FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Improving Your Parenting

with Dennis and Barbara Rainey | August 11, 2004
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Would you like to be a better parent? Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey encourage couples to get involved in a HomeBuilders parenting group and become the parents they always wanted to be.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Would you like to be a better parent? Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey encourage couples to get involved in a HomeBuilders parenting group and become the parents they always wanted to be.

  • 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.

Dennis and Barbara Rainey encourage couples to get involved in a HomeBuilders parenting group.

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Improving Your Parenting

With Dennis and Barbara Rainey
August 11, 2004
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Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.  All of us have memories of what it was like growing up.  Now, listen as this group talks about some of their memories.

Man: If you could choose one favorite childhood memory of something you did with a parent, what would it be and why? 

Man: It just so happens, my father and I got ahold of an old speedboat and reconditioned it from the waterline on up, and that was just an enjoyable time, and that speedboat being upside down in our driveway for months at a time and trying to do some work on it and then messing with the engine for more months at a time until we finally got it in the water, and I blew the engine.  But my dad, to this day, tells stories about that boat.

Man: One thing I think of is the time my dad took me with him on a trip, and we just had a – you know, we had a van, and we drove and had a bed in the back, and I just remember spending the night with my dad in the van out in the middle of nowhere, you know, and it was – I just have very fond memories of that; simple, and I don't know if he even remembers it now, but I sure do.

Woman: I remember my dad worked two jobs, and so we didn't get to see him a whole lot, but Christmas Eve my mom would make this sugar cookie dough that had to be in the fridge for a few hours before we could make it, so while it was waiting in the fridge, my dad would pile all of us girls in the car, and we would go and pick out a Christmas tree and come home, and then it would be my dad's job to roll out the cookie dough.  My dad did it every Christmas, every Christmas.

Woman: I think for me it was the time – I lived out in the country, and so when you went shopping, especially for clothes, it was a real deal, because you had to drive into a village or a city.  But one day my mom, out of a clear blue sky, decided to take me into the big city that was within driving distance from where we lived – and took me out of school, which was, like, unheard of because you went to school whether you were dying of a sickness or not.  But we took off the day from school and went to the big city to go to the big department store and that was very uncharacteristic for my mom, so I guess that's a special time with her.

Man: Why do you suppose it's important to build a storehouse of shared memories with your children?

Woman: So they can like you when you get old.


Man: Since they are the ones that are going to be paying for your nursing home.

Man: We're choosing it, too.

Woman: Which our kids remind us of that frequently.

Bob: We've been listening to parents getting together in a HomeBuilders group, a HomeBuilders parenting group.

Dennis: It sounded to me like they were talking about a rest home.  I don't want to live in a rest home.  I want to live in my kids' home.

Bob: They better have a place ready for you.

Dennis: They better, because they spent the first 18 years of their lives at my place.

Bob: You've got 18 years coming, don't you?

Dennis: I figure, you know, there's 18 at Ashley's and 18 at Benjamin's.

Bob: Just go on to infinity, won't you?  Well, we have been listening to a group of parents getting together for a HomeBuilders parenting group, and we're encouraging parents this week that you can't do this job on your own.  I guess you can do it on your own, but it's a whole lot harder if you do it on your own.  Barbara Rainey is joining us today, and what's the importance of this issue of memories?  Why would parents sit around and talk about some of their memories of childhood if they're going to be focused on parenting?

Dennis: Well, as you mentioned, all this week we're challenging folks to set up a small group Bible study.  We're calling our small group Bible study the HomeBuilders parenting series, and we have six brand-new small group studies that meet parents wherever they are – starting out, raising a toddler, all the way through the teenage years, and this one that we just heard – these couples interacting about today is from the HomeBuilders parenting series called "Improving Your Parenting."  And you asked the question, Bob, why is it important to revisit your memories with your children, and this comes from a session in that HomeBuilders called "Building a Relationship with Your Child."  And here is the premise – I believe the Bible teaches clearly that the truth of Scripture is passed down from one generation to another through relationships.  And the best relationships that I think God designed start out in the family – a mom and a dad whose heart is connected to their children.

 For me, as I was reflecting on some of their answers, I thought about one of my favorite memories with my dad, and that was flying a kite.  We didn't just fly the kite, we made the kite.  And what he did was, he got some very thin strips of pine – he was masterful at this.  He took three pieces of pine, and he wrapped them together in the center with some string, notched them on the ends where he had additional string going all the way around the perimeter that was created, and then he went to the butcher store and got butcher paper, and they either sold him or gave him a sheet of butcher paper, and would take that butcher paper and wrap it around that frame that had been created by those little pine strips, and we'd tie a tail to that, a real long tail, and that kite would fly.  And I just remember sitting in his lap, as a boy, flying a kite that we had built from scratch.

