FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Getting Him Ready for the Opposite Sex

with Dennis Rainey | April 20, 2012
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What does your son know, and believe, about women? Dennis and Barbara Rainey cover some timely topics parents need to be discussing with their sons in order to prepare them for relationships with the opposite sex. Some of these topics include: rejecting passivity, the benefits of initiating, and the value of boundaries. The Raineys also talk about what can moms do, and what they did, to raise girls who aren't aggressive.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What does your son know, and believe, about women? Dennis and Barbara Rainey cover some timely topics parents need to be discussing with their sons in order to prepare them for relationships with the opposite sex. Some of these topics include: rejecting passivity, the benefits of initiating, and the value of boundaries. The Raineys also talk about what can moms do, and what they did, to raise girls who aren't aggressive.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

What does your son know, and believe, about women?

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Getting Him Ready for the Opposite Sex

With Dennis Rainey
April 20, 2012
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Bob:  There are some very important conversations that a father needs to have with his son, as his son is growing up.  One of those conversations has to do with establishing some boundaries around what you’re interaction with members of the opposite sex is going to look like.  Here’s Dennis Rainey. 

Dennis:  Here’s the deal—humans dislike boundaries; but it’s within the context of boundaries that relationships flourish—and really, we all do life.  So, you, as a young man, need to have some boundaries, some fences, some ways to protect your life, your soul, from dangerous situations. 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, April 20th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  A conversation about boundaries is not the only one you need to have with your son as he is going through his teenage years.  We’ll outline a few more of those conversations for you today.  Stay tuned. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  I’m just wondering how many young men—last night, after dinner, dad said, “You know, son, come over here.  I want to have a talk with you.”  Dad—all of a sudden, because of FamilyLife Today, these sons are getting conversations that they never expected and didn’t know were going to come their way. 


Dennis:  Well, these are the same guys who may have asked a young lady out, whose dad—the young lady’s dad—has heard FamilyLife Today talking about Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date

Bob:  This poor kid is going to get it both ways; isn’t he?  (Laughter) 

Dennis:  You know what?   That is not a bad idea! 

Bob:  That’s right. 

Dennis:  It really isn’t a bad idea.  In fact, I would like to encourage those of you have your children, perhaps, in Christian school or a private school—where you might be able to make it a class project, where you take the entire six grade class through Passport to Purity®.

Passport to Purity is designed for the mothers and the daughters to get away, Friday and Saturday; and the fathers and the sons to get away, Friday and Saturday.  It’s for ten-, 11-, and 12-year-olds.  You could take it back to the fifth grade, if you wanted to.  Then, as they move into adolescence, you begin to engage at this level—what we’re talking about today—which is helping your sons know how to deal with aggressive girls; specifically, girls who are coming on to them sexually. 

Bob:  You have just recently finished a book on this subject.  It really came out of the book you wrote on—Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date, where you coached dads on how to have the conversation with the young man before he takes the girl out on a date.  We heard from folks saying, “Wait a sec!  We’ve got an issue here because it’s my son who is being pressured.  He’s getting asked out on dates, and it’s more than just being asked out on dates that’s going on with him.”

So, you suggested a number of conversations that a mom or a dad ought to be having with a son as he moves into adolescence to get him ready for some of the pressure he may be facing from girls during his teen years.  We’ve got your wife Barbara back with us on today’s program.  Barbara, good to have you here. 

Barbara:  Thanks. 

Bob:  Dennis, real quickly, just give us the conversations we’ve already talked about this week—just review those for us so a mom or a dad knows where to start as you have these talks with your son. 

Dennis:  Yes, we’re talking about seven conversations; and these are not stop-and-start conversations.  These are—they’re not tweets; okay?  (Laughter)  They’re not Facebook® posts. 

Bob:  These are threads.  These are ongoing threads. 

Dennis:  All the way into adulthood.  So, the first conversation you have, and you have, and you have, and you have repeatedly is the value of godly wisdom.  That’s godly skill in everyday living.  It is calling your son away from focusing on himself and living life according to his own desires—what he wants to do and how he wants to respond—and instead, living life the way God wants him to. 

