Countering the Culture
About the Guest
Would you say your parents respected you? Authors Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock discuss the changing culture and the entitlement mentality our kids are growing up with. Hear how these moms are countering the culture in their own families and building stronger relationships in the process.
Debbie HitchcockDebbie joined Greater Impact Ministries in 2008 with a passion for taking the ministry’s training method and applying it to a parenting course. What she had discovered when she took their Daughters of Sarah marriage course was that not only did it make her good marriage even better, but as she started applying the concepts and skills with her teenagers, deeper relationships started to materialize. “Trust was built in ways I had never experienced before. Our relationships...more
Nina RoesnerNina Roesner, Executive Director of Greater Impact Ministries, Inc., has personally seen “applied respect” change lives through thousands of real stories in the Daughters of Sarah® courses. Frustrated with the media’s portrayal of how women are supposed to look, act and feel, she loves to encourage women to awaken spiritually. Passionate about assisting others in their journeys in life, and concerned about the proven negative impact divorce has on children and women’s health, she de...more
Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock discuss the entitlement mentality that pervades the culture in which our kids are growing up.
Countering the Culture
Bob: If you’re a mom or a dad of a teenage son or daughter, how much one-on-one time did you have with that young man or that young woman in the last week and just what kind of time was it? Here’s Debbie Hitchcock.
Debbie: One of the things that I did with a group of women is—I asked them to write down each of their children’s names, and how much time they spent with their child, and what they did during that time. And it’s mind-blowing because what they realize is that most of the time that they spend with their kids is transactional / it’s not relational.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, August 5th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. To form healthy relationships, you need time and you need intentionality. We’ll talk about how you do that with a teenager today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. If we got your adult children on the phone today and asked them the question, “Do you think Mom and Dad respected you when you were a teenager?” do you think your kids would say, “Yes”? [Laughter] Depends on what incident came to mind immediately; wouldn’t it?
Dennis: I tell you—let’s not do that right now. [Laughter] There were some moments that—you know, what parent doesn’t lose it from time to time? But hopefully—you know, I think back to the passage in Ephesians, Chapter 6—that says [paraphrased]: “Dads, do not exasperate your children / don’t drive them to anger, but bring them up in the discipline of the Lord.” So, as parents—I know that passage is directed to fathers, which is appropriate—as parents, we are to speak with respect and to relate to our children with respect, especially since we’re training them to relate back to us with respect.
We have some authors, who are nodding their heads, here in the studio, because they’ve written a book called With All Due Respect—and it is 40 Days to a Perfect Teenager. [Laughter]
Nina: You have the wrong book! [Laughter]
Dennis: No; that’s not the real subtitle—it is 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens and Tweens.
Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock join us again on the broadcast. Debbie / Nina, welcome back.
Debbie: Good to be here.
Nina: Thank you.
Dennis: I want to cut to the chase because Debbie—you raised four through the teenage years; and Nina, you’re in the process of doing it right now. One of the things you point out in your book is that parents have to know how to handle the culture and help a teenager navigate the culture.
I just would like to know: “What are you seeing today, Debbie”—as one who has passed the raising of a teenager—“what are you seeing happening in the culture that you’d want parents to be specifically mindful of?”
Debbie: I think the biggest thing that I see is the technology-piece. We have a culture that feels entitled to have technology at their fingertips. We see very young children with these phones—they’re texting / they’re “sexting”—it’s out there. It can even be something like a PlayStation® or the video games. You get Mom in a situation where the kid is entranced in this shoot-’em-up game and: “Mom, let me get to a safe point. Let me get to a safe point.” “Dinner’s ready! We need to eat as a family!” It doesn’t happen.
You also have parents that are running continually. The kid is involved in every activity. With that, it becomes very much a child-focused family.
That sense of identity is no longer in the family, but it’s with everything else that’s going on in their life.
