FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Needs of Kids Part 1

with Dennis and Barbara Rainey | September 6, 2018
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Mom and Dad: Do you know what your parental assignment is? Family experts Dennis and Barbara Rainey, parents to six and grandparents to twenty plus, list the top 10 things each child needs to be healthy, happy, and whole, which includes a home that isn't child-centric and that's led by intentional parents.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What Every Child Needs top ten list

  • 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.

Mom and Dad: Do you know what your parental assignment is? Dennis and Barbara Rainey list the top 10 things each child needs to be healthy, happy, and whole.

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Needs of Kids Part 1

With Dennis and Barbara Rainey
September 06, 2018
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Bob: Your kids need you to be a parent. Here’s Barbara Rainey.

Barbara: I think there is a movement / I think there is a common thinking today in parents that I see that mom and dad need to be buddies with their kids—they need to be friends / they need to be pals. There’s nothing wrong with having that kind of a relationship—like if you go camping or you go to the park—you’re going to play together; you’re going to do some things together; you’re going to get down on the same level; but that isn’t the posture that you need to have, as a parent, all the time.

Homes do not need to be child-centric. Homes need to be God-centric, and then mom and dad need to be in charge and directing the life of their child—not being dictated by the children. You need to train your child that he’s not the center of the universe, and that’s the difference—is helping them begin to understand that they’re not in control; they’re not in charge.


They do have needs; they do have wants; and they do have feelings; but they aren’t / don’t always have to be met immediately.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 6th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Your kids need to know that you love them, and that you care about them, and that you are their friend; but they need to know, first, that you are their parent and that you have authority over them. We’re going to talk more about that today with Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.


Thanks for joining us. You know, if you stop and think about it, there is a reason that God, in His wisdom, gave kids to moms and dads.

Dennis: Oh, you think? [Laughter] Why do you think He did that, Bob?

Bob: Well, I’ve been reading your book; so I know the answer to why He did that. [Laughter] Kids need a mom and a dad to do what moms and dads are supposed to do so that the kids grow up with an understanding of who they are and what they are all about; don’t they?

Dennis: Psalm 127, verses 3-5 say this—listen carefully—some parents who I read this to right now don’t believe this, because they have real problems with their kids—we understand that: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”


Children are a gift to be received. They are arrows to be raised; and then they are also arrows that were meant to be released. They were not designed to stay in the quiver; they were meant to be designed for a target.

Bob: And if parents are going to raise their kids successfully, they need to know what their assignment is.

Your wife Barbara is back again today. Barbara, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.

Barbara: Thank you, Bob.

Bob: Do you think most moms and dads start the parenting journey understanding what it is that they are supposed to do?

Barbara: Probably not. I would say they probably have some ideas of what they want to do. I think they probably have some ideas of what they don’t want to do / what they don’t want to repeat. Most young couples come in and say, “I’m not going to do it the way my parents did,”—

Bob: Right.

Barbara: —or “I don’t want to do it the way I saw it done by So-and-so.”

I think they have a vague, general idea; but parenting is such a hands-on learning experiencing.


I often say that a woman can read a dozen books—on how to have a baby, what’s it’s like to have a baby, what’s happening inside, what you can expect—but until she actually goes through the experience, it’s all theory. In some ways, that’s true with parenting, too; because you can read tons of books; but once you get in there—and you know who your kids are / you know who you are; and you’re beginning to figure out, “How do we work together?”—then, that’s when you really need to have practical help.

Bob: My preparation for parenting happened over six summers from 1972 until 1977.

Dennis: Boy Scouts?

Bob: It was YMCA Camp Lakewood in Potosi, Missouri.

Dennis: I was close; I was close!

Bob: I was a camp counselor for many years at Camp Lakewood. As we would have kids come into the cabin, it was my job to take care of those kids for the week. I caught on: “Here’s the big idea of parenting. You want your kids to have a blast every day and sleep well at night.” [Laughter]

Dennis: —“and be clothed.”


