Mrs. Brooke McGlothlin: I knew in that moment as God whispered to my heart, the same as you and I are talking right now, that God was speaking to me. And He said this to me. He said, “Brooke, don’t give up. These boys need someone to fight for them and I have chosen that person to be you.”
John Fuller: That’s Brooke McGlothlin sharing about the tremendous significance God gives you as the mom of a boy. She’s our guest on today’s Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Thanks for listening. I’m John Fuller.
End of Excerpt
Jim Daly: Hey, if you’re a parent of a boy, you’re gonna love today’s program, because we are going to talk about how to inspire young boys to become men of God. And I’ll tell you what, now more than ever – I’ve got two teenage boys. Now more than ever, we need to be very intentional about raising those sons to be men of God. And that’s why we’re here at Focus on the Family to put this kind of a resource in your hands and to have this discussion, so you could start talking about it as parents and what you can do to help your boys find the Lord and follow the Lord.
John Fuller: Hmm. Well, and you can learn how we can help you in that journey at www.focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And our guest, as I said, is Brooke McGlothlin. And, uh, she and her husband live in Virginia with two sons and she’s written a number of books, including Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most.
Jim: Brooke, welcome for the first time to Focus on the Family.
Brooke: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Jim: Okay, now, do we really need to pray for our boys, really?
Brooke: Oh, my goodness, yes.
Brooke: I am convinced. I’m convinced of it, that it’s just the most overlooked part of Christian parenting today.
Jim: (Laughing) Yeah, just pray!
Brooke: Yes. Just pray.
Jim: I think parents of boys know that one pretty well, ‘cause they get up in the tree and you start praying, like…
Jim: -…What is that kid…
Brooke: You have this…
Jim: …A monkey?
Brooke: …You have this innate “God help me!”
Jim: Yeah, exactly. Now you have a fun piece in your bio. You were the co-founder of the MOB Society. In today’s world that may sound like a terrifying thing…
Jim: …But what is the MOB Society?
Brooke: The MOB Society – MOB stands for Mothers of Boys.
Jim: (Laughter) I love it.
Brooke: And, um, yeah. We created that about 5 and a half years ago to encourage and equip mothers of boys to raise godly men.
Jim: When you look at culture today, um, we all kind of fret as parents and listen, um , we talk about being the parents of girls, as well, so if you’re in that stage, don’t tune out, because a lot of this will apply to both boys and girls. But we do want to emphasize boys today. Why are we, as parents, so concerned about what boys are facing today?
Brooke: I think part of it is because what we 0 culturally, what we have learned to expect from our children, or what we have accepted as the cultural norm for boys has changed so much over the last…
Jim: In what ways? What did it used to be like…
Jim: …And what is it like today?
Brooke: …Let me give you an example. I have two of what I call “those boys.”
Brooke: You know, they are the ones who are 250 percent boy. They run me ragged. They’re aggressive, impulsive…
Jim: Lots of energy.
Brooke: …Lots of energy…
Brooke: …And they don’t stop until they pass out. Now some moms would say, “Oh, your boys aren’t hard. They’re not hard to handle. They’re just boys.” And I disagree. They actually are.
Brooke: I do believe there’s a subset of boys that are – that are harder to handle than most and I happen to have two of them. Um, if my boys had been born in the culture, I don’t know, years and years ago, they would’ve been the ones that were responsible for the livelihood of the pack. The things that our culture sees today as deficiencies in boys, back then were celebrated.
Jim: Huh. That energy…
Brooke: That energy…
Jim: …You’re talking about.
Brooke: …That impulsiveness, that stubbornness, that desire to set a goal and to whatever is required to get it done.
Brooke: You know, years ago, they would’ve been the ones leading the pack, and now they’re the ones that our – our culture looks at and says, “We have to beat that out of them somehow.”
Jim: When you look at that big question though, and you’re talking to 9- and 11-year-olds like in your case, what are you helping them aim for? What – what do you say to them? “This is the kinda man I want you to be.”
