No matter where your mother/daughter relationship has been, the path leading forward can encompass rebuilding, restoration, and repair.

Mothers and Daughters Finding Their Way to Common Ground

We painted the room pale purple, her favorite color. A white lace curtain framed the window overlooking our busy backyard, and our wide-open door of welcome signaled a new beginning for my mum.
She would be safe.
We would know that she was eating three times a day.
And maybe this would be the setting in which she and I would find common ground. That was my hope, anyway, and echoes of that liminal season came to mind as I read Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters.

Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh are a mother/daughter team, and they take turns sharing the path they have walked together — and their own hopes for a healthy relationship that spans generations. The good news they offer is that no matter where your mother/daughter relationship has been, the path leading forward can encompass hopeful rebuilding, restoration, and repair.

“And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.”  (Isaiah 58:12)

God is in the business of mending broken hearts and broken relationships, so Blythe and Helen invite readers into His neutral territory in hope that sharing individual thoughts and desires will lead to standing on common ground together.

We Can Only Do What We Can Do

Anchored in boots-on-the-ground wisdom, Mended offers practical steps for relationship building specifically for mothers and daughters, but with universal application:

  1.  Put the relationship ahead of differences.  Does it really matter how the dishwasher is loaded? Is it necessary that you see eye-to-eye on every point in order to enjoy one another?
  2. Speak positive, concrete relational words. One of Helen’s strengths is the framing of words into what-to-say-when-you-don’t-know-what-to-say. Her sayings appeared in bold print in the book, and I can picture them saving the day. For example:
    “What I want is a good relationship, and you are more important to me than this problem/this difference of opinion/this snag.” (41)
    “Would you and your spouse be willing to share with me what you need to hear from me–or what I need to do–for us to be restored? I wish to clear up any offenses on my part.” (46)
  3. Own responsibility for your part of the damage. Ask God to open your eyes, to give you creativity and unselfishness in your response. Try to assume the best of each other.
  4. Beware of over-love.  “Over-love” is “a subtle form of control.” (139) Based in fear, it over-protects and over-expects, all in an attempt to get one’s own needs met through its object.

Moving Forward, by Grace

An honest picture of patterns from the past is necessary for building a healthy future. As a mother, Helen shared transparently that “every difficulty [she] had with [her] mom helped in countless ways in her relationship with Blythe.”  (39) This was possible because she looked squarely at the unhealthy behavior that created land mines in her own childhood and determined to make new generational patterns going forward.

The beautiful string that holds together these pearls of wisdom is the story of Helen and Blythe’s walking hand-in-hand through lymphoma, and Helen’s gradual recovery. There was real strength in the hard places as Blythe came alongside her mum to comfort and encourage–and found their love for one another deepened in the process.

It’s ironic, in a way, for me to be reviewing a book about strong mother/daughter relationships. The haze of disappointment still lingers over my own experience, but even in this there is grace, because broken ground can become a meeting place where hearts are mended. My children and grandchildren are God’s gift to me, a “yes” from the One who makes all things new–an affirmation that no matter where we’ve been, in the process of rebuilding, restoration, and repair, we can find ourselves standing, by grace, on common ground.


Many thanks to Harvest House Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

And there’s a give away. . .

You’ll be happy to know that the publisher has provided a copy of Mended for me to share! Just leave a comment below to enter. (U.S. addresses only–sorry!) Entries will close at midnight on Saturday, May 4th. This time, because she’s old enough now, and because this book is about girl stuff, the adorable granddaughter will draw the name of a winner on Sunday, May 5th. 

With thanks to Jesus for His offering of hope and healing,

michele signature[1]

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters, simply click on the title here or within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a very small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

69 thoughts on “Mothers and Daughters Finding Their Way to Common Ground”

  1. Thank you for sharing, Michele. The wisdom from the book works with other relationships too, not just mother-daughter. I had a close relationship with my mother, but her last few years after the stroke were not fun. I loved reading the last paragraph of your post and God’s affirmation in your relationships with your sons and grands.

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  2. First of all, that is so sweet that the granddaughter will draw the name! I have heard so many great reviews about this book. It’s definitely on my list of reads for the summer! Thank you Michele for sharing your thoughts on the book. #HeartEncouragement linkup

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  3. Michele, I had a beautiful relationship with my beloved mother. She was loving in every way and taught me the most important things, faith, family, and serving others. This past Monday was the anniversary of her homegoing, it has been 12 years and I miss her so much. I have many friends that have hard mother-daughter relationships. God is the healer and mends broken relationships. The books sounds like a good one for any hard relationship.

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  4. I’ve been fortunate to have a good relationship with my mom. We never even went through that “teenager” phase I see so much of. But this book looks like it is full of good information!

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    1. I’m grateful that God speaks into this, knowing that we struggle and then offering a bridge back to one another. Blythe and Helen have handled their part in bridge building so beautifully in this book.

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  5. I have had a very difficult relationship with my mother. It was absent of trust. Unknowingly, I have held on to resentment and anger since my younger days. God has helped me to see that I am no better. Christ has forgiven me many sins and now with his help I am extending forgiveness. The healing this has offered me and my mom is miraculous. It is a struggle but it’s why we are here together. I am praying often for guidance when dealing with my teen daughters hoping I have learned from my own difficulties. Thank you for talking about the importance of our mother daughter relationships.

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    1. I’m so sorry, Gwen, that your relationship with your mum was so challenging. I’m thankful that God has opened your eyes to your own need and your own part in the breach and that He has granted healing. I think your situation sounds quite miraculous!

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  6. “she looked squarely at the unhealthy behavior. . .and determined to make new generational patterns going forward.”
    May this by our prayer.

