What Kids Need (Part 3)

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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Needs of Kids, Part 2
Guests:                      Dennis and Barbara Rainey                       
From the series:       The Art of Parenting: What Kids Need (Day 3 of 3)
Bob: While you’re making sure today that your children are fed—that they’ve got something to wear—that they’re doing their homework and that they’re protected—Barbara Rainey wants you to remember there is an even higher priority that we should never lose sight of, as parents.
Barbara: The number one thing that kids need from a mom and dad is to know how to have an authentic faith for themselves. They need a relationship with Jesus Christ, so that they can live for Him and take the message of Christ to their generation. What they need from you is to see it!
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 7th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Your children are going to live forever, just like you are. That’s why their spiritual condition is the most important thing we need to be focusing on, as parents. We’ll talk more about that today with Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. So one of the great things about learning about parenting from parents who’ve already done it is they’ve made the mistakes you don’t have to make; right? [Laughter]
Barbara: I wish it were that easy!
Dennis: Well, we were parents. We still are parents, by the way.
Bob: Right.
Dennis: But we were parents in the thick of it for 28 straight years: six children—now, all adults; now, all married; lots of grandkids—[our kids] raising their own crew. I have to tell you, Bob—my hat goes off to them.
Bob: Yes.
Dennis: I think they’re raising this generation in much more challenging days than we ever thought about.
Bob: We’ve been taking time this week, and your wife Barbara is joining us. Barbara, welcome back.
Barbara: Thank you, Bob.
Bob: We are talking about parenting, because you guys have just finished a book called The Art of Parenting. The book is, really, the centerpiece of what has become a parenting initiative, here, at FamilyLife®. 
It led to the video series—the Art of Parenting™—that churches are starting to use in small groups. People are using this in their living room with their neighbors, inviting them over for dinner and going through the video series. And this is what led to the movie that we produced, called Like Arrows, which is also going to be available very soon for people to purchase and to watch. I know a lot of our listeners did not get a chance to see it in theaters—they’ve been asking me, “When does it come out on DVD?” We’ll have news for you about that soon.
Your book, The Art of Parenting, is really the headwaters for all that we’ve been talking about here. We’re spending time helping parents understand what their kids need from them. You put these needs in the form of tweets, and we’ve already covered half of your list of ten tweets. Do you want to go back through the first five that we covered?
Dennis: I think it might be good; yes.
Barbara: Except it starts with ten; so the first five, but it—
Bob: Okay; we’re counting down until we get to number one. [Laughter]
Dennis: Number ten—it’s: “A home that is not child-centric.”
Bob: Your kids need the home they grow up in not to revolve around them.
Dennis: Exactly. Number nine—it’s: “A home led by intentional and purposeful parents.” That means parents who are really thinking through where they are taking their kids—
Bob: Yes.
Dennis: —and “What is the target that they’re going to release their arrow toward?”
Bob: —not just in the moment—but you’re thinking, long-term and strategically, with your kids.
Barbara: Yes; you’re thinking: “Why are we doing what we’re doing? What’s our goal?”
Bob: Yes.
Barbara: “Where are we headed?”
Bob: Alright; what else?
Dennis: Number eight: “A secure home.” Security is different than an alarm system. It’s the security of a mom and dad, who are committed to one another, and who are committed to following Jesus Christ.
Bob: It’s emotional security. Barbara, that goes beyond a mom and a dad being together. It is part of how we communicate to our kids, “It’s safe here for you to be who you are”; right?
Barbara: Yes; and mom and dad model that by being committed to one another and having a love relationship with one another that spills over to their kids. Their kids feel that—they feel that security and that freedom to be who they are.
Dennis: Number seven: “Parents who pray together every day.” I believe this more than ever—parenting is a spiritual battle. Marriages and families are taking place on a spiritual battlefield today that is unseen, but you are in a battle over your child’s soul.
Bob: And let me just say—in August, we launched a “30-Day Parenting Prayer Challenge,” where moms and dads can sign up and get a prayer prompt every day that will give them things to be praying for their children. It’s not too late to sign up for that. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com—give us your email address—and every day, for the next 30 days, we’ll send you a prayer prompt. You can be praying, together, for your kids.
Dennis: Number six: “Your child or children need parents who don’t freak out when their children fail.” When they’re developing a faith of their own, parents can be a shock-absorber/a safe place to share their doubts.
Bob: Okay; we’re to number five. So, Barbara, as we count down to number one, what’s the number five tweet?
