How We Love Our Kids by Milan and Kay Yerkovich was really interesting. The jist of it is that perhaps your children aren't the problem, like many other parenting books suggest. Perhaps not problem but if you change your children, then the problems go away. How We Love Our Kids suggests that perhaps we parents are the problem.
It discusses five love styles (not to be confused with The Five Love Languages): avoider, pleaser, vacillator, controller, and victim. I leaned toward the vacillator. I have a push and pull with my children. Either I'm distracted or preoccupied OR I work toward closeness. Not necessarily a bad thing but I must be careful that when I'm distracted that I don't lash out at my children for wanting my attention. Also, I need to realize the consequences of such a push and pull relationship on my children and their future relationships. Children learn so much from their parents, whether they like it or not.
"Vacillators feel good when they get attention, connection, and validation, and therefore feel wanted, seen, and special. They feel angry and miserable when they feel unwanted, unseen, unimportant, lonely, or abandoned." I cannot tell you how much that sounds like the woman in my mirror. We vacillators send our kids mixed messages: "Come here, sweetie, I need a hug." / "Not now, I'm busy. Go play." and "How could I possibly live without you? / "Why can't you learn to be alone? You're driving me crazy." I may not say those exact things but I see how I send those same signals to my kids.
Each chapter discusses how to help yourself as a parent, no matter your love style. And then how to help your partner if you're parenting with another love style.
I like that How We Love Our Kids also put our children into these roles of avoider, pleaser, vacillator, controller and victim children. Plus they had a chapter about unique children: introverted, free-spirited (have one of those), determined, sensitive, and premature. So many wonderful insights into my children!
Part 4: The Healing Journey for Parents and Children was wonderful to speak to my mothering heart about the gifts of insight, comfort, power, frustration, confession, laughter, and God: the perfect parent.
I really enjoyed how the book wasn't about the "right" way to parent. Each love style had pros and cons - we are naturally adept to one or two specific ways to parent but we just need to be aware of certain characteristics of those ways that will affect our child. I loved their "Soul Words" idea - basically a thesaurus of emotions to help children really understand what they are feeling.
A major part of this book is about self awareness. I realize sometimes I don't know exactly what I feel - I want to help my children really KNOW what they are feeling. Are they happy? Or are they elated? Are they mad? Or are they frustrated? Sometimes we group feelings into happy, sad, mad when there is a whole spectrum out there. "Experts have clearly concluded that parents who train their children to have higher EQs (emotional quotients) will be way ahead of their peers socially and academically and, as they grow up, will be more secure and capable spouses and parents." Sounds great, right? It's easy, though, to just lump your kids' emotions into happy, sad, mad. But really try to dig down deep into those tantrums and help them learn how they feel.
I have several pages dog-eared in this book. I need to continually go back to read it, so that I really use what material I learned and feel will be useful in our lives. Again, this was just a superb book. Well written, really useable in life, and easy to read and understand.