How We Love Our Kids: The Five Love Styles of Parenting

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One Small Change in How You Love
One Big Change in your Kids

Having problems with your kids?  What if you are the problem and you just can’t see it?  How We Love Our Kids offers a unique approach, to help you as a parent transform your kids by making specific changes in how you love. It’s the only book specifically for parents that reveals the unseen forces that shape every interaction with your ...

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How We Love Our Kids: The Five Love Styles of Parenting

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One Small Change in How You Love
One Big Change in your Kids

Having problems with your kids?  What if you are the problem and you just can’t see it?  How We Love Our Kids offers a unique approach, to help you as a parent transform your kids by making specific changes in how you love. It’s the only book specifically for parents that reveals the unseen forces that shape every interaction with your kids.   

   • Identify which of the five love styles you have.
   • Discover the surprising dynamics that shape your parenting.
   • Get rid of your “buttons” so your kids can’t push them.
   • Create a close connection with your kids that will last a lifetime.
   • Learn the seven gifts every child needs.
Based on years of research in the area of attachment and bonding,  How We Love Our Kids shows parents how to overcome the predictable challenges that arise out of the five love styles and helps parents cultivate a secure, deep connection with a child of any age.  Retool your reactions and refocus on how you love.  Start today. Watch your kids flourish and thrive as they receive what was missing in your love.
With four self-assessments and powerful application tools to use with children of all ages.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for How We Love Our Kids

“Milan and Kay provide us with the tools of self-awareness which can enable us to consciously examine the love styles of the past and become conscious of the stored feelings and emotions that we carry forward into parenting. This book will now be one of my primary reading recommendations.”
Michael W. Shannon, MD

“Another home run for Milan and Kay Yerkovich!”
— Sherrie Eldridge, speaker and author of Twenty Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed

“After reading this book, our first thoughts were, Every parent needs to read this book—regardless of the ages of their children, and, Reading this book could not only protect children from the pains of growing up but also heal the parents’ hearts. This book offers insightful, practical ways of understanding children and parenting. We recommend it.”
—Roger and Becky Tirabassi, authors of Let Love Change Your Life

“This book is a true gift to parents who yearn to understand and communicate with their children, thus bringing about healing and restoration. Milan and Kay remind us that God is our perfect model for parenting. This book has touched my life, and I know it will touch yours too.”
—Elizabeth John, MD

“Milan and Kay provide us an entirely new way of looking at parenting. Rather than focusing solely on the how-tos of parenting, they help us explore the powerful forces of our own upbringings on how we parent and provide a path to change those forces for good in the lives of our children. As a parent educator for over twenty-five years, I see this book as the resource we’ve been missing!”
—Laura Taggart, licensed marriage and family therapist

“Finally! A treatment of parenting that acknowledges the eight-hundred pound gorilla in the room: parents working out their personal issues on their children. If you want to transform your child’s life, then let Milan and Kay gently, firmly, and skillfully guide you on this amazing journey of personal change.”
—Kenny Luck, author of Soar, Fight, and Dream

“Imagine decreasing the drama in your home by simply learning how to comfort one another. How We Love Our Kids unfolds five distinct love styles in parenting—their traits, strengths, and pitfalls. The real-life stories allow us to see ourselves and how we naturally express ourselves to our children. Whatever blend of love styles is under your roof, Milan and Kay will show you the direct route to building deeper love, intimacy, and connection.”
—Sheri Denham, PhD, MFT, and co-host of New Life Live

“If you’ve ever struggled with being a good enough parent, ever been triggered by your child’s behavior in ways you’d be too embarrassed to recount, or ever compensated with your child to override your guilt, then you won’t want to miss How We Love Our Kids!”
— Jill Hubbard, PhD, co-host of New Life Live and author of The Secrets Women Keep and The Secrets Young Women Keep

“Milan and Kay have given us great insights into how our own attachment issues affect our parenting styles. Every parent needs to read this book, regardless of the ages of their kids.”
—David Stoop, PhD, author of Just Us and Forgiving the Unforgivable

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307729248
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/15/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 358,693
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Milan and Kay Yerkovich are parents of four grown children Milan is a pastoral counselor and co-host of the radio show, New Life Live! with Stephen Arterburn. Milan has a master’s degree in biblical studies and is the founder of Relationship 180, a ministry that helps leaders build healthy relationships. Kay has a master’s in counseling and has specialized in successful bonding between couples, parents, and children for 20 years. Their website, where they provide resources in these areas, is When they aren’t traveling to speak, the Yerkovichs enjoy their four grandchildren.
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Read an Excerpt

The Amazing Result of One Simple Change

One fall, at the conclusion of a weekend marriage seminar, a young mother named Melissa approached us. Her eyes sparkled, and she grabbed my (Kay’s) arm as she spoke. “I had the most amazing experience,” she said. “Because of your teaching, my husband and I have started seeing our marriage problems in a whole new light. But I didn’t expect to get parenting help as well. This morning, when we dropped our seven-year-old girl off at the baby-sitter’s, I remembered what you taught yesterday about the importance of self-awareness and offering comfort for others’ feelings. We’ve had difficulty with this in our marriage, but even more so with our kids.”