Bob:  “My son, listen to godly wisdom and don’t be a fool;” right? 

Dennis:  That’s the message of Proverbs.  Conversation number two—how you handle sexual temptation will be one of the biggest tests of your life.  We shocked people by saying, “There’s one bigger,” even for a boy, than sexual temptation—and that is pride.  You know what?  Between sex and pride, you’ve nailed a bunch of temptation. 

Bob:  A couple of deadly things, right there. 

Dennis:  Help your son know how to deal with that.  Number three—God created sex to be enjoyed within the marriage relationship.  We’re talking about giving your son a noble picture of sex that is steered away from how it is portrayed on the internet, pornography, on prime-time major networks in the evening.  We’re talking about a biblical approach to marriage and sex that God is not down on sex.  He created it, but He created it to be enjoyed within marriage. 

Conversation number four—the characteristics of an adulterous woman.  We talked about, for a 13- or 14-year-old, that doesn’t mean it is the street walker; but it may be somebody is walking by in the hallway at school—who is just a young lady who is needy, who’s looking for her emotional gas tank to be filled up.  She thinks a young lad or boy can help do that. 

Bob:  She may be flirty.  She may be dressing provocatively.  She may just be looking for attention; right? 

Dennis:  She may.  That leads us to conversation number five.  If you want to find out more about one through four, get the book; alright? 

Number five—reject passivity as a young man and become proactive with girls. 

Bob:  You mean, instead of them becoming aggressive with you, you become aggressive with them? 

Dennis:  Well, it means that you, as a young man, were designed to initiate.  That initiation really shouldn’t be taken away from a young man by a young lady.  Our culture has homogenized the sexes today—where they say there is no difference.  It is more of an egalitarian approach, “She can initiate; he can initiate.”  There’s no one who bears the imprint of being the one responsible for the relationship.  I would have to say that is a lie. 

Your son needs to understand that a man has a responsibility, when he gets married, to nourish, and cherish, and love, and sacrifice for his wife—to be a servant leader.  That all comes through initiation and self-sacrifice.  He learns that—that whole initiation process—when he’s a young man, as he begins to relate to the opposite sex. 

I wouldn’t get—personally, I wouldn’t get real legalistic about this.  If there was some kind of event at school that the girls invited the guys, I think we may have allowed that to occur on occasion. 

Bob:  Sadie-Hawkins Day is okay, Barbara? 

Barbara:  Yes, that’s what we used to call it.  Yes. 

Dennis:  Yes.  Yes.

Barbara:  Yes. 

Dennis:  Again, you can get real tight on these things.  That’s not the issue.  The issue is, “What are you modeling for your sons?” because trust me—and listen to me—we have enough passive young men and men today.  We need men who fully assume their responsibility. 

Bob:  Barbara, I was watching a TV show, just recently.  In the show, this couple, who’s had this ongoing relationship—it’s moving toward marriage.  It seemed on again, off again.  Well, in the middle of the show, the girl drops down on one knee, and looks up at the man, and says, “Will you marry me?” 

Barbara:  Wow! 

Bob:  It’s the proposal that he ought to be making.  I thought part of the message that’s being sent there is, “This can go either way;” you know?

Barbara:  Absolutely.

Bob:  “You can ask; he can ask.  It doesn’t really matter.  Either of us can do this.”  What’s wrong with that message?

Barbara:  Well, what’s wrong with that message is that it is the man who should initiate the relationship.  He is the one who, by getting down on one knee, is symbolizing, “I will give my life for you.  Will you let me serve you and love you for a lifetime?”  For the woman to do it for the man is backwards.  It just doesn’t make sense.  It’s not the way we were designed because the man was supposed to ask for her hand in marriage.  Then, she is supposed to respond.  When she asks and he responds, it’s backwards. 

Dennis:  Exactly.  I mean—

Barbara:  Right.

Dennis:  —what is the Bible calling men to do?  To lead, to love, to protect; and they are charged with this responsibility. 