Nina: Yes; and you’re seeing parents overly involved in their kids’ lives—doing homework for them—kids getting graded in completely unfair standards / unfair situations because they’re not being graded comparatively to other kids—they have parents doing these projects for them, which is craziness.
Dennis: Now wait a second. Are you saying there’s something wrong with a parent crashing with the child, until three / four o’ clock in the morning, to do the science project?
Nina: Yes. If the kid needs a little bit of help, that’s one thing; but they’re responsible for their schoolwork—not Mom and Dad. It’s their grade—not Mom’s and Dad’s. I went to high school / I went to junior high—I’m all over that. I’m done now. You know? [Laughter]
Dennis: Bob, did you guys ever stay up doing one of those?
Bob: I edited a lot of term papers for my kids when they were going through. [Laughter] I was caught in the dilemma between not wanting to edit too much—so that my voice kind of came in or that my ideas were entered into that paper / but instead, just do a light enough edit—but I think I tried to make sure that, as I was doing that, that it wasn’t just “I helped you with your homework”; but “Let me show you what I did, and why I did it, so that you know how to do this yourself next time.” I think I was just trying to help them learn how to write.
Nina: Well, and the goal is independence; right? I mean, you don’t want a 35-year-old that needs you to tell them how to get up and go to work in the morning.
Nina: So, there are so many things that they’re capable of at such young ages. We step in the way of them doing them. We cripple them at young ages by doing it all for them—we don’t have to. I know it is high competition out there. So what I used to do was—I would contact my school’s teacher and say, “I hope you understand that little Johnny did his homework 100 per cent by himself, and I hope you grade him accordingly as you’re looking at everyone else’s reports. [Laughter]
Never had a problem with it—not even once.
Nina: Really; really. Yes.
And the other issue with the culture is all this social media stuff. We, as parents, are completely—a lot of us, myself included—unaware because, every other day, it seems like there’s something new coming on. It’s quick, and it’s hot, and it’s fun, and it shows up on these smartphones Debbie was talking about. Everybody has one. There’s so much pressure for these phones—and the smartphones, and the iPads®, and everything—and we’re not protecting our kids from the influence of the world.
Bob: Okay; so you have a 14-year-old.
Bob: She has a smartphone?
Nina: No; she does not.
Nina: I know. We—yes; I hear about it a lot. I’ll be friends with her when she’s 30.
Dennis: She’s told you; hasn’t she?—“You’re the only parent on the planet—
Nina: Oh, yes. Apparently I might be; yes.
Bob: And you’ve made a conscious decision that she’s not—when can she have one?
Nina: She can have a phone when she needs a phone.
Bob: But I mean a smartphone—when can she have an iPhone®?
Nina: When she has the ability to pay for one, which will probably be when she’s 18, and she needs it. She doesn’t need it now. Even my older son, who’s in college—he has a phone that’s an Android phone; okay? He didn’t want to spend that much money on a phone—nothing against iPhones / I think they’re wonderful—I don’t have one either.
But we have software that, if you’re going to use the internet, it keeps you off the places you’re not supposed to be / shouldn’t be because we just know temptation is a thing. We voluntarily asked for that—that’s the thing.
Bob: So does your daughter have an old flip-open phone?
Nina: You know, she doesn’t even have that. I know. I’m sounding archaic at this point. Yes; she doesn’t have that. I do have an old flip phone that I might consider [giving] that next year if she’s working, but there’s no reason for her to have a phone right now.
Bob: So she does not have one with her every place she goes? If she needs one, you lend it to her?
Nina: She doesn’t even ever need one because she’s actually with people that have phones. It seems like everyone has a phone; right?
Nina: So what does she need one for? She doesn’t.
Bob: “Just borrow your friend’s phone if you need to call me”?
Nina: Pretty much.