Melissa continued, “Our seven-year-old, Gina, is superemotional, and honestly, it’s always annoyed me. Every October she gets scared by the Halloween decorations, and she has crying fits if she gets anywhere near them. I’ve been telling her all week that they are just plastic—that none of it is real and she’s a big girl now. This morning at the babysitter’s house, the entire front porch was covered in Halloween decorations. Gina started to have a fit in the car. I got so irritated and was just about to launch into my ‘It’s all pretend’ speech when I remembered the feeling question. So I asked, ‘Gina, how do all those decorations make you feel?’

“She wailed, ‘Scared!’ I didn’t know what to say. But I walked around to open her door, and before she got out, I knelt down and said, ‘It’s okay to be scared, Gina. How can Mommy help you right now?’ Her sobs turned to whimpers, and she looked right in my eyes. I could see her little mind racing.

“‘Mommy,’ she said, ‘you hold me and let me hide my eyes on your shoulder. I’ll keep them covered while you ring the doorbell. And then you go inside and close the door, and I’ll keep my eyes shut tight. After we’re inside I can open my eyes and I’ll be fine.’ So I did. I followed her instructions, and when I put her down in the house, she looked up at me and said, ‘Thanks, Mommy. That really helped me.’

“I was shocked! Not only could she tell me what she needed, it was so easy! Maybe I don’t need to change her at all. Maybe I just needed to change my response.”

By this time, Milan and I were getting excited with her. “Think about that one change, Melissa,” Milan said. “One small change in you made such a big difference in your relationship with your daughter. What if you made it a goal to continue working on that—to become comfortable with all kinds of emotions in Gina? Today, you helped her manage her anxiety instead of telling her why her fears were silly. You can change her life forever, and give her a different future, by making that one change a way of life.”

It has been numerous encounters like this that have made us excited to write this book. Melissa isn’t alone; we’ve received literally thousands of stories, e-mails, letters, and comments from people who’ve read our book, learned about love styles, and found countless great ways to apply the ideas. It’s so gratifying to hear of lives changed and relationships restored, but it’s all because of the inherent strength in responding to others’ natural emotions rather than ignoring, diminishing, or rejecting them.

Of course, there are so many parenting books that it can be more than a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve tried hard to make this one different. The main focus isn’t curbing behaviors with discipline or using techniques to get kids to behave. We’ve found such books can be helpful, but our parenting took a dramatic turn when Milan and I discovered specific changes we needed to make in ourselves, which automatically changed what was happening with our kids.

Taking a close look at how we were brought up helped us to pinpoint our defenses and difficulties we learned in our original families. We realized that often our kids were not the problem. We began to recognize how we loved our kids was often at the root of the struggles, and that understanding and changing our damaged love styles affected our children’s behavior dramatically.

Once we changed as parents, almost everything else in our relationships with our kids began to change as well. There was less defensiveness, less misunderstanding, and less heartache all around. Best of all, we began to develop closer, deeper connections with them almost immediately. Maybe the greatest news for a parent is that once you know how to change yourself to be that better parent you’ve hoped to be, parenting can and does become far easier, as well as more rewarding!

Imagine that for a moment—simple, relational parenting. Are you tired of sabotaging your own fulfillment and happiness as a parent? Are your children tired of seeing how frustrated you can get?

As any discouraged parent can tell you, trying to change your kids is hard. The easiest thing you can do as a parent is to learn what you can do to change yourself for the better. And, ironically, this is the only thing that creates the peaceful home you’ve been longing for.

Here’s our hope: once you discover what you’ve been bringing to your parenting from your family of origin and learn to overcome your personal challenges and parenting baggage, you’ll be able to respond to your children in a way that greatly reduces the behavior problem you’re currently facing.

When we first discover our own deficiencies and begin making the positive changes that improve our performance as parents, it leads to more enjoyable relationships overall. Now Milan and I didn’t start our parenting careers with this profound wisdom in hand. With the exception of our youngest, our kids were much older when we first discovered our damaged love styles. It came as quite a surprise after more than a dozen years of parenting, because we had learned to hide our personal difficulties so well, even from ourselves, as dysfunctional-but-functioning adults.

