FamilyLife Today®

The Goal of Parenting

with Barbara Rainey, Dennis Rainey | October 19, 2009
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What is your game plan for parenting? Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey, parents of six grown children, offer some practical steps you can take to help you and your spouse decide what your parenting goals are going to be.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Guest

  • What is your game plan for parenting? Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey, parents of six grown children, offer some practical steps you can take to help you and your spouse decide what your parenting goals are going to be.

What is your game plan for parenting?

The Goal of Parenting

With Barbara Rainey, Dennis Raine...more
October 19, 2009
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Bob:  A lot of young parents after they have had their baby find themselves looking at one another and thinking, “Now what?”  Here’s Dennis Rainey!

Dennis:  One day there was a …. (Knocking sound) …. A knock at the door!  Now you have to appear at our house on purpose.  It is the end of the road.  Okay?  No one just comes by and knocks at the door.  I went to the door and it was a neighbor.   A young married man, and a new father of children under two years of age, and he said, “Mr. Rainey, I do not know how to do family.  I thought you might have some ‘tools’ for me as we raise our two children.”

I have thought of him many, many times how he is a representation of this generation of young families starting out; who are saying,” You know what?  We don’t know how to do family together.” 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, October 19th.    Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine.  If you find yourself thinking, “I’m not sure we know how to do family, especially when you have children in the toddler years.  We have got some help for you this week.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today!  Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  We are going to tackle a subject today that, uh, … well if you have kids this is going to be a part of your life for the duration of the time that your kids are at home, isn’t it? 

Dennis:  It is!  In fact I just did the math on this; Bob.  Barbara and I were in the process of raising a child whose age was under the age of five for 15 straight years.  Now, I don’t know if that is worth a PhD, but it certainly is worth some kind of degree of some kind.  What we hope to share with folks this week are the biblical basics of how you raise a child right from the start. 

Bob:   A couple of decades ago, you spent some concentrated time looking at what the scriptures have to say about the whole issue of discipline, didn’t you? 

Dennis:  That’s right!  I took a number of years, just taking a step back and saying, “What are the fundamentals of how you develop character in a child and how is it done in a loving way that is nurturing and caring and supportive and really helps them grow up to become responsible adults?  Barbara and I hammered out this material together.  Frankly, Bob, it’s been a long time since we have had a series here on FamilyLife Today that I had been as excited about as I am this series.  I really believe this is the ticket for anyone who has a preschool child.

Bob:  Well, we’ve got a number of young parents to join us; both couples and single parents for an entire day where we talked about this.  We brought cameras in so we could capture this for video and create a resource that parents can use in small groups with their church.   Just as a mom and dad sitting down watching it together.  We are going to hear a portion of the first session we did with those parents today.  This is on the subject of early childhood discipline.  A series we are calling, Right from the Start!

We are excited about what is ahead for us in these sessions and we are going to be talking about the subject of discipline.  When I say we are excited, Barbara, this is something that every time we get ready to talk about it, you really do get excited.  You love talking to young moms about disciplining children in the early years. 

Barbara:  Yes!  I do!  It is because I remember so well how discouraged I was in those days of parenting that was so 24/7 and how I wished I had someone who would come along and say, “You’re doing a good job!  You are doing it right!  It is going to work out in the end!” 

I have spent the last few weeks or even a month emailing a bunch of these young moms that I know are all around the country.  I said, “Send me your questions, tell me what books you are reading, and what are you struggling with.”  Two of them in particular, really stood out to me as we were talking about how do you approach this and how do you begin. 

One young mom said, “My husband and I are still formulating our thoughts on discipline; we were both spanked as kids and yet surprisingly we both feel strongly against it, and we are trying to decide what to do.  If we do choose to spank it will be for a very few specific things.  I have always heard it is okay for things like lying or disrespect, and that seems like a pretty good rational to follow.”   But, as I read that, I thought, “She is really just evaluating all this; they have an 18 month old so they’re not into lying yet, they are not in defiance yet.”  So, she is anticipating, but not really knowing where to land or how to land there, yet. 

Then another friend said, “We want parents of my generation to know that God has given me authority over my child and I am responsible to God to teach him to obey.  We want to give you courage that “Yes!” you do have responsibility over your children’s lives and you do have the authority to transfer their obedience to an obedience to God’ someday.  By learning to obey you, they are ultimately learning to obey God.  I think it is the whole idea of not knowing what to do, but needing someone to give you the courage and the confidence that you can do it.  You do that responsibility as a God-given responsibility to train your children to obey. 


Bob:  You are convinced that this is a biblical responsibility?  It’s something that the scriptures are not silent about, Barbara?

Barbara:  Yes!  There are a lot of verses in the Bible about child training, discipline, and about all kinds of aspects of it.  But, one of the passages of scripture that was really an encouragement to me as I was raising kids goes back to the very beginning in Genesis.  As I thought about this in Genesis 1, God created order.   He established systems.  He created light and dark, day and night, and seasons and all of those things that are ordered and structured. 

In Genesis 2 God created a moral which is right and wrong for Adam and Eve as well.  Then the interesting part for me practically as a parent was what God did in response to Adam and Eve’s sin.  As I read through that, I realized that God did something very specific for Adam and Eve as a consequence when they sinned.   And that was two things; one, He gave them physical pain which we all know that God pronounced the curse where He gave the woman pain in child bearing, and He gave the man pain in toiling the ground.  So He gave them each a kind of physical pain as a consequence for their disobedience to Him.  But, then He gave them a second kind of pain which was another basis I depended on for disciplining my kids; and that was He them an emotional pain.  He separated Adam and Eve from Him.  He sent them out of the garden, and told them they couldn’t come back in.

So, I use that model in my thinking a lot as we made decisions on how to raise our kids.  We knew they needed structure, because God created structure and order for us as His children.  We knew they needed systems, because God gave us systems to function within.   And we knew when they disobeyed, that our children needed both a physical pain and/or an emotional pain. 

Sometimes both in order to get the lesson that we needed to teach them just as God did that with us as His children.     

So, that was one of the verses that isn’t typically thought of as a discipline or a child training verse, but I realized that God, as my Father, is my model.  He is the One that we as parents need to look to for how to parent our children, because He is our Father and He is continually parenting us as we grow up throughout our lives.   That was a verse that gave me a lot of courage and direction in knowing how to discipline and train my children.

Dennis:  God being the model, as our Heavenly Father has spoken of more specifically, even in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, we read this to our children as they got older as we spanked them and as we would discipline them.  I want to read it to you and it is a lengthy passage.  It’s Hebrews, chapter 12, verses 4 -11 or 5-11, but we’d read this to our children both before and sometimes after we would spank them just to put in context, why it was we did this.  Just listen to this:

"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor be weary when reproved by him.


6For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and chastises every son whom he receives."


7It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they disciplined us (Speaking of our earthly fathers) for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He (God) disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

And then this was always kind of the ‘kicker’ at the end of reading this to our kids, because they would be crying or whimpering from the spanking, we’d say…

11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

I will never forget, one of our daughters, Rebecca; I don’t know how old she was, she may have been under five years of age or so, maybe a little older; but, she had done something wrong, clearly needed a spanking.  I spanked her and then I read this to her.  I can remember it was so pitiful, hearing her cry; she was just s-s-sobbing as she listened to the verse.  And at the end she goes, “I sure wish there was some way to get the ‘peaceful fruit’ without this.” 

You are going to have this with your kids.  You know, they are just going to bring a grin to your face, because isn’t that true of us?  Don’t you wish you could learn the lessons you needed to learn without having to undergo the discipline of God?  And that is what we are teaching our children. 

Bob:  As you read that passage from Hebrews, a lot of us when we think of discipline we think of punishment, but discipline is more than just punishment; you are not just talking about correction, it is really all of training, isn’t it?  Isn’t that what discipline is?

Barbara:  Yes!  Discipline is a piece of training.  Training is the whole umbrella of how we are raising our children and what those goals are that you began to write down.  What are the end goals?  What is the harbor you are sailing for?  How are you going to get there?  Training is the umbrella that covers it all.  Discipline is a piece of that for how you get there. 

Dennis:  Maybe this may inform your goals and your vision for your children as you think about discipline, instruction, and training your children for the long haul; I think children need to be developed in four areas.  

First of all, in their identity!  This is both their spiritual identity and their gender identity.  Both are equally important today!  They need to know who they are in reference to who God is and they need to know who they are in reference to the opposite sex. 

Bob:  So, when you are talking about their gender identity, you are talking about what it means to be a boy or a girl?

Dennis:  Exactly!  And, what it means to be a man when they grow up, and what it means to be a woman, and the very essence of that. 

Secondly, they need to be trained in relationships!  The first question answers, “Who am I?”  The second issue answers, “How can I love and be loved?”  How can I have friendships and relationships with others?  If you haven’t already seen it, as you are raising your children, you know that children need to be trained in getting along with other children.   They have tremendous need here!   They need to be trained in relationships! 

Third area is character!  How do I choose right and not wrong?  How do I live a wise life and not a foolish one?  This is in essence what the book of Proverbs is all about.  It is a great child training manual to go with your children as they get a little bit older; talking about how to be a wise man and not a fool.  

The last question is very important today.   We need to help our children begin to grapple with and answer, and that is, “What is my mission?  What is my purpose here?  Why am I here?  Why has God placed me here?”  I just want to tell you as parents, if you can begin to think of your assignment around these four issues; identity, relationships, character and mission, and frankly, begin to develop a little bit of a report card around each of your children – “How are we doing here?” 

Barbara and I would have a date night, as we were in the thick of raising our kids, on Sunday night, once a week.  We didn’t hit every Sunday night of a month, but we’d hit 3 out of 4; 4 out of 5.  We would go through each of our six kids.  I want to tell you, it was grueling!  It was not a romantic date night! 