Brooke: Mm hmm. Yeah. I love that, because I do that all the time with them. Um, I talk to them constantly about what a good man is, what a real man is.
Jim: What are those attributes that you share with them?
Brooke: One of the things that comes to mind is that a real man admits when he’s done something wrong.
Brooke: A real man asks for forgiveness when he does something to hurt someone else. We’ve groomed our children from the beginning to teach them that they – that God made them to be protectors of women. Whether women want to be protected or not, that’s who God made you to be.
We have taught them to, you know, just be considerate of other people, to display humility and love other people more than they love themselves. Just those very, honestly, very Biblical concepts of maybe what we all should be, but I think we’ve lost it, as it pertains to men specifically. And as a woman, I have to say, you know, I have a master’s degree. I was one of those that went on and got, you know, that graduate degree. I’m so grateful for the freedoms I have as a woman now. But I think in our fight to give women lots of, you know…
Brooke: …Freedoms and opportunities…
Brooke: …We’ve somehow, you know, hurt our – our men in some ways.
Jim: It’s odd that it – it’s a zero-sum game. I’m not sure why that’s so, why the culture can’t embrace both genders in a – in a gender-specific way.
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: It’s almost like we want to eliminate the distinction. Although MRI’s, you know, those exams that they could do, our brains fire differently. God has wired us differently I think for very specific reasons. I want to get back to prayer, though, ‘cause that seems to be a core theme for you.
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: Why is prayer so important for kids, for your kids in general, but for boys even specifically?
Brooke: I’d love to tell you why prayer is important for me, and I think that’ll answer your question. When my boys were very little, they were born just 23 months apart. Neither one of them were planned. And as I’ve mentioned already, they’re both of the hard-to-handle kind. We thought our oldest son was hard to handle and then his little brother came and just blew him right out of the water.
Jim: (Laughter) You got the second…
Brooke: I – yes, I…
Jim: …The second one.
Brooke: …Thought for sure that God was gonna give me an easy baby after our first one and that did not happen.
Brooke: Um, so, I was one of those really weary moms who was desperate for God to do something in my home. I – I went to bed every night for the first several years of their lives, feeling like I had not been the kind of mom I wanted to be that day.
Jim: I think – let me interrupt, because I need to understand that picture. What was happening that would give you that kind of fear or overwhelming sense?
Brooke: I could not control my children.
Jim: So, they wouldn’t listen?
Brooke: They wouldn’t listen. They wouldn’t obey. They were loud and aggressive and all those things.
Brooke: You know, they would beat up on the little boy that came over, you know, to play with us. And I – and I think I felt a response in myself…
Brooke: …That really was – it felt very out of character to who I was. If you asked the people that I grew up with, the words “unkind,” “angry,” “difficult,” those – those words would not be – have been the words that people used to describe me growing up. And yet, my children seemed to bring out the worst in me.
Jim: Wow, so, I mean, it was really – your concern was, it was reflecting upon you.
Brooke: Yes, it would…
Jim: Which is true.
Brooke: …It really was bringing out the worst in me. There were parts of me that came to the surface during that time that I didn’t even know were there. I had never been pressed so hard…
Jim: And embarrassed.
Brooke: …And embarrassed so much by the behavior of two people whose behavior directly reflected upon me.
Jim: So, you and your husband, how did you two talk about this? Where’s he in the picture? He’s dad.
Brooke: He is an amazing father and he was just as frustrated as I was.
Brooke: We struggled to get them to listen. It was almost like at times, there was a blanket, a veil over their eyes, like they couldn’t even see us or hear us. They were so intent upon their own way.
Brooke: Our boys are fighters and they have been from the beginning and over that period of time, our life became one big fight. And I was embarrassed by their behavior and I was embarrassed by the way it made me look, as someone who really enjoyed portraying myself to my friends and family as a, you know, educated woman who was equipped and able to do whatever God brought my way. I was failing…
Brooke: …Miserably, as it came to my children.
