1st Edition

Parenting and Childhood Memories A Psychoanalytic Approach to Reverberating Ghosts and Magic

By Ilene S. Lefcourt Copyright 2021
    148 Pages
    by Routledge

    148 Pages
    by Routledge

    Parenting and Childhood Memories is a collection of stories about the ways in which parents’ childhood memories influence their current interactions with their babies and young children: the ghosts and magic of our minds.

    This book explores the underlying meanings of parents’ memories that emerge in their perceptions of their children and their responses to the challenges of early development and the everyday life stresses of parenting. Drawing on extensive material originating in mother-child groups and parent consultations, the author demonstrates that parents’ emotional growth and ability to nurture their young children's emotional health is promoted by uncovering the links between the past and the present and unearthing the underlying meanings of seemingly inexplicable behavior. This original book, grounded in long-established psychoanalytic ideas, is about moments in early development and parent-child interaction that tell this story.

    Offering useful insights, readers will be intrigued by the details of the therapeutic process described and be inspired by the outcomes. This book will appeal to psychoanalysts, therapists, mental health professionals, and parents.

    Introduction 1. A Baby is Born  2. Childhood Memories and Ghosts  3. The Inner World of Children  4. Parents’ Insights  5. Being a Parent  6. Creating Shared Memory Narratives  7. Parent-Child Differences  8. Treasured Toys  9. Being Grandparents Epilogue Glossary


    Ilene S. Lefcourt established the Sackler Lefcourt Center for Child Development in New York City in 1982. For over 35 years she has been its director, provided developmental consultation to parents, and led mother-child groups with children from birth to 3 years of age. Ms. Lefcourt is a faculty member of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research Parent-Infant Program.

    "Ilene Lefcourt captures the essence of the complex and stimulating therapeutic process with parents, their babies, and young children. She restores childhood memories to a central position and offers rich reflections on the clinical work to understand them. Parenting and Childhood Memories is a beautiful book, exciting and accessible: a good combination of education, emotional support, and psychoanalytic thinking." - Christine Anzieu-Premmereur, MD, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor Psychiatry, Columbia University, Director, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research Parent-Infant Program

    "In a lyrical, jargon-free style, Ilene Lefcourt gives us a highly original new book of parent-infant clinical stories. The case studies beautifully illustrate how parental childhood memories, out of awareness, trigger repetitions with the parent’s own child. As Lefcourt links these memories to current parent-child difficulties, parents come to have deep empathy for their children and themselves. And clinicians learn to become better clinicians. This book is a gem." - Beatrice Beebe, PhD, Clinical Professor Medical Psychology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Author, Infant Research and Adult Treatment; The Mother-Infant Interaction Picture Book

    "Ilene Lefcourt’s clinically nuanced case reports offer illuminating examples of our current scientific understanding of how memory is interpersonally co-constructed, and how it develops and transforms." - Susan Coates, PhD, Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, Division of Gender, Sexuality and Health, Author, Can Babies Remember Trauma? Symbolic Forms of Representation in Traumatized Infants 

    "In this wise and riveting book, Ilene Lefcourt brings her vast clinical experience to life. Through discussion intertwined with rich clinical vignettes, she shows the power of the parent-child relationship as an agent of healing and growth. The intensity of the emotional experience of parenthood offers a unique opportunity to gain access to hidden memories both painful and pleasurable. By protecting time to listen to a parent’s story while observing their infant’s communication through behavior or their young child’s communication through play, Lefcourt creates opportunity for moments of meeting between parent and child that are transformative for both. Her ability to bring the reader into the complex and inherently messy world of parent-child relationships will be of value to parents and clinicians alike." - Claudia M. Gold, MD, Pediatrician, Boston Massachusetts, Faculty, University of Massachusetts Boston Infant-Parent Mental Health Program, Author, The Power of Discord: Why the Ups and Downs of Relationships are the Secret to Building Intimacy, Resilience, and Trust and Keeping Your Child in Mind

    "Parenting and Childhood Memories is filled with clinically moving stories about parents and their young children. Complex psychoanalytic principles and developmental concepts are illustrated in a clear and compelling way. A delightful read: mental health professionals and parents will be enriched by their own memories triggered and their insights acquired." - Irit Kushilevitz, PhD, Assistant Director, Psychological and Developmental Clinic, Ministry of Health, Haifa, Israel

    "Ilene Lefcourt’s book is an important resource for pediatricians who are often asked questions about their patient’s behavior, and development. Through vignettes, and accompanying psychanalytic interpretations, Ms. Lefcourt provides a unique framework for understanding the deep connections between parents’ own childhoods, and their interactions with their children. It is truly an important work." - Alanna Levine, MD, Pediatrician, New York, Author, Raising a Self-Reliant Child

    "This book is a gift to parents, mental health clinicians, and everyone interested in how we become who we are. It goes beyond 'how to' parenting advice to bring much-needed empathy for the inner world of parents, showing how their often-buried childhood memories re-emerge in how they perceive their children, and respond to the challenges of childrearing. In beautiful language, Ilene Lefcourt masterfully models how to promote the emotional growth of parents and young children by uncovering the links between the past and the present, to understand the meaning of seemingly inexplicable behavior problems, and to restore developmental health." - Alicia Lieberman, PhD, Professor, University of California San Francisco, Irving B. Harris Chair in Infant Mental Health, Author, The Emotional Life of the Toddler and Make Room for Baby

