Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Want to be a better Mom?

T. Suzanne Eller has written a book that helps all of us become better mothers - especially if we came from difficult backgrounds where we did not learn parenting skills.

The Mom I Want to Be

Being a mom is a great joy and a great responsibility. But what if you have a painful past, a background that didn't include a good role model for parenting? What if your experiences have given you an unhealthy view of motherhood? How can you be the parent you want to be without dragging along your history?

Suzie Eller knows from experience that a mother is influenced by the mothering she received as a child. In her book, The Mom I Want to Be, Suzie shares from the brokenness of her own growing-up years and compassionately discusses how bitterness and anger can be transformed into hope and determination when a woman turns her past and her future over to God's care. Suzie draws attention to a rarely addressed topic, detailing how to put shattered legacies back together, restore broken images of motherhood, forgive the unforgettable, set boundaries that make sense, and let go of yesterday so a new today and tomorrow can be embraced.

The author says, "This is a book for women and moms, but especially for women who want to find wholeness, healing from the past, and specific helps to give their children better memories than they received as a child." She wants her readers to know they don't have to repeat the unhealthy patterns from their childhood. With God's healing power at work in their lives, women can become the moms they want to be.

What Others Are Saying:

"I truly believe all parents WANT to be good parents, but some lack the skills or are themselves weighed down and stagnated by an injured inner child. This amazing book offers thoughts and direction to overcome hurtful memories and improve your parenting skills. It is positive and liberating."

~Brenda Nixon
author of Parenting Power in the Early Years

In-depth with Suzie about The Mom I Want to Be:

This book isn't the typical lighthearted motherhood book. What sets your book apart, and how does it explore territory seldom covered in books designed for mothers?

It's definitely not a fluffy book! This is the book I didn't want to write. I've taught "Pushing Past Your Past" for the past five years at parenting conferences. At one, I was approached by the director and also by their publisher and asked to consider writing a book for women. I hesitated because it's one thing to share my childhood experiences, and what God has done in a workshop or keynote, but another to publish it and put it in the hands of women across the nation. If it helped many women, but destroyed my mother (by telling our story) it wasn't worth it.

And yet she encouraged me to write it. I invited her to join me, to share her story and to show how generations of dysfunction can continue if there is not healing, as well as practical helps and tools. I believe she added depth and wisdom, and it has ministered to many women, whether they were the victim of abuse or neglect, or the ones who are trapped in dysfunctional parenting methods and want help.

The Mom I Want to Be addresses the past, the present, and the future. It shows how to learn from the harm of your past, how to let go, how to forgive, how to trust again, and how to view the world from an adult's perspective, rather than that of the once-harmed child. It shares very practical steps on how to shape your children's memories now rather than focusing on the memories of your past, how to set boundaries for parents or people who are still dysfunctional, how to parent with resources and healthful parenting methods as opposed to familiar patterns from the past, and much more. It offers a lot of interactive study and questions and encouragement, as well as a 12-week small group study for women who want to take this to their church or friends or MOPS groups, etc.

It's still the book I didn't want to write, but I'm so glad I did.

Why did you feel the need to address these issues?

The first time I shared my "Pushing Past the Past" workshop I looked out over the crowd. They looked like women who had it all together. And yet as I spoke, I could see the defenses lowering and we connected as women with a painful past. After that first workshop, women lined up down the aisle, out the door, and around the corner, all who wanted to share a little bit of their story, or to ask questions, or to request prayer, or just to hug me and cry as they said, "you just told my story."

Did you find this book required an extra dose of raw transparency on your part?

It's so raw. But it's just as raw about God's amazing grace and transformation in my heart and for my family as it is about the hard times.

Did this affect any of your own relationships?

In good ways. My brother read this book and I'll never forget his words: "I've read other books and wondered if they understood what I went through. As I read my own sister's book, I knew that not only did you understand, but I know how whole you are. I knew that I was reading truth that could change me." That was worth the pain of writing the book--a thousand times over.

It also affected my mom's and my relationship. At this time, we were close and had been for a long time. But I learned about things that she had never told anyone--that she was molested at five, the insecurities she had when she was a suicidal mom and crying for help and no one was listening. It added a deeper level of compassion for the person who is my mom.

