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6 Must Read Books for Healing and Breaking Cycles of Generational Trauma

June 9, 2022

Expecting Mother Reads Book on Couch - Diary of an Honest Mom

The ONLY way I have time to read!

Why is Breaking The Cycle Important?​

Breaking cycles of trauma is the hardest and most important work I will do in my life. I knew entering adulthood that the life I had growing up was not normal, but I didn’t know the extent of the impact it had on me, my personality, my triggers and my ability to cope with life. 

When I became a mom, I had so many intentions about the kind of mom I wanted to be, AKA the “good” kind. 

But what I didn’t know was how hard that would be given how few tools I had to work with to regulate my emotions in a healthy way, to admit when I needed help, and to cope with the constant onslaught of stressors as a mom. 

You don’t know until you know:

that the sound of your kids voices will trigger a fight or flight response,

that you will feel anger like you have never experienced in your life and have nowhere to put it,

that sleep deprivation will cause you to think and do things you never imagined you would,

that your hyper independence will be a roadblock to reaching out for support,  

that becoming a mom will reopen all your childhood wounds in so many ways,  

that the shame you feel over all the ways you aren’t prepared will isolate you even more than you are already isolated as a new parent,

that the stress of parenthood would be heavier because of all the ways you were not parented,

that your love for your children won’t be enough to make you the mom you want to be.

…The last one was the hardest for me.

Becoming a mom made me realize just how much therapy I needed if I wanted to break the cycle of emotional neglect, abuse and trauma that had been going on in my family for generations in one capacity or another. 

And while therapy has helped me a lot, the following books have also been incredible tools for my healing and my ability to make changes in my family. 

Whether you are at the beginning of your healing & cycle breaking journey or well into it, you’ll be sure to find a gem in here to guide you and let you know you are not alone. 

Disclaimer: The following list of books is not intended to replace critical supports like therapy or crisis response centres. If you are struggling to cope day-to-day, or think that you may need help, I strongly believe that anyone who feels they may need support should seek the help of a qualified health care professional – they were and are vital in my own journey, and are trained to find the right support for each person’s unique and individual care. If you are in crisis – know there are many compassionate and expert teams available to help you. If you need help you deserve it, and can get it. Please also note that when purchasing these books through the links provided I may receive a small commission.

6 Books for Generational Trauma: Healing and Breaking the Cycle

1. It Didn’t Start With You: Books For generational trauma Healing and Cycle Breaking

Author Mark Wolynn will introduce you to the concept of inherited family trauma in his book “It Didn’t Start with You”. 

The premise of this research is that instead of personal difficulties stemming from a chemical imbalance in the brain or lived experiences, they come from previous generations of trauma. 

That’s right – your great-grandmother’s trauma could be the reason you’re dealing with obsessive thoughts or chronic pain currently. The book will also provide you with the guide to his method ‘The Core Language Approach’ and will assist you in resolving your generational trauma with various techniques, diagnostic self-inventories and visualisations.

You can purchase it here.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

2. The Body Keeps The Score: Books For Generational Trauma Healing and Cycle Breaking

Living with trauma is more common than you might think. As you may have experienced, it also has the ability to prevent you from trusting others, experiencing pleasure and having self-control. “The Body Keeps the Score” by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk explains how trauma can literally change the shape of your brain and body and provides various treatments and pathways to healing, allowing you to reclaim your life. Dr. van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with trauma survivors as a psychiatrist, researcher and educator, so you can trust the information within these pages was written by an expert you can trust. 

You can purchase it here.

3. Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: Books For Generational Trauma Healing and Cycle Breaking

Being raised with a roof over our heads and food in our bellies is important, but so is having a strong emotional connection to our parents. 

Clinical Psychologist Lindsay Gibson wrote the book “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” to introduce the reader to the 4 types of difficult parents, how your parent’s destructive actions/inactions have shaped you, and the ways in which you can heal and create positive new relationships moving forward.

You can purchase it here.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life

4. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life

As moms, we give and give and give until there is nothing left. Part of breaking the cycle is acknowledging that this is an unhealthy pattern and breaking it.

