FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Teaching Teens to Follow the Rules, Part 1

with Dennis Rainey | May 14, 2009
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Are your kids testing your boundaries? Today Dennis Rainey tells parents about the benefits of healthy boundaries, and what they need to do to pass on a legitimate faith in Christ to the next generation.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Are your kids testing your boundaries? Today Dennis Rainey tells parents about the benefits of healthy boundaries, and what they need to do to pass on a legitimate faith in Christ to the next generation.

  • 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.

Are your kids testing your boundaries?

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Teaching Teens to Follow the Rules, Part 1

With Dennis Rainey
May 14, 2009
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Bob:  that’s right. I need to take this message so they will hear it. Then they’ll change and obey and it’ll all be happy.

Dennis:  it’s happily ever after, bob (laughing).

I’ve got 3 points real quickly:

  1. Your teenager, from time to time, will manifest rebellion.  In anger and a major pushback.  Or, more subtle to see your child get passive and just refuse to do what you ask them to do.
  2. Keep on training your teen in the importance of submitting to authority and obedience to authority.  That begins with you and that means don’t quit training your teenager.  Bob, if there is a concern I have with the Christian community; it’s that many Christian parents are backing out of their teenager’s lives way too soon. They’re quitting. Their leaving their teenager to establish their own boundaries, or get their boundaries from their friends, their peers.  Don’t stop training your teen.
  3. We must realize, we must model what we teach to our children.  That means our lives need to be defined biblically. And our lives need to be distinctively Christian, which means, our lives are going to have boundaries. We can’t do everything. We’d like to, just like our teenagers, but we can’t be overgrown adolescents attempting to raise teenagers. That won’t work. You’re going to have a big fight and it’s not going to result in your teenager’s becoming mature because how can you call a young person to maturity when I’m not embracing it?

Bob: one of the things you and Barbara talked about when you were writing your book Parenting Today’s Adolescent is that before parents attempt to establish the house rules, how we’re going to live as a family, mom and dad have got to spend some time wrestling with what those boundaries are going to be and how you’re going to establish them and hold to them and what you’re going to do if a child steps over the line.  How you’re going to discipline, train, equip, coach, motivate, encourage your teenager to obey mom and dad and to follow the guidelines. And again those may be set differently from one family to another. Some families have standards in one area where another family has different standards.  As moms and dads we have to come together and wrestle with what our priorities are going to be for our families and establish those boundaries and communicate them to our teenagers and let them know what the consequences are if they choose to violate our house rules.

We’ve got copies of your book PTA in our FL Resource center. And you take us through in this book the common traps that will ensnare a teenager during his or her teen years. And you help us think as parents about what our standards are going to be as our teens come face-to-face with those traps.  Whether it’s drug use & dating or part time jobs and dealing with school work. You really give us an opportunity in this book to wrestle with what’s important as we raise our teens.  As I mentioned, we’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can go to our website… and we’ve got information there, not only about that book, but we’ve also got information on other books that you’ve written about teens.  The book you wrote for dads, Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date, and the book you and your kids wrote for teenagers called, “So You’re About to be a Teenager” to help your pre-teen get ready for the teen years.

Again all the information about these resources can be found on our website, You can order online if you’d like, or you can call us toll free at 1-8/00-FL TODAY.

Look for information online at or call us, toll-free, at 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.

When you get in touch with us let us know what resources you’re looking for and we’ll make arrangements to have the ones that you need sent to you.

Now, before we’re done here today, there’s an illustration that you shared in your message about the importance of parents living with integrity that we’re going to let our listeners hear. But I need to quickly update folks to the response that we’re receiving to the matching gift opportunity that we have presented to our FLT Listens over the last several weeks.

We had some friends step forward this month, and offered to match every donation we received during the month of May on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $356,000.  And that matching gift offer could not have come at a better time as some of you have heard Dennis mention, we are right now about $1 million dollars behind in donations where we were this time last year. We’ve had to respond to that shortfall by laying off some staff, instituting salary reductions here at the ministry. We have taken what we believe are appropriate steps to manage our finances well, and one of those steps is to come to you as our listeners and let you know about the challenge were facing and ask you if you’d consider, during the month of May, making as generous a donation as possible.  When you do, that donation again will be matched on a dollar for dollar basis up to $356,000. So if you can help us take advantage of this matching gift, whether it’s a $10 or $50 or a $100 or a $1,000.  Whatever you can do, if you’ll call 1-800 FL TODAY, make your donation over the phone, or go online at, you can donate online.  In either case, know that the donation is being matched dollar for dollar this month and let me say thanks in advance for your generous support of this ministry.  We do appreciate you listening; we appreciate your partnership with us.

As we wrap things up today, we’ve been talking about the importance of boundaries and the importance of character and integrity, how we need to train our children by modeling these kinds of attributes. And, Dennis, you shared a story with our staff during your message that I think we need to leave our listeners with.  A story that makes the point that our character really does matter. It’s a part of the legacy that we pass on to our children. 

Dennis:  A number of years ago, Readers Digest ran a popular story called “The catch of a lifetime.”  It was the story about a dad and a 10 year old boy who went fishing one night at 10PM.  Just 2 hours before the bass season opened at midnight. And they’d been drowning some worms catching pan fish and the little 10 year old boy, as the moon came up and the silver glint rippled across the surface of that lake where they were fishing, decided he would put on a little silver spoon lure and began casting.  Well, wouldn’t’ you know it, his pole doubled over and he had a big mouth. His dad watched with pleasure as the boy muscled the big fish all the way into the net. Finally arrived at the net, he lifted it up and it was a bass.  A monster.  The catch of a lifetime. The father looked at his watch – 2 hours before bass season opened.   What should he do? He said you’ll have to put it back in the lake son.  “Dad!!!!” cried the boy.  There will be another fish, said the father.  Not as big as this one, said the lad.

He cried as he looked around the lake. There were no other fishermen, no boats anywhere in the moonlight.  He looked again at his father… even though no one had seen them, the boy could tell by the clarity of his father’s voice that the decision was non negotiable.

I love that! 

He slowly worked the hook out of the lip of the huge bass and lowered it into the black water. The boy suspected that he would never again see such a fish. That was 34 years ago.  Today the boy is a successful architect in NY City. His father’s cabin is still there in the middle of that lake.  He takes his own son and daughter’s fishing from that very dock where his father took him fishing. 

You’ve got to be the keeper of the standard. Your children are watching you.

Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow. 

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