Mrs. Brooke McGlothlin: Your job as a mom, as a woman, as a man, is to follow Christ and love him with everything you have. And it’s to do the same with your children, to point them in the direction, to do the best you can to teach them about the Lord, and then the rest of it is up to him.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: That’s Brooke McGlothlin. And you’re going to be hearing more from her today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, first we want to say happy Mother’s Day and a big thank you to all the moms who are listening. The work you’re doing to raise kids who love God and love others is amazing.
John: Yeah. It’s going on and on and on.
Jim: And believe me, there is an end, I think, you know. What are - the days are long, but the years are short. And you’re going to find that whether you’re with a 2-year-old or a 17-year-old. Those days do become short.
You know, if you think of motherhood, I know there’s moms working, and we need to recognize that. And, you know, so there’s not a simple application to all of this. But moms are usually the ones taking care of those sick kids, wiping the noses and other things. And you know, dads, you better be chipping in and doing all you can to help, too. But there’s something about a mother’s love that is so unique. And here at Focus on the Family, we want to see you thrive in your parenting journey, especially as mom. I think the healthier moms are, the healthier our kids are. And it’s so true. And in fact, we even have something called the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting. Both moms and dads can take that. And it’s available for free. You can go to our website to do that. But it shows you kind of where your strengths are and where some areas of improvement may be necessary.
John: Yeah. It’s kind of a journey of self-discovery about your parenting strengths and weaknesses. It’s not a long survey. It takes just a few minutes. And it ends with some very practical ways that you can apply biblical principles and to have a little bit stronger sense as a mom or a dad. You can take that assessment and get a copy of the book from our guest, Brooke McGlothlin. It’s called Gospel-Centered Mom at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
And Brooke is the co-founder and president of Raising Boys Ministries and the MOB Society (Laughter), Mothers of Boys. She was here talking about that. And as I said, she’s got a great new book called Gospel-Centered Mom: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need.
Jim: Brooke, welcome back to Focus on the Family.
Brooke: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Jim: You’re a self-described boy mom.
Brooke: Yes, I am.
Jim: (Laughter) Being a father of two boys, I love that. In fact, that quick story is you prayed that you would have boys.
Brooke: I did. I sure did.
Jim: Why in the world are you so bent on boys?
Brooke: You know, it’s - I like to think it’s practical and holy, maybe a little bit. But I was raised with one older brother. I have a father who was one of three boys. My husband is one of three boys. And I’m the baby of the family of mostly boys. And so, I was raised around a lot of boys. And I know - I feel like I get along with them well. I feel like I understand them. There’s less drama with boys than there are with girls. And so, there was that piece of it. It was my experience. But it was also that I really wanted an opportunity to try to raise godly men. That’s really what it was. I wanted an opportunity to try to raise men that were different than what I saw around me. And it was a big, grand dream that, in practicality, is much harder to do than I thought it was going to be. But God answered my prayer, for whatever reason.
Jim: Well, it’s funny. And in that prayer, you failed to kind of, you know, fine-tune it. So, you wanted to be the mom of boys, but you forgot the hard to handle part.
Brooke: That’s right.
Jim: You didn’t want necessarily the tough boys.
Brooke: I did not ask for that.
Jim: But he gave them to you.
Brooke: Yes, he sure did.
Jim: Has that been fun?
Brooke: Oh, it is tons of fun. But it is also - in every way, God gave me the kids that I needed to kick my feet right out from under me and retrain me (laughter) so.
Jim: And your kids are 13, 11 now?
Jim: That’s great. So, what was that typical day when they were a little younger, even now though? It’s still crazy, I’m sure,
Brooke: Mercy, mercy. Well, my youngest son is definitely more - I call my boys those boys, you know. The ones that are 250 percent boy. They’re very aggressive. They often, um, speak before they think. You know, they’re just constantly moving...
Jim: You’re kidding me?
Brooke: ...You’ve never experienced anything like that before?