Barbara: Tweet number five is: “Parents who embrace God-given differences, as male and female.” The tweet goes on to say: “Men and women are made in the image of God, and yet we’re very different. Your children need to see you relating to one another, working together as a team, and modeling maleness and femaleness.”
Bob: We’re going to talk more about this as we continue to talk about your book, but our kids need to understand their own identity—
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: —their own sense of the fact that God made them male or female and what that means. Part of the way they understand that is by seeing a mom and dad understand what it is to be a man or a woman and, then, model that for them.
Barbara: Yes; and that’s the best place for them to find that out—not out in the world, not from the school teacher, or kids on the playground. Their first and most important image of what it means to be a man / what it means to be a woman needs to come from mom and dad at home—seeing mom and dad relate to one another, day in and day out, year after year.
Bob: Yes.
Dennis: And you don’t have to do it perfectly. 
Barbara: Of course not!
Dennis: But you just have to—
Barbara: And you won’t. [Laughter]
Dennis: No; you sure won’t, but you have to have enough of an idea of: “What is manhood?” and “How is it different than being a woman/than womanhood?”
God began the Book—the best-selling book in history, the Bible—with a very clear statement that there were two sexes: male and female—two different sexes, who were uniquely imbued with the image of God. Those distinctives of being a man / being a woman were meant to complement one another, especially in marriage.
Bob: And this is something I know both of you spent a lot of time—thinking about, looking at the Scriptures, praying about, reading broadly on this subject—because you’re not trying to encourage moms and dads to follow a stereotype when it comes to manhood and womanhood; right?
Barbara: That’s right. 
We aren’t. Actually, that chapter, where we talk most about this, was the hardest one we wrote. It was the one we finished last, because it is such a complicated and complex subject. 
What we did, in that chapter—what we hope will be communicated as you read the book—is we went back to Genesis and looked at: “What was there in the beginning?” God doesn’t tell us a lot, but there’s enough there that we can begin to understand what His purpose was for men, what His purpose is for women, and how He made us different, and how we complement one another. There’s purpose and order—and all kinds of things—that help us begin to understand what a woman is, and what she’s supposed to do; and what a man is, and what he’s supposed to do.
Dennis: The fourth tweet in our ten count-down to number one is one that Barbara needs to comment on—not me.
Barbara: “Children need a mom, who is a nurturer, lover, and a vigilant protector of her children.” 
Your kids’ souls need to be nourished by a mom, who understands her indispensability. Moms are indispensable. Mommas love, and believe in, and defend, and rescue, and encourage, and fight for their children like no one else on earth; so be there for them!
It’s the whole idea of being invested in your child. Moms—because we give birth to these kids; because we pour our lives into these children; because we believe in them, and we love them, and we care for them—we want the best for them. Sometimes, you have to fight for them, like a momma bear does her cubs. That’s what your kids need from you. They need you to fight for them for what’s best for them—for what they need—not just to give them the best privileges—that’s not what I mean by fighting for them, but I mean fighting to protect them.
One of the stories I tell in the book is how I was vigilant about the messages and the images that came into my kids’ eyes, and into their heads, and into their hearts. I monitored television like a hawk. We watched very little of it, and it was highly supervised; because I knew enough about my children to know that they didn’t have the ability to process some of that stuff that was visually presented to them on television or in movies—even in music / in certain kinds of music. I wanted them to not experience some of that until they were mature enough to process it and understand it, as an adult. That was one of the ways that I protected my kids.
Bob: Okay; so let me ask you—because some of our listeners are dads, raising their kids on their own.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: Mom’s not there, either because of death or divorce. There’s not a mom in the home to be the vigilant defender, and protector, and guardian. What does that dad do?
Dennis: I think he looks for some very influential mentors and women, who can nurture his children in a way that’s appropriate in a relationship, going forward. 
You’re going to find those folks, not out in the marketplace, but in the church. I wouldn’t do it causally. I would do it after a lot of prayer, and I would interview a few folks and I would make sure the person or the woman that I selected—or a couple of women, maybe—really emerged as those who had something to say to the next generation of children.
Bob: This could be a teacher at school.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: It could be somebody who is working with the youth group at church.
Dennis: Right.
Bob: You just give them a heads-up and say: “Hey, my son’s in the youth group. We don’t have a mom in the home. You could have influence in this area,”—just kind of nudge them to help you out here a little bit.
Barbara: Well, I think it could be a relative too. I think there are a lot of grandparents in this generation, who are stepping in and providing those missing links, because there are so many families that are split by divorce or the death of a spouse; so there are a lot of grandparents. 
