by Suzanne Maggio
As a licensed therapist, she could have remained at a distance when viewing her own family history and settled for a life of helping others unpack the dysfunctional relationships in their lives. Instead, she dove headlong into discovering the answer to one of the most painful, yet sadly common questions many of us face: why can’t we seem to please our parents, or in Maggio’s case, her mother?
By laying the foundation of her youth as the oldest of four kids in an Italian-American family in New Jersey, Maggio shows the dynamics that shaped her family into a rigid hierarchy where conformity was confused with loyalty. Her mother was a bright, hard-working person who herself conformed to the social mores that encouraged the outward appearance of a family’s success and achievement over what might be best for her children, a parenting style typical for that era. Everyone played a role, even if that meant subverting their own personalities to some degree.
Maggio demonstrates that rigidity through deft descriptions of the silences in which seismic family events could not be discussed, even the earth-shaking moments when her mother’s dementia became apparent.
Maggio’s honesty helps the rest of us look anew at the dysfunctions in our own upbringings As the author points out, that willingness to reassess our family relationships ultimately leads to understanding, acceptance and peace. That we aren’t crazy. That despite a lot of happiness, some not so good things happen in all families. That while our relationships with parents may not be ideal, we at least come to understand how they came about.
Beautiful and very helpful!
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BLISS ROAD , a memoir, June 2023
THE FALCON, THE WOLF AND THE HUMMINGBIRD, a historical novel, Sept. 19, 2023