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Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters Kindle Edition
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|Length: 309 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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From Publishers Weekly
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- File size : 1437 KB
- Publication date : October 1, 2013
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Print length : 309 pages
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Publisher : Harper; Reprint edition (October 1, 2013)
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B00BATILFG
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #57,239 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Dr. Forward’s book cuts through the nonsense that is the notion of the perfect mother and shines a light on the painful cycle of guilt and acquiescence experienced by unloved daughters, a cycle with which I have become sadly familiar.
Ladies, Dr. Forward is on your side. We men need more strong voices like Dr. Forward out there advocating for daughters.
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. In a lot of ways, I was no more than a piece of property to her. I was deprived and pruned so that I could one day be given away like property then people would see how amazing and strict she was. Thus, she would gain other people's fear and respect. That was her ambition all along and it didn't sit well with her that I refused to be treated like a trophy. My world came crashing down when I realized her need for fear and respect from a bunch of faceless people meant more to her than my life and happiness. She had no qualms about trying to break me, thinking I would eventually capitulate. Like many unloving mothers, she wreaked havoc on my conscience. I felt horrible for not obeying her commands. I felt so guilty whenever she reminded me of all she did for me. Like many daughters of unloving mothers, you break in another way be it physical illness or in my case: depression.
This book also made me aware of how every experience with an unloving mother will mold the way you go through life. I've been on the receiving end of my mother saying: "I wish you were never born" and "You should have died a long time ago"-- all in the same breath. However, her destruction did not start when I fell from grace. The tendency to feel responsible for other people's happiness, feeling guilty if you don't comply with other people's wishes, and chasing approval all steams from how your mother raised you. It was such a shock for me to read that love does not have to be earned. I still remember my bridesmaids' speech during my wedding. They called me loving. They said they loved me. I was speechless and felt that I didn't deserve it. Sure I love my husband but I never expected much of it back. How bizarre it was for me when he was always there for me and took care of me without a second thought. How bizarre it was for me when a friend pointed out that my husband loves me more than how other husbands love their wives.
All of these scars and self-punishment were from the way my mother programmed me from birth. No, I will never have a loving mother but that is okay. The notion of the Loving Mother is bade farewell in Susan's book. I learned to say that it's okay. Moreover, I can be a loving mother to myself. And just because I never received the nurture I needed, it doesn't mean that I can't be a loving mother when I have children.
Most importantly, my rights are spelled out. I no longer need to feel guilty. It was my right to live my life the way I wanted. It is MY choice whether I want to have my mother in my life. If I am ever urged or criticized again to have my mother in my life, that person will be on the receiving end of some very good non-defensive communication.
For the most part, I also really agreed with the content - it did not victim blame as many resources on the subject tend to do, and it left room for the survivor to make their own choice on how to proceed while preparing them with resources and likely outcomes. Very empowering!
What I would have liked better was for the book to be more careful in how it discusses mental illness. I think it’s got a good start with differentiating a mother’s choice to behave poorly from mental illness as a condition. However, it was unsettling to me that the book only talked about mental illness as a way to explain some of a mother’s behavior - which I think strengthens a cultural misperception we have, where we think bad behavior is caused by mental illness or that mental illness makes you a hurtful person. What about the daughters who may have developed mental illnesses themselves from their mothers’ poor parenting, but are working to be good and healthy people? The book could have been more careful and more representative here.
Second, a lot of the book’s examples of how to have a better relationship with your mom focused on the overly attached mom. I would have liked more examples of how to work with angry, controlling moms, and how those situations can play out.
Top reviews from other countries
The author divides the 'types' of unloving mothers into 5 categories: The Narcissistic Mother, The Overly Enmeshed Mother, The Control Freak Mother, Mothers Who Need Mothering and Mothers Who Neglect, Betray and Batter.
These are reasonable categories that will ring true for a lot of people. But a category doesn't make a book. The author reveals such a shallow understanding of each of these dynamics that I was astounded. At page 112, after being increasingly appalled by the ignorance of the author, I came to this statement and had to put the book down and write this review:
"In an abusive marriage, the mother becomes a terrified child - far more concerned with defending herself against physical or emotional violence than she is about keeping her daughter safe. She hides - sometimes using her child as a kind of shield to take the brunt of the abuser's treatment - instead of taking the necessary steps to get the abuser out of the house." -This flitting, thin-slicing, shallow statement shocked me to the core and shows an utter lack of understanding the dynamics of domestic violence/abuse. Although this portrait of a mother in an abusive relationship may be the case for a tiny fraction, it is far from the reality in the majority of cases. If you are the child of a parent who was abused or abusive...read Lundy Bancroft's 'Why Does He Do That: Inside the Mind of Angry and Controlling Men' - it is a brilliantly researched masterpiece that really saves lives. It will provide the level of deep understanding to help you to truly heal from this kind of childhood. Another of his books, 'The Parent as Batterer,' is the classic reference that provides guidance for Judges and Prosectors in cases like this. Mother's Who Can't Love doesn't even attempt to provide anything beyond the shallowest introduction to the subject and I feel confident the author has never reached a level of understanding herself.
But that was only the 'final straw' - the lack of understanding this author showed for narcissism and narcissistic abuse was equally astounding. The author essentially thin slices narcissistic mothers as 'competitive' and 'jealous' of their daughters. You will find little, if anything, in the authors level of understanding to bring you a level of clarity about narcissism; clarity that is essential to set boundaries and heal. If looking for a good starting point for understanding a potentially narcissistic mother, or if you are sure that your mother is one, then I would recommend 'Children of the Self Absorbed' by Nina Brown. The first 40 pages of this book will be profoundly awakening and it just gets better from there.
For the 'Control Freak' Mother - another of the categories in this book - the author reveals the same lack of understanding of abuse and domestic violence as she does in the Mothers Who Neglect, Betray and Batter category. If this was your experience, again read 'Why Does He Do That' by Lundy Bancroft...and just switch 'he' to 'she' and you will have a superb guide to understanding and healing.
Another important area to explore if your mother was unloving is sociopathy (not even mentioned in the entire section of Identifying the Mother Wound, where the author describes each of the 5 categories of unloving mothers). How can one not include sociopathic mothers in a book on this topic? Surely 'unloving' and 'lack of empathy' is a significantly researched area of psychology and psychiatry. Some mothers can't love...because they can't love...full stop. There are several important books on this topic and a good place to begin is 'The Sociopath Next Door' by Martha Stout. It's an older book (published 2005) in a rapidly growing field, but provides superb examples of seemingly 'normal' people who are sociopathic. It's a must read for those who experienced a loveless childhood, even if their mother wasn't a sociopath, as those that grow up like this are often so in need of love that they can fall victim to sociopaths in adult relationships. So studying sociopathy (not even touched upon in Mothers Who Can't Love) is essential for recovery from a childhood, and adulthood, with a mother who didn't love you.
There are many people who truly need help after surviving (and continuing to survive) an unloving mother, and having such an incompetent, ignorant therapist write such an appalling shallow and misinformed 'best seller' is profoundly disheartening. My heart goes out to each and every person who grew up without a mother's love and I wish you every success with healing and embracing the life, and love, that you deserve.
I wish I read this book 10 years ago. I cannot rate it high enough on here, but I can definitely recommend it to anyone trying to understand themselves and how the connections formed with their carers shaped their thoughts and behaviour!
This book along therapy helped me overcome guilt and shame.