Parenting and God’s Love For Me
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What you truly believe about God’s love will affect how you parent your kids. Crystal Paine addresses our self talk and how to love our kids where they are.
Parenting and God’s Love For Me
Crystal: I don’t believe that we can love our kids well if we don’t believe we’re loved ourselves. I think it’s easy for us to say, “Oh, yes! I know God loves me”; but do you truly believe that in the day in and day out?
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson; and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
I can remember when we had two teenagers in the house—the other one wasn’t quite a teenager—but I can remember there was this atmosphere with the boys that I felt like, “I’m bugging them a lot,”—like—“They’re irritated with me a lot.”
Dave: And they were irritated with me at times.
Ann: Yes; and I didn’t know if that was a teenage thing, or I was doing something; so we sat down at the dinner table one night, and I said, “Guys, I would like to really just have you be truthful with me and tell me: ‘Is there anything that I’m doing that’s really bugging you right now?’”
And the oldest one, who’s very truthful/he said, “Well, yes! There are some things that you’re doing that are bugging me.” I’m like, “Oh, okay; let’s hear it.” And he said, “I think it’s so irritating that you’re constantly telling me when to go to bed at night,”—I think he was 15 or 16—he said, “You’re on me all the time, like: ‘Is your homework done?’ ‘You need to get to bed; you have a test tomorrow,’ or ‘You have practice tomorrow; you need to go to bed.’” He said, “I think I’m old enough that I should be able to determine that myself.” I said, “Okay; that’s legitimate. You’re right; you’re old enough that you can make those choices. What else?”
And he said, “I just think it’s the dumbest rule that girls can’t be here with me alone when you and dad are gone.” And I said, “Oh, okay; well, that’s not changing [Laughter]; but let’s talk about it”; you know?
I think that’s a great thing to do once in a while, just to talk to your kids about what’s going on if I feel tension between us.
Dave: Yes, and you know, obviously, one of the hardest things to do is parent. [Laughter] It’s awesome; it’s wonderful; it’s really, really hard—conversations like that, you know; the toddler stage—you name it.
Ann: And you’re constantly analyzing yourself, like, “Am I doing this right? I don’t know!”
Dave: Yes, and you need help. So we’ve got help in the studio today with Crystal Paine; she’s back with us again. You wrote a book called Love-Centered Parenting. We’re really glad to have you back; welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Crystal: Thank you so much for having me back.
Ann: The subtitle of Crystal’s book is: The No-Fail Guide to Launching Your Kids.
Dave: —which everybody wants a no-fail guide; you know. I think many people know you as The Money-Saving Mom; right?
Dave: Is that what it is?—MoneySavingMom.com.
Dave: But you’ve written a book called Money-Making Mom.
Ann: Dave wants me to read this; he’s like, “Can you not make some money for us?!—[Laughter]—or save some money?”
Dave: I’m fascinated by that, which is awesome. And you’re a New York Times best-selling author, so—
Ann: But more importantly, she’s the mom—
Dave: —you’re a mom!
Ann: —of four kids; and you’re fostering one right now.
Ann: Your oldest is 16; your youngest is 1.
Ann: You are doing it, girl! Way to go!
Dave: Yes! I don’t even know how you get time to write. [Laughter] I mean—not only are you a mom, and wife, and children—but you’ve got foster kids, and they’re small.
Dave: Way to go!
Crystal: God is just so faithful when you step out and say, “Yes,” to something that He’s calling you to. He takes your five loaves and two fish, and He just expands it far beyond what you could ever dream.
Dave: Yes; that’s a great way to say it.
And we’ve already covered, this week, the story of—as the book opens up, man, you are so honest! —you end up with a child, who’s suicidal; you end up in an ER and then counseling.
Dave: So where we’ve already been is—you realized, even through that whole thing—that you were sort of parenting based on what people thought of you/reputation.
Dave: And then you have a transformation that takes place—not in a day, but over time—to love-centered parenting; obviously, the title of your book. What is love-centered parenting? We know what reputation-centered parenting is—[Laughter]—I think we’ve all done it!—but what’s love-centered?
Crystal: For me, it really had to go back to understanding how much I’m loved by God; because I don’t believe that we can love our kids well if we don’t believe we’re loved ourselves. I think it’s easy for us to say, “Oh, yes! I know God loves me”; but do you truly believe that in the day in and day out?
When something happens, where you’ve made a mistake, what are your first words to yourself?—“Oh, I’m such a failure! I’m always failing!” Are you constantly saying things to yourself that are derogatory, that are putting yourself down, that are not what God says about you?
I realized that I carry around these lies—because that’s what they are—that I believed of not being good enough: that I was a failure; that I was a disappointment to those closest to me. I carried those around, and those became my labels that I wore and that I led with. So in every situation—when I would walk into a room, or how I was parenting, or in my marriage, or in relationships, or in my business—it was all about letting those lies cloud the way that I lived. I wasn’t living as loved.
Ann: I think it’s really—I think this point is huge—to come to an understanding and, even, a realization in thinking through: “What do I think? What is my self-talk?”
Ann: I gave a talk to women one time—because I realized I wasn’t the only one who was having this negative [thinking] like: “Oh, you shouldn’t have done that! You’re a failure!” or “You’re dumb,” or “You’re a bad mom,”—I took these sticky notes, and I just wrote these derogatory words; I stuck them all over myself. I said, “I really didn’t realize that this is what I’m thinking all day long.”
Ann: Other moms were saying, “Me too.” How did you realize this was what was happening in your mind?
Crystal: Well, it really goes back to when the therapist said to me, “I feel like you’re trying so hard to fix your child. What would it look to walk with them instead?” And I dug into where that was coming from. I realized it was: I was chasing after affirmation from other people and even from God! I felt like I wasn’t enough; that was rooted in the fact that I didn’t believe that I was truly loved.
And I was listening to a podcast—it was the Trim Healthy Mama podcast—they had a guest on. She was talking about this negative self-talk; and she said that a question she started asking herself was: “How would loved-me live?” “How would loved-me act?” That just really hit me; because I knew, in that moment, as I was hearing that:
I don’t believe, truly to the depths of my soul, that I’m loved. I can say it; but in my everyday life, how I’m living, I’m not living from that. So how would it change the way that I walk into a room: that I interact with other people—that I parent—if I believed that I am truly and whole-heartedly loved by the Creator of the universe?—because I am!
And what does God say about me?—He says I’m redeemed; I’m chosen; I’m beautiful; I’m forgiven; I’m loved! And if I can camp in that, I don’t have to be trying to get that from other people.
It completely changes the way that I parent; because then, I can just rest in God’s love for me, and let His love flow out of me, to my kids; so then, if they’ve made a mistake, I don’t have to be thinking, “Oh, my goodness! What is So-and-so going to be thinking?”; or playing it out in fear of how this mistake is going to affect them in the future; or be frustrated with them, because this mistake is going to really mess things up in our life.”
Like I talked about, so much of the way that we parent is rooted in our pride, and our fear, and our selfishness; but I can just love them in that moment because of how much I am loved. I can let God’s love flow through me to that child, and it really changes the way that I approach my child; because I’m approaching them from this posture of knowing how much I am loved, resting in that love, and then loving them right where they are.
Dave: Walk us through that process—because I’m guessing that you didn’t read a couple verses one night and: “Oh, I am loved!”—how did you replace the lies? I’m guessing it took a while.
Crystal: It did; it was definitely a process. I would say it was a two-year process of, one, realizing that I was believing these lies; because you first have to recognize that.
Crystal: But then, I had to replace them.
It was this actual process of: I would hear something in my head. A lot of times, I’m doing my makeup or my hair in the morning—and I’d be thinking back and psychoanalyzing some conversation I’d had or something that had happened—and I would hear that: “You’re a failure,” or “You really messed that up.”
To call out first, “That’s a lie!” if I’m believing. Now, maybe I made a mistake; maybe I need to own something. But that doesn’t mean I am a mistake. Maybe I did fail in something, but that doesn’t mean that I am a failure. So calling out the lie and saying, “That’s a lie!” I would literally, verbally say, “That’s a lie.” It might sound cheesy, but I think claiming that so that I am basically saying, “No! That does not have power over me. That’s a lie!”
Then: “What is the truth?” Let’s say that I had responded in anger toward my child the day before about a situation. Then, the next morning, I’m thinking about it; and I’m just like, “Ugh! I’m just failing as a mom!” “No; that’s a lie! What is the truth? ‘Well, yesterday, I got angry at my child; and I need to go back and ask forgiveness.’ But that doesn’t change the fact that I am loved by my Creator; He loves me so much! I can trust Him that He has given me everything that I need to love my child well/to walk with my child well: ‘I am not failing as a parent. I’m going to go ask my child’s forgiveness; I’m going to ask God to forgive me, and I’m going to rest in how much I’m loved by Him.’”
It was a two-year process of recognizing the lies, calling out a lie, and then replacing it with the truth.
Dave: Well, what’s really interesting is, you know, when you look at a title like Love-Centered Parenting, you think it’s about the child: “I’m going to love my child.” And you flipped it—it’s so beautiful—it’s like: “No, no, no—obviously, you’re going to love your child—but you can’t unless you experience and overflow the love of God”; right? That’s the whole idea?
Crystal: Yes; and I think, so often, we just want to get to the quick fix.
Crystal: And really being willing to do the hard, heart work—that’s where the change happens!
Dave: Hard heart.
Ann: That’s good!
Crystal: Because we can’t, ultimately, change our kids.
Ann: We want to! [Laughter]
Crystal: We exhaust ourselves, trying to be their Savior and Holy Spirit, but that’s only going to leave us feeling like a failure; because we weren’t called to be their Savior or their Holy Spirit. We can focus on changing, and growing, and doing that work to uproot those lies, and then living in that freedom toward our kids. I think that that is one of the most powerful things: is them seeing God’s love through us!
Because think about the example that we’re setting for our kids—if we say, “Jesus loves you; Jesus loves me. We’re so loved by God,”—we sing about His love; we read the verses about His love; and then, on a day-to-day basis, our kids hear us speaking all this negativity toward ourselves!
Crystal: We’re not setting an example of what it looks like to live as loved.
Ann: Well, in your book, you talk about life-giving choices that we make as love-centered parents. Let’s talk about those a little bit.
Dave: And I love it, because I’m a preacher, and they all start with the letter “L”; [Laughter] so it works for me!
Ann: Yes; the first one you talk about is “Lean in and love.” Is this what you’re talking about?
Crystal: Yes; so for me, it’s when there’s a situation that you need to address on the micro-level or the macro-level. We can take these life-giving choices instead of trying to fix our child; because I think that’s so much of what we want to go to—you know, just that bubble wrapping, that over-protecting,—
Ann: Oh, yes!
Crystal: —that fixing our kids—so what can we do?
In the book, I talk about: “Lean in and love,” “Listen well,” “Lead with humility,” and “Let go.” All of those four choices are things that [are] not dependent upon our child’s behavior; they’re not dependent upon our child’s choices; they’re not dependent upon the end result. They’re just about our heart and how we walk with our kids. This has really changed things for me.
And it was interesting, because when I was writing this book, I actually asked on Instagram®—I’m The Money Saving Mom on Instagram—and I asked on my Instagram stories for people to fill in the blank: “My job as a parent is to blank.” I got hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of responses. I would say that 98-99 percent of the responses are things that, ultimately, you have no control over as a parent.
Ann: Like what? Give us some examples.
Crystal: So: “My job, as a parent, is to raise kids, who have strong character,” “…who get great jobs,” and “…who go to heaven.” I mean, when we start thinking about it, a lot of times, that’s how we view our job as a parent: is to be their Savior and the Holy Spirit! [Laughter] So no wonder we’re walking around, feeling so exhausted and burdened; because we’re trying to be God in their life. We can’t control! We can set a great example for them; we can talk with them; we can, you know, give them opportunities to learn these things; but we can’t change our kids’ hearts.
For me, it was thinking, “What can I do?” “Well, I can lean in and love; I can listen well; I can lead with humility; and ultimately, let go.”
Ann: Yes—that listening well—I know that when our son was, I think he was 28—when he came back to me; and he said, “Mom, I really wish that, when I was in high school, you would have listened to what was going on in my life, deeper in my heart.” I was like, “What do you mean?” He said, “I just feel like you were so concerned with what I wasn’t or was doing, in terms of partying, in terms of girls, in terms of who I was hanging out with. I feel like you were lecturing me so much about that; but you weren’t wondering, like, ‘Why are you so tempted here?’ ‘What’s going on in your heart that you want to be accepted by anyone?’”
I remember going to bed that night, thinking, “Oh, he’s so right,” because I was parenting out of fear. I think, if I had it to do again, I would do that: I would lean in and love, and I would listen well. Now, I don’t know if he would have had the capacity, at that time, to say, “Oh, well, my heart is so torn; because I want to be loved by people.” I’m not sure he could have gone there—but I think just to put aside the rules, the regulations, what he was or wasn’t doing appropriately—I wish I would have just connected more with his heart.
Dave: Yes; and you know, as I’m looking at—you had ten practical ways to lean in and love—you’ve already said, really, the idea of it—but one of it was just simple: “Stop, look, and listen. [Laughter] They don’t need our productivity.”
Ann: It’s the fire drill!
Dave: Yes! I mean, “Stop, look, and listen.” They don’t need our productivity; they need our presence. That’s what, you know, one of our sons was saying to you; he said it to me as well.
I think it’s so easy as a parent: you get so busy; you are concerned about their behavior—right or wrong, you are; and it’s part of our job—but man, oh man! They really do long just to be; right? We’ve sort of got to figure out ways to be, sometimes, when they’re teenagers; they’re pulling away.
It’s like—you know, I remember with my sons—I knew what they were interested in; so if I wanted to spend time with them, all I had to do was connect to that interest: “Hey, CJ! You want to go to Best Buy®?” “Yes!”—you know—“Are you going to buy me something?”—because he was a tech guy; each one was different.
It was real easy, as a dad, to pull back—because they were pulling away, which they obviously should—but the other side is like: “No; pursue, pursue, pursue in their sort of world,” because they may not be saying it or showing it, but they really do long for your presence; right?
Crystal: Yes; well, I think, you know, when we’re pursuing from a heart of wanting them to know how much we value them, wanting them to know how much we care about them; but it’s not pursuing them to be like: “Checking up on you!
Crystal: “Are you doing the right thing?”; you know.
Crystal: “Are you following the rules?”
Dave: They’ll sniff that out.
Crystal: But pursuing them: “I just want to be with you,” “I just want to sit with you.” I think as our kids get older, I’ve just noticed—just going and sitting with them—
Crystal: —or like you talked about—“You know, what’s something…” One of my daughters loves to shop. I am not a shopper!—I mean, “Hello! Money Saving Mom—[Laughter]—that’s not my thing! She loves to go to the mall; and so to just say, “Hey, do you want to go to the mall with me?” We didn’t have to buy anything!—
Dave: She’s going to say, “Yes.”
Crystal: —just being together.
Food is another thing; when they’re teenagers, it’s like—
Crystal: —I feel like any time you’re like: “Taco Bell®?” Sonic®?”—whatever—
Crystal: —you know, just say, “Hey, do you want to go get something?” It speaks love to them, and so looking for those ways.
So many times, I’m talking to moms, and they’ll say, “I just don’t know how to connect with my child; we have no interests that overlap.” Don’t look for the interests that overlap; you go get interested—
Ann: —in their world.
Crystal: —in what they’re interested in.
I’m learning how to play “Rocket Leap” right now; I’m terrible at it/terrible at it.
Dave: What is this?
Crystal: It’s a video game—
Crystal: —with my son. I’m horrible at it! But his friends now want to play with me, [Laughter] even though I’m so terrible. I think it’s just because it’s like: “Oh, this cool thing! Your mom’s going to play with us?” But just to be able to step into his world. Now, when he’s talking about that, I can understand it more.
We were talking about some baseball thing earlier that I actually knew something about. I don’t play baseball; but I watch the YouTube videos with my son, and I learn these things. So then, he can come to me and share something; and I’m like, “Oh, yes! I know what you’re talking about,” because, even though it’s not something that is my interest, I’ve become interested in it.
It feels like it can take so much time—but even just checking in with them, and stepping into their world, and caring about what they care about—it’s like you’re making these little deposits—
Crystal: —into relationship. Then they start coming to you, and they start telling you things, and just offering up information when you didn’t even ask/that you didn’t even know anything about; because you’ve set that place where they feel secure with you.
Dave: Yes; it’s funny—the other day, I don’t know if you remember this [Ann]—something came up in our photos, you know, three years ago/ten years ago. Remember?—the picture came up of me playing dodgeball—
Ann: Oh, yes.
Dave: —with one of my sons in this tournament; I think he was in middle school.
Ann: No, he was in high school.
Dave: He was in high school, but it was early high school. I have a headband on; I’m painted up. I mean, I just look like an old man trying to be [cool]. And you [Ann] were like, “What were you doing?” I’m like, “There it is!”—I was doing what Crystal said; I was leaning in and loving him—I mean, really, it was one of those things, where he said, “Dad, play with us.”
Ann: —because he knows you’re really good at it.
Dave: There’s a part of—a lot of dads would say, “No, that’s your thing; you should do it.” And I get it!—there are times where it is their thing—but it was one of those: “No, this is probably a memory worth pursuing”; and it was!
Ann: Well, it’s interesting, too, as you were talking, Crystal, I thought, just like you, Dave, of the hundreds of rebound basketballs I threw back to my son out in the driveway. We would just talk, and then his friends would come over, and I’m rebounding for all of them. [Laughter] And then we would go out to lunch; and in that lunch time, I remember purposely thinking, “I’m only going to speak life into him. I’m going to tell him how great he is. I’m going to tell him the gifts that he has. I’m going to tell him how I anticipate how God’s going to use him.”
It was always interesting—as teenagers, I could feel a distance—but after that time of being in their world, and then kind of just speaking life over them, I felt like we were reconnected. And isn’t that what our kids long for? And that’s what we long for as parents.
Dave: Yes, and I would just say: “Mom,” or “Dad, go shopping today with your kid,” “Go rebound some balls.”
Ann: “Play video games.”
Dave: “Go play dodgeball, video games,”—whatever it is. You know, we’re old enough to know that you’re going to blink, and they’re gone. You really are going to blink and you’re like, “Where did the time go?” You have today or this week; I would just say, “Get it done.”
Bob: That’s great coaching from Dave and Ann Wilson today, along with our guest, Crystal Paine, talking about our involvement in our kids’ lives. When was the last time you had one-on-one time with one of your children where you weren’t correcting them?—where you were affirming them, encouraging them, cheering them on, asking them questions about their lives. All of us, as parents, need to be making that investment; because as Dave Wilson just said, we blink; and they are gone.
There’s a great resource that Crystal Paine has written to help us, as parents, think about how we can intentionally love our kids; it’s a book called Love-Centered Parenting. It’s a book we’re making available this week to FamilyLife Today listeners. Those of you who’d like a copy, if you can help us with a donation to support the ongoing work of this ministry, we’d love to send you a copy of Crystal’s book.
FamilyLife Today is here to provide practical biblical help and hope for your marriage and your family. Every day, there are hundreds of thousands of people, who are coming to us, looking for biblical answers to the questions they’re facing, looking for encouragement and fresh hope. And you make that possible for yourself and for others when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
If you’re a long-time listener, and you’ve never made a donation, or if it’s been a while since you supported this ministry, reach out to us today. Make a donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call to donate at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; our number is 1-800-358-6329; 1-800-FL-TODAY. Be sure to ask for your copy of Crystal Paine’s book, Love-Centered Parenting, when you get in touch with us.
Now, tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson will continue the conversation with Crystal Paine, talking about what it looks like when our love for our children has to get tough. I mean, that’s part of parenting; right? Sometimes, we’ve got to get tough with them; so what is that tough love supposed to look like? We’ll hear from them tomorrow about that. I hope you can be with us.
On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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