Jim: What do you think God was saying to you in that role? I mean again, you have those inadequacies. You’re feeling embarrassed. Both you and your husband…
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: …Don’t have the answer.
Jim: Your kids are out of control. What do you think God was saying to you in that? Like “Relax”? Or…
Jim: …”I’ve got it.:” Or…
Brooke: …I know.
Jim: …”Get with it. Come on.”
Brooke: Yes, no, I don’t think…
Brooke: …He was saying, “Get with it.”
Brooke: Maybe sometimes.
Jim: Well, some parents feel that way.
Jim: That you know…
Brooke: They do.
Jim: …I’m not doing it right. What am I doing wrong?
Brooke: You know, I think for me, the Lord was stripping me.
Brooke: He was just stripping me. I didn’t realize that I was a prideful woman until I became so embarrassed by my children’s behavior. And I still struggle with that sometimes today. I still struggle with that sometimes today. I still feel like my children are too much of a reflection on me. And I think probably most parents have that from time to time. When your child does something stupid, you wonder, is that my fault? Is – am I the reason for that? Or you know, when does their free will come into play?
Jim: Let me ask you this. As you began to pray for your boys, what changes did you see? Was there something tangible that was happening?
Brooke: You know, the biggest changes came in me.
Brooke: There have been changes that have happened in my boys, for sure, as I’ve prayed. The Lord has answered prayers for me. The Lord has moved in their hearts. Um, there are some big ones that He’s answered for me and I’m so grateful for that. But I approached prayer – when I first started praying, the only reason I did it is because I didn’t know what else to do.
Brooke: I was desperate. I had no idea how to make a change in my home. I had a degree in counseling…
Brooke: …And I could not make a change in my home. And it was so – it was just arresting. It was the – the biggest failure I think I had ever felt in my life. That I could not make a change in my own home.
And so, I went to the Lord in desperation, and I said, “God, something has to change, and I can’t do it.” So, I began to look at the Word. And I came across Ezekiel 36:26, which says that “It’s the Lord that changes a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.”
Brooke: And I pondered that for some time and came to the conclusion that it was both a relief and a frustration. It was a frustration, because I did not have the power to change my children’s hearts and I wanted to.
Jim: Yeah. Disappointment, too.
Brooke: Yes, I wanted to be able to snap (sound of finger snapping) my fingers and see a change in them and I realized just straight from the Word of God, that I did not have that power. I do have a lot of power as a mom. As parents, we do have power in our homes and with our children, but that one thing the Lord had not given me.
Brooke: And it was frustrating for me. But at the same time, it was an incredible release for me and relief, because I thought, you know what? If I really mess up and if I can’t do this mothering thing the way I want to, God can still move in their hearts in spite of me. And so, it just changed my entire perspective. That one verse gave me a picture of what partnering with God in parenting actually looked like.
Brooke: And so, I believed very, very strongly that the Word of God was true. And I believed that when God said that when – that His Word was not returned void, that it would do what He set forth for it to do, that it actually would. And so, I thought, I’m gonna start praying for my children. Why would I pray anything other than the Scripture? If God is alive and active and uses His Word to pierce our hearts, why would I ever pray anything else?
John: And you’re listening to Brooke McGlothlin on today’s Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and we’re talking about parenting. We’re talking about some pretty common things. I think all of us have kinda hit the wall and said, “I can’t do this.”
John: And Brooke has a great resource called Praying for Boys, and we’ve got it at focuosnthefamily.com/broadcast. Or you can call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And if you can contribute to this not-for-profit ministry, Focus on the Family reaches around the globe, touching lives and helping parents day in, day out. Help us do that by making a generous donation today, and we’ll send a copy of that book to you as our way of saying thank you. And Jim, the subtitle of the book is, Asking God for the Things They Need Most, but so far what we’ve heard from Brooke is, she was asking God for what she needed most…
Jim: Yeah. (Laughing)
John: …Which was some…
Jim: That’s a good point.