    "Ilene Lefcourt offers us her astute and compassionate insights into the wonders and challenges of parenting. Her perspectives and gentle, thoughtful accounts of families inspire us to remember the magic of parent-child love and the way it can lead to growth and joy as well as layered meanings." - Catherine Lord, PhD, George Tarjan Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Education, UCLA Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine

    "This book is as enchanting as it is serious and convincing. Ilene Lefcourt uses psychoanalytically informed interventions to help parents change the way they interact unconsciously with their children. The clinical vignettes that illustrate these interactions are arresting and moving. All readers are bound to embrace the wisdom of this book and be informed and changed by it." -Eugene Mahon, MD, Private Child and Adult Practice, NYC, Author, Rensal the Redbit

    "Ilene Lefcourt brilliantly describes the powerful impact of insight, often only painfully acquired, for the benefit of parent and child alike. The author walks the reader through a captivating collection of case studies that reveal the way in which our childhood experience shapes our relations with our own children. This book emerges as a remarkable and very readable analysis of family psychodynamics across generations." - Michael Meaney, CM, CQ, FRSC, Professor, McGill University

    "Ilene Lefcourt opens our eyes to an important part of the human experience: parent-child interactions and the development of the mind. Her understanding of this process is psychoanalytically informed and elegantly described. This book offers an opportunity to share in some of the most exciting experiences in becoming human. Parenting and Childhood Memories is particularly delightful as the author is both an empathic, talented clinician, and a skilled writer." - Robert Michels, MD, Walsh McDermott University Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, Cornell University, Former Training and Supervising Analyst, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, Former Joint Editor-in-Chief, The International Journal of Psychoanalysis

    "This book should be read as a foundational guide for all those working with parents and young children." - Patricia Nachman, PhD, Attending Clinical Professor, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine; Faculty New York Psychoanalytic Society/Institute, Editor, Daniel Stern: Contributions to Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology

    "Ilene Lefcourt has written a personal and elegantly constructed book about parenting and being parented, about being a child and growing up - the universal intergenerational impact of the past."- Rita Reiswig, MS, Co-Director, The Anni Bergman Parent-Infant Program, Contemporary Freudian Society and IPTAR Psychoanalyst for Adults, Adolescents and Children

    "Parenting and Childhood Memories is bewitching! Lovingly written narratives draw from the author’s vast experience running an early childhood development center in New York City, treating and caring for families with infants and young children.These vignettes draw the reader in and enchant while at the same time, illustrating essential concepts in psychodynamic thinking about early parent-child relationships, formative development, and the many challenges infants, young children and their parents face daily. This book is written in a way that is accessible to parents and professionals. Clinical observations are rich and nuanced in each chapter, which like fairy-tale classics, you will want to re-read again and again." - Daniel Schechter, MD, Director, Perinatal and Early Childhood Ambulatory Care and Research, Department of Psychiatry Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland; Adjunct Associate Professor of of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York University Grossman School of Medicine 

    "Ilene Lefcourt convinces the reader that her urban enclosure is a magic and intimate place where secrets are revealed. A vast corpus of information about development is woven in without pedantic ceremony. The kind of observations and listening that are required to achieve the outcomes illustrated are clear." - Theodore Shapiro, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Director, Infant Psychiatry Program, Weill Cornell Medicine New York Presbyterian 

    "Ilene Lefcourt brings to life both the child’s and the parent’s internal worlds, and illustrates the crucial and sometimes magical process of giving and receiving love." - William Singletary, MD, Child and Adult Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst, Facullty, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, President, Margaret Mahler Child Development Foundation, Faculty, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia

    "Ilene Lefcourt’s wise, warm and erudite book is a work of love…always informed by her deep knowledge of psychoanalytic theory… These stories will resonate with some of your own experiences as both a parent and a child, and you will discover universal, liberating truths about how we revisit our pasts…" - Kerry Sulkowicz, MD, President Elect, American Psychoanalytic Association, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine

    "This wonderful book is perfect for anyone who was ever a child, anyone who wants to reenter and remember the magic of childhood experiences, stories and emotions, and anyone who was, is or hopes to be a parent.  Understanding the impact of the past and its ghosts and narratives through Ilene Lefcourt’s kaleidoscopic and spectral lens reveals the triumphs and tragedies of being a human raising humans. This compassionate and captivating condensation of 35 years of work with parents and children by a master clinician somehow manages to remain bewitching and transcendent in showing us who we are, who we are becoming, and why." - Susan Vaughan, MD Director, Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, Author, The Talking Cure

    "Parenting and Childhood Memories lends texture and meaning to intergenerational studies of parental bonding, brain development and epigenetics. It translates into pathways of change when these relationships go awry. It is delightful to read and full of surprises to scientists and parents, and those of us who are both." - Myrna Weissman, PhD, Diane Goldman Kemper Family Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons