About the Guest
Do your kids think you're strict? Then welcome to the club! Long-time pastor Crawford Loritts encourages parents to own up to the responsibility of shepherding their family with courage. Crawford reminds moms and dads that kids need protection, but that they also need development, and so parents must hold-back from overprotecting in order for their kids to grow.
Do your kids think you’re strict? Then welcome to the club!
Bob: As a dad, are you giving your children all that they need? Dr. Crawford Loritts says, “Sometimes, what they need from you is for you to back away and let them struggle.”
Crawford: Every kid has two broad categories of emotional needs. One is for nurture, affirmation, tender touch; but paradoxically, one is for daily doses of discipline and denial. There’s a certain point in our lives where you—the wisest thing to do is to let that child feel some heat, in order for them to get the corresponding strength to be a blessing to others and not to be reliant and dependent. There is a magic moment in the development of a child where protection will actually hurt them and cripple them.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, August 3rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What can we do, as dads, to make sure our children grow up tender and tough? Crawford Loritts talks about that with us today. Stay tuned
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I am reminded, somewhat regularly, of the statement that Dr. Al Mohler makes in The Art of Marriage® video series, when he says, “You are somebody’s ancestors.”
If the Lord should tarry, you are ancestors for generations to come. When you have that perspective on how you live your life, it changes everything. You start to have a focus, as you ought to have, on the kind of legacy that you’re going to leave. That’s what we’ve been talking about this week.
Dennis: We’ve been exhorting and imploring fathers, all across the country, to do what’s right concerning their kids; and in the process, I’ve been encouraged to do what’s right. Crawford Loritts has done a great job doing that. Crawford—thanks for being on the broadcast.
Crawford: Thank you, Dennis, for having me.
Bob: Crawford and Karen also speak atour FamilyLife marriage conferences around the country, and it’s been a privilege to speak with Crawford at those conferences. I wanted to know this all week, “Are you the strictest father in Atlanta, Georgia?”
Crawford: I am the biggest teddy bear. My bark is worse than my bite. [Laughter] I’m going to just discredit everything I’ve said this week, but my daughters know that—there have been times they’ve asked me to do things; and I’ve said, “No,” and I’m doing it at the same time.
Bob: You’re a soft touch. Is that what you are saying?
Crawford: Yes, yes, yes. I tend to just have a very few areas that I want to make sure that—on the character side—I don’t tend to give too much on that.
Bob: Well, as we have tried to establish some boundaries and some guidelines in our home, it turns out that we are apparently the strictest parents in Little Rock because of those boundaries that we set—
Crawford: To listen to them, yes. If you interviewed them, they’d say, “Oh, yes.” [Laughter]
Dennis: I have both of you guys nailed on this one. We are the strictest parents in the world!
Crawford: Yes, right.
Dennis: “No one has a dad and a mom like us.”
Crawford: We should get our kids and have them interview us. Then, we’d all have to quit the ministry. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, let’s move to an area that we have to deal with as we raise children today—loving and protecting our kids. You tell a story about a bully—I’ll never forget Mark Schallenberger. It’d be interesting if Mark is listening to the broadcast today. He used to love to beat me up, and meet me after school, and just wait for me; you know?
Mark, if you’re listening, I’m glad God did a number on you and you’re one of the listeners. [Laughter]
But you had a story about a bully who was doing a number on you and what your dad did to help protect you.
Crawford: Yes, I’ll tell you what. When people say to me, “Oh, man—I tell you. When I was 12, 13, 14, those were the best years of my life,” I want to say, “Liar, liar, liar—your pants are on fire!” To be a 12-year-old boy; it’s terrible!
Bob: It’s a hard time.
Crawford: Middle school is awful! I think, if it’s not hell, it’s a few yards away from it.
Crawford: Yes, big time. [Laughter] I had skipped the sixth grade, and I went right into seventh grade. I was the youngest kid in my class. Then, we had a guy in the class. I call him Jimmy in the book—that’s not his real name—because he might be as fierce now as he was then! [Laughter]
Jimmy had been—let’s just say he stayed back at least one grade—but he would terrorize me. I’d never been known for a lot of fear, but I think the fact that I was the youngest and that he was—
Bob: He was the oldest.
Dennis: Was he big?
Crawford: Well, he wasn’t as big—he’s about my size. I was pretty big for my age, back then.
Dennis: Was he mean?
Crawford: Yes, he was. I tell you—he was as mean as could be. Well, he had been just knocking my books out of my hand, down the hallway—kind of slap me, upside the head. He would wait for me on the way to school and kind of pick on me and stuff.