Jim: And it’s so – Brooke, I appreciate your heart, because you’re speaking to all of us as parents. We’ve been there and it seems that we come back there on occasion, that frustration, that desperation that you’ve talked about. I want you to speak specifically to that mom or dad who is moving in that frustration mode too much. I mean, when the kids are out of control, um, they’re trying their best to get the situation under control, but it sounds like you were able to relax, rather than get more intense. I think a lot of us as parents, we actually get more intense if it’s not working, rather than back up, take a deep breath and say, “Okay, Lord, I need Your help.” And usually in that situation what I sense is, the Lord does say, “Yeah, pray for them.”
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: But talk about that parent who is moving toward anger, toward more intensity, when really, they should rethink it.
Brooke: Mm hmm. My family is a homeschool family and so, when my youngest son was 5-years-old, we entered into a time where we were for the first time, homeschooling both of our boys at the same time. And I think as homeschoolers, there are misconceptions about what it’s like. It is not peaches and cream. Homeschooling for me is very difficult. It is a huge challenge for me. I struggle every day with it. But this particular season when my youngest son was 5-years-old was one of the worst.
And by the time we reached November of his kindergarten year, he had become completely bored with his curriculum. I had underestimated how much he was learning just from listening to his older brother. And so, he already knew everything that I was trying to teach him, and I was lost. But I was – I thought I have to do this by the book. I have to teach him what it says, right? I just have to do it by the book. And so, I was moving on and forcing him to do things he already knew. And by November, the mere mention of the word “school” caused him to fall on the floor in a kicking and screaming tantrum fit.
Brooke: That’s how bad it was. His older brother was getting no attention from me, because I was having these physical outbursts from my younger child every day. And so, this one particular day, I took – we had finished school. I had fed the boys, and I had put them upstairs for their quiet time, and I was broken. I will never forget this day. This day changed everything for me. I went downstairs to what I call my green prayer chair and I sat down, body shaking…
Brooke: …Weeping before the Lord. And I said, “God, I can’t do this! This is not what I signed up for. I wanted to teach my children, because I wanted to love them, and I wanted to be with them, and I wanted to be the one that opened their mind and their heart to all these things. I wanted to teach them about You. I wanted to disciple them and that is not what’s happening. I quit. I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.” And I was weeping and telling the Lord and, you know, I don’t have too many times in my life where I can profess to hear the audible voice of God, but I knew in that moment as God whispered to my heart, the same as you and I are talking right now, that God was speaking to me. And He said this to me. He said, “Brooke, don’t give up. These boys need someone to fight for them, and I have chosen that person to be you.”
Jim: Hmm. Wow.
Brooke: And it gives me chills still today to think about that, because I realized I was fighting against my children. We were not on the same team.
Jim: Hmm. Yeah.
Brooke: And God told me, no, you fight for them. And prayer is one of the ways that I can do that.
Jim: It’s one of the most amazing privileges, but daunting tasks that the Lord gives us, isn’t it?
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: To fight for our kids spiritually.
Jim: I mean, what you’re describing there is spiritual warfare.
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: I mean, it’s stepping in the gap and being there on the side of your children, just like the Lord is on our side. You know, we – we have to realize that they need that kind of mentoring, that kind of person. That should be us as moms and dads. Um, for the parent who hasn’t consistently been praying for their sons, how do they get started? Give me a guideline on what’s the best thing to do.
Brooke: It’s really so simple. I think sometimes our culture over-spiritualizes prayer. It isn’t that hard and what I found worked best for me was to make a list of some of the things that we were dealing with, with our boys. And this is something I do on a regular basis. I’ll do it every so often.
Jim: What would that list look…
Brooke: …Character traits they were struggling with, areas in their character that I wanted the Lord to work in, like maybe we needed to work on patience. Or maybe we needed to work on purity or anger or things like that. I would become a student of your son.