Jim: (Laughter) I’ve never experienced that, even personally. Never experience that.
Brooke: No, I actually had someone tell me one time, she said, “No, no, you don’t have those boys. You just have boys. They’re just like that.” And I said, “I respectfully reject that in the name of Jesus.” Like, I really think that there are a subgroup of boys that are harder to handle.
Jim: How often have you said your husband, “Your boys”?
Jim: That’s the real question.
Brooke: They are a lot like him.
Jim: Your boys did such and such. No, they would never have painted the outside of my house. But they have. No. You know, after the birth of your first son, you went through a six-year period where your life was really hard.
Brooke: It was.
Jim: Now, a lot of moms can identify that, whether they had a boy or a girl. You know, there are changes in your life, changes in your relationship with your husband. Why was it particularly hard for you for those six years?
Brooke: You know, we had the hard to handle boys. And that made it hard in and of itself. They were very close together in age. They were 23 months apart. And - but in that time frame when they were very young, starting when my first son turned 1 - actually on his first birthday, we lost my father’s oldest brother. And so, his birthday is always kind of overshadowed by that loss. We were very close to my uncles. And so that started a season of loss in our family. Ten months later, we lost my father’s youngest brother to the same genetic lung disease. My father’s the only one that doesn’t have it. Um, and so - and then we lost grandparents. And we lost aunts. And then it culminated at the end of that six-year time with us actually having a miscarriage. And that was the last of the losses. So, we were not only dealing with kids that were maybe a little harder to handle than the average person, but also just all this loss in the midst of it was difficult.
Jim: What gave you perspective then? How did you, I mean, you talk about it very openly, that dark time, but how did you begin to find the rungs of the ladder to climb out of that pit?
Brooke: Yeah. I’m a product of a really good Sunday school upbringing. So, I knew the stories. I knew I had a great foundation in the Word that my parents had given me, and my church had given me as a child. And those stories that I had learned then, that I believed in with all my heart, I was actually starting to live them and see them alive and active...
Jim: You’re in the book.
Brooke: ...I’m in the book this time. Right. So, I’m - I’m beginning to not only just believe them but to see the fruit of them and cling to them in a different way than I ever had in my life. So, my faith, really, in that place came alive. But also, I have a husband who’s a rock. And he supported me so much during that time. And it cemented our family in some - you know, in the midst of heartbreak, it’s cemented us and made our values and the places we wanted to go, our intentional parenting, just set it on the right course.
Jim: Well, and this brings us to the new book, Gospel-Centered Mom: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need. And I want to start, perhaps, with the best question I can come up with. And I think if you can’t listen to the rest of the program, this is the one. You share that you tend to take too much ownership for your boys’ behavior. When they’re doing well, you’re proud of them. And when they’re doing poorly, you feel like a failure. Man, that speaks to probably 99.9 percent of a mother’s heart right there. And it’s also the failure in parenting that you own too much of your kid’s behavior rather than saying, “OK, Lord, you created this little rascal and he’s Yours.” How do you manage that? How did you get to that point in Gospel-Centered Mom that you’re describing where you could relax as a mom?
Brooke: It was a process because I really did wear that - those failures. I wore them. And they were heavy in the beginning of my parenting journey. And they’re still - they can still be - they can still be heavy. But for me, I had to remember what the prize of my parenting was. And even more than that, what’s the prize of my life?
Jim: OK. What is it?
Brooke: It’s Jesus.
Jim: (Laughter) So of your parenting is your kids following Jesus. That certainly is it.
Brooke: But I think sometimes our culture gets so wrapped up in, you know, we want all the right things for our kids. We want the right experiences, the right schools, the right sports teams, all these right things so that we can try and set them on the right path that will set them up for the right kind of success. But the better question is are we pointing them toward Christ? Because that’s really our job. And that’s really our only job. And if I could say what the book is in a nutshell, that’s it. It’s remembering that your job as a mom, as a woman, as a man, is to follow Christ and love him with everything you have. And it’s to do the same with your children, to point them in the direction, to do the best you can to teach them about the Lord and then the rest of it is up to him.