Bob: “You feed them, and you make sure they get to the bathroom”; but you—the whole idea is to have fun. I really think, when we had our kids, that’s what I reverted to: “My job here is to make sure that they have a fun time in life—

Barbara: —“and they are tired at night.”

Bob: —“and they are tired at night. They sleep all night long.”

There is a little more to it than just your kids having fun.

Dennis: There is. I’m glad you illustrated that, because I would have said that was mine as well. You would say that for—

Barbara: What?—that I would say that was your expectation?

Dennis: Yes; wouldn’t you say that?

Barbara: Probably; yes.

Bob: His goal was fun with the kids?

Barbara: Yes; for sure.

Dennis: Yes; she would see me come in after work and says: “You’re just always having fun with the kids! I’ve been here all day with these—

Barbara: Problem-solving, constantly, all day long.

Dennis: —“with these rug rats wrapped around my legs; and they are dragging me around,” and I [Dennis] come home and have fun with them.

Bob: Yes; so when you sat down to write the book that you’ve just completed, The Art of Parenting, you took a chapter and you said, “We want to help moms and dads know what their kids need.” Fun may be a part of that, but there is more to it than fun.


You decided, in this book, you were just going to tweet out the answers to the parents; right?

Dennis: Well, most of them are millennials, who are parents today.

Bob: Right.

Dennis: I wanted to get their attention. I thought, “Can we give our top ten tips of what every child needs in 288 characters or less?”

Bob: I bet you were glad they expanded Twitter® from 140.

Dennis: I was. [Laughter]

Barbara: Yes.

Dennis: I really was.

Barbara: Yes; that did help us.

Dennis: We did do that. We’d just like to share our top ten Twitter tweets to equip moms and dads to understand what their kids need today.

Number ten: “They need a home that is not child-centric.”

Barbara: I think that’s a really big one, even though it is number ten. Actually, they are all pretty important; but anyway, nonetheless, number ten. I think that’s really important today; because I think there is a movement / I think there is a common thinking today in parents that I see that mom and dad need to be buddies with their kids—that they need to be friends / they need to be pals.


There is nothing wrong with having that kind of relationship—like if you go camping or you go to the park—you’re going to play together; you’re going to do some things together; you’re going to get down on the same level; but that isn’t the posture you need to have, as a parent, all the time.

Homes do not need to be child-centric. Homes need to be God-centric; and then mom and dad need to be in charge and directing the life of their child—not being dictated by the children.

Bob: You know, here is the thing—when your kids are born, their needs are—we’re talking survival. We’re talking about the child is—

Barbara: Right.

Bob: —dependent on you for everything.

Barbara: And his needs supersede parents’.

Bob: It’s very easy for us, as parents, to fall right into that and go: “This child can’t survive without me. My spouse can survive without me. The whole world can survive without me; but not this child.” So, from the beginning, we think, “My number one job is this child.”


It’s easy for the home to, then, become child-centered.

Barbara: It is the job of parents to keep that child alive, and your child does need you to survive; but you need to train your child that he’s not the center of the universe. That’s the difference—is helping them begin to understand that they’re not in control; they are not in charge. They do have needs; they do have wants; and they do have feelings; but they aren’t / don’t always have to be met immediately.

You’re right. It is easy to fall into that with newborns, because their needs are so important when they are tiny.

Dennis: Bob, I hate to correct you, here, on the broadcast; but each of these tweets are to take 288 characters or less, and you just burned up 765 as you illustrated it there. [Laughter]

Number nine is one you believe in strongly, Barbara—go ahead.

Barbara: Yes. Number nine is: “A home led by intentional and purposeful parents.”

Bob: Do you want to speak to that, Mr. Intentional?—[Laughter]—since that’s how your son referred to you.

Dennis: Well, here’s the rest of the tweet—


—it says: “Being intentional means investing lots of time planning, making wise decisions, and assuming responsibility for raising the next generation. Purposeful means working to be in agreement on discipline, boundaries, and standards.”

Bob: Again, I have to tell you—my orientation toward parenting, when we had our kids, was more spontaneous than purposeful: “What is the need of the moment?”—not—“What is the need of the year?—or the need of the next decade in the life of this child?” When you’re thinking in the moment, you’re missing the strategic purpose of parenting; you’re just dealing with dailyness of it.

