[Review] Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers by Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard
Authors: Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard
Publisher: W Publishing Group an Imprint of Thomas Nelson January 21, 2014
Genre: Non-fiction, forgiveness, dysfunctional family, abuse, addiction, mental health disorder.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a review.
Link for further information at Thomas Nelson: Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers.
Bio of Dr. Jill Hubbard
An interview with Leslie Leyland Fields, from, The Gospel Coalition.
An excerpt from the book, from, Patheos: What do we do with a past that haunts us?
Articles from Christianity Today, Leslie is a featured author for this magazine.
Leslie Leyland Fields shares the story of her childhood. Leslie has five siblings. Their years of growing up in New England was scarred by a father who was absent. When Leslie's father lived at home with his family he was disconnected and disjointed. Leslie's mother worked to provide for the children, but their existence was marked by a father who did not seem to care. In later years Leslie began a quest to try and figure out this father who was a mystery. She met others who had also grown up in dysfunctional, abusive homes. Leslie felt led to journal her story in order to help others who'd gone through similar situations. The goal is forgiveness, but how can forgiveness be given when the pain is so great? How can forgiveness be given when the parent does not admit their wrong, and further does not care?
Each chapter begins by Fields sharing from her life in regards to her father. Dr. Jill Hubbard ends each chapter by reflecting and commenting on what Fields shared. A list of several questions are given for individual, or group use.
Fields has included a few of her siblings memories. Several other people Fields has met through her speaking engagements have given a voice in the book, sharing of their journey to forgiveness.
"At what age do we stop expecting our parents to pay? At forty? At fifty? At sixty? When do we look at adulthood for what it is-not a fulfillment of all our childhood hopes and dreams but a sobering, mature reality that all of us are broken and fall short of the glory of God? Our purpose is to do the good we can, with what we are given, to bring forth beauty from ashes and to become more Christlike-not necessarily because of our parents but in spite of them. We must do the work of forgiveness to create something different, something better, to pass on to our children and grandchildren. After all, we are writing our future generation's history as we live it today." Page 103.Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers, is a solid beginning for anyone working to forgive and make peace with their past. I believe this book should be on the shelf of every church and counseling office. It is a perfect choice for a support group.
I wondered while reading this book, it maybe necessary for some individuals to read the book in small bites, and then journal how they feel, possibly even following up with a counselor.
Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers, is a heavy book, a book which pricks the heart.
The writing team compliment each other. There is a grace to their words, a calmness which transcends from their inner hearts and onto the pages.
Dr. Jill Hubbard wrote a beautiful description of a word much needed: boundaries.
"Boundaries are not steel doors slammed in a person's face, but rather, loving and firm ways of saying no, not now, not here. Setting boundaries honors both people involved by not allowing either one to dishonor the other or the relationship through unacceptable words or actions" Page 129.In a dysfunctional home boundaries is a word unknown, included in this is having a high tolerance for poor behavior. I would have liked a full chapter devoted to boundaries.
In addition, a chapter on how to deal with a parent who is dangerous to be around. This parent cannot be trusted to injure the adult child, nor their family.
Leslie, throughout the book tried to figure out her father, she exerted time and energy into what made him the way he was. I don't believe this is always a good thing, there should be a point when the brain must shut-off the questions, because we cannot get inside the head of another, we cannot change the person no matter how much we love them. I believe by the time the book is finished, Leslie has made peace with this question. One of the aims of this book is a journey to forgiveness, and apart of the journey is in Leslie trying to figure out why her dad became the man he was. There is a fine line, and a person can easily cross into an obsessive territory of trying to figure out someone, this is not healthy.
Biblical stories are included of Jonah and Nineveh, Joseph and his brother, parable of the good Samaritan, and the parable of the father and his two sons.
I highly recommend Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers. It's hard work to forgive and to make peace with our past. Yet, we cannot leave a legacy of unforgiveness to the next generation.