I know of people our age—aunts and uncles of kids—who are doing that too. I think there are lots of opportunities out there; you just need to ask God to guide you.
Bob: And we just have to say here—because of the climate we live in, you want to do this with eyes wide open.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: Because to have an opposite sex mentor for your son, or even a same-sex mentor for your daughter, who’s not a part of the family—you just want to make sure that you’ve done the vetting you’re talking about, Dennis, and that you don’t leave that relationship unattended.
Dennis: I totally agree.
Tweet number three: “Kids need a dad who is a servant-leader, a protector, and provider.” What we talk about here is how your children need to see what a real man does—how he pursues a relationship with God, his wife, and his children. I think this is a tough assignment, Bob, because modeling humble leadership / being a servant-leader really demands death to self. 
I remember going home, on more than one occasion—I didn’t want to die anymore. I didn’t want to die to self!
Bob: Right.
Dennis: I wanted to go home and live for myself.
But I think, to have the kind of home you’re going to have to have today, you need to recognize your kids need to see a dad who can demonstrate what self-denial looks like—love his wife—but also, love his kids.
Bob: And Barbara, again, in this culture, there are a lot of kids going home—to homes without a dad. The same advice applies here.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: It’s good to have coaches, or youth group leaders, or some uncles, or some grandparents, who can come along and model for your sons and your daughters what godly manhood looks like.
Barbara: Exactly, because they need to see it. Honestly, they need to see it, most importantly, of course, with their dad; but they need glimpses of what it looks like with other men.
Great coaches have always been highly influential with young men, and so are teachers. There are stories—tons of stories—about teachers who have changed the life of students. Be involved with your kids with where they are. Try to get the right teacher for your child; try to get your kid involved in an activity that has a really good coach, that you know will model some things for your son—or even for your daughter—that will make a difference in their life.
Bob: Yes.
Dennis: School choice is always a debatable point between moms and dads—
Bob: There’s controversy there; yes.
Dennis: —but also between families.
Bob: Yes.
Dennis: You and I, Bob, have done a lot of radio over the last 26 years, talking about the school choice issue. Barbara and I talked a lot about this. I remember, as a dad, just thinking, “I am called to be my children’s protector as we send them to the public school,”—which is what we chose to do after much prayer, much discussion, and a lot of doubt, by the way.
I realized that if I was going to protect them, by sending them there, I had to be engaged at a far deeper level than if I sent them to “a safer” place. It was interesting what that extracted: meetings with teachers around delicate subjects that they were wanting to teach our children that we didn’t agree with—needing to handle that in a diplomatic way in front of our kids.
I’m a person of conviction and, you know, I don’t mind sharing my convictions; but we’ve always got to be loving. As a dad, we can be protectors and do that in a shepherding way that is peaceful and can protect our kids as they go into harm’s way.
Bob: Okay; we’re talking about what kids need from moms and dads as we’re raising our children. This is from your new book, The Art of Parenting. We’re down to tweet number two.
Barbara: Tweet number two is: “Parents who have surrendered to Christ, because of His sacrificial love.” 
There is really nothing more important for a mom and a dad, as we’ve hinted to and mentioned previously, than for a mom and dad to be surrendered to Christ; because if you are, He is your Master and you are following what He has to say. You are studying the Bible to find out what He has to say about parenting, what He’s called you to do in your marriage, and what He’s called you to do with your kids too.
That creates a stability, in and of itself; because you aren’t doing this flippantly. You’re not raising them casually, but you understand the weight and the importance that God has put on you to raise the next generation so that your kids might grow up and be Christ-followers so that they might take Him to their generation. That weight gives you the impetus to want to do well and to do it God’s way.
Bob: The other way we could turn this around and say it is: “Kids don’t need a mom and a dad, who are the blind leading the blind.” 
You’ve got to know where God’s leading you and, then, take your kids in that direction.
Dennis: You know, Bob, we are watching a generation of young people, who are leaving the church when they graduate from high school. At least for the present time, they are not coming back. There are a lot of people asking the question, “Why is this happening?” 
I believe, when your children do not see a faith that matches up with what you practice at church with what you’re doing at home, there’s a divorce that occurs. It’s a divorce that a child tries to reconcile in his mind: “Why is it that mom and dad say they believe this at church, but they live like this at home?” That’s not reconcilable to a child; but after 18 years, the reality is glaring—the parents aren’t really in love with Jesus Christ. 
If you go back to the Scriptures—Deuteronomy, Chapter 6—there’s so much wisdom in this! 
