Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace: a review for those who grew up with parental abuse, and for their friends and family.
When I received Forgiving Mother for review, I knew that it is the kind of book that isn’t for everyone, but is deeply needed by some. This is one example of someone taking their own story and sharing it for the good of those who need to hear it. Marge Steinhage Fenelon has written a very personal book on a very difficult topic: recovering from parental abuse, specifically from an abusive mother. It’s not an issue I’ve dealt with personally, but so many people have. Too many.
Forgiving Mother is a well-written combination of memoir, counsel, and prayer. Ms. Fenelon is a captivating storyteller, and she takes the reader into her childhood home and the tragic hardships she encountered there. She recounts the difficulties and pain, and talks about how she made it through by holding on to her tender devotion to Mary, which she had from her earliest memories. As a convert, the chapter on Mary was really interesting, as the author was really speaking to those folks to just “don’t get that Mary thing.” While it’s not the first book I’d recommend for a convert to study Mary (see all my book recommendations here), it’s certainly a good one!
Ms. Fenelon then goes on to cover the ways that an abusive parent affects our adult lives, and how to seek healing. She makes clear that Forgiving Mother is not a substitute for professional counseling, but focuses on finding healing through forgiveness. This, friend, is not the kind of forgiveness that glosses over and excuses the wrong that has been done to you. Rather, it’s the deep and true kind that faces the worst head-on, and comes to a place of peace through the healing power of God.
The book wraps up with a Marian Novena of Healing and Peace. (And what the heck is a novena, you ask? It’s a nine-day prayer; check out this post on the St. Andrew novena for more explanation.) In the intro to the novena, there is a quote that I sums up the book well:
I have said many times throughout Forgiving Mother that healing from the wounds caused by a troubled mother or difficult mother-child relationship takes time, patience, and prayer…it cannot be done without God’s grace.
Who should read Forgiving Mother?
Forgiving Mother is an excellent book for:
- People who survived an abused childhood and need to find healing
- Friends and loved ones of abuse survivors
- Anyone who wants a deeper understanding, from a Catholic perspective, of what it is like to be an adult child of an abusive parent.
- Anyone who wants a closer, personal look at how a relationship with Our Lady can make a huge difference in our lives as we battle whatever wounds we carry with us.
If any of those describe you, you may want to pick up a copy and work through it. And please, as always, I love to pray for my readers, and you can always reach out for prayers through email or pm on social media.