Brooke: Look at what they’re dealing with. Know their hearts. Know what makes them tick and what their individual needs are. And then just make a bullet-point list of those things. And then, go to the Word and find out how it speaks to those things. You may have to change your words a little bit, because what I’ve found is that sometimes people think, well, we’re dealing with this, but the Bible doesn’t really speak to that. It actually does. It just uses different words sometimes. So, go and – you know, look at your son and you say, “Oh, he’s just so fussy all the time.” Well, he’s not content. So, look at verses that have to do with contentment. Um, you know, if you say, “Well, he just yells at me all the time.” Well, fine. He’s angry. Look at verses that have anger involved with them.
Jim: And the great news is, Brooke, you’ve packed all this into your book, Praying for Boys.
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: I mean, so we get a little bit of a cheat sheet. We can go in there and see “obedience” and then look at the Scriptures that you’ve already put there…
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: …That you’ve used in practice in your own home.
Jim: Ah, that is so good. Let me talk about obedience, because that is one of the key themes. You’ve touched on it, but I think as moms and dads, I – that’s probably the big fight in our house. “How many times have I told you to take that bag of trash out the door in the last 20 minutes?”
John: Is it always so calm?
Jim: “Oh, I think it’s five times.”
Jim: No, it’s pretty much that way.
Jim: I – I – I tend – I probably tend to say, “I’m not sure. I’m not a medical doctor. I think your hearing is okay, so why would I have to tell you for the fifth time to take that garbage out in the last half hour?” I – I’ll say something like that. That may be a little too shaming, I don’t know, but that’s how I’m trying to get connected to my teen boys to say, “Open your ears.”
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: Um, how did you approach the obedience prayer?
Brooke: You know, I think I misunderstood what obedience was in the beginning. I had been taught that obedience meant, first time immediately, you must do what I say.
Jim: It sounds good to me.
Brooke: With – it does sound good. It’s so easy…
Jim: (Laughter) That’s not what it means?
Brooke: …It – it’s so easy and convenient for us as parents. We – of course, we want that from our children, right? It makes us look good when that happens. I don’t think that’s the way it is with us and God.
Brooke: I think God wants us to obey and the – the closer we are with Him, the more mature we are in our faith, the more we’re able to respond that way. But sometimes we eliminate development when we’re talking about our children. I was unreasonable back then. I wanted a 2- and a 4-year-old to obey me instantly.
Jim: Right. (Laughter)
Brooke: And they don’t have the capacity to do that.
Jim: You’re absolutely right.
Brooke: So, I had to go back and renew and just retrain myself on, what is God’s heart toward obedience? How does God treat me when I’m not obedient? What does He expect from me, and what developmental stage are my children in? And what can I realistically expect from them?
Jim: You know, Brooke, what’s so good about what you’re saying and what people, all of us need to catch, what you said there about God wanting relationship…
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: …With you, and through that relationship, you’ve become more obedient. So, it’s not – obedience is not the first thing. It’s actually the love of God…
Brooke: It’s His kindness.
Jim: …That compels us toward that obedience.
Jim: That has such a perfect fit with parenting.
Jim: You’ve got to have a relationship with your children, where they lean into you, they fall towards you. And you may have days where it’s not working’ well, but don’t sever the relationship for obedience. Maintain…
Jim: …Relationship. You know, I think also that example of David. You know, how can the Lord say that David had a heart for Him? I mean, David’s kinda the man’s man…
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: …Out of the Bible, isn’t he? Wow, but he had a heart for God? Oh, didn’t he commit adultery and murder? That doesn’t sound like a heart for God. But I think what you’re saying there in that analogy is, that David knew His weaknesses.
Brooke: Mm hmm.
Jim: And he confessed his weaknesses and then he drove harder into his relationship with the Lord.
Jim: That’s what God wants.
Brooke: Yes. Yes, and we have to focus on that. Before I became a writer, I worked at a local crisis pregnancy center for many, many years. And we taught parenting classes to the girls that were, you know, choosing life and carrying their babies and that kind of thing. And we had this dear older woman who came in and taught a parenting class for us. And I went to her class as the director of counseling. I was brand new and I just was sitting in on all the classes. And I went to her parenting class before I even had children. And I listened to her, and she said something that I will never forget. She said, “Keep the hearts of your children.”