Listen to me! God commanded—to the nation of Israel through Moses—He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And you shall teach your children…” the same thing—pass it on! You can’t pass on what you don’t possess.
Children today desperately need to see their moms and dads attempt to be Christ-followers. Why do I say “attempt?” Because you’re not going to do it perfectly. You are going to fail, and you’re going to have to turn, on more than one occasion, and ask your kids to forgive you for being a poor model. I did that; Barbara did that. We’ll talk more, in this series from the Art of Parenting, about that. I think, more than ever, children today need to see their parents with an authentic faith—a love for God and Christ that, again, is not perfect; but it doesn’t quit! It’s not a one day per week for one hour. 
It’s an attempt to live for Christ—and for His purposes and glory—seven days a week.
Bob: Okay; so we’ve been going through our top-ten countdown. We’re all the way to number one, so the top of the list for parents?—the thing kids—would you say: “This is what kids need most from a mom and dad”?
Barbara: Yes; that’s why we put it number one, actually. [Laughter]
Bob: Yes.
Barbara: And the number one thing that “Kids need from a mom and dad is to know how to have an authentic faith for themselves.” They need a relationship with Jesus Christ—that’s your ultimate goal, as a mom and dad. And so, what they need from you is—they need to know how to do that. 
As Dennis was just talking about, you’ll need to ask your kids to forgive you more than once. I thought: “Yes! Like about a hundred times more than once—per kid!” [Laughter] That’s how your children know that it’s an authentic relationship; and that’s how they know: “Oh, when I mess up—when I make a mistake / when I do something wrong—I can go to God and talk to Him, because my mom and dad have shown me how to do that. They’ve done it with me. I’ve watched them do it with each other.” 
That’s just such a normal part of our family life that they don’t think anything about it—they know: “Oh, I can go talk to God about this problem. I can take my concerns and my fears to God, because we’ve been doing that my whole life.” 
So the goal—the number one goal—is to lead your children to Christ so that they can live for Him and take the message of Christ to their generation. What they need from you is to see it!
Bob: And we can’t guarantee. There’s not a formula here to make sure your kids are going to follow Christ, but we can be faithful to what God’s called us to.
Dennis: That’s right! We didn’t do it perfectly—we’ve already said that. But what we did attempt to model is a word we don’t talk about much, certainly within the Christian community—it’s the word, “repent.” Repent means you turn and do a 180.
Bob: Yes.
Dennis: You turn from going the wrong way to turn to God, and admit you’ve been going the wrong way, and go His way. 
That’s what children need to see / that’s what children need to hear. How do you do that?! You know they’re going to fail. You know they’re going to sin! They need to know: “How do I handle my sin, as a follower of Christ, going forward?”
Bob: You guys—I assume you’re okay with us putting these top ten tweets on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com—
Dennis: Absolutely!
Bob: —so that parents can download this.
Barbara: Yes.
Bob: They can look at this and they can have dialogue/conversation about: “How are we doing in these areas? What needs adjustment?”
Dennis: And what I would say, here, at the close of the broadcast—if you haven’t taken a look at the Art of Parenting video series—it’s for small groups—it’s for a pair of parents to get together with four or five other couples and to experience community and to go through content that’s going to open you up to talk with other parents. You need to do this!
There are going to be hundreds of thousands of homes—and maybe millions of children impacted—by the parents who go through this brand-new video series. If you’re looking for a way to grow and apply what we’re talking about here, this is how you do it.
Bob: Yes; there is a version of the Art of Parenting video series that’s available as an online course that moms and dads can go through together for free. You can find out more about that on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. We think it’s probably best for you to get together with other parents and go through the video series together—have the workbook; interact / talk about the issues you’re facing, as parents; and help one another in the process.
Find out about the Art of Parenting small group kit when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com as well; and then, of course, your new book, The Art of Parenting, is going to be here any day. If folks want to pre-order a copy of the book, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to pre-order; or they can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get on the list to receive the book as soon as it arrives. 
Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, if you are a regular FamilyLife Today listener—if you’ve been on our website and looked at the articles that are available / the resources we have there, if you have been to any of our events, or if you’ve used any of the materials that FamilyLife has produced and created—you need to thank one of our Legacy Partners.
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And we hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend. And I hope you can join us back again on Monday when we’re going to meet D.A. and Elisia Horton. This is a couple who, if you had met them during the first year of their marriage, or during their courtship for that matter, you’d have thought, “No way can this couple survive as husband and wife!” But they’ve learned some things along the way, and they’ll be here to share that with us. I hope you can be here 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 Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today
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