A psychotherapist explores the significant impact of the fear of child loss on mothers throughout history, revealing how such feelings affect mothers' lives at home, in the workplace, and in the social hierarchy.
Every parent has felt that certain dread: your toddler gets lost in the mall; your teenager isn’t home by curfew; your third-grader walks to school alone. The psychotherapist Janna Malamud Smith rigorously argues that fear of child loss has the keenest effect on mothers and has proven to be a powerfuly underrated motivation for them throughout history. Bearing the brunt of responsibility for keeping children safe and healthy, mothers constantly accommodate to the need to be vigilant. Their fears make them vulnerable in many ways, affecting their daily lives in the workplace, at home, and within the social hierarchy.Smith takes the long view of this phenomenon, uncovering a buried message to mothers in advice books from the days of the Puritans to the present, in medicine and psychology, in art and literature. It is a history brimming with mothers’ stories from ancient times to today. Like Arlie Hochschild’s The Second Shift and Ann Crittenden’s The Price of Motherhood, A Potent Spell confirms women’s real experience of motherhood in America.