Editor’s Note: This post originally ran in September 2011, but as today is Mother’s Day, I believe that Dr. Thompson’s book can help people who have challenged relationships with their mothers…With that said, today is a day to honor our mothers even if those relationships are challenged. As it is stated in the Bible, “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise–that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3
As you know by now, I am a serious book lover and am always excited when I encounter a “must-read” book! My friend Dr. Pamela Thompson has written such a book!
In the black community, “Mama” is revered above any other figure in our history. Dating back to slavery, when all else failed, “Mama” was the one to hold it together. Even today, Mother’s Day is nearly as popular as Christmas, Thanksgiving & Easter…which makes it that much harder to admit if you have a problem with your mother or the way that you were raised by the woman that gave you life.
However, in her new book, “Surviving Mama: Overcoming Strained Mother-Daughter Relationships,” Dr. Thompson has provided tangible tools to help those who may be searching for a way to broach this issue…Read my Q&A with Dr. Thompson about her new book below.
1. Tell me about “Surviving Mama.” Describe how you fused Biblical and psychological principles in the book.
I understand that my calling is to highlight the intersection of God’s timeless teaching and wisdom with things that can be explained in the natural or clinical world. In bringing both worlds together–the clinical and the biblical–I hope to cover as many bases as possible in providing guiding principles that give people the tools to KNOW better, DO better, and LOVE better with boundary-setting and choice as a part of the equation.
2. Why did you write “Surviving Mama”, and who is your target audience?
I wrote “Surviving Mama” for anybody who is a daughter -whether she has issues with her mom or not. The perfect audience would be those who are Christian women (African- American women in particular) in search of deeper truth with a willingness to pursue answers and make radical changes in the way they’ve lived life thus far. However, the book is applicable to anyone experiencing discomfort, strife, distress in any close, complex family relationship that just doesn’t work. Ideal age
for the reader would be 25 and up.
3. How did you find the women you featured in the book? You also mentioned a well-known mother and daughter prolific author Alice Walker and her daughter Rebecca Walker, who is also a writer. What about their relationship made you include a reference to them in the book?
I found the women from among my clients and friends. I’ve
literally interviewed thousands of women in my career from murderers to physicians and lawyers, and this topic comes up frequently. I’ve worked with women who have killed their mothers or their daughters and women who have good mothers who still have their own issues and deficits that spill over into the mother-daughter relationship. I’ve always had a close-knit circle of girlfriends, and I’ve seen the mother-daughter issues change from decade to decade as I have experienced in my own relationship with my mom who’s lived with me for
the past five years.
The Walker mother-daughter duo was just a perfect fit for that chapter on control. Certainly it would appear that the daughter of Alice Walker would be edified as a woman, a “sister” and certainly would enjoy the privileges of her mother’s wisdom, insights and wealth. Yet, this was not the case, and it underscored my point very richly that the nuances and inadequacies of any mother-daughter relationship cannot be determined from the outside looking in.
4. What feedback have you received about the book, particularly since “Mama” is a revered figure, particularly in the black community?
I approached this subject gingerly specifically because of the
reverence bestowed upon “Mama” in our communities, and I didn’t want the purpose of this book to be Mama-bashing. It’s bigger and deeper than that. In fact, it’s not that at all. It took me four years to write, not because it’s so lengthy, but because I wanted to treat the issue just right.
I’ve received overwhelming response to the book. I have been blown away at how women have responded across race and socio-economic status. It appears that the book has given women “permission” to discuss this taboo topic with greater confidence that they’re not alone. I usually end up doing “therapy” at each of my book signings as women discuss their long-held pains on this issue quite openly. I pray that it serves as a tool of self-discovery, healing and transcendence.
5. What was your process for writing this book?
I had my best success when writing EARLY in the morning
for 45 minutes or so before I started my day. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would baptize me daily and instruct me accordingly in what I should write before I started every writing session. It is a God-inspired work.
6. As a writer, I write to know. What did you learn from writing the book?
I’ve received confirmation that the issue is as big as I’ve
experienced in my personal and clinical experiences. I’ve learned that mothers are often blind in many ways, as we all are, to how we impact others with our misdeeds. I’ve deepened my understanding of the guaranteed silver lining in any contentious relationship and how our “enemies” can be the members of our family, and yet those enemies probably do more for us than those who’ve always cheered us on IF you allow it. I truly get that ALL things work together for good for them that love the the Lord and are called accordingly to His purpose.
7. Where can you buy the book?
Book can be bought at survivingmama.com and amazon.com(Kindle and paperback). It will be moving into bookstores soon, starting with Medu at Greenbriar Mall. People can also call me directly at (404) 644-0710 and come by my office to buy a copy. I’m available for women’s workshops and conferences.
P.S. Check out Dr. Thompson’s video about her book.
P.P.S. Dr. Thompson is also featured in my book!