Jim: OK. Brooke, I hear you. I try to do that. But I fall back to owning their behavior, owning their performance. How do you - what’s an example where you did not do it well? And what does that look like?
Brooke: When our boys were very young - as I mentioned, they’re very aggressive, they’re very physical - and so they would often get into fights, physical fights. I mean, we had a situation one time where my youngest son was banging my oldest son’s head up against the wall. And like, this is what happens in our home, right? So, I took that very personally and - and other things like it. So, I went to a birthday party for my husband’s great aunt when my boys were probably about 1 and 3. My youngest had just started toddling around. And I had gotten glasses right before that, OK? So, you know the stage - you all both wear glasses - you know the stage when you get a new pair of glasses and you’re kind of dizzy, like things seem a little off balance? So, I was at the point where I needed them to see. If I took them off, it was fuzzy. But when I put them on, it was still a little bit off balance. And I decided to take my boys to this 80th birthday party for my husband’s great aunt in this situation. And he had to work. And I had to go alone. So, we got there. And of course, all the loving family members are pushing sugar down their throats. And I personally believe that if you’re going to put sugar down a child’s throat, you need to be responsible for them for the rest of that event...
Jim: It’s an overnighter (laughter).
Brooke: Yes. Like, they’re yours.
John: I like that.
Brooke: They’re yours for that time, right? So - but they were doing that. And they were crazy. They were crazy. They were just running circles around the place where we were. I couldn’t keep up with them. And I felt like my failure as a mother to be able to control her children was on display for everybody there. Now, I’m a person who has not failed a whole lot in my life. I have had - I’m a very goal-oriented person. I’m able to check off things. I work hard. But my children caused me to fail and fail in a big way because I had to realize that I couldn’t do it by myself.
Jim: Now, how did you process that as a positive not a negative? That’s where I think a lot of parents get stuck if you’re a mom or a dad.
Brooke: Yeah. I picked up both of them kicking and screaming from the event. And we left and drove to my mother-in-law’s house. It was empty because everybody was at the party. And I sat there in the driveway with them strapped into their seats. And I just cried and, you know, screamed, really. Like, I just had a moment in the driveway there and realized that the facade was over. Like, I had been trying to help everyone see that I was still the goal - the same goal-oriented, hard working...
Brooke: ...Successful woman that I wanted them to think I was. And it was over for the whole world to see. It was over for my whole world to see. And that was the best thing that could have ever happened to me, was for God to just kick my feet out from under me and put me on the course of having to look at myself for who I truly was. For the first time - I had been a Christian since I was 9-years-old - but for the first time in my life, I truly recognized that there was something I could not do without God. I realized that I desperately needed him.
Jim: Now, often, we call that surrender (laughter). So, surrender for a mom in that regard, how to be a Gospel-Centered Mom, again, they’re probably going to fight that their entire journey, whether the kids are 2 or 22 or maybe even 32. What are some of those practical ways that you begin to place God at the center so that you don’t have to worry about your identity being wrapped up in your kids?
Brooke: Right. I think that first step is just what you said, is allowing God to get you to that place of surrender. Step two is realizing that God didn’t make you to be enough. God didn’t make you to be able to do all this by yourself. He made you to need him. And the last time I checked, we all need Jesus.
John: Well, Brooke McGlothlin is our guest today on Focus on the Family. And she’s written this great book Gospel-Centered Mom: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need. And I so appreciate her vulnerability. You’re going to find a lot of great content in the book. Get a copy from us and a CD or download of our conversation at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Jim: Brooke, you say in your book you believe many moms, including yourself, get caught up in the “me” gospel. You’re touching on that. But I want to give it the - the title you gave it in the book, the me gospel. And you say it distorts their perception.
Brooke: It does.