Bob:  What you are saying is, “You need to help your son recognize that taking the lead is his responsibility.”  If a girl is being aggressive with him, should he say, “Hey, I’ll take the lead in this”?  I mean, would you have him say that kind of thing to her? 

Dennis:  I think I would.  I—you know, it’s not a matter of some kind of spiritual pride of, “Hey, I’m better than you,” or, “I’m a man.  You should do this or that for me.”  No.  It’s just coaching your son to know how he needs to view his identity—his address, as a man.  He needs to define himself around being courageous—to give his life for others. 

Bob:  Okay, what’s the sixth conversation you have? 

Dennis:  You are asking me to get off my soapbox, now; but I’m going to get back on it, on this one, too.  Conversation number six—the value of boundaries.  Here’s the deal—humans dislike boundaries, but it’s within the context of boundaries, that relationships flourish—and really, we all do life. 

Out where we live, there is a field that I drive by every morning and every evening on the way to work and on the way back from work.  For a number of years, there was no fence for this field.  Well, they built a fence because of 9/11.  It’s a fence with—it had barbed wire and razor wire on it.  Not long after they built the fence, I noticed that the field began to be populated with deer.  It was a safe place to go.  This morning—as I came to work, there were 20 deer in there—cars whizzing by at 55 miles per hour.  What happened?  The boundaries of the fence created safety. 

If there has ever been a time in our sons’—and for that matter, our daughters’—where they needed some boundaries in their lives, some protection from outside forces that create safety and freedom to be who they really are, it’s today.  Now, I’m talking about boundaries with the opposite sex.  I’m talking about being alone with them.  You may say some of these are old-fashioned. 

As I told my own sons, I don’t want to be alone with someone of the opposite sex, who is not your mom.  I don’t trust myself.  Forget about trusting you, I don’t trust myself in that situation.  You know what?  You, as a young man, need to have some boundaries, some fences—some ways to protect your life, your soul—from dangerous situations. 

Bob:  Barbara, all of us don’t like boundaries.  There’s something in our heart that says, “I want to jump the fence.  I want to do what I want to do.”  We have to help our sons see that that’s their natural tendency and that boundaries are good for them. 

Barbara:  Yes, we do.  I think illustrations, like Dennis just gave, with the deer with the fence—or another story.  We know of children on a playground that was not fenced.  They didn’t use all the playground; but once there was a fence built, the children used all of the playground. 

The analogy is really a good one.  I think anything we can use, like that, to help our son to understand the benefit of fences—the benefit of boundaries—they are there for a reason.  They are good.  God wouldn’t have given us those boundaries if He didn’t know we needed them and that they were good for us. 

Dennis:  One of the areas that parents need to engage their sons is around cell phones, texting, Facebook® posts, and where they go on their computer.  There are tools, we talk about in the book, that you can use—where you, as a parent, can find out what’s being texted to your son, what’s taking place on the Facebook page.  No longer do you have to be surprised in this digital world what your son is up to and what other young ladies are up to with him. 

That’s—it was interesting all the emails we got.  Many of them said some of the initial interactions with their sons occurred around texting—where there were messages coming through, suggesting certain things, building a relationship in their minds, and encouraging the young man to sneak out at night, to leave for work early, meet them at a certain place.  I mean, we’ve got to train our son to set some boundaries; and then, once those boundaries are set, we need to inspect them and check up on them. 

Bob:  A little accountability there? 

Dennis:  No doubt.

Bob:  Seventh conversation—the final one you’re going to have with your son to protect him from aggressive girls? 

Dennis:  The value of training.  Think of yourself as a father, or a mother, or a grandfather, grandmother, aunt, or uncle—as a coach.  You’re a life coach.  You’re coaching your son, repeatedly, in the basic skills of doing life.  You just got to keep training.

In the New Testament, in Jesus’ day, there was a style of teaching called the Rabbinical Method of teaching.  It was repetition.  I think it’s the nature of parenting—over, and over, and over—talking about these things all the way back to Deuteronomy 6, where it talks about, “As you rise up, as you lie down, as you go by the way, post these things over the doorposts of your house.” 

