Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Shelter of Each Other - Mary Pipher

I was really excited by Joanna's book recommendation from this week's "Motherhood Mondays" post -- any of you read it already? I'm fascinated by the idea of simplifying and slowing down to help your child grow to be more happy, curious, and independent. And it reminded me of a book I've been wanting to tell you about that we received as a "new baby" gift last year from a dear friend.

I had already read (and loved) Reviving Ophelia, so I was thrilled to have another Mary Pipher title to absorb, and I ended up loving this one even more (while Ophelia is incredibly eye-opening, it is also depressing and clinical -- and this book leaves you with a buoyant feeling of hope!). The Shelter of Each Other is a book all about building a strong, loving family in an age when media portrays family relationships as hostile, volatile, and necessarily antagonistic. Pipher shares her experiences as a psychologist and counselor helping struggling families and interweaves those vignettes with tales of her ancestors' experiences as homesteaders on the Nebraska prairies -- lives that seem, at first, to be worlds apart but that have resonances with each other as well. She emphasizes the important role that culture plays in shaping our families and urges us to repair the communities in which we live as a first step towards protecting the sacredness of childhood and healthy family relationships. Our daughter is still very young, but time moves faster than you realize, and I look forward to reading this book again in a few years when some of the suggestions and lessons will be more timely for us than with a little baby.

By the way, Pipher originally published this book in 1997, but I'd recommend reading the updated version that was released in 2008 instead.

If you read it, let me know what you think! And I'd love to hear your suggestions for other great books about parenting and family life.


  1. my mother read reviving ophelia when i was an adolescent. thanks for mentioning it here as i think it would be an interesting read now having a daughter of my own.