Well, my mom had heard about this. My dad worked nights—so, he wouldn’t be home during the week when all of this stuff, for the most part, is taking place. My mom wanted to go tell the principal, and she did. You know, that kind of bugged me that my mother—you know, at this stage of the game—you don’t want Mom doing this stuff. I was upset. So, I wouldn’t tell her much; but she would be hearing stuff.
She told my father—just filled him in on what’s been going on. My father had a lot of wisdom. I tell you—he’d probably handle this situation differently today because it was a lot different in 1961 or ‘62 than it is right now—the violence and this kind of thing.
But he said to me—these words to me, never told me this before—he said, “Now, look. You’re getting a little too old for this right now. You can’t let that boy put his hands on you. If it’s in school, you go to the right place; but if he’s messing with you on your way to school, this kind of thing, you’ve got to put a stop to that. You’re going to have to—if I hear of this fellow put his hands on you and trying to hurt you and you don’t fight him back, you’re going to have to fight me.” Now, I know I wasn’t going to win that one!
Bob: You liked your odds against Jimmy better than your dad.
Crawford: I tell you—that weekend went by so fast. My heart was beating Sunday night. I had to go to bed because I was scared of Monday and what I had to do. Sure enough, Monday rolled around, right on schedule. I went to school and met up with Jimmy, over there, near Central Avenue, a few blocks away from school. Sure enough, he tried to terrorize me. At that point, I said, “I’m sick of it. I’m tired of it.” My father’s words came to my mind, and I had to protect myself. When I squared off to him, as a typical bully, he did nothing. He walked away, never bothered me after that.
Now, again, I want our listeners to understand, in today and in different environments, and this kind of thing—I’ve advised my boys about, “Just be careful.” I mean—
Bob: There are kids getting shot for stuff like that.
Crawford: Sure, sure. I don’t think my father would give the same kind of advice in today’s environment that he’s given now.
Dennis: Have you advised your sons to walk away?
Crawford: Yes, I have. There have been cases, though, where I’ve told them this, “Now, if you get yourself in a situation where you can’t walk away, I don’t want you hurt. You may need to protect yourself; but even if someone puts his hands on you, there are other ways of taking care of that by calling in the authorities and by stopping it because there is just too much violence, whether it’s urban or suburban, right now.”
The underlying thing that my father was teaching me was he knew that I was at an age where I needed to internalize courage. He wasn’t going to be around all the time to bail me out. He understood that protection was not necessarily always development—that a part of development meant for me to own the resolution of my own conflicts and issues—that I had to start to do that myself. It’s a wise parent who understands that just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it.
Now, he could have gone down there and threatened the boy himself. He could have gone—I mean, he—there’s a number of things he could have done, but that would have messed me up, down the road. Now, if I was being threatened for my life, then, he probably would have stepped in—
Crawford: —as an advocate—
Crawford: —but he understood the situation. Courage is a vital part—particularly, in the life of boys. They’ve got to embrace courage. You cannot accomplish anything without a degree of courage. So, that was what he was mentoring in me—to take a stand, to stand up for what is right, to draw a line in the sand, to communicate to others that, “No, you’re not going to go here; and I’m not going to let you do this to me.” It is a matter of protecting dignity.
Dennis: Your father was modeling 1 Peter, Chapter 5, verses 1 through 3, where Peter is giving some words of advice and exhortation to leaders in the church. He says in verse 1, “...I urge the elders among you...” then he—after he urges them, he says, “...shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sorted gain, but with eagerness; nor yet, lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”
The principle here, I think, is you’ve got to own the responsibility of shepherding the flock and be in the midst of the sheep, helping them with the issues they’re dealing with. Your dad was aware of that bully—there are a lot of parents, Bob, that would never know that their son, or perhaps their daughter, was dealing with some peers who perhaps were working them over—but to have that knowledge and, then, to step in there and to guide them and to direct them.
The “what” he told you to do is not so important in this situation as it is that he was there—that he was guarding you, he was protecting you, and he loved you, out of your situation.
Crawford: Right, the principle was take—no matter what he told me to do—that’s a good point, Dennis—was the principle is this, “Take the initiative.”
Crawford: “Take the initiative to launch a path of resolution yourself, and you’ve got to look at the problem in the eye.”
In Joshua, Chapter 1, there is a four-fold descriptive definition of what courage is really all about. Courage, first of all, rests upon a clear assignment from God. For our purposes, it rests upon a clear goal—knowing where you need to be.
Number two is the assurance of God’s presence with you. If you are pursuing the right thing, God is with you—no matter what your given set of circumstances are all about. That’s what we have to give to our children.
Thirdly, it’s focused determination. My father was teaching me, “Look, not everybody in this world is going in the same direction you are going, Buddy. Just because you get some opposition, you can’t cower in the corner and give up. You know what you are about. So, you don’t let people trample on where you’re going. You’ve got to be determined, despite your environment, to keep pursuing what is right.”
