Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers – book review

Recently, a friend gave me a copy of the book: Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers written by Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard. She knew that I liked memoirs and thought I’d enjoy it.

forgivingThe back cover reads “If our families are to flourish, we will need to learn and practice ways of forgiving those who have had the greatest impact upon us: our mothers and fathers.” It goes on further to pose these questions:
• Do you struggle from the deep pain of a broken relationship with a parent?
• What does the Bible say about forgiveness? Why must we forgive at all?
• How do we honor those who act dishonorably toward us, especially when these people are as influential as our parents? Can we ever break free from the “sins of our fathers?”
• What does forgiveness look like in the lives of real parents and children? Does forgiveness mean, I have to let an estranged parent back into my life? Is it possible to forgive a parent who has passed away?

Using a series of heart-wrenching stories, (some personal, some from others), the authors manage to present horrific examples of parent-child abuse and then they go on to explain why it is so important to forgive.

What’s interesting to me is that this is a memoir of a different color, not quite a memoir – not quite a reference book – instead it’s sort of like a “memfrence.” Add to this a strong Christian tone and what you get is a complex book that weaves several ideas and approaches into one piece.

Which, in this case, actually works, and that’s just not an easy thing to do.

My friend assured me that the religious aspect was all in context. “It appears naturally,” she told me. And it does. Not only does it appear naturally but it appears often. Obviously I’m not the right audience for this book because I found the references a little jarring. However, if you go over to amazon, you’ll find many, many readers who appreciated that very same Christian aspect. They liked the approach, for them it felt right and it helped them, while using their faith, to figure out their relationships with their parents.

But don’t get me wrong. Adding religious views is not a bad thing, especially if it is part of a sincere backbone to your book’s purpose, as it is here. It’s all in how it’s presented. This is a well-written book that manages to keep several balls in the air at once. I have tremendous respect for the authors who could have been side-tracked by telling too many stories, by not telling enough, or who could have hijacked a story with too much reference material. See what I mean? Writing a book that “does” several things (not just tell a memoir story but also gives instructions) is a very tough thing to do. Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers is a great example of a book that not only manages to balance all, but does it well.


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (

4 thoughts on “Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers – book review

  1. Pingback: Emerging from the Darkest Shade | From Hiding to Blogging

  2. My mom and dad were hideously, horribly abused, sexually and every other way, by priests, nuns, parents and possibly others I don’t even know about, back in the ’20’s and ’30’s.

    I could never think of my mom or dad as anything except frightened little children, even though they were also somewhat abusive toward me when I was little. They couldn’t have been otherwise.

    I believe they developed Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously known as, “Multiple Personality Disorder.”) They were never diagnosed, though.

    I believe that they did not know what they were doing. Perhaps many of their perpetrators had been in that same childhood situation, as well?

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