If you’re parenting with your spouse, you may also want to read our first book, How We Love, to get an idea of how your love style is playing out with your partner and how that naturally affects parenting.

Whether you’re planning a family, currently a parent, or have grown children, freeing yourself to feel and deal with emotion appropriately will give your children solid, secure foundations as adults. As you use this book to foster open, healing conversations with your children, you will realize just how true it is that one small change in the parent can make a huge difference.

As I write this, I’m thinking back to just last night when a mother told me, “After seeing you and Milan demonstrate active feeling and dealing, I realized we’d never shown our kids how to really listen to others. So I apologized to my adult son and asked him to share how he felt about it. At first he didn’t want to, but soon we started talking, and we’ve continued now for a long time. One little change—just learning to listen—has totally changed our relationship, and I can actually see his wounds healing.” Many parents who call Milan and me for help with their kids are surprised when we ask to see them—the parents—instead. Nearly every time the problems are greatly alleviated or completely solved when parents become aware of how they are contributing to the difficulties.

How you love your kids is a matter of learning to become the truly great parent you’ve always wanted to be. Ironically, the greatest gift you can give your child is to be the best you’ve ever been. And who doesn’t want that? By learning how you love, initially by becoming more selfaware, you will know exactly how to love your child better. It won’t always be easy or a walk in the park, but the decision to see yourself clearly and identify those places you have blind spots will give you a road map to reach your full potential as a parent.

Beyond that, learning to love well will require a bit of training and some regular practice. But if you’re patient and remember that you’re just like anyone training for a challenging task, with those blind spots that will hold you back, you’ll gradually improve in time. With an open mind, you’ll begin to see yourself as you really are for the first time, and your view of your child as the source of your problem will begin to change.

And in our experience, that’s when you may realize your problem is being solved.

With the right perspective, behavioral, emotional, and relational challenges can be improved—even future generations will benefit. Who doesn’t long to hear their kids say, “My parents are the best! They’ve taught me everything I need to know in life”? To us, that sounds like the highest compliment any parent could receive.

If you’re ready now to make that one change—to see yourself honestly and learn to listen and grow—we believe you’ll be hearing your child say those words to you someday.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The Amazing Result of One Simple Change 1

Part 1 Helping Yourself as a Parent

1 The Miracle and the Mess 9

2 What Determines How We Parent 20

3 The Avoider Parent 32

4 The Pleaser Parent 49

5 The Vacillator Parent 62

6 The Controller Parent 79

7 The Victim Parent 94

Part 2 Helping Your Child

8 Helping Any Child 111

9 The Avoider Child 121

10 The Pleaser Child 130

11 The Vacillator Child 142

12 Controller and Victim Children 152

Part 3 Unique Children

13 The Introverted Child 177

14 The Free-Spirited Child 181

15 The Determined Child 186

16 The Sensitive Child 194

17 The Premature Child 199

Part 4 The Healing Journey for Parents and Children

18 The Gift of Insight 211

19 The Gift of Comfort 217

20 The Gift of Power 226

21 The Gift of Frustration 233

22 The Gift of Confession 241

23 The Gift of Laughter 249

24 The Gift of God: The Perfect Parent 259

Appendix: Parent Toolbox

Comfort Circle for Parenting 268

Soul Words 269

Conversation Starters 270

Positive Descriptive Words 272

Listener Guide 273

Speaker Guide 276

Awareness and Reflection Skills 278

For Further Study: Attachment Theory 280

Notes 283

Bibliography 290

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 6, 2012

    Lots of valuable practical tools and information.

    When I received this book, I was expecting it to be a remake of the 5 love languages type books. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong! This book was a quality breakdown of the many aspects of attachment theory. I enjoyed reading about each of the styles, and how they are played out in both parents and children. The book was balanced with research and personal examples. Many tools are provided in simple format which make immediate implementation of the ideas very easy. My favorite tool is the soul words. When I showed the soul words to my husband, he even immediately implemented their use in his classroom! This is a well written, valuable book, that is in alignment with many other books and research.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 10, 2011

    Amazingly Eye Opening

    I am one of those people who is very skeptical of books about parenting and self help. I read this one after 5 other people suggested it; thankfully, i listened. This book is an honest, insightful, and thought- provoking exploration into love and interactons. It is easy to read and common sensical in nature. This is a must read for any caregiver!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013


    The authors correlate lack of needs being met as a child to mistakes we bring to our own parenting. Insightful would be the best descriptor for this book. This should be a book every adult should read before becoming a parent and reread when the child arrives.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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