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November 26, 1987|ROSELLE M. LEWIS

The Six Stages of Parenthood by Ellen Galinsky (Addison-Wesley: $10.95).

Parents grow, change and "go through stages," observes Ellen Galinsky, an education researcher. Though this hardly seems earthshaking, Galinsky decided it was an "overwhelming topic" and proceeded to squeeze another book onto the overloaded shelves of psychological literature.

Apparently inspired most directly by Erik H. Erikson's "Eight Ages of Man" and Gail Sheehy's "Passages," Galinsky traces six stages of perceiving parenthood. Some examples are the pre-birth or pre-adoption stage, when parents form dreamy images of the child-to-be and try out possible names; the nurturing stage, characterized by the often negative behavior of young children and the final "departure stage" of late adolescence when the parent-child relationship matures (but like seasonal cycles, there are thaws and frosts.)

Galinsky has worked hard, using pertinent studies (her bibliography runs 16 pages); in addition, she's made those obligatory journeys to interview several hundred parents, representing a healthy cross section of our society.

But there is a disparity between good intentions and resulting book. She says, for example, the pre-birth waiting months seem "strangely similar to the time before entering a new junior high." This pedestrian analogy undercuts Galinsky's starry-eyed thesis that every stage of parenthood is full of wondrous significance. Here is a labor of love that, alas, makes for laborious reading.

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