We need to make our lifestyles one of coaching, encouragement, even when our sons push back and they say, “No, no, no.  No more, Dad, I’ve heard enough.  I don’t want anymore.”  They’re still listening.  They still need it.  They still need to hear it. 

Bob:  So, the point is seven conversations are really a whole lifetime of conversations.  It’s really, as you said, a decade of conversations, starting before the teenage years and continuing even when your sons are in college.  I mean, I’m thinking about parents sending their sons away to college.  You talk about where the whole aggressive girls situation can get crazy, Barbara? 

When a young man is off at college, and he’s out from under his parents’ authority, and girls are saying, “Why don’t you come over?”—wow! 

Barbara:  Yes, wow!  I think that would be a great opportunity for a mom or dad, dropping your son off to have one final shot of that conversation.  Say, “Okay, we’ve been talking about this for the last six, eight years of your life.  Now, you’re really going to be on your own.  I want you to know that girls are going to be able to come and go in your room.

“You may have a neighbor next door, who is a young man.  He may have his girlfriend living with him.  You may be able to hear them through the walls.  What are you going to do about that?  Some guy down the hall may decide to have a party one night; and there are 20 girls, roaming up and down the hall in various states of dress.  What are you going to do about that?” 

Just let him know, “This is what’s around the corner.”  Make that be a part of this whole process of conversations—think ahead, “What are you going to say when you drop him off at college?”  Because, yes, you are right, it needs to be an ongoing conversation, through those college years, because the temptations are much stronger. 

Bob:  When they are in junior high and senior high, you are there, kind of keeping watch over it; but the college years get a little scary. 

Dennis:  That’s why, in the book, we have a number of role-play situations, where you kind of create some scenarios like Barbara’s talking about—of maybe an inebriated young lady, not wearing a whole lot, wandering up and down the hall—“What are you going to do?”—and helping your son decide, in advance, if they are going to give in to temptation or if they are going to be wise. 

Bob:  Barbara, we’ve been talking, this week, about the whole issue of aggressive girls and how you protect your sons from them.  What can moms do—what can dads do for that matter—to raise girls so that they are not this kind of girl?  Are there any specific things you’d recommend? 

Barbara:  Lots of things I’d recommend.  How long do we have?  (Laughter) 

We had lots of conversations with our girls about not calling boys.  They weren’t allowed to call boys.  We had conversations with them about how they dressed.  We had conversations with them about their actions with boys—their physical touch with boys.  “You don’t sit on boys’ laps.  You don’t do backrubs,”—just all that physical touch that they are so drawn to when they are teenagers.  They want to touch one another.  They want to be close.  We had conversations about that. 

I think that the burden a parent needs to feel—a mom, or a dad, or both (preferably both)—is one of educating the daughters because I don’t think—honestly, I don’t think until a young woman, until a teenage girl is grown up and is married someday—does she really, fully, appreciate the sex drive of a man because hers is different.  She doesn’t feel it the same way that he does. 

I think they really need to be taught why it’s important to dress a certain way, why you shouldn’t dress a certain way, why it is important to keep your hands to yourself, why you shouldn’t be touchy-feely with guys.  Tell them what it does.  Say, “This is what happens to a young man when you do this,” but it is hard for her to understand what that really means because it doesn’t happen to her that way—quite the same. 

I think it’s just a series of ongoing conversations with your daughter—sort of in reverse—all these conversations you would be having with your son. 

Bob:  When you had those conversations with your daughters, did they think, “Oh, Mom, you just don’t understand how things are today?” 

Barbara:  Of course, they did.  I remember going shopping with my girls.  It’s interesting because all girls have a sense of style.  They have a sense of what they like and what they don’t like.  One of our daughters was particularly drawn to the kind of clothing I didn’t think she should wear.  Now, why?  I don’t know, but she really found lacy things, frilly things, more interesting. 

I was always having to kind of steer her away from that—not that that can be bad—but the kind of things she was picking out—I don’t know if she happened to see a friend at school wearing something like that and she thought it was cool and so she wanted something like that; but you have to coach your girls, along the way. 

We started coaching my girls in kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade—on what was appropriate dress because you don’t want to say something is okay—then, when they are in junior high, “It’s not okay.”