Jim: Describe the me gospel.
Brooke: Sure. The me gospel is my way of simplifying the phraseology that a lot of people call man-centered theology. It’s a - you know, when I say man-centered theology, sometimes it turns people off because it’s this big concept. And the me gospel is when we are living in a place where we are the center of our story, where we are the center of our universe, where everything is about us, me, me, me. And God didn’t make it - that’s not the way that we were made to live. The Bible is not about us. It’s about God. God is supposed to be the center of our theology. God is supposed to be the only great I am of Scripture. We are not the great I am of Scripture, right? He is.
Jim: And in that regard, what are some of the helpful tools? You use an acronym called STOP. What does that do? How does that help you? How did you learn that?
Brooke: STOP is one of my favorite tools to use for moms because so much of what we do is in the moment, fly by the seat of your pants. You’re just trying to come up with the right answer in the time frame that you’re in...
Jim: Or just reacting.
Brooke: ...Or just reacting most of the time. Right. And that’s really what STOP is all about. And I called it STOP because I wanted moms to be able to say in the heat of the moment, “Stop.” It’s very easy to remember. Just stop.
Jim: Why is that so hard to do?
Brooke: Because we get caught up. Our emotions take control. And we find it - you know, when our emotions are heightened, it’s like we have on glasses that keep us from seeing the truth, that keep us from - from realizing that what’s in front of us may not actually be the whole truth of that situation. So, if we can reprogram - so I’m a counselor by nature, so I’m always thinking about our brain as well, right? - so if you can - if you can reprogram our brain to actually stop in the middle of that heightened emotion, you have - God has given you the ability to turn a different direction. And so that’s what STOP is all about. So, the S in STOP is submitting your thoughts to Christ. It’s very simply saying, “OK, God, I recognize that I may not be interpreting this situation the way that it actually is, and I’m going to give you permission to stop where I’m headed and turn me in a different direction.” Very simply, it’s just inviting God into your mess in a very practical way. So that’s the S. The T in STOP is to tell yourself the truth. You know, our emotions will lie to us. They will make us believe things that aren’t actually true. How many of us have made a decision, a hasty decision in the heat of the moment, that we wish we had done differently afterward once our emotions have calmed down? We need to tell ourselves the truth. And the only truth comes from the word of God. We believe that it’s the truth. So, this is the part where we begin saying, “OK, I may feel like God is not providing me - for me in this situation, but the Bible says that he is.”
John: OK. So, Brooke, earlier in your momming journey, you felt really spiritually dry. You had a real wilderness season. And it - I’m sure it wasn’t because you didn’t want to spend time in God’s word, you didn’t want to communicate with him. You did. But these - these boys are there, and these circumstances are around you. So, talk to that mom who’s saying, “OK, I get it. I want to tell myself the truth. But I don’t have the capacity. I don’t have the time. I’m too tired.”
Brooke: Yeah. Some of us are tired. Some of us are worn because of our schedules or because of our circumstances...
John: Practically, what does she do?
Brooke: ...Practically speaking, I think you get creative. So first of all, you have to ask yourself, “Is this a priority for me,” because we always make time for our priorities. We do. If you look at your life, you will see that you make time for what’s important to you. So, you have to ask yourself, first of all, let’s get honest about our lives and say, “Is being in the word of God, is putting the good stuff in a priority?” If it is, you will find a way to do it somehow. So, for me, in that time, what that looked like was maybe reading one psalm and one proverb a day. That’s it. I felt like if I could do that for the next 30 years, I’d end up a very wise woman, right? So, you know, sometimes it’s just those little things...
John: That’s just six or seven minutes maybe, yeah.
Brooke: ...It’s nothing. It’s just taking some time to put something good in your heart.
Jim: How does that mom override the guilt of not doing the other things in order to do the right things?