Bob: We’re talking about respect—mutual respect. There’d be some 14-year-old, who says: “This does not sound like you are respecting your child. This sounds like a heavy-handed, strict—
Dennis: They’ve already tried to turn off the radio. [Laughter]
Bob: “—authoritarian. [Laughter] You’re one of these moms. If you respected your child, you would—I mean, she’s going to have to learn how to use one of these phones one of these days!”
Nina: Exactly; yes. So here’s what we’ve done—and we’ve done this with all three of our kids—and I’m not saying this is the right answer for you. This has just worked with us. When they were in the 13/14 age, they got iPods®; alright?—which you can set up whether or not you have internet access on—you have a parental control in there. That’s the main point I want to make—understand the technology / be as familiar as you possibly can with what’s out there—what’s hot / what’s not—because your kids know about it.
You may not think they do, but they do. With some of our kids, we let them have a social media account when they were showing the responsibility. Part of the deal is we’re also very involved in that and: “I’m going to sit down with you a couple times a week. We’re going to look through your instant messages. We’re going to look at what you’re posting. You are going to ‘Friend” me.’ You are not going to have secret accounts because I have full access to everything,”—but having said that, however—our kids have some privacy. They have the right to have notes that they make to themselves / they have diaries. I don’t want to know what their private thoughts are. It’s very healthy for them to have a place to work through those things. I don’t need to spy on my kids unless there are behaviors that are indicating to me that there’s something horribly wrong.
Bob: Your daughter has access to a computer; right?
Nina: Yes; she does.
Bob: And in her room, you have the computer?
Nina: Only once in a while, with the door open, and only during certain hours of the day.
Bob: You sound like a high-control mom!
Nina: I know, and you know what? I think she would say, “You know, it’s not fair that I have to do this.” Then, if you ask her the question, “Why do we do this?” she’ll say: “Well, because this is what’s safe / this is what’s smart. I don’t handle temptation well sometimes.” I’m not really any different than that. I think, if we honestly look at ourselves as individuals—when faced with temptation, we’re supposed to run from it for a reason—so we sit down and we cover these things, and we talk about them, and then we agree on what’s reasonable.
Bob: Here’s the reason I keep pressing you on this because I think some parents think respecting your child means you give up the authority that God’s given you, as a mom or a dad, to make decisions, to make rules, to make boundaries. There’s a difference between having authority and showing respect; right?
Dennis: Well, what she was describing is helping a child through some of the most tempting, turbulent, immature years on the planet that any human being experiences—the teenage years—one day they are mature / the next day they’re not. What you’re trying to do is help them get to adulthood with the fewest possible scars, Bob, as possible.
The other thing I just want to say about what Nina’s modeling here—you may disagree with her standards; okay?—that’s your privilege. But the issue is—she and her husband have them [standards]. They’re attempting to live out their values, according to Scripture, and trying to be parents that are modeling for their children how they want them to arrive at adulthood; right?
Nina: Yes. I’m not going to be in her college dorm with her. She needs to know how to handle that stuff.
Dennis: And you and your husband have talked about this, undoubtedly, over numerous date nights, to arrive at these conclusions.
Nina: Yes. There’s a lot of dialogue that goes on about “How are we going to handle all of this stuff with these guys?”
And you make mistakes when you do it, and you have to allow them to have some influence. When you make a mistake, you talk about it and you pull back if necessary.
Dennis: You’re just trying to be proactive—
Dennis: —be ahead of the temptation.
Nina: Yes. One of the things that I’ve noticed with a lot of parents—and we fell into that trap—you buy the phone because it’s a birthday present or you buy the game system because it’s for Christmas—and the child thinks it’s theirs. We forget, as parents, that anything that that child owns is really ours. We’re trying to lead them to maturity. In that process, if we don’t put some boundaries on it, as we give it to them—you know: “We’ve given you this phone. Here’s what the stipulations are going to be.
Nina: “If you can meet those stipulations, then we’re ready to allow you to have more opportunity. If not, here’s what’s going to happen; and we’re going to pull back for a period of time.”