Dennis:  One of the biggest challenges we faced was to go shopping with our daughters.  Our sons—ha!

Barbara:  They could care less. 

Dennis:  They could care less about it, but our daughters—because the trendier and the sexier the clothing became, the more we tried to find somewhere else to shop—

Bob:  Yes. 

Dennis:  —and trendy, fashionable clothes that accentuate the body for a young lady, that’s the rule of thumb.  That’s the way of the culture today. 

Barbara:  It really is a challenge to find something that they feel cute in, that they feel they are trendy.  I mean, none of our girls wanted to run around in some kind of a sack thing that had no shape; and I didn’t blame them.  So, helping them find something that is attractive, that’s not provocative, is a challenge.  It takes more time, it takes more energy, and it takes a lot more conviction on the part of mom and dad to say, “I’m sorry, Honey, it’s really cute; but we can’t buy that.”  That’s hard to say, but you have to do it. 

Bob:  I wonder if parents, who have been listening this week, may be a little frightened and go, “Is it really that much of a jungle out there?  I mean, my kids seem like good kids.  Their friends seem like good kids.  I just don’t think what you’re describing is going to happen to my kids.” 

Dennis:  I want you to listen to me, “Yes, it is that bad out there.” 

I have a friend who was in a meeting with a bunch of college kids.  He was just asking them, “Tell me what’s going on in your college campus.”  A kid, who had been homeschooled all the way through high school—he said, “Let me tell you what happened to me early on.  I visited a friend’s dorm.  There was guy who had a girl in the room, and they were sexually involved.  I left;” but his friends stayed around, with the door open, watching.

You just have to pull back, and evaluate, and say, “If the culture is creating images and messaging like they are every night on TV, every moment of every day on the internet—social media, digital media—nothing is right or wrong.  It’s all relative.”  Mom, Dad, the culture you’re sending your son, your daughter, into is not like it used to be.  There were a few absolutes 15, 20, 30, years ago.  Those absolutes are out the window. 

What scares me most, Bob, about the question you asked are the younger parents, who are listening to our broadcast, who are so caught up in the culture—they really don’t understand what we’re talking about here.  They are going, “Why such a big deal about this?”  You’ve got to push back and ask yourself the question, “Have I bought into the lie?  How am I training my son—” or for that matter, “ daughter—in how to relate to the opposite sex?”

Bob:  —and, “Are you ready to have some good heart-to-heart ongoing conversations?”  That’s a part of your job as a dad, as a mom—to have these kinds of conversations and to make sure that our sons and daughters understand, “What is a godly standard?”  I know it’s why you wrote the book, Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date, a couple of years ago, and now, the book, Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys, to give parents a very practical guide book for how to engage some of these issues. 

Because we want to see as many parents as possible equipped, we are making these books available, this week, to folks who will make a donation to help support FamilyLife Today.  All you have to do is go online at  Click the button that says, “I Care”, and make a donation to support the ministry.  We’ll send you both the brand-new Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys book and Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date.  You may say, “Well, I don’t have a daughter,” or, “I don’t have a son.”  Well, you can pass these books along to somebody who does. 

Again, go to  Click the button that says, “I Care”.  Make an online donation.  We’ll get these books off to you automatically; or call 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”, 1-800-358-6329.  When you make a donation over the phone, just mention that you’d like the books for parents of teens.  We’ll know what you’re talking about.  We’ll be happy to send those out to you. 

Let me just say, “Thanks for your support of the ministry.”  We couldn’t do what we do without you being a part of what we’re doing.  Your financial support makes it possible for us to cover the costs of syndicating and producing this daily radio program.  We’re grateful for your partnership with us and always appreciate hearing from you. 

With that, we’ve got to wrap things up.  Hope you have a great weekend this weekend.  Hope you and your family are able to worship together in church, and I hope you can join us back on Monday.  Ron Deal is going to be here.  We’re going to talk about some of the challenges that step-families face—blended families—and talk about what you can do to make sure yours is a smart step-family.  I hope you can join us Monday 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 back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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