Brooke: That’s a great question. And I think you just have to recognize the season that you’re in. You just do. When you have little ones hanging off of your legs at all times of the day or even just before you leave for work or are coming home, it is difficult to find that time. One of the things that I did - because when our kids were young, I worked part time outside of our home - I went and bought the, um, New Testament on audio CDs. And I would listen to them on the way to work. And then I would listen to them on the way home from work. And that’s all the Bible I got some days.
Jim: Which is quite a bit actually.
Brooke: Right. But I could have chosen to do something different. I could have chosen to listen to my favorite ‘90s songs. I’m a ‘90s girl. I like to listen to that stuff, right?
Jim: You chose wisely.
Brooke: I chose wisely. And it was all I could do in the moment. But I chose that. And all of us have that same choice.
Jim: All right. So, we’re into STOP. We have S as submit your thoughts to Christ. T, tell yourself the truth. Now O, open your eyes to understanding.
Brooke: That’s right. So, this is us saying, you know, when you see the truth, it changes you. It changes something. When we came to Christ, God gave us the ability to see the truth. So, if you’re in Christ, if you’re a believer, you have the ability to see the truth. So, if you’re talking to yourself and telling yourself that truth, then this is going to change the way that you begin to see what’s around you. And there’s a beautiful verse that says, “Open the eyes” - I pray - I think it’s Paul - it says, “I pray that your eyes will be open.” So, we pray that God would open our understanding and expand our understanding of what we’re seeing around us. And he’s faithful to do that. If you look at the Psalms, this is what David did. Psalm 13 as one of my favorites because it starts out with David saying, “I’m lost. How long, God, are you going to leave me in this place?” He always was so open and vulnerable with the Lord. But by the end of the psalm, he’s remembering how good God had been to him. And that’s because he gave God permission. He started telling himself the truth. And God opened the eyes of his understanding so that he could look at his situation differently. You see that over and over again in the psalm.
Jim: I was really drawn toward your example there because Jean and I had kind of the same discussion, and what do we want to do with educating the kids, you know? Do we home-school? Do we go to a charter school? What’s the Christian school? I mean, all those options. That can be a - kind of a complex moment for parents when their kids are starting off. You had that struggle as well. How did the Lord reveal truth to you in that situation?
Brooke: Very definitely, very definitely. So, we home-schooled for a long time. And I love home-schooling. I’m not saying that it’s without challenge. There were days when I wanted to give it up over and over again. In fact, I think I probably had a mental breakdown and looked at school systems once a year.
Brooke: But I loved what it afforded our family. I have a husband who works shift work. That meant that he got to be the kind of dad he wanted to be. He got to be hands-on. He got to be with them. But there came a season after we made a recent move back to our hometown, and it just was not working for us anymore. My husband - we thought that he was going to get a transfer. We really believed that the Lord was leading us to move back home. And all of the circumstances were opening up for him to get a transfer back to our hometown. So, we put our house on the market. We bought a new house. We closed on that house. And then I’m not kidding you, about a week later, his job called and said, “I’m sorry, all the circumstances that we thought we were going to be able to do to move you in that direction have fallen through. You’re not moving.” And so, the boys and I were there in this place that was our home but not our home for 20 years, right? Um, and my husband didn’t live with us for a year and a half.
Jim: Wow. Yeah.
Brooke: And so, this supportive, amazing, hands-on husband that I had, who would often come home and teach our boys the subjects that I didn’t like to teach, was not there. He was gone. And he came home as much as he could and was still as involved as he could be. But it was a major change for us. And our boys took it hard. And I took it hard. And we were struggling. And for the first time ever, I felt like the Lord released me to look at something different for our boys. But I struggled with so much fear over that change. And I told my husband about it. And he said, “Honey, look, I get it. I know this is a big change. I know this is different from where you thought we were going with our education with our kids. But do you trust God or not?”
Jim: (Laughter) That’s a good question.
