Growing up, Dr. Helen McIntosh shared few loving moments with her mother. Her mother battled anxiety, anger, and alcoholism, while Helen struggled to fend off her verbal and emotional abuse. After Helen became a Doctor of Counseling Psychology, she helped other women scarred from toxic mother-daughter relationships. Once her own daughter Blythe grew up and left home, Helen longed to maintain a good relationship with her.
Today, Helen and Blythe, who is a mother of two daughters, have a close and healthy mother-daughter bond achieved through effort and repairs. In Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters, they share how they’ve built, guarded, and renewed a relationship centered around talking, respecting, and listening. Mended walks readers through the steps to reconciliation and includes specific conversations that guide mothers and daughters towards openness, grace-filled confrontation, and restoration.
Blythe shares in the book about the transformative power of forgiveness.
“Forgiveness acts as a barrier, a seal over your family. When forgiveness is in place, there aren’t any areas left open for anyone to bring up what’s in the past. It’s a protection from further hurt and an inner knowing that you have covered this ground between you.”
The hearts of Helen and Blythe are to reach mothers and daughters with difficult relationships and leave them with the hope that those relationships will be healed, and the knowledge of how to initiate that healing. Written with love and warmth, Mended excellently explains how Christ’s restoration can extend to mend wounded mother-daughter bonds. As they give readers instruction about mending relationships in their current place, both co-authors also teach readers to recognize and remove toxic patterns of generational behavior. Mended addresses the self-examination, prayer, and effort needed to replace damaging generational patterns with new, healthy patterns for your family.
Helen reflects in the book on the impact focus can have. She recognized how the emotional abuse she experienced as a child affected her own actions and anxieties as a mom.
“Whatever you focus on, you run the risk of repeating. This is the underpinning of generational patterns we want to break so that they don’t move past your experience and into the lives of those behind you.”
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners,creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord. “And I will heal them.” Isaiah 57:18-19
Start to heal. The path to restoration can take some time and sometimes we must be the one to take the first step. You might start by journaling about your feelings and what happened. It can often be helpful to meet with a counselor, pastor or trusted friend to help you process the situation. Even if the situation happened several years ago, sometimes there can still be lingering hurt that affects the way we relate to others. There is no shame in going to a counselor to help you with reconciliation. The devil wants you to believe that you are the only one going through this, but the reality is that there are many people who have experienced similar things. It can often be helpful to ask a friend or family member to pray and come alongside you as you go through this process.
Forgive. Forgiving others doesn’t mean that we condone what they did or believe what they did is right. God wants us to forgive others. We often need his help in doing so. If there is someone in your life that has hurt or harmed you, take time to pray this week to ask God for his help in forgiving them. Look at how Jesus responded when he was betrayed by Judas and Peter. Reflect on how he reacted and how that affected their relationship.
Be willing to reconcile. God wants us to be reconciled to one another. Our culture and society tells us it is easier if there is conflict or hardship with another person to just get a new set of friends or to keep that person at a distance. Take time this week to pray and reflect if there is a person in your life that you need to reconcile with. It might be a friend, family member or co-worker. Reach out and see if they are willing to meet up. Sometimes it helps to diffuse the conversation to meet in a public place like a coffee shop or have a third person who is a mutual friend or someone who does not easily take sides join in on the conversation. It can also be helpful if everyone is open to it, to go to counseling.
We were given a copy of Mended from Harvest House Publishers. All of our thoughts and opinions are our own.