Brooke: “No matter if – forget about everything else I’m saying. If you only take one thing from what I’m telling you today, let it be this. Keep the hearts of your children.”
Brooke: And I think – I have a grandmother. My – my father’s father abandoned my grandmother with three small boys. He was an alcoholic and chose alcohol over his family. And somehow in a time when divorce was not looked at the same way it is now, it was much tougher for her to raise three boys by herself in that time than it is now. Somehow, she managed to raise three good men. And you know why?
Brooke: It was because of the Lord, but it was also because she had their hearts.
Brooke: They could very easily have become statistics. They should have. They should have become statistics, and God prevented that and to her dying day, she had their hearts.
Jim: Ah, Brooke, that is so well-said and that’s probably the key thing that we’ve talked about today, and I so appreciate it. Our conversation, it has highlighted our parental desire to help you raise spiritually mature sons who are able to live in this world and transform the culture through their faith. And I’m so impressed with your book, Brooke, and I hope folks will pick it up, because it is full, chock full, of great input and great advice. And here at Focus on the Family, that’s why we’re here everybody. We want to put these kind of tools and resources into your hands so you can do a better job parenting. And let me tell you, I need it. We all need it. And we need to be able to acknowledge that we need that additional help, especially when someone has come onto something so critical.
Let me read you a comment from a listener that we received not long ago. “We’ve listened to your programs throughout our marriage of 38 years and raising three children. And now we get to experience the wisdom you pass on to be a godly grandparent. Your programs have encouraged me when I was down, lifted me when I was lost, affirmed me when I needed that, and gave me strength to fight the good fight the good fight, and stand firm for our Lord Jesus Christ in all situations. Thank you for all you do.” And we want to pass that praise right onto the Lord, but Brooke, you are a first-time guest and you are in the greatest of the traditions of Focus on the Family. Thanks for what you’ve done. Thanks for being with us, and I hope that if you need parenting help, you will call us today.
John: And our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And you can also find us online at www.focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. We’re going to have details about Brooke’s book and a CD or a download of this conversation there. Also, a link for our mobile app so you can listen on the go. We certainly have a number of listeners who are increasingly doing that more and more. And if you can join us in supporting the work of Focus on the Family to reach out and equip parents, as we’ve done in the broadcast today, please make a generous donation of any amount. And when you do, we’ll be sending a copy of the book, Praying for Boys, as our thank you gift. Also, let me just remind you that right now there’s a matching grant opportunity. Your gift is going to have twice the impact when you donate today. Some generous friends will match your gifts dollar-for-dollar so that will double the impact you’re making in this vital family ministry. Donate today and get your copy of Praying for Boys when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Hey Brooke, I’m gonna put you on the spot. I know there’s a – you know, millions of people listening, but I think a good thing to do would be to close us in prayer, by praying for one of those attributes. Could you do that?
Brooke: I would love to do that. Thank you. Father, we just thank You so much for the way You always meet us in the mess. You always are so faithful to come when we call, Lord. So, I just pray for any – any mom or dad that’s listening right now, that’s struggling and hurting and weary, that You would give them the – the freedom and the ability to call on You. And so, Father, we just also lift up these boys all across the world, Lord. And we pray in agreement with Numbers 6, that You would bless them and keep them and make Your face shine upon them, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Jim: Amen. Brooke McGlothlin, author of Praying for Boys, thank you for being with us.
Brooke: Thank you so much for having me.
John: Well, what a great conversation and we hope you can join us next time for the broadcast as we hear one man’s powerful story of recovery from alcohol addiction.
Mr. Johnny Baker: I’m weak if I admit I’m – I have a problem. And I think that we need to be careful for that because it’s when we admit our problems that, actually, God is able to work in our lives.
Jim: Yeah, so when we are weak, He is strong.