We’ve often been taught that to give everything we have is how to show our family that we love them and that our family’s negative emotions were our problem to solve; Then if we can’t, we’re a bad mom. 

“Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud teaches you how you can set boundaries while still showing up as a loving and supportive mother. This book will show you why you are not responsible for your child or spouse’s emotions, when and how to create healthy limits and the tools you need to practice them in your daily life. 

You can purchase it here.

5. The Emotionally Absent Mother: Books For Generational Trauma Healing and Cycle Breaking

Both experiencing abuse at the hand of your mother and being unmothered can have lasting, harmful effects on you that you might not attribute to these experiences. 

“The Emotionally Absent Mother” was written by Psychotherapist Jasmin Lee Cori to help you understand possible reasons your mother parented you the way she did, discover your inner child and fill the ‘mother gap’ with reflections and exercises, and show you how to move forward and live a happier life, possibly doing the same for your children as well.

You can purchase it here.

How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self

6. How to Do the Work: Books For Trauma Healing and Cycle Breaking

Clinical psychologist Dr. Nicole LePera provides a holistic approach to healing, moving away from traditional psychotherapy and introducing the philosophy that mind, body and spirit are connected and need to be healed together. 

How to Do the Work” will teach you how to escape the behavioural cycles brought on by adverse childhood experiences and trauma, as well as provide the tools necessary to heal, allowing you to live a vibrant, healthy, happy life. 

This book will empower you to take control of your mental health and practice self-care in a way you never have before.

You can purchase it here.

Healing From Generational Trauma is Possible

I hope that reading even just one of these books will empower you and give you confidence in knowing that you are not alone and healing is possible. We all want to be ‘good’ moms.

We all love our kids. Being the best mom you can be starts with healing your inner child. Please know that no trauma is too small. You CAN break the cycle. You CAN repair or resolve childhood trauma. You CAN be ‘the good mom’ and live a happier, more fulfilled life. 

I wish you all the best on your healing journey as I continue on through mine. 

Leave a comment if you have found some help within the pages of these books and don’t forget to join my Honest Mom’s Inner Circle where you’ll get valuable motherhood, mental health and trauma tidbits in your inbox, and first glance at what I am up to next.

Libby Ward standing in a green field with trees around her, slightly smiling

- Libby

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7 Responses

  1. Is there a particular order you would recommend reading these in? Or a book you would start with first? I’m a new mom and I realized recently I’ve got some trauma to deal with if I’m going to parent her and love her in a healthy way. I’m starting therapy but your posts on Facebook really spoke to me. Thank you for putting yourself out there.

  2. I read a couple of these books while I was in school. I will definitely be reading the rest on this list! It’s funny. I became a therapist to help other people. What I didn’t know was that the road to becoming a therapist would also include facing myself as a mother and healing parts of me that I didn’t realize needed to be healed. It’s an ongoing process that takes so much work. But it’s worth it. I am so happy that I have found someone that says what I’m thinking and portrays how I’m feeling as a mom. You’re awesome. Thank you for your vulnerability!

    1. Hey Tamara!!

      Thank you so much for your vulnerability as well, in sharing a part of your journey with us here.
      We all need to be more honest in order to make each other feel less alone!
      Thanks for being here!


  3. Hi Libby,
    My new novel, At the Seams, explores generational loss in a family that’s very good at repressing it. I came across your website and thought that you might be interested in reading/mentioning the book. It’s a coming-of-age story about a little girl who confronts family secrets and investigates them when she grows up to be a journalist. It’s based on true events. (I’m a long-time journalist, and this is my first novel, published by Open Books). Here’s the link to my website if you’d like to know more:
    I’m happy to send you a book or ebook.
    Thanks so much, and all best,
    Pamela Gwyn Kripke

    1. Hi Pamela,
      Congratulations on the publication of your novel, what an exciting opportunity! 🙂

      Thank you for sharing!


  4. Breaking free from the chains of the past is an empowering journey, and these recommendations are a guiding light for anyone seeking transformation and resilience. I’m excited to explore these reads and embark on a path of healing. Knowledge is indeed a powerful tool for change.

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