Bob: See, I’d say: “Okay. It’s your phone. If you want to charge it, using our electricity—now, that’s a different deal,” [Laughter] or “If you want our plan to be able to operate your phone…—and that’s tongue-in-cheek—but I think you’re on a really great point, which is: “Kids have to understand that, even when they get a gift, Mom and Dad still have the authority, given them by God, to figure out how all of this is going to get played out in the home.”
Dennis: We had a guest on FamilyLife Today—it was a memorable moment. And the reason I think I like this story is—I just viscerally live with those parents, who were in charge for just a few moments, and they knew they were in charge. They had laid down the rules to their boys that, after they [parents] went to bed, they [children] couldn’t fire up the video games. They caught them, repeatedly—after drawing the line in the sand—hiding in their bedrooms, under the covers, playing video games. [Laughter]
I’m not sure if it was a PlayStation or not, but it was something that had a console. Finally, they caught them one more time. The father went in / unplugged it. They lived in a two-story house. He opened the window and threw the thing out on a patio that was concrete, with his boys watching.
Nina: Oh my.
Dennis: He’d warned them—he told them, “Guys, I’m telling you—I have set boundaries I want you to obey.” Now, again, you may not agree with the punishment—you may think that’s foolish because the parents paid for it—
Bob: And he wasn’t doing it in anger.
Dennis: Oh, no!
Bob: This was just: “You know, we talked about this—I’m sorry, but this is the end of the PlayStation.” Open the window, and toss it out, and “There we go / we’re done.”
Dennis: “There are consequences if you disobey.”
Nina: Yes; yes.
Bob: We’re talking with Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock, who have written a book called With All Due Respect. It’s really on the subject of “How do parents and children learn mutual respect?”
In fact, if you had to boil down the thesis—the one thing you’re trying to get parents to get their arms around—you talk about 40 days to a more fulfilling relationship. You do have some great ideas through this book on how you cultivate this; but Nina, if you boiled this down to kind of the big thesis: “This is what we’re trying to get to happen between kids and parents,”—what is it?
Nina: You know, Bob, I think the end goal for this is that both parents and kids have such a healthy sense of identity in Jesus Christ that parents aren’t reacting in fear or anger. They’re having the ability to listen and mutually respect their kids so that their kids see what that really looks like, and then they can make better decisions because they respect themselves and they know who they are, going forward.
Bob: You’re saying that healthy parenting and being a thriving child is connected in some way to how we see ourselves in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Nina: What’s really true here is—that if my identity is wrapped up in what other people are thinking about me—and that’s other parents, teachers, coaches, my own kids—then I am not listening to the advice that God has given me / I am not obeying God—and that is to train up a child in the way he should go. I want to respect this child, as precious to God. I want to treat him or her with honor. I want to have boundaries that teach him how to have boundaries for himself and respect himself and other people so that, when he’s an adult, he and I can be friends.
Right now, my goal is not to be his friend—I am his mother. That is a privilege and a very, very important job. We’ll be friends when we survive this now. And if we survive this and thrive through this—then, we get the grandkids and we can give them back when they’re a mess—and the parents can figure out how they’ll treat it! [Laughter]
Dennis: And what I want the listener, who’s a parent, to hear—is the question because the question is a great question—“What are you shooting for here? What’s the goal?” What is it that Stephen Covey says in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People—
Bob: —“Begin with the end in mind.”
Dennis: Yes; exactly.
Dennis: And a parent really ought to know what they’re shooting for.
One of the things you talk about in your book, though—that is kind of the / it’s the bridge over which you drive all this training and attempt to connect with your child—you call it a parent being a relational architect. Would you unpack that a bit?—because I think that’s a great concept—without a relationship, they’re not going to be able to get all the truth—and who God is and the Scriptures are. They have to have that with the parent.