Fourthly, it really rests upon the biblical parameters of truth—it’s the Word of God. You draw your sense of direction and encouragement to keep fueling your direction from that.
Now, he didn’t articulate this; but as I look back on that experience with Jimmy, he was telling—my dad, was telling me, “Son, you know what you’re about. You’ve got to keep on moving. You can’t allow fear to stop you or to intimidate you. You’ve got to overcome this because one day you’re going to be a dad. One day, you’re going to be in situations that are frightening—your kids are counting on you, your wife is counting on you, what are you going to do? [Are] you going to get in the car, go drive off into the sunset, and forget about everything? No, you’re going to have to have some courage to hang in there—not walk away. Do what needs to be done, protect your family, and keep on trucking.”
Bob: I heard you speak, recently; and you made a statement. You said, “Parents need to quit protecting their kids as much as they do.” When you said that, I looked out of the corner of my eye at my wife who was sitting next to me [Laughter] because I wanted to see what her reaction to that statement was. That is a hard call for parents to know, “When do I protect, and when do I back off?”
Crawford: That’s right. Every kid has two broad categories of emotional needs. One is for nurture, affirmation, tender touch; but paradoxically, one is for daily doses of discipline and denial. There’s a certain point in our lives where you really—the wisest thing to do is to let that child feel some heat, in order for them to get the corresponding strength to be a blessing to others and not to be reliant and dependent. There is a magic moment in the development of a child where protection will actually hurt them and cripple them.
Now, when I say, “protection”, sure, we need to protect our children. There are other ways we need to protect them, morally. We need to protect them, and that’s appropriate; but you have to have the strength of your own convictions. I’m concerned that the Christian community sometimes so reacts to what’s going on in the world—and we’ve pulled everybody outside of the storm—that we forget that there’s another way of walking through the rain. You get a raincoat on and umbrellas, and you get on out there. You can’t stay in the shelter all the time.
My father knew that unless the foolish activity of a child was changed, that I was going to find myself in situations where I needed to show up and I needed to have self-discipline; but I would bail out because my emotions would hold my behavior hostage, and I would end up destroying relationships.
A lot of people, who can’t hold on to jobs right now, who can’t maintain relationships, who have gotten used to just doing whatever they want to do, are very unproductive. They’re unhappy, and they are unfulfilled because parents let this stupid behavior go unchecked in the name of not wanting to lose the relationship. So, we need to push them out. As I said, “Protection is not necessarily development.”
Dennis: I couldn’t agree more. If you think about weight lifting, weight lifting helps muscles develop. Why? It applies weight against a muscle, which forces it to stretch and, ultimately, to be strengthened and to grow.
What we would do, as parents, is we would remove, if we just acted with our heart, that one side of the equation you were talking about and just met their emotional needs to be loved, and protected, and keep all those tensions out of their lives, we would create children who would become spiritual pygmies, who are never forced out of the womb into a world that’s going to force them to determine, “What do they believe? What is their character?”
That’s why—Crawford, what you’re saying resonates with me, especially, out of Joshua, Chapter 1—where three or four times in that passage, Joshua is being commanded to be strong and courageous and not fear, for God is with him. Today, the great need for parents, with our kids, first of all, is to be strong and courageous ourselves. We have got to have the real disease. We’ve got to be strong and courageous about our Christianity, and know what we believe, and press into the culture, and press back against evil.
Secondly, we’ve got to call our kids to the same thing. That means there are those moments, and they are divinely-ordered. I can’t tell you how to know when they occur; but you’ve been there, Crawford. You know, as a parent, they’re divinely-ordered by God. Evil crosses our paths, and we have to step back and let our child determine what he believes, or what she believes, and strengthen their faith muscle. If they make the right choice, we can applaud them and encourage them.
Crawford: Well, now, I’ve heard you say this, Dennis, and I agree with you. When they make the right choices, not only should we applaud them, we ought to have just such a crazy party to affirm that. That’s the way they learn. That’s the way they internalize it. You’ve got to take your hands off of them. You’ve got to love them enough to put tape over your mouth and tie your hands behind your back and say, “I’m praying for you, but you need to walk through this valley by yourself.”
Dennis: What age are you talking about here?
Crawford: I think it has to be done incrementally. I think it has to be done incrementally. I think the sooner a child can handle, incrementally, certain challenges, then, you come alongside them and you encourage them along the way. I think it’s almost brutal and cruel after you have been so protective, then, all of a sudden, push them out there when they are 14-,15-,16-years-old. They haven’t even tasted any of that stuff.