Bob: Now, Barbara, we hear something like that, and that's a sweet scene to imagine, and yet why is it important for as, as parents, to have those moments with our children?

Barbara: I think they're connecting points.  I think those are the memories that connect us back to our parents.  I have a friend that I just had lunch with today, and she was talking about her daughter who is in her 20s and is living out on her own, and she said, "My daughter came back at Christmas, and we were talking about all the foods that she used to eat growing," and she said, "My daughter looked at me and said, 'Well, Mom, that's what I eat all the time now.'"  Like, why would you think that I wouldn't eat what I grew up eating?  And the mom said, "It just made me feel so good," and it was a connection that this mom and this daughter still had, even though they don't live together anymore, but that daughter is saying, "This is important to me."

 And so I think that the experiences that we have with our children, as simple as they may be, from the kinds of food we eat together to the experiences of flying kites and building boats and going shopping together and having dates and being on teams – those are the things that tie us to our children that they don't ever forget.

Bob: And, Dennis, our family relationships are going to go through some challenging times.  We're going to experience some times with our children when the relationship is strained.  Those good times provide us with a bank account that we can draw on when things get tough.

Dennis: Yes, you're right, and I'm reminded of 1 Peter, chapter 4, verse 8.  It's one of our favorite verses as we talk about building relationships with your children.  It's a very simple verse, but it really is kind of a core value of our family.  The passage reads, "For love cover a multitude of sin."  That's really the story of God's love for us – that we have been commissioned to pass on to our children.  Now, how do we do that?  Through the ups and downs of life.

 And there are going to be moments when your children are not only – well, they're not only not going to be lovable, but they're going to do things to hurt you.  That's happened with our children.  The question, at those moments, is are you going to keep on loving your child?  And, really, the reason is – is if you quit loving your child, who is there on this planet that is going to assume that responsibility to really love and care for your child, short of a spouse?  Now, a spouse might take it upon themselves to begin to take that mantle of love, but a parent certainly begins the process with a young person of saying to him, "I'm going to love you.  No matter what, I'm going to love you," and these relationships we're talking about here, these are building blocks.

Bob: Every child is asking that question – do you love me, does anybody love me, am I lovable?  And part of the spiritual training that we need to provide is the affirmation that, yes, this child is loved, not only by us but by God.  We really, at some point here, Barbara, become an incarnation of the love of God as we love our children, don't we?

Barbara: That's right, we do.  Parents demonstrate what God's love looks like, as we forgive our children and as we love them unconditionally and as we then point them to God.  Much of what we do on a day-in-and-day-out basis is communicating the love of God to our children by believing in them and coaching them and encouraging them and pointing them to the Savior.

Dennis: There is another passage in the Bible that says, "speaking the truth in love."  And I think sometimes we make love out to be this gooshy marshallow-type of thing that's just a warm feeling.  I think biblical love has its moment where it does speak the truth.  In fact, that's no less loving than a hug.  Speaking the truth to a child; maybe a child who is toying around with behavior that could dramatically impact his life or her life for the rest of their lives is very important.  And for a parent not to speak in those moments is really, I think, abdicating responsibility.  When they are given to us by God for a period of time in our home, I think it's at those moments we have to build a relationship so, as you said, Bob, we do have the right to be able to speak truth to them.  But when that opportunity comes, we need to do it.

 I know there have been some times, and some of our children, as they have gotten older in their teenage years when – I'm thinking of one child specifically who really disregarded the words that we would speak into this child's life.  And those are difficult moments to keep on loving, and yet all the relationship-building time of childhood experiences into early adolescence – all of those moments, I think, go into attempting to build a relationship with another human being that you are hoping, in those moments, provides some sense of a tether – where their heart is tethered, linked, to our heart so we can continue to speak the truth and correct and call that young person away from dangerous, harmful behavior that could take his or her life.

Bob: There are times when it is very difficult to love a child when there are particular behaviors going on; when you may look and think, "I know, deep down, I love this child.  But right now I don't really like this child, and I'm not sure I want the child around."  How do you stay true to this kind of a mission when that's what's in your heart, Barbara?