One of the issues you mention in the book is forgiveness. What's the hardest part of forgiveness to get right that's also the element that causes the biggest victories?

To let go. A lot of times we hold on to unforgiveness, waiting for someone to change, or someone to say they are sorry. Maybe they will one day, but maybe they won't. I want to be whole today, for my children and me. I let go because it cuts the tendrils of the past that keep me from growing. It starts the process of removing bitterness or rage or sorrow from my heart and mind.

I want to fly, and if letting go is part of that I'm willing to let go.

How can a mother let go of her past in order to give her children a better present and future?

First, go back and take a good look at what harmed you. Put it all out on the table. Learn from it. I didn't know my biological dad as a father, but I still learned from him. He was absent, so I learned the joy of being at my kid's ball games or feeling the soft touch of a baby's hand on my cheek. I was fully in the moment when my children walked down the aisle (my children are all newlyweds) and married their spouses.

My biological father chose not to be a part of my life, and I can't change that, but I'm willing to learn from his mistakes and do better with my own children.

Second, many women have faced things that are so grievous. Letting go doesn't make those injustices right or okay. It simply says, "I won't let the past continue to burden me or harm my relationships with my children or spouse." If you were neglected, abused sexually or physically or emotionally, you may find it difficult to let go. I did. But I was willing, and that was the first step. I invited God into the process. It took time. Healing is often a life-time journey. I would encourage women to seek counseling if they need help during that time, but also to open their minds to the possibility of what God can do with a willing heart.

Tracy here: With an interview that brings me to tears, I know the book is even more powerful. Thank you, Suzie, and thank your family for us too - for being so transparent to help us all. May the Lord use your words to touch hearts and changes lives.

Pixels - don't forget the contest:

1. During this blog tour, any reader who responds to Twila Belk at iamstraightway[at]aol[dot]com with the name of a church or organization that is interested in having Suzie in as a guest speaker, will receive all three of Suzie's books (up to 10 sets will be given away on a first come first serve basis).

2. If any of your readers contact Twila regarding a Bible study group or book club wanting to use Suzie's materials, their groups will receive conference calls from Suzie to kick off or conclude their studies.

3. All readers who post a comment regarding Suzie's books will be placed in a grand prize drawing on August 2, 2008, for a delightful gift basket (see description on previous post.)


flchen1 said...

I just learned about this book--it sounds like a wonderful resource for all moms! Thanks for the interview!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Mrs. Sara said...

Wow, this really sounds like a book I could use. My childhood wasn't idyllic... and now, being pregnant myself, I have a lot of fears that are haunting me about the type of mother I'll be... if I'll be good enough for my son, and if I'm going to screw it up like my parents did. I know in my head that I'm not the same as them, and I'm leaning on my husband and my faith in God for the help I'll need to be a good mommy to little Isaac. I might have to get this book, too! Sounds like it might help.

Thanks for your giveaway! My email address is saharagreen at gmail dot com. Have a good day!

kc said...

I tend to shy away from books about parenting and mothering. The task is so daunting already and I know how much I'm not doing currently. I'm always afraid it will just add more guilt. However, it's not things in the past that are keeping me back, it's me. So yeah, that's why we need God, right?

Doreen said...

This sounds like a great book for Moms to read! Great interview! purposedrivenlife4you(at)gmail(dot)com

sphinx63 said...

This sounds like a good book. I'm going to have to pick it up. Thanks for the interview!

Suzanne Eller said...

Thank you for posting this! I hope one of your readers wins the basket. I've been good. Though I have to look at the Dove chocolates every day, I've not touched them. I promise. : )

And to your reader above, this book is guilt free. It's a dialogue and a journey between moms to give our children a safe and loving home and to learn from the past so that we can move forward. : )

Dixie said...

I've spent a large part of my adulthood trying to get past my childhood.
Sometimes it just has to be enough that it's over and you survived.

momo3 said...

i heart this book . . . i am going to order it. i had a mom who showed little to no affection towards me. it's something i have never gotten over . . . it did a number on my self esteem . . . i always felt like i had done something wrong. thanks for highlighting this book! kristen


Bender House said...

Just yesterday, I was reading about this book. It looks like a great inspiring book for moms to read. Can't wait to read it. Thanks!