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Barbara F. Meltz writes the Globe's Child Caring column. She is author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes, Understanding How Your Children See the World," and a frequent speaker to parent groups. Join her chat on the first and third Monday of the month at noon.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

So where do you sit?

When you hear that Harvard, for the first time ever, is offering a course about mothers, you can't help but ask: What took them so long?

Aren't mothers just about the most important human beings on the planet?

Certainly they are the most blamed. Paula Caplan, a clinical and research psychologist, is author of, "Don't Blame Mother," and she'll be teaching the seminar, "Myths of Motherhood." In it, she expects to address such questions as, "Is mothering a natural instinct?" "What myths does our society inculcate about mothers?" "What social and political structures help mothers and which make their lives unduly difficult?"

Caplan's interest in the subject began by an experience she had in the 1980's at a clinic for families of troubled children in Toronto. She noticed that her colleagues had a way of labelling the mothers in the waiting room: Mothers who sat next to their children were "intrusive, controlling and overly emotional;" mothers who did not sit next to their children were "cold and rejecting." (If the child was a boy, the mother was "castrating.")

"Where does a good mother sit," she wondered. "On the ceiling?"

I can relate.

Posted by Barbara Meltz at 11:48 AM
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