Barbara: Well, I think what you have to do is, you have to remember what the truth is, and the truth is, is that God has given me this child, and I do love the child, and I am committed to what is best for this child, even though my feelings may be telling me, "Right now I don't like this kid, I don't want to be around this kid.  He's bugging me," or he's rebelling or has a bad attitude or whatever, but the truth us that this my responsibility, and this child was given to me by God for a reason, and that is what you have to keep in mind when it's difficult.

Bob: So if there is an extended period where the child is saying to you, "I don't like you, I don't want anything to do with you, just stay out of my life," and they keep pushing, they keep pushing, what do you do?

Barbara: You keep reminding them what the truth is and saying, "God has given you to us, and He has given us to you, whether you like it or not.  We are the parents He's given you, and you didn't have a choice in the matter," and just continue to remind them of what the truth is.  It may not make any difference, but that's all we have to stand on is what God has done, and we're confident of it.

Dennis: When a young person begins to – well, they begin to become a young adult, and they push back, it can hurt.  It can hurt profoundly, and I have to read this passage.  It's kind of lengthy, but it's worth reading right now because this is how you do it, right here.  First of all, it's how you don't do it.  Paul writes in Galatians, chapter 5, he says, "But I say walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."  What does the flesh want to do?  Well, verse 17 – "For the flesh sets its desire against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, for these two are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please." 

 Then it goes on to list the deeds of the flesh, which are immorality and purity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger …

Barbara: … it sounds like a family …

Dennis: … disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, and on it goes forth.  But then he says in verse 22 – "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."  I can tell you firsthand, and this is not theory – God has called Barbara and me on more than one occasion to love more than one child who has gone beyond being unlovable to really pushing back.  But in one particular case to love a child who, humanly speaking, would be impossible to love.  Humanly speaking, you'd resent what they have done to you; you'd resent what they've done to your family; you'd resent how their life has impacted yours.  But you know what?  God has not called us to give in to resentment, He has called us to redemption and to reconciliation, and when you face a child that is tough to love, at that moment, I think what we have to do is we can't give in to the desire of the flesh.  Instead we have to yield to the Holy Spirit and if, indeed, we are followers of Christ, if He is our Savior, our Master, our Lord, our Redeemer, and we are His, the Holy Spirit lives in us, and if He lives in us, He can give us the love for the unlovely.  He can help us forgive and not be filled with resentment and anybody who has raised a child knows it's one of the greatest gambles in all of life.  You're not raising a person whose behavior is guaranteed just because you raised them with this Book.

Bob: In the ongoing process of attempting to connect with your children, there are seasons, there are times when it ebbs and flows.  I know there have been times when we've pulled out of the driveway on a particular evening to go be with our parenting group, you know, to go get together, and you pull out, and you're leaving behind a war, you know, that has just broken out.  And you're in the car feeling like a failure, and you're going, "I don't even know if I want to see other people tonight because I just am defeated right now."  But we walk in, we sit down with these other parents, we open the Scriptures, we look together at what they say, we're honest about what's going on.  They say, "You know what?  We were there yesterday," and as soon as they say it, you go, "Really?"  There's some hope that comes with that.  And then they say, "And things are starting to turn around for us," and that provides you with some hope that maybe things can turn around for you.  They give you some tips and some pointers, you look together at the Scriptures.

 I know we've driven back into the driveway on those same evenings with a fresh sense of being – you know, we can get back into the battle.  We can walk back in, we've been pumped up a little bit, and instead of just going to bed and pulling the covers up over your head, you know, and saying, "I don't want to deal with this," you're back ready to be a parent.

Dennis: I don't know how people would do it without community.  We were designed by God for community.  What I mean by community is to be surrounded by other people who are like-minded, who have similar values, and who would go to this Book, the Scriptures, to be able to raise their kids and to cheer one another on.  Over in Hebrews, chapter 10, I think it's verse 23, 24, and 25, it says, "But let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds."  Now, is there a verse that was made for parents -- let us consider how to stimulate a parent to love and good deeds.  Why?  Because there's a lot about raising children that's just hard work.

 And, frankly, it's kind of fun right now because our kids are all having children, and they're coming back home, they're going, "Man, this is not as easy as we thought it was going to be.  This is tough.  This demands self-sacrifice.  How did you and Mom do it?"  Well, we didn't do it perfectly, but we didn't quit.

