Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jane Isay's "Mom Still Likes You Best"

As an editor, Jane Isay discovered Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia, commissioned Patricia O’Connor’s bestselling Woe Is I and Rachel Simmons’s Odd Girl Out, and edited such nonfiction classics as Praying for Sheetrock and Friday Night Lights. She is the author of Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents.

Isay applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Mom Still Likes You Best: The Unfinished Business Between Siblings, and reported the following:
Page 99 tells of two sisters, and what happens when one of them becomes very wealthy. It’s not a happy story, and not an uncommon one. These two sisters were given identities at an early age: the elder was not so pretty but very smart; the younger sister was pretty, popular, and the first to marry and have kids. Things changed when the older sister married and with her husband started a successful business. Now the calculus was different, and money became the great divider. This story is in a chapter about the things that divide siblings as adults: politics, religion, and money.

It’s a funny thing, how we take the differences between us and our siblings so seriously. How many times have you heard, or thought, “How could it be that we came from the same family? We’re so different.” The reason we are so different is that we came from the same families, and we need to differentiate ourselves from our brothers and sisters. With the exception of some famous siblings (the Williams sisters, for example), most people slowly become who they are by shedding their childhood identities. But when it comes to politics, religion, and money, these differences are hard to bear.

There are some ways to feel better about our wayward siblings. The first is to remember that we aren’t responsible for our siblings’ choices—we can accept them or not, depending on how much we want a relationship. Many people I know just skip the subjects that divide them and stay with the songs they sang in the back of the car, the funny family stories, and memories of the dog. That goes a long way.
Read the back story to Mom Still Likes You Best, and learn more about the book and author at Jane Isay's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue