What Every Parent Needs (Part 1)
You are preparing your children for independence their entire life. Make sure you are intentional to help them avoid being derailed.
FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript
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Leaning on the Lord
Guests: Dennis and Barbara Rainey
From the series: Art of Parenting: What Every Parent Needs (Day 1 of 3)
Bob: The demands we face as parents are daily and, sometimes, urgent demands. Barbara Rainey says, in the midst of that, we’ve got to keep in mind the long-term perspective of parenting.
Barbara: As parents, we’re so often reactive; and we’re so often mired in today and the issues of today—whether it’s potty training, or lying, or first day of school, or whatever it is—we get really bogged down in the today. It’s hard to make ourselves think ahead.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, October 29th. Our host is Dennis Rainey; I'm Bob Lepine. In parenting, it’s important that all of us keep the main thing the main thing. We’re going to talk about how we do that, as parents, today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I don’t know if you guys have had this kind of an opportunity—I say “you guys” because your wife, Barbara, is in the studio with us today. Welcome Barbara.
Barbara: Thank you Bob.
Dennis: Hi Sweetheart.
Bob: Have you had the opportunity to sit down with expectant parents, who are about to have their first baby, and just say: “Okay; let me give you the lay of the land. Let me tell you what’s coming”? Have you had parents like that, who have said, “Would you just prep us?” You know, we do premarital counseling, but we don’t do a whole lot of pre-parenting counseling for first-time parents. Have you ever had that opportunity?
Barbara: Well, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to talk to young women, who are going to have their first baby about the birthing process, because that’s really front and center in most of their minds—it’s: “How am I going to get this kid here? How am I going to survive it? How are we going to…”—all that stuff at the beginning—feeding and all of that. That’s really where most young women’s minds are: “How am I going to survive the first six months?”
So they don’t really think much beyond that—I don’t think. I think it’s getting the baby here, getting it healthy, learning how to feed it and take care of it—and that’s about as far as I think they go, mentally.
Bob: When I was a young parent, I wasn’t thinking much beyond the here and now—the next couple of weeks. I didn’t have the big picture in mind. I think, for a lot of parents, that’s just where we live.
Dennis: I think it’s a time of blissful joy, and they really don’t know what’s ahead for them. I think there is a lot of optimism—and may I say it about us?—a lot of arrogance. We thought we’d do a better job than our parents would do. It wasn’t that we thought we were better people; we just thought we’ve been better-equipped. We’ve had some great teachers of the Bible; we’ve had some mentors that have built into our lives, and we thought we could do it, Bob. I don’t think I thought it would be easy, but I thought it was going to be easier than it was. [Laughter]
Bob: So today, what we’re going to do is—we’re going to do some of this pre-parenting counseling that will, hopefully, help moms and dads think—not so much about labor and delivery—because they’re taking classes for that; right?
Bob: They’re going through sessions on how to breathe and all of this. But we want them to be thinking about the next 18 years with this son or daughter that they are about to have and to come back and say, “Okay; what’s the big objective here?”
And this is one of the things you deal with in the book that you’ve just written called The Art of Parenting. You’ve got a chapter in here—a section of the book—that’s all about what parents need in order to be good parents; and at the center of that, they need the right perspective; don’t they?
Dennis: They do. This first point we’d like to make for parents is absolutely essential. It’s like gravity—it is—it must be in place in your life, in your marriage, in your family to be successful, as a parent.
You see what I’m holding.
Bob: I do.
Dennis: It’s a Bible.
Dennis: We say, “A dusty Bible will lead to a dirty life.” It will also lead to children who are aimless, spiritually, and who don’t know who they are and why they were created.
Barbara: So the most important thing we believe for every parent is that you must be individually, and then as a couple, dependent on God. Assuming that you know Him—which we’re assuming that at this moment—if you know Him, then the most important thing for you to do is to grow in your relationship with Him so that you can, therefore, guide your child according to the principles that God has put forth in His Scripture.
Bob: When you talk about parents being in God’s Word and following God, you’re talking about being in there with more purpose and more intentionality than just taking a Bible verse vitamin every morning; right?
Barbara: Yes; and I mean more than just going to church on Sunday morning. I think we—and especially when we’re young, because Dennis and I were this way too—I think we were trying to learn how to walk with God.
We didn’t really know what that meant; so it was real easy to feel like—if we went to church, and we were in a Bible study, or we read our Bible occasionally—that was accomplishing that. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things—you have to start there.
But I think what we’re saying in the book, and what we’re saying to you, who are listening, is that: “What you really need is—you really need a heart that is surrendered to Christ and is totally dependent on Him.” Because, as we learned in raising our kids, it wasn’t just enough to take our kids to Sunday school. It wasn’t just enough to have them memorize a verse here and there. What they really needed is—they really needed to see a mom and dad, who are completely dependent on Christ, as individuals—not just talking about it—because, if you just talk about it, your kids are going to rebel. But if they see a mom and dad—who are in love with Jesus, who know Him, and who are trying to please him with their lives—then that’s going to be much more attractive to them. Your whole family is just going to work together better because you’re following Christ—not just your mixed-up ideas.
Bob: Barbara, I’ve never talked to a young mom without hearing something like this: “Before I had kids, there was margin and space in my life for a quiet time, or to go to the women’s Bible study, or to really get deep. I loved it. I really enjoyed it. After I had kids, margin is gone.
Bob: “It’s vanished. Getting five minutes in the Bible seems like an impossibility unless I just lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes.”
Barbara: Well, and that doesn’t always work because my kids always found me. [Laughter]
Dennis: She tried to hide in there!
Barbara: Oh, I did, and it didn’t work. I remember that so well, and I felt exactly the same way. I think now, as I look back, one of my regrets is that I didn’t fight harder for margin. I think I could have created some margin if I had worked with Dennis on that and if we had made more of a pact and more of a goal for that to happen.
It’s real easy for moms to become martyrs and to become indispensable, because it feeds who we are.
I loved it that my kids needed me. I liked it that they actually wanted me over their dad sometimes—it made me feel important—I liked that. And yet, that was, in some ways, I think a trap to keep me from doing what I needed to do, which was to spend time with the Lord. There were times when I didn’t do Bible study, and I didn’t have a quiet time. I gave up on it; because it was so hard, and I’d rather not try than try and feel like a failure. I know that that’s normal for moms.
But I’m saying, on this side of the equation—I’m saying on this side of the line, having finished raising my kids—if I had it to do all over again, I would work harder to make sure I had that margin and to protect that in some way in conjunction with my husband—for us to work together to find a way for me to be communing with Christ on a better level.
Dennis: And I have a confession to make.
I don’t have tons of regrets that I wished I’d done; but on this one, I did not understand the burden children place on a mother. I grossly underestimated that drain. I wish I’d understood what Barbara just said, because I wouldn’t have been waiting for her to come to me and ask for margin. I would have been looking out for her—saying to her, “What do we need to do for you to nourish your soul and look out for your own heart?” Bob, I don’t think I did that enough—I really don’t.
Barbara: I think the reason you didn’t is the reason most young men didn’t—and probably, Bob, you would say the same thing—it is really, really hard for a young man to understand the load and what it means to be a mom. I’m watching it with our daughters and our sons—and their wives. It takes years for a man to fully grasp what it costs her to give birth, and to raise these kids, and to give her life for the kids.
Bob: The physical and emotional toll—
Barbara: That’s correct.
Bob: —that a woman pays.
If a mom and dad, in the season of parenting, just say: “Look; we’re overwhelmed. Something’s got to give. We’ll get back to the Bible eventually; but for this season, we just don’t have the margin to do this. We’ll keep going to church, and we’ll still do some things—we’re listening to Christian radio,”—I mean, right now, they’re listening to Christian radio; so that’s got to be worth something. You would say, “If you neglect the Bible…” what’s going to happen to your parenting?
Dennis: Well, I want to go back to a message that I heard 50 years ago—it just dawned on me: I heard this when I was a junior in college—his name was Dr. Chet Wood. He was a professor at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. He came to a Cru® meeting, where a bunch of us—Barbara was probably there—
—and he held up a batch of grapes—plump juicy grapes that were all held together in a cluster.
Then, he held up a vine that was withered—there were no grapes on it—all that was left was just little spindly stems; okay? He held it up and he goes: “This is a picture of the Christian life. Jesus said, in John 15, ‘If you abide in Me and My words abide in you,’”—here’s what he said—“‘you’re going to bear fruit.’ Why? Because the word, abide, means to draw your life’s source from. Jesus stands up in John 15, the first 11 verses, and He says: ‘Abide in Me and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.’”
Our life’s decisions, our values—the things that are important to us—are drawn from this Book; and it teaches us how to do life God’s way.
Bob: Yes; I’m thinking, “If you want God to be a part of your parenting, then He’s got to be brought into your thinking, on a regular basis.”
Dennis: Well, Bob, in the movie you created, Like Arrows, there’s a time in that movie where the dad confesses to the kids—do you remember it?
Bob: Oh yes; it’s a pivotal point in the movie, where the dad says, “We’ve learned that the Bible is more significant than we realized—that we need to be in this book every day, as a family.” He calls his family back together around it.
Dennis: And “This needs to be our center.” He said—
Dennis: “It hasn’t been. It’s been a part of—over to the side.”
That’s why I think we start with this one—that you need to have a Bible that isn’t dirty—but a Bible that’s marked up and that has some edges to the pages, where you can tell it’s been read more than once. It is your manual to know how to raise children in this generation.
Bob: Okay; so we’re sitting with new parents—we’re saying: “Here’s what you’re going to need. Number one, don’t let this slip away as you have your kids—get the margin—fight for it; stay connected; abide in the vine—be in God’s Word.” We got that. What else do parents need?
Dennis: Well and one other thing, the Bible will show you what a straight line looks like; because you’re going to run into a lot of lines, as you raise kids—other parents with other values. The only way you know if a line is crooked is if you know what a straight line looks like. The Bible lays out truth: the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, all the teachings of Christ—the New Testament. It teaches you, as a parent, how to live a wise life.
We’ll talk more about that, in this series, later on; but parents today need to know what a truly fruitful, successful, effective family looks like.
Bob: Alright; so if you’re in God’s Word, that’s going to give you perspective on—like you’re saying—all the issues that you’re going to face, as moms and dads. This is where parents need, not just time in the Word, but they need wisdom that comes from being in God’s Word to face the challenges they’re going to face every day.
Dennis: That’s the second thing parents need. They need to understand the times. When I say that, I’m saying you need to look beyond what’s just happening to see the symptoms—to see the worldview of how people are making decisions in their families and in their lives—and not get distracted. But you need to have an understanding of the times; and you need that wisdom that you were talking about, Bob—wisdom to know how to act and how to lead your family forward.
Bob: There’s a verse in the Old Testament, Barbara, that talks about the men of Issachar; right?
Barbara: Issachar; yes.
Bob: They were men who understood the times.
Barbara: Yes; and they were really important to David, because he had his soldiers—he had his battle lines all drawn up and all the men—
—but he needed these men; because they were wise, and they were looking ahead, and they were thinking ahead.
As parents, we’re so often reactive; and we’re so often mired in today and the issues of today—whether it’s potty training, or lying, or first day of school, or whatever it is—we get really bogged down in the today. It’s hard to make ourselves think ahead.
What we’re talking about in this one—in the second one: “Be wise,”—and you get your wisdom from the Bible—it’s thinking ahead and looking ahead—watching: “What are the issues that parents are dealing with?” who have kids that are maybe five years ahead of you; so you know what’s coming, and not as caught off guard, and not always playing defensive.
Bob: I read an article online—this was a while back—but a story about parents, who had decided that they’re going to raise—not babies—but “theybies.” Have you heard about “theybies”?
Barbara: No; I haven’t heard about “theybies.”
Bob: “Theybies”—where they’re not going to disclose to the child, or to anybody else, what the child’s gender is as they raise that child.
They refer to the child with plural pronouns: “they”/”them” rather than “him” or “her.” The children know what their anatomy is; but they don’t make a gender differentiation and say, “Well, you’re a boy,” or “You’re a girl.”
Now, I’m thinking about parents, understanding the times and knowing how to respond. If you’re in God’s Word, it’s going to help you understand, “Okay; that’s a novel idea, but that runs against what the Bible tells us about God’s good gift of gender.”
Dennis: Our book, The Art of Parenting, really wants to help a parent anticipate these issues we’re talking about here and many, many more. It comes as also a part of a package, Bob—the Art of Parenting™ video series, which has a—it’s a planning document that is in the shape of an arrow. That arrow is headed toward a target, and that’s your child.
Your child is like an arrow in the hand of a warrior.
I think one of the best things it does is—it has two diagrams that show wind. Wind can blow an arrow off target. One of those depictions—it challenges a parent to think of the top one or two things, in the next six to twelve months, that a parent is going to face with this child: “What are the issues your child is going to face?”—or maybe they’re facing it right now; you just need to address it. Then there’s the depiction of wind for 18-24 months—a couple of years out. You’re making choices about values.
Bob: This is where understanding the times—it makes sense for parents. You’ve got to know: “What are our values and where are our boundaries going to be?” So let me ask this: “What can a mom or a dad do to understand the times?”
Because just being involved in the household issues that you’re facing with your kids—that’s one thing—but to know what the culture is throwing at them, right and left, you have to stay vigilant. I mean, it’s like you have to stay on Facebook® and Twitter® 24/7 just to see what might be coming their way.
Barbara: Well, I don’t think it takes that much time. [Laughter]
Bob: That might be an exaggeration.
Barbara: I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I think you could—at your church, you could volunteer with the kids’ group that is older than where your kids are. If your oldest is in second grade, help teach the sixth-grade class. Or if your oldest is in sixth grade, walk into the high school youth group; or sign up to be a chaperone for the youth retreat, just for a weekend. Begin to hang around some of these kids that are older than your kids. See what they talk about; see what they wear; see what they’re thinking—how they act / how they use their devices—what are their parents letting them do and not letting them do? If you’ve got friends—that’s even better—who have kids that are ahead of your kids too. Talk to them and say, “What are the issues?”
But the important thing is just find ways to engage with parents or students—children who are older than yours—to know what they’re actually dealing with.
Bob: I remember some parents I talked to—this was years ago—who said their daughter had gone on the youth retreat with the church. When she came back, they were debriefing about it and said, “So what happened?” They said: “Well, it was really cool. It was a cool night; and so we all took our sleeping bags out, and we all slept under the stars out on the lawn.” [Laughter]
Dennis: Oh yes; sure.
Bob: And they said, “We all went out there.” “Who’s ‘We all?’”
Dennis: Was that one—that was one of the retreats our kids went on?
Barbara: That’s sounding real familiar. [Laughter]
Dennis: That is sounding very familiar.
Bob: I was trying to protect the names of the guilty here, but—[Laughter]
Dennis: Okay; okay.
Bob: —it was a situation where the parents, and probably the youth leaders, got blindsided. But here were boys and girls, out spending the night together under the stars, on the youth retreat.
Dennis: We went on a bus with a bunch of junior high kids on a youth retreat one time. I couldn’t believe that they showed a movie that was rated “R”—
Barbara: —on the bus.
Dennis: —on the bus on the way to a conference, where you’re talking about getting to know God and living life as God intended it.
I tell you—one of the smartest things we did—we did some pretty clumsy things, but one of the best things we did was teaching a sixth-grade Sunday school class—not once/not twice—but we taught it for 11 years. Those kids only thought that Mr. and Mrs. Rainey were teaching them. Those kids took us to school.
Here’s the lesson for moms and dads, everywhere, who are listening to us: “Your sixth grader, your tenth grader, your senior in high school—all of them know a whole lot more than you ever imagined—a whole lot more than you knew at that same age. Anticipate that and ask them some tough questions:
“What have you been looking at?” “What are friends looking at?” “What are you battling with?” “What’s tripping you up?”
Bob, these are days when parents can’t afford to allow their kids to push them out. Parents have to find a way in—a gentle way—that builds a relationship and delivers the truth of God’s Word—and compassion for when your child fails.
Bob: There’s a great Old Testament metaphor where the guards of the city are referred as the watchmen on the walls. Their job is to keep the city safe, and keep the walls guarded, and to look for the enemies who might be encroaching. That’s really what you’re calling moms and dads to be and to do to: “Stand guard and keep a wall of protection around their children—physically, emotionally, spiritually—as you raise them,”—not that they’re never going to face hardship—you want them to face hardship.
But moms and dads are here to make sure we’re keeping our kids protected.
This is something you address clearly in your new book, The Art of Parenting, which of course, we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. It’s the companion to the eight-part small group series—the video series on the Art of Parenting—which is also available. Get more information about both of these resources when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Get copies of the book; get copies of the small group series—get together with some other parents and go through this content and interact together, as parents, around these subjects. Again, it’s The Art of Parenting by Dennis and Barbara Rainey—the book and the small group series. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on how to order. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
By the way, some of you have been asking about the Like Arrows movie, which is a part of the Art of Parenting video series. This fall, we’ve been making that available for churches to show for ministry use. We hope to have it available for you to order your own copy very soon, so stay tuned for that.
You know, every time we have conversations like this, I know there are parents, who say to us, “That was helpful, because it reminded me of things I know but I forget.” I mean, all of us do, as parents—in the midst of the dailyness of all we’re going through, we can start to slip from our priorities. Here, at FamilyLife®, the goal of this program is to provide you with a regular, daily reminder that keeps you focused on what really matters in your marriage and in your family. Our goal is to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We believe godly marriages and families can change the world.
For those of you who make this program possible for everyone else—in your community, in your city, and for people all around the world—thank you for your commitment to these same principles. Thank you for partnering with us to provide practical biblical help and hope for marriages and for families. We couldn’t do it without you.
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Tomorrow, we’re going to continue to talk about the kinds of parents we need to be as we raise the next generation. What are the core qualities that we need to make sure are a part of our lives? Dennis and Barbara Rainey will be back with us again tomorrow. I hope you will be back as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.
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