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  7. Sounds like a great resource. My relationship with my mom was good – that with my father had difficulties. They are both gone now, and God has given grace to glean from the good and learn from the not-so-good. No relationship is 100% perfect, though, so these tips sound very useful.

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    1. Yes, we can all use a bit of work, and I especially appreciated her admonition to accept responsibility for our part in the breakdown –even if we think it’s not the biggest part!

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  8. Moving forward by grace. I love that, Michele. This looks like a very important book for mothers and daughters to find healing in what can be a difficult relationship at times.

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  9. We can look to the Lord for His grace in any relationship but both parties need to be willing to come to common ground.
    If one is totally unwilling, as sad as this is, we need to accept & respect their decision & walk in God’s love, forgiveness & grace in the situation. Continuing to love.
    Praying one day they will come to that place to be able to meet on common ground.
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

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  10. Mom has been living in heaven for over four years now (earth time!). I’m so thankful for the memories of her loving care (straining my OJ because I disliked the pulp), her sense of humor (always quick to laugh), and wisdom (“Just remember. Five years from now that C+ on an algebra test will not matter.”) The challenges we faced in our relationship were outweighed by her positive qualities. Which one I focus on is a choice; I try to choose the latter.

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  11. I have certainly overcome a lot because of and with my mother, we are blessed. Can you really over love though as she says? It’s what Jesus does. It think she means that codependency, unhealthy type relationship.

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    1. By “over love,” the author meant a kind of unhealthy controlling attachment that maybe we shouldn’t really call love.
      It’s great that you and your mum have a good relationship that has impacted you so positively!

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  12. I’m so sorry you’ve struggled in your mom/daughter relationship, Michele. I think I was able to bridge the divide I felt with my mom some years before she past. But there are so many challenges in connecting well with our moms. Two females trying to love with the dips and fluctuations of emotions, expectations and hormones sure makes it hard–at least, harder than two males might find. You being a mom of sons probably know this too. My son-centric family is vastly different than my upbringing with a sister in the mix. Thanks for sharing about this! I’ve been intrigued by the concept! I’ll be pinning!

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    1. Yes, family configuration is so interesting! I’ve seen that the gender of the first born and the occurrence of consecutive siblings of the same gender really impact on the culture of the home.
      Thanks for your encouragement!

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  13. This looks like such a good book, and so helpful. My own relationship with my mom got so much better once I was an adult, and I regretted all the harsh words I’d said as a teen. I pray that my daughter and I can keep our relationship warm and strong.

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      1. We have Mother’s Day coming up here in Australia on Sunda the 12th. I have an estranged daughter – through untruths, mis-understanding, mis-communications and other tragedies. At this time of year – my heart is rather more sensitive. Thanks for your input. I was wiser when I read – over protective is a form of fear. Interesting.

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      2. Yes, Mother’s Day comes with its own unique challenges. I’m so glad to have been able to give you some words to bring perspective to your tender heart.

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  14. This is so powerful, true and necessary: “An honest picture of patterns from the past is necessary for building a healthy future. She looked squarely at the unhealthy behavior that created land mines in her own childhood and determined to make new generational patterns going forward.” Without this step, we are bound to repeat generational patterns.

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  15. This sounds like a lovely book. While I have a great relationship with my mom, I have a less-than-amiable one with my MIL. Helen’s wisdom and questions are things I need to think about when speaking to my MIL.

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  16. Thank you for your powerful review on Mended, Michele. You hit on many of my own favorite thoughts in the book. Putting the relationship ahead of differences maybe the biggest key factor in the restoration process. Blythe is my agent and guest posting for me this week about the book. So excited!

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  17. Michele, thanks for this wonderful book review. Mended is such a great book and you did a good job reviewing it. I know this is going to help heal the relationships of many mothers and daughters. Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

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  18. Michele, I’ve seen this book around social media quite a bit. And while I am intrigued, I am still hesitant to read it. I fear that it will just break my heart even more – and/or bring guilt over the broken relationship with my own mother. I don’t think many mother/daughter relationship books take into account mental illness like Borderline Personality Disorder. Mental illness brings an entirely different element to the relationship, making healthy boundaries and habits all the more difficult.

    One point sticks out from your review and that is, “she looked squarely at the unhealthy behavior. . .and determined to make new generational patterns going forward.” I think that point is crucial in making amends and hoping in any sort of restoration. In my case, my mother has never been able to own her unhealthy and abusive behavior. Even after me trying for over 30 years, there was never any change. I do wish that things would have turned out differently, but I need to leave that up to God. But I can make sure that the unhealthy patterns do not continue in our own family…that was a vow my husband and I made years ago.

    Thanks for sharing on Grace & Truth. And I appreciate your transparency about your relationship with your mother.

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    1. Aimee, my heart goes out to you, and I can enter into your disappointment with a fair degree of experience because of the story with my mum, but also, there was mental illness with my dad, so we do share a common narrative. I admire you for being so intentional about deciding that the dysfunction stops HERE. I’d recommend Amy Simpson as an author you might find a connection with. She struggled with a similar situation growing up and I read Blessed are the Unsatisfied a year or so ago and she shares some of her story there, but there’s also Troubled Minds which focuses more on mental illness.
      I’m so glad you expressed your apprehension about Mended. Trusting that you will continue to find peace and comfort in a future that includes healthy family connections. Blessings to you.

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  19. I have been pretty fortunate to have such a close relationship with my mom; she is always there for me when I need her most and I hope to be able to do the same for her as she ages. Right now we just enjoy each other’s company whenever we can.

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  20. I have an excellent relationship with my mum and I hope that me and my daughter will stay just as close as she gets older. Also true of my dad and my sons too though! Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

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  21. Over-love is an interesting term and concept, isn’t it? This sounds like a fascinating read. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com! Your faithfulness blesses me!
    Tina

    Like

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