Debbie: You are so right, Dennis. I think the whole thing, with being the architect / the relationship architect, in your home is that what you model—how you set other people up for success—makes so much difference in the relationships.
One of the things that I did with a group of women is—I asked them to write down each of their children’s names, and how much time they spent with their child, and what they did during that time. It’s mind-blowing because what they realize is—that most of the time that they spend with their kids is transactional / it’s not relational. It’s: “Did you clean your room?” “Did you mow the lawn?” “Did you do…” Dad tends to do the same thing.
What we want to do is—we want to give parents an opportunity to look at the way they’re interacting with their kids and saying, “What do I want this relationship to be like, down the road?”
Nina: Another thing we forget—you know, Debbie used the word, “transactional.” A lot of our communication is about getting things done, especially if we are doing too many things. Instead of having it revolving around that, paying attention to what’s right.
So when the kid does go mow the lawn, you walk outside—and instead of talking about the strip next to the sidewalk that still needs to be edged or, you know, all the grass that’s laying over on the driveway—you look at what they did that’s right. That’s what you talk about first—Philippians 4:8 style—you know: “Whatever is true, whatever is…”—all of that. You talk about that first—you say, “Hey, I appreciate you contributing to the family by doing this.” You have some positive in that; and then say, “Do you mind sweeping this up when you’re finished?” and that’s it. They don’t feel like they’ve, yet again, not done something that’s good enough.
Bob: You know, you’ve already talked this week, Dennis, about the resources we’ve created—the Passport2Purity® and Passport2Identity™ resources.
Part of the reason that we created these the way we did is because we wanted them to promote what you all are talking about here—which is relational time between a parent and a child around things that matter—so that you can go have fun together / you can go play together, and at the same time, you can have some deeper conversations that, aren’t just transactional conversations, but are about stuff that matters.
Dennis: What I love about what you’ve done in your book, With All Due Respect, is—you’re equipping parents to have the goal in mind / beginning with the end in mind—you’ve exhorted them to do that—but then, practically, over a 40-day period, you’re equipping them to be able to do it. Bob, I agree with you—Passport2Identity / Passport2Purity are both resources that really do help a parent connect his or her heart to the same-sex child.
I mean, that weekend getaway—a father/son or a mother/daughter—can really be a powerful—speaking of relational architects—it can be a powerful time of a mom really putting in place a lot of good relationship time with a child before you head off into the turbulent teenage years.
Bob: Well—and here’s what we’re all saying—we’re all saying that those relationships matter—that parents and children need to learn how to forge stronger, deeper, healthier relationships. Respect is a part of that, but there’s also coaching that’s a part of that. That’s where Passport2Purity and Passport2Identity come into play.
If you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, you can get information on how to order Passport2Purity / Passport2Identity. Of course, you can order the book, With All Due Respect, by our guests today, Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. It’s easy to order online, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you have any questions about these resources or if you’d like to place an order over the phone—
—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow is going to be a big day in Cornville, Maine. That’s because Wayne and Becky Tibbetts are celebrating 33 years together as husband and wife—their 33rd anniversary is tomorrow. Wayne and Becky listen to WBCI. They’ve been to the Weekend to Remember®—in fact, they’ve joined us on the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise a few times. We just want to say, “Happy anniversary!” to the Tibbetts—“Way to go!” Three plus decades of marriage—that’s pretty important / that’s a big deal.
Of course, we think every anniversary is a big deal. What we’re all about, here at FamilyLife, is making sure that you celebrate more of them. We want to provide you with the kind of practical biblical help and hope you need so that you can have a stronger, healthier marriage relationship.
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And with that, we’re going to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for joining us. Hope you have a great weekend.
Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend. And I hope you can join us back on Monday, when we’re going to talk about the challenges that can come with co-parenting—you live in a blended marriage and you deal with the phenomenon of co-parenting. We’ll talk about how you can do that effectively and peacefully. Hope you can tune in Monday to hear that.
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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