Brooke: I mean, really, that’s what it boils down to, right? Do you trust him or not? If you feel that God is leading you in this direction, do you believe that he is going to take care of your boys? Do you believe that he loves them more than you do? Do you believe that whatever happens in the school system, no matter what, that he can use it as a part of the sanctification process, the salvation process, for your boys, that he knows everything?
Jim: Let’s hit it P. We got to hit P in STOP so we don’t have STO.
Brooke: We don’t want to STO. P is persistent prayer. And prayer is such a huge part of my personal story because when I found myself in that place where I could not - I realized - I could not produce the kind of men that I dreamed of producing on my own, then it made me drop to my knees and cry out to God because there was nothing else to do. There was absolutely nothing out do. So, I began praying. And it changed everything. You know, it changed things. People often ask me, “when you - since you started praying for your boys, tell me some ways that God has answered those prayers.” And there are some ways that God has answered prayers, of course there are, that I can see in my children’s lives. But what happened that is more valuable, in my opinion, is that it changed me.
Jim: Brooke, this has been so good. I hope moms, particularly, have caught what Brooke has been after here, to have a Gospel-Centered Mom approach. And it’s a challenge. This isn’t going to be easy. And you’ve said that and demonstrated that in all your examples and the things that you’ve shared with us today. But turning to you mom, let me just say, if you’ve been listening along and feel discouraged that you can’t get there, this is the perfect resource for you. And I’m sure you can get through this book rather quickly. There’s great tips and points on how to be that Gospel-Centered Mom. There’s so much there. It’s worth the time to read it. Ten minutes a day, 15 minutes a day, whatever you’ve got. And we want to put this in your hands.
John: Yeah. We’ve got the book, Gospel-Centered Mom. We have a CD or instant download of this conversation. And then as Jim mentioned earlier, the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting assessment takes just a few minutes and it’ll give you some good tips on moving ahead. All of that and a way to donate at focusonthefamily.com/radio or call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Can I also say if you’re a regular listener to the broadcast, would you let us know by becoming a monthly supporter to Focus on the Family? Your financial support allows us to air shows like this. It’s about 6 million people a week in the United States. We together are making an impact that the Lord can use. We have another 130 or so million listeners around the world. So, your investment here in the ministry of Focus on the Family goes a long way. And we change lives in the power of Christ each and every day. And Brooke, it’s great to have you as part of that. We’d want to say thank you for doing that by giving you a copy as our way of saying thank you - of Brooke’s book Gospel-Centered Mom - when you become that monthly partner.
John: Yeah. Jim, since you’re a monthly partner and I’m a monthly partner, do we get free books?
Jim: Yeah. You can have this one.
John: (Laughter) OK.
Jim: Maybe Brooke will sign it for you (laughter).
John: Well, let me encourage you to - to donate and to get a copy of that book. We’ll send that to you when you stop by focusonthefamily.com/radio or give a call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Hey, Brooke, before we say goodbye, I am mindful of that mom who’s going into this Mother’s Day weekend feeling really discouraged, she feels like a failure as a mom, everything that you’ve said, control, their behavior, I identify with, I own, what hope would you give her?
Brooke: Psalm 116:2 says because he bends down to listen, I will praise him for all of my days. And for me, what that means is that I serve a God that you - you, mom - serve a God that bends down to listen. He has his ear inclined to you right this moment. He is not far off wondering what’s happening to you. He sees you. He knows you. He’s there with you. And because of that, you have hope.
Jim: Man, Brooke, that is excellent. Thanks for being with us.
Brooke: Thank you so much for having me again.
John: Well, have a great Mother’s Day weekend and join us again on Monday when we will help you understand the struggles of at-risk kids . . .
Mr. Tyrone Flowers: I grew up in a single-parent home. My grandmother raised me with her 12 children. My father was murdered when I was 10. I’d only seen maybe five times prior to him dying. And my mother, even though she was around, she made it very clear she didn’t want to be a mother. She was a teenager.
End of Teaser
John: On behalf of Jim Daly and our entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back when we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ!