Love, Pray, Listen by Mary Demuth helps parents experience the joy of letting go, the power of encouraging our kids, and the peace found in trusting God for the next period in our lives. Using 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, DeMuth unpacks how to love, listen, and pray for our children when they become adults and stray from the path you hoped they would follow.
“When our children are young, we sacrifice sleep to calm their fears at night. When they reach elementary age, we sacrifice time as we shuffle them around from activity to activity. When they reach high school, our sacrifice is the emotional energy we need to bear their weighty burdens, spoken or unspoken. And when they reach adulthood and beyond, our cross looks a lot like letting go.”
Every day Facebook memories show me pictures of my kids when they were little. I wish I could grab those babies out of the photo and hold them again. I never thought I’d mourn the loss of being wanted and needed in the same ways as when my children were little. No more, “Look at me, Mommy!” Nobody fights to share a moment on my lap anymore.
As my 12, 14, 16, and 19-year-olds navigate the teen years, I’m trying to shift my new parenting role for each child as needed. Sometimes I peer into the future with fear-based questions. What will I do if my kids move out of the house and don’t want to call or keep in contact with me? Will my kids stray from their faith once they leave and explore the world? How do I parent if they choose a path in life which goes against God’s parameters?
This book helped answer those questions by showing me how to love, pray, and listen to my children and apply specific verses to specific situations. I loved the examples she shared in her parenting journey, as well as others. The stories helped me know that even if my worst fears came true, my worth remains stable in Christ, and I can fiercely love my children even when we disagree.
To love, pray, and listen to our adult kids is to acknowledge not only their personhood, but also to realize our finished work. We have parented; now we encourage and coach. If we stay in that longing for the past when our children were our responsibility, we will miss the opportunities to soar in the present. And we will shortchange our growth. To continue to demand control is to set ourselves up for sadness and frustration.
Each chapter helped me evaluate areas where I love my children well and areas where I could improve. In fact, after reading the chapter, Love is Not Rude, two points for why we justify rudeness convicted me: we are rude because we feel others deserve that response, and we are rude because we have not identified and repented of our rudeness. I realized when I felt disrespected by my son in front of his friends; I was rude back to him in front of his friends. Although I took the time to share privately with him how his words and actions made me feel, it wasn’t until I read this chapter that I recognized my sinful way of reacting. It felt good to apologize to my son, and after I did, he gave me a thumbs up.
Since it’s his kindness that leads us to repentance on a daily basis, it’s time to trust that this same kindness will lead your adult children in the same path. They most likely will not take a logical, safe path, certainly not one you would want or prescribe, but the One who holds all things together by his power holds your child’s journey. Trust him. Trust his kindness. And let that kindness inform the way you love your child and yourself.
The Chapter, Love is not Irritable, helped me recognize how being overly sensitive and easily offended is being irritable and holding onto offenses instead of pardoning generously.
I’m glad I can refer to this book when my kids go to college. I can rejoice in new seasons of parenting as I learn to love, pray, and listen to my adult children.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.