Dennis: See, here is where the Bible pulls you out of the daily stuff and the horizontal and lifts you to the vertical. The Bible is constantly challenging you to teach your child to think like an eternal creature, because they are

Barbara: Right.

Dennis: —like a boy or a girl, who was created in the image of God—like one, who God has a mission and purpose for.


They are not just random molecules. Children are God’s gift to this generation, and what we have to do is equip them to think rightly about themselves.

Bob: Our friend / our mutual friend, Tim Kimmel, says in The Art of Parenting video series—he says, “When you realize how long your child’s going to live, it changes everything.” Then, he says, “I happen to know how long every child’s going to live—they live forever.” When you are parenting with eternity in mind / when you are parenting with the idea, “This child is going to live forever,” that does reorient and refocus what you’re doing.

Barbara: Exactly.

Dennis: You did a little better on that—that was 500 characters, Bob. [Laughter]

Number eight.

Barbara: Number eight is: “A secure home,”—and we’re talking about more than just an alarm system, and child safety locks, and car seats in the car. We’re talking about the kind of security that comes from emotional stability and having a peaceful environment at home.

One of the biggest keys to kids feeling safe at home is building a strong marriage, because marriage has to come first.


It’s important for moms and dads to make sure that their marriage is strong, and stable, and secure, and you’re feeding your marriage at the same time that you are feeding your kids.

Bob: A strong, healthy marriage can cover a multitude of other failings for parents; can’t it?

Dennis: It’s been said, over and over again, that the most important thing your children need to know, practically, as they are growing up is that mommy and daddy love each other. They’re surrounded with kids—at school, on the playground, in their neighborhood—who are growing up in homes, where that’s not the case. They are wanting to know: “Are my mom and dad going to hang in there and go the distance?”

I remember, in 1953, a fight/an argument—not physical, but an emotionally-heated moment—in my parents’ marriage, where, as a little boy, I asked the question: “Are Mom and Dad going to make it? 


“Are they going to get a divorce?” I remember shaking out of fear.

Now, that was 1953, when divorce was never heard of. I went to school, all the way through high school as a young man, with only one classmate who grew up in a broken home. Today, your children are growing up with 60 percent of their classmates coming from a home of—either a single-parent family / a blended family—something other than an intact family that goes the distance for a lifetime.

Our children need to feel secure, and the way they can feel secure is if they know their mom and dad are committed to one another for a lifetime.

Bob: Okay; this time you went way over your tweet limit. [Laughter]

Barbara: That’s true.

Bob: So, what’s number seven?

Barbara: Number seven: “Parents who pray together every day.” This is something that Dennis and I have done since the early months of our marriage.

Dennis: It was December of 1972.

Barbara: Yes; Dennis went and talked to a friend of ours—who had been married, at the time, 27 years, I think; they had four or five kids—


—and asked him: “What was the most important advice he would give him, as a new husband, and for us, together, as a newly married couple?” He said, “You should pray together with your wife every day.

Dennis has told this story multiple times—that he was shocked it was something so simple and seemingly so insignificant. Yet, we began to pray together every day; and it’s not long-winded—most of the times, it’s not. We’re not praying through every need that we know of. We’re not naming every name of someone who needs intercession. We pray very simply, but we do pray together every single day. Of course, we pray at meals too; but that [prayer] has made a big difference in our marriage, because we, together, come before God and we humble ourselves before Him.

Bob: So, why does that matter, as parents? I can see where it bonds you together in your marriage, but how does it affect your parenting?

Barbara: Well, if you are humble together before God, you’re submitting to Him and to His authority in your life.


Then, you’re going to be much more receptive to His leading you in how you raise your kids; and you’re going to have more unity. Now, that’s not going to be automatic. You’re still going to have to work through things; but if you pray together, and you’re seeking God together, then you’re going to be more open to His guidance in your life.

Dennis: I love the way Ephesians, Chapter 3, concludes—it just reminds us of the truth about God. Why wouldn’t you want to pray if this is true about God? “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” It’s a prayer of sorts in the Book of Ephesians.

Bob, if God’s in charge—if He knows what our kids are up to / if He loves them more than us, and He does—He knows how to get their attention. I think, sometimes, it’s the parents’ prayers that bring children back to their faith, even as adults; because they’ve been tracked down by the Lord God Almighty, who is now answering the prayers of parents over a number of years.


Bob: Okay; we’re talking about what kids need from a mom and dad. This is from your new book, The Art of Parenting. You’re giving us tweets—just the bullet points on what our children need. What is tweet number six?

Dennis: Number six: “Parents who don’t freak out when their children fail or caught lying, stealing, kissing under the stairs at the church—

Bob: Wait, wait; wait.

Dennis: —sneaking out—

Bob: Did that happen? Did that happen with somebody?

Dennis: Yes—not one of our kids. [Laughter]

Bob: Okay.

Barbara: Not one of our kids.

Dennis: —hiding things, making stupid choices, doing drugs, and even more. They also don’t freak out when their children have doubts or pushback against their parents’ faith.”

Bob: Barbara, this is tough—

Barbara: This is real hard; yes.


Bob: —because when you see your kids making bad choices / doing childish things, you can get a little freaked out, as a mom.

Barbara: But this is why it’s so important—and I agree with you totally, because I freak out as a mom—but this is why it’s so important that parents are growing their own relationship with God; because if you are, then you understand, and you can remind yourself: “Oh, that’s right. My child is a sinner. My child has a wicked heart. My child needs to be saved. My child needs to be redeemed and needs God to work in my child’s life.”

When your child does these things, it’s not so much your fault as much as it is a reflection of what your child’s heart is. Your child’s heart needs a relationship with God. The more moms and dads can be grounded in their faith, and taking their children before the throne of God, the less caught off guard you’re going to be. You’ll still be caught off guard some; but you’ll go, “Okay, this is a reflection of the work that God needs to do in my child’s life.”


Bob: One of the things that Elyse Fitzpatrick, who was a contributor to the Art of Parenting video series, said—that I thought was very helpful—she said, “A lot of parents are discipling children for being childish.” She said: “That’s what children do. When they are being disobedient, you discipline them. When they are being childish, you’ve got to leave room for there to be childish irresponsibility and not freak out when a four-year-old is acting like a four-year-old.”

Dennis: I’ll tell you—we’ve been on the receiving end of a teacher calling from school, saying, “Your child was caught cheating on a test.” Now, never mind, when I was a college student, I cheated on a computer test. Now, it’s easy to forget what you were like when you were that age; you know? [Laughter] But it’s back to what you were talking about, Bob—a proper view and understanding that we’re all broken / we’re all just a step away from doing something really, really tragic can help us in not freaking out.


Bob: You know, it is one thing, Dennis, when you see your kids making childish choices—they’re writing on the walls or they get into a wreck with the car and knock over mailboxes—that kind stuff has happened to you; right?

Dennis: Oh, yes.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: We’ve got—one of our children holds the record number of rear-end collisions.

Bob: —in the state of Arkansas? [Laughter]

Dennis: No; in our family—that’s the record—not in the state.

Bob: It’s something else, though, when your kids are starting to have doubts/questions. They are starting to wonder about whether there really is a God, and whether they want to follow Him, and about the moral choices they are going to make as teenagers, about the spiritual choices they are going to make. It’s pretty tough, as parents, not to become anxious when you start to see some of these things emerging in a child’s life.

Barbara: Well, especially, if your number one goal is for your children to walk with God; and that was our number one goal.


I think our kids pick up on that too; but again, parents need to remember: “What were you like when you were that age? Were you questioning? Were you wondering?” Just embrace those questions, as hard as it is to do, and “Let’s talk about it.” Understand that everyone is going to go through that; and if you react, your kids are going to go, “Oh, I can push her button by talking this way.” You’re giving them an entree into them controlling, which isn’t healthy.

