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Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters Hardcover – October 1, 2013

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Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters + Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers + Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062204343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062204349
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this powerful guide, Forward (Toxic Parents) offers a lifeline for those who have suffered through a dysfunctional relationship with a parent. After defining and describing the five most common types of abusive mothers (overly enmeshed; severely narcissistic; control freak; mothers who need mothering; and those who are physically and/or emotionally abusive) Forward gets to work showing adult daughters how to address the negative beliefs that grew from an unhealthy upbringing. With empathy, she assures those who suffer that the abuse is unequivocally not their fault and offers a series of exercises designed to reveal the truth of the situation, acknowledge the pain, learn to set boundaries, and break self-defeating patterns. In a particularly sensitive area, Forward addresses the issue of incest and mothers who have been complicit in such abuse, urging incest victims to seek professional therapy. While this title is labeled as a guide for women whose mothers are unable to love, its sound advice is applicable to persons of any gender. And while readers may be overwhelmed with painful memories at some junctures—an eventuality Forward expects and addresses—this book should be considered required reading for anyone who had an abusive childhood. (Oct.)


“Forward validates the reader’s feelings and presents effective coping mechanisms, offering suggestions on setting boundaries, negotiating for a better relationship, [and] being assertive . . . Highly recommended.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“A useful challenge to accepted wisdom about the normally taboo subject of mother love, with helpful tips on how to jump-start the healing process.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Once again Susan Forward has identified an important issue that has been calling out for her expertise and unique perspective. This landmark book is powerful, accessible and extremely supportive - just what women need! Her case examples are riveting, her techniques are brilliant and her wisdom is poignant.” (Beverly Engel, author of Healing Your Emotional Self and The Nice Girl Syndrome)

“A riveting, compassionate guide to helping women transcend the wounds inflicted by their rejecting or abusive mothers.” (Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., author of How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To)

“Susan Forward has saved millions of lives with her profound wisdom that children raised by abusive parents need not “forgive and forget” to heal and move on to happy, healthy lives. . . . A powerful guide to self healing.” (Carole H. Brower, Research Professor, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA)

“I know so many women who will feel enormously grateful for Mothers Who Can’t Love, and rightly so. This thoughtful and thorough book will validate their feelings and their stories, and even more important will offer invaluable and empowering wisdom.” (Mira Kirshenbaum, author of I Love You but I Don't Trust You and Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay)

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Customer Reviews

Very well written.
This book also made me aware of how every experience with an unloving mother will mold the way you go through life.
This is THE book to be read by daughters who are in need of help for healing of the mother wound.
Miroslava Hristova

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

156 of 158 people found the following review helpful By Catherine on October 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I always seem to be a good candidate for Susan's books. I've read Emotional Blackmail, Toxic In-Laws, and I've already had the chance to skim over Toxic Parents. I was so impatient for this book: Mothers Who Can't Love to come out. How thoroughly relieving that someone dares to challenge the world's greatest taboo: Unloving Mothers. I was born to a woman who should have never been allowed to be a mother. Since cutting off my ties with my mother, I have been urged to reconcile and have been criticized with every line possible. I've heard the "she gave you life" and "honour thy mother". I've been told to try to understand her because of lack of education. I've been told to suck it up because everyone knew how she was. Susan lists all these cliches. The queen mother of all criticism and threats is: "I hope when you have kids, they will not do this to you." Susan understands how hard it is to come to terms with not having a loving mother and how it's even harder to defend your decision from the innumerable people who do not accept it.

The first part of her book addresses the many faces of an unloving mother. Mine was the narcissistic mother. Sometimes she could be downright psychotic and abusive. For me however when you have been hit enough, it's only a sheer irritation that my mother thought she could scare me with a belt. Susan gave me such clarity and validation with this section. I was always so confused as to why my mother could occasionally be loving and why everything went down the drain when I found my soulmate. These kinds of mothers don't mind you as long as you do what she wants you to do, as long as she has control over you, and most of all-- as long as you don't become a woman. I no longer feel threatened when my relatives try to remind me of the good times I had with my mother.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Haxie on December 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is truly about SURVIVAL for those of us who grew up as a hostage in this kind of home life. Some reviewers have pinged this book for spelling/grammatical errors, and I concede that is true; however, the true meat of the book is in the insights and background that give a basis for beginning to understand someone who is otherwise not understandable, as well as pointing out which patterns are in fact abusive. Doesn't excuse what was done; just makes it less alien and gives hope for healing the damage. Even just RECOGNIZING that damage really did happen is huge; my experience was that the so-called "helping agencies" (the court system, counselors, authors of pop psych books, doctors, friends and family's perception) did NOT help, but in fact increased the damage by taking the easy way out and telling me it was "all in my head" and "she couldn't have done that." This book has had a huge impact on my life already, and I will undoubtedly re-read it many times. I cannot overstate how helpful this book has been to me.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Robyn Jamison on December 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm adding this to my short list of the most impactful books I've ever read. When Susan Forward described the experience of being mothered by a mother "who can't love," I was blown away. I felt as though she had been spying on my mother and me when I was a child. I came away from this book with a huge sense of relief that came from knowing that my perceptions were trustworthy despite the fact that they were never validated during my childhood.

By doing the exercises provided in this book, I gained a deepened level of completion with the past and freedom to be myself unencumbered by the limits I had imposed on myself as a result of my treatment by my mother.

I consider this book is a must-read for any woman who has felt unloved by her mother; it offers the information and tools necessary to gain clarity and put an end to the suffering.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Carolee on October 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Forward has her hand on the pulse of issues that real people encounter in their lives. She knows how to say it in a way that helps the reader, who is desperate to have her issues assessed, make changes to improve her life and those around her. I MUST read for every woman whose "little girl"suffered at the hand of a mother who didn't /couldn't do any better.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By LV on February 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Or... Better Late than Never !

My mother was not a bad person; however, I believe that she didn't know any better possibly because she was raised by a toxic mother herself.

I was an only child and a "daddy's girl." Unfortunately my father died shortly after my seventh birthday. His family (he was one of eight) had nothing to do with us after his death and, since mom was also an only child, we didn't have any family except great aunts and uncles. We belonged to our local church where we were very active; but mom didn't have any close friends. I was treated very kindly by the people in the church and, in a way, they became my family (sort of). Appearances were always very important to mom. I knew that something was wrong but I didn't know what. There was no one to talk to (and I was shy). No one ever picked up on my problem and I, because of my youth and inexperience, thought that I was bad for even thinking that something was wrong. For years I tried to make mom happy because she constantly reminded me that "You're all that I've got !" She was jealous of both my relationships and of my sucesses in life.

I've been in and out of therapies. At the very first time (in my twenties), the doctor suggested that I was overreacting ! About twenty years ago I read Susan Forward's first book, "Toxic Parents" and it was truly an eye opener.

Now I'm in my mid-60's. I can't help but think how my life might have been different if I had access to Ms. Forward's books in my twenties or younger.

If you are going through ANYTHING like what I went through buy this book or "Toxic Parents." It could be a Lifesaver !

PS - I only gave the book four stars because I haven't finished it yet... Read it slowly so it sinks in.
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