Bob: I remember talking to a friend of mine, and his daughter had gone to college, and this dad had sent the younger daughter, the younger teenager, off to visit her sister at college for a few days.  And after that visit, the older daughter called the dad and said, "I would just like to a apologize for – I must have been very selfish and not realized it."  It was the fresh exposure now to a selfish younger sister that caused the older child to go, "Was I like that?"  And that was an encouraging phone call for that father to get – to know that there does come a time when, if you build the relationship, and you hang with it, and you don't give up, and you do not become weary in well doing, in due time you will reap if you sow.  Right?

Dennis: That's exactly right, and what the HomeBuilders parenting series is designed to equip you to do is to keep on keeping on.  Each of these Bible studies, and there are six of them, there are six different books.  One of them is for teenagers, another one is around the subject of discipline, and there is one written called "Helping Your Children Know God," that's the one you wrote, Bob, right?  There's this one, "Improving Your Parenting," which talks about building a relationship with your child and has more of an overview of parenting.  There are these Bible studies that are designed to come alongside a generation of couples who are beginning their families or just beginning to move into adolescence or in adolescence and say, "You know what?  We need some help.  We need some encouragement."  And get together with a group of people and find that.

 I have – I went to our website and just printed some of the comments made by people who have used HomeBuilders, and there are some great stories in here of people who have used HomeBuilders in the past for their marriage and how it has brought dramatic changes in not only those who lead the HomeBuilders but in those who participate.  And what I think is going to happen as a result of theses six new HomeBuilders for parents is I think we're going to see a whole new generation of small group Bible studies come about in churches and Sunday school classes, in neighborhoods that meet and, over a period of six weeks, maybe meet every other week, but over six to 12 weeks get together and hammer out a game plan for how you're going to raise your children.

Bob: Mm-hm, and we're hoping to encourage you to get involved in the process by marking down all the HomeBuilders titles during the month of August by 25 percent.  So if you want to get started, this is the right time to get started.  You'll save money, you can get a group together.  We really want to encourage as many folks as possible to join with us and start a HomeBuilders group.  You'll find information about all of the six titles that are available in the HomeBuilders parenting series when you go to our website at or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY for more information.  Again, our goal is to see a whole bunch of parents getting involved with other parents, and that's the reason that we're making the material available at a discounted price.  We really believe that as you get together with other parents and have that sense of community and together you're thinking biblically about these subjects, we believe that it's going to help you launch the next generation with a solid foundation underneath them.

Dennis: You know, what's happening, I believe, through HomeBuilders is that revolution.  We've had more than 1.5 million of these books go out here in America, and the other day I was talking with a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., without me realizing it, who had been in HomeBuilders early in her marriage, and I just want to share with our listeners what she wrote.  She said, "I'm from a broken home.  I knew early on that I did not know how to be married, and my husband knew that I didn't know."  She said, "I had to learn how to be married.

Well," she said, "within the first three months of their marriage, their church was starting a HomeBuilders" and, as a result, she got involved in HomeBuilders over the next 18 months and began to build habits based upon the lessons that she learned in HomeBuilders.  And she said, "Instead of becoming the world's nasty to one another, we fell back on the good biblical habits we formed in our first 18 months.  We never fall back on the world's nasty responses.  Instead, we practiced the biblical habits and have built our marriage on what we have learned at HomeBuilders.  HomeBuilders educates you with the ideal, it creates healthy habits, and the first 18 months of your marriage," she said, "conflict doesn't matter, because he's cute.  But after 18 months, cute doesn't cut it, you need training." 

She said, "I love my mother and father dearly, but what hurts me most is that both of them have a gaping hole from a divorce that they suffered early in their marriage that can only be healed by marriage, and now that won't ever occur."  She said, "We've now been married about five-and-a-half years."  They went to one of our conferences and just said, "You know, HomeBuilders really was the blueprints that we needed to begin our marriage right."  And if you're starting out the parenting process or if you're raising a teenager, HomeBuilders for parents, I believe, will give you the blueprints that you may be missing in raising the next generation.

Bob: There are a couple of titles that are specifically for parents of teens, and there are titles that any parent could benefit from no matter what age your children are.  Again, find information on our website at or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY.  Join the revolution and get started with a HomeBuilders parenting group either in your home or call a neighbor and say, "We want to come to your house and start this group."

Dennis: Yeah, right, let them lead it.

Bob: Well, tomorrow we're going to talk about how we can help our children know God.

Dennis: That's the one you wrote.

Bob: That is.  I hope our listeners can be with us 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'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.


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