So, not freaking out is a big one. It really is important that you do it as little as possible; but it is a hard one to not freak out, because we love our kids so much. We don’t want them to suffer, and we sort of mistakenly think that we can prevent a lot of that.

Bob: We’ve had guests, over the years, who have coached in this regard. I remember one guest saying, “You have to practice your not-freaking-out face.” As a parent, you need to kind of prepare for—imagine a child saying, “So, I just found out my best friend is a lesbian.”


As a parent, all of a sudden, it’s like: “A what?!”—but you have to go—“Oh, that is interesting. How did you learn that?”

Barbara: “Tell me more.”

Bob: —and ask questions. All the anxiety that’s bubbling up in you, in those moments, you have to figure out how you’re going to just keep that in the background while you interact with that child.

Dennis: This really goes back to an earlier point we made, where the home needs to be a safe place/a secure place, where you can bring your doubts out into the open. I just want to ask—every parent, every grandparent, every aunt and uncle—who is listening to this broadcast: “Wouldn’t you rather your child, or your grandchild, your nephew/your niece—wouldn’t you rather them express that doubt—that question/that rebellion—against God to you rather than express it with their friends and have peer pressure shape the answer?

I wish I could say, Bob, that Barbara and I really did this perfectly.


We didn’t. There were times when we did freak out, but you have to tell your face something different than what you’re feeling. You’ve just got to stonewall it a little bit and say, “Oh,”—like you said, Bob—“Oh, really? Let’s talk more about that.”

I’ve got a friend—one of his children came back and said, “I don’t believe in God anymore.” “Oh, okay; that’s interesting. Let’s talk about what’s happened that’s caused you to come to that conclusion. What’s the evidence? How are you weighing?—what are you thinking?”

Bob: Then, you have to, in the midst of that, resist the temptation in that dialogue to want to get them right back on track.

Dennis: Oh, you can’t preach at that moment!

Barbara: Immediately; right.

Bob: That’s right.

Dennis: You can’t preach. You have to be a shock-absorber for that child to be able to pushback and become his or her own person. They’ve got to have their own faith / their own experience with God. I think that’s why this one is so important. Parents don’t need to freak out. They need to be shock-absorbers for their kids to be able to test their parents and see how their parents respond.


Bob: We’re going to have to come back tomorrow to get through the rest of this list of tweets for parents about what our assignment is, as a mom or as a dad. I’d encourage our listeners—if you’re not already signed up to get a copy of Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s new book, The Art of Parenting, you can pre-order, online, at; or call to place your pre-order. Our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY.

The Art of Parenting video series is available; and there are churches that are already showing our movie, Like Arrows, as a way to kick-off the parenting series. There is an Art of Parenting, free, online series that moms and dads can go through as well. Go to to find out more about all of the Art of Parenting resources we have available, including Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s brand-new book. Our website, again, is; or call if you have any questions or if you’d like to order by phone: 1-800-FL-TODAY—


—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

A quick reminder: Tonight, at 7 o’clock Central time, we’re going to be connecting with many of our Legacy Partners, who are joining us for a FamilyLife® Legacy Partner Connect event. We’ll spend a little less than an hour doing Q&A around parenting, and our Legacy Partners are invited to join us. Not only will the two of you [Dennis and Barbara] be with us, but FamilyLife’s new President, David Robbins, and his wife Meg are going to be here as well. We’ll be interacting, and taking questions, and talking about parenting issues.

This is one of the ways that we want to express our gratitude for those of you who are monthly Legacy Partners. You are the ones who have made today’s program possible for everybody who has been listening—not only here in this country—but all around the world. We are so grateful for the partnership we have together. We look forward to talking to you tonight.

Again, if you’re signed up for the call, you’ll get a phone call just before 7 o’clock Central time.


If you’re not signed up, you can call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY; we’ll get everything coordinated so that you get a phone call and can be part of the Legacy Partner Connect event tonight—again, at 7 o’clock Central time. Look forward to talking to you then.

And we hope you can join us back tomorrow as we continue with our tweets for parents—the big ideas around parenting. Dennis and Barbara Rainey will be back again tomorrow. I hope you can be here as well.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.

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