I really enjoyed this book. Lots of truth I already knew, lots of truth I needed to be reminded of.
A few favorite passages:
In that place of feeling as though everything I had put my trust in was crumbling, God opened up my eyes to see how I had trusted in my good decisions instead of in God himself. My Christianity had been about doing everything right and following the rules instead of about having a relationship with Jesus. As my loving and good Father (and the ultimate love-centered Father), He began transforming my heart to show me that I didn’t need to rely upon my good works, my good choices, or a good life for my security. He was enough. He loves me. And I could rest in that.
That’s why I wrote this book. I know that so many of you need a new way, when it feels like there’s no way. Here’s what I came to learn, and the truth that changed everything: I realized that most of my parenting had been about me. I was parenting for my own approval and reputation instead of for my relationship with my kids and for their well-being. I cared more about what others thought than I did about my kids’ hearts. I worried more about producing kids who made good decisions than about kids who knew they were wholeheartedly loved. I parented from a place of stress and fear instead of from a place of rest and peace. I thought it was my job to bubble wrap and protect my kids from struggle and hurt. I was trying to be their Savior and Holy Spirit instead of their nurturing, love-centered parent who pointed them to their Savior and gently led them to listen well to the voice of the Holy Spirit. God allowed me to hit rock bottom so that He could help me relearn how to parent.
You can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t love your kids well if you don’t believe you are fully loved yourself.
Love-centered parenting is not about making all the right choices, doing everything perfectly, or never making mistakes. Love-centered parenting is about wholeheartedly loving our kids because we know how much we are wholeheartedly loved by God.
Lies kill. Truth heals.
It’s so tempting to spend our days as parents trying to save our kids from hard things, but our job is not to be our kids’ rescuer but to point them to Jesus. We can set an example and teach them right from wrong, but we can’t ultimately make them do the right thing or make the God-honoring choice—especially as they get older.
Treating our kids like they are a task to tackle or a project to persevere through will only hurt everyone in the long run. Our kids are not written objectives on a to-do list; they are human souls! Let’s begin instead to view parenting as a lifelong role we are called to fulfill. And more than that, it’s a high and holy calling. It’s the pouring into and shaping of future lives and generations.
Letting go means not only allowing our kids space to grow up, to take more responsibility, and to have more freedom, it also means letting go of what we thought life might look like, what our hopes and dreams might have been for our family, and loving our kids even when they make big mistakes or have different viewpoints than we do.
The beauty of these choices to lean in and love, to listen well, to lead with humility, and to let go are that they are not dependent upon our kids’ choices, responses, or actions. Loving well doesn’t require our child to obey, to be kind, or to love us back.
Our kids don’t need our productivity. They need our presence.
As a result of my conversations with them on that road trip, I’ve been prioritizing listening, paying attention, noticing, and genuinely caring about what my kids care about. It requires effort, sacrifice, and time. But I truly believe it’s one of the best investments I can make right now.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes. It’s so easy for us to forget that our kids are often carrying heavy burdens too. Sometimes we can be so focused on our world and what we’re carrying that we lose sight of what they might be sad or stressed about.
Relationships are about showing up consistently, in the good and bad, the monumental and the boring.
Here’s what I’m reminding myself: Look into their eyes. Pay attention to what’s really going on in their heart. And be willing to bend the bedtime rules a little sometimes in favor of communicating to a child how much they are loved. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Let’s stop focusing on trying to parent perfectly and instead focus on just showing up—even if it’s a simple ten-minute conversation.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your child, and one of the best ways to improve your communication with them, is to study them and learn how they are wired. No child is exactly the same.
This is what love-centered parenting is all about. It’s not about always having the right responses or always making all the right choices all the time. It’s about loving our kids, walking with them, and being honest and humble enough to admit our shortcomings and struggles.