Book Review- How We Love Our Kids

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I was so excited to receive "How We Love Our Kids" in the mail. Its my first parenting book review, and I was eager to dive in. This book by Milan and Kay Yerkovich did not disappoint!

The premise of the book is that it explores 5 Love Styles of parenting. I've been through Gary Smalley's 5 Love Languages and have found those to be extremely helpful in my marriage, so I was interested in applying the same principle to parenting. Gia is now at the full-blown toddler two's stage, and she is definitely exposing multiple areas in which our parenting skills need some work. 

The book is honest and hard-hitting from the very beginning-- something I greatly appreciate. What can I say? I'm a realist. They write that God has wired us from the very beginning for connectivity (HELLO, oxytocin- my favorite hormone) and "God's miraculous design involves an inherent readiness to connect with and be shaped by our caregivers." But just because that is at the core of who we are doesn't mean that its easy-- for the child or the parent. 

Milan tells a story about how some instances of sock stealing by his children set him off, exposing anger within him that was surprising. He goes on to write that 'the very presence of children exposes messes in parents' lives." In fact, he spends a good deal of the first chapters talking about this idea. Not only are kids messy, but they have a tendency to expose our own messes! Oh, how true that is. This thought alone has challenged me to stop and think about things that trigger intense reactions in parenting... is it really about Gia's behavior? Or does it have more to do with me (my preferences, my habits, my triggers, etc). Often as parents, we have the tendency to think we are right, simply by nature of our position. But we know this isn't really the truth... we are just as flawed as the children we are leading, both in need of a heavenly Father to point us to the truth. When we can face the music that we're not perfect people or parents, we're in a good place to start parenting our kids with more love and compassion.  Yerkovich writes: "If there weren't any kids around, I would look pretty good most of the time. There would be far less opportunity for my weaknesses to be exposed. But every child increases the chances of exposure and failure exponentially in ways that confound and frustrate me to no end. Kids have a natural knack for revealing the things we like least about ourselves." Oh how true that is! Yerkovich likens this tendency in our children to a coach who points out weaknesses... our children point spotlights on places we need to grown in our lives. This isn't a bad thing, its just the way it is. And what we do with those "spotlight" moments can have a huge effect on our children and the effectiveness with which we parent them. 

After a great introduction, the next section of this book explores the different types of parents: the avoider, the pleaser, the vacillator, the controller, and the victim. Each section gives real-life scenarios in which the characteristics could play out, as well as an assessment to determine if this fits you. It then gives recommendations for parenting each age group- baby, preschool, adolescent- as well as how to co-parent with someone who is each particular type. Finally, each chapter gives growth goals. I found this style of breaking down each segment incredibly helpful and even a great resource to refer back to through the years. I was easily able to pick out my style of parenting and identified (almost painfully) with the areas in which growth is needed. But it was good to have the growth areas written out with clear and practical plans of attack. I found this to be the most helpful section of the entire book. 

Other parts of the book focus on the different types of kids, and how to help them thrive in their personalities. It also dedicated time to unique children- the introvert, free-spirit, determined, sensitive, and premature child. The final section of this book focuses on gifts we can give our children... comfort, laughter, power, etc. While I found parts of this book to be a bit clinical and technical (both are counselors) at times, the information and direction provided are highly valuable and applicable. I would highly recommend this book to parents of kids of any age! This is one of the few books I have found that specifically speaks to parenting young toddlers and even babies, which I greatly appreciated!

You can preview or buy this book on Amazon.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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