groups. Her insights don't come from theory, but from real life examples, told in a sensitive way. Thus, she can illuminate aspects of the dyadic emotional life that otherwise could pass unnoticed to parents and readers. Ilene Lefcourt stimulates the internal work of mothers to elaborate emotions, offering a unique understanding of each situation, far from protocols. And she doesn’t shy away from contradictions, accepting that she is walking on the razor’s edge: how to provide comprehension without being judgmental or damping maternal spontaneity? The self-reflective questions help the reader to move from a passive stance to a more active identification with the author’s thinking mind.
Vera Regina J. R. M. Fonseca, M.D., psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, training and supervising analyst of the Brazilian Psychoanalytic Society of São Paulo

Table of Contents


1. Becoming A Mother
2. A Baby Is Born
3. Childhood Memories
4. Mother-Baby and Mother-Toddler Intersubjectivity
5. Child Development Information and Self-Reflective Questions
6. Describing Your Baby and Toddler
7. Child Development Themes and Subthemes
8. Birth to 6 Months
9. 6 to 12 Months
10. 12 to 18 Months
11. 18 to 24 Months
12. 24 to 30 Months
13. 30 to 36 Months
14. Growing Up

About the Author(s)

Ilene S. Lefcourt established the Sackler Lefcourt Center for Child Development in 1982. She was the director, led the mother-baby-toddler groups, and provided developmental consultation to parents for over 35 years. She taught child psychiatry residents and parent-infant psychotherapy trainees about her work. She has been a faculty member at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research Parent-Infant Program since 1995. Ms. Lefcourt is currently in private practice in NYC. She is the author of Parenting and Childhood Memories: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Reverberating Ghosts and Magic.

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