I think, when they are young, as soon as you can, helping them take—when a bully—or they’re like three or four years old, even in preschool, or so, and somebody is taking something from them—to pull them over and say, “Now, look, you tell them how you felt about that. You tell them that you don’t want them to do that to you anymore—that that is not right.” You coach them through those moments so that you are building into their minds a catalogue of resources to draw from when they get into situations.
It’s interesting that you pointed out that it’s a command to be courageous in Joshua, Chapter 1. Courage is not necessarily a product of a certain personality type, but it’s a command. When you act courageous, you get more courage.
Crawford: You get more courage. It’s amazing to me that that bully situation, when I was 12-years-old and how I overcame that, stands as a monument and an encouragement to me when there were other issues in my life, down the road.
You’re going to meet more Jimmies. I mean, the ride isn’t over. You’re going to meet Jimmies as long as you live. Some of them won’t threaten you physically, but they’ll have power games with you. You’ll work with them. They’ll try to manipulate your mind. They’ll bully you in other kind of ways, and you’ve got to know how to handle the situation.
Dennis: Some of the Jimmies we’re going to face won’t be people—they’ll be choices like drugs, alcohol, sticking with a commitment.
Crawford, your dad, as you write throughout your entire book here, had a profound impact on your life. A number of years ago, you were on our broadcast, FamilyLife Today. We concluded that broadcast by asking you to give a tribute to your father, who was still alive at that time.
Your father has passed away—you write about that in your book—but I thought, for just a moment, we would go back and replay what you said to your dad that day because he had a chance to listen in on the broadcast and hear these words. I thought our listeners ought to hear a piece of your heart about what you thought about the most important man in your life.
Crawford: Dad, I love you. Thank you for the sacrifices of working over 30 years at A&P Warehouse. Thank you for choosing not to get paid triple time on those Christmas’s and other days when we needed the money, living in that small apartment in Newark, because you wanted to spend time with your kids.
Thank you for not buying new cars until after we were grown because you wanted to have money for vacations, and you wanted to show us things. Thank you for teaching me and telling me that I’m a man and standing with me during hard times. Everything I am today is because of you. Nobody may ever know who you are. You never made a big splash of it. You never blew your own trumpet, but you quietly did the deed; and thank you!
Bob: Do you remember the day you did that in the studio?
Crawford: I do remember that day. He went on to live a couple of years after that, but that was kind of the downward slide for him. I had the privilege of telling him, before he died, how much I loved him. I don’t have any regrets, but I do want to say this to the listeners.
If you’re estranged from your father and you’ve got issues to take care of, and there is pain there, by an act of your will, give him a tribute. Tell him, despite the pain. Love is a choice. Deal with issues because the pain of losing them and having unfinished business is sometimes almost unbearable. I’d encourage them to do that. That would be the thing that I would leave with the listeners.
Bob: Yes, that’s good. Crawford—thanks. Thanks for being with us this week. We’ll see you in Chicago tomorrow, as we get ready for the National Men’s Simulcast.
Again, if our listeners want more information about the event, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You’ll see a link there that will give you information on, not only the live event in Chicago, but the simulcast that’s being hosted in churches, all across the country. Along with Crawford Loritts and Dennis Rainey, Pastor James MacDonald is going to join us, and Robert Lewis is going to be there, as well. Again, if you’d like more information, go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
“Thanks,” to those of you who have helped with a donation this week to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We could not do what we do without folks, like you, from time to time going online to make an online donation or calling 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. We appreciate your support of this ministry.
Of course, this week, for those who have been able to help with a donation, we’ve been sending out a CD copy of a message from Dennis about men stepping up to be courageous men and a CD message from Barbara Rainey about what a wife can do to help her husband step up and be the man God has called him to be. If you can make an online donation today at FamilyLifeToday.com, we’ll get those CDs in the mail to you. If you want to make your donation by phone, call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Be sure to ask for the CDs by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. We’ll get those out to you, as well. Let me just say, “Thanks for your financial support. We appreciate your partnership with us.”
Well, we hope you have a great weekend. I hope you can join us back here on Monday when we’re going to meet the couple whose true-life story inspired the movie, The Vow— that came out in theatres this year. I have to tell you, I didn’t see the movie; but from everything I heard, the real-life story puts the movie to shame.
Krickitt: It was like living with a stranger because I didn’t know who he was! I tried to step back into this life that I had been living. I wanted to do what was right. I wanted to do what I was supposed to be doing, but I was so confused that I didn’t know what that was. I even went back to the same job that I had, prior to the car accident; but I didn’t know how to do that job because it was wiped out, as well.
Kim: It would take a toll every day. Every day she had something mean to say. Then, other times, she was just—she’d just go with it and go along; but that part of our relationship was really, really hard.
Bob: We’ll meet Kim and Krickitt Carpenter on Monday. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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