We would look at the grade card and we felt like at points we were raising juvenile delinquents, because of how we were losing with our kids at certain points.  They are not all going to be winning at the same time!  That is a statistical improbability, okay?  So, release yourself from the pressure of that.  But what you can do is evaluate, “How are we doing with this child in these 4 areas?”  It just gives you a place to begin to have a check up of where you are headed and what your vision and your goal is.  Then as you talk about areas of discipline, you can begin to apply them to these areas.

Bob:   Okay!  Let’s take some questions from our friends here.  Who’s got a question, you do?

Audience Question:  Yes!  I was thinking back then when my wife was spending so much time with my kids, being just babies and toddlers and all that; and when I come back home I will ask her, “How was your day?”  And she will go, “Well, let me tell you…“ And I had this big emphasis  in my mind, you know, I was coming back from work dealing with adults; talking, drafting and all that, and she has been there all this time.  So the question is:”What is she feeling?  How is she feeling?  What is happening inside her?”

Bob:  Barbara?  What is a mom feeling at the end of a day?

Barbara:  Oh a lot of things!  I remember feeling great relief when my husband walked in the door, because I had been talking to 2 year olds or 3 year olds all day long, dealing with spills and messes, and sibling rivalry all day long, and to have the presence of another adult in the house was a great relief.   I always looked forward to help when he walked in the door, I couldn’t wait for him to help me with whatever, it really didn’t matter what.  Just get the kids off my legs and give me some breathing space. 

So, it is a real interesting shift for women to move from…, so many of us who had some kind of a job or some kind of a vocation to caring for children, even if you are still working full time as a mom and you still have your kids, we have realized that the children are still on the mom’s mind 24/7.  So, she may be sitting in front of a computer, but she is thinking about those kids and she knows what is going on with those kids and she is wondering how they are doing at day care or with a sitter or whatever. 

She is so focused in on the well-being of her children, that when dad comes home at the end of the day and she finally sees her partner, she is looking for support and encouragement and help and she is looking for her partner in the battle of raising kids, because it can feel so lonely at times.  She is carrying that weight and responsibility, because she is so emotionally attached and she needs that support from her husband, from the dad when he walks in the door.

Bob:  I heard somebody say once that, “One of the differences between many of the moms and dads is that moms are very aware of their children, their hopes, their fears, their dreams, their best friends, their hobbies and what they love, dads are vaguely aware that there are some short people living around the house.  That is part of the difference between us. 

Barbara:  That is a good analogy!

Dennis:   One other thing I would add to that is 1 Peter 3:7 really calls us as men “to live with our wives in an understanding way.”   That assumes that we are asking our wives what their needs are, because their needs change.  I wouldn’t do it every month, but I would do it two or three times a year; just ask her, “What are your top three needs right now?”  Let her articulate those needs, because they change.  As the children change and grow, so hers will as well.  If  you really want to know what she is feeling, then take a day of vacation and stay home with the children and take care of them and give her a day off, and you will have a better understanding of how God wired women to better nourish and cherish the children, than a father.

Bob:  You will rise up and call her blessed at the end of that time.

Dennis:  Barbara would come in the door, I understood, a little bit, of how she felt about me,   promise me at the end of the day ...

Bob:   Our friend, Tim Kimmel, says that when you are parents of one child you learn to play 2 on 1 defense, you know, mom and dad playing defense against 1 child.  When you have 2 children, you have to switch to a “man to man.  When you have 3 you have got to move to a zone, and if you have 4 or more you go to a prevent defense.  You just back up and hope they don’t score on you is basically it.

The point of what we have talked about in this session is that parents need to be intentional, to have courage when it comes to discipline, and they need to make this big a part of their parenting assignment, don’t they?

Barbara:  They need to thinks ahead and begin to parent with the end in mind.  I think that is so often that we don’t think about when we have 2 year olds, because we’re so caught up in the day to day.  Parenting with the end in mind is really important.  

Dennis:  What I would encourage you; just hitch hiking off of that is what we believe about certain matters is not as important as what you believe.  And for you as an individual, if you are a single mom or as a couple raising your children, for you to determine your convictions around certain key issues, boundaries, where you stand, and as Barbara said, “What the end looks like, where it is out there,”  that is really important.  You are going to have a lot of friends who have a lot of opinions. 

The culture is going to say that they know what is best for you and your family and I promise you that if you let them, the media and its false values and false images will raise your children for you.   You will not like the end result! 

That is why I think the Bible as a proactive blueprint for building a marriage and a family is the best; it contains the best set of blueprints of anything I have seen.  Show me a better plan about life that you can live personally and equip your children to live with and I will throw this away and embrace your blueprints and your plan.  I have made that offer to millions of people and I have never once had anybody submit to me an alternative plan that comes anywhere close to the Bible. 

Bob:  You know I think back on the day when we were with those young couples and those single parents talking about this subject of early childhood discipline, and I wondered if there would be some fatigue over the course of the day as we went through these sessions.  I will tell you these couples were alert, they were on the edge of their seat, they were taking notes, and they were nodding their heads.  You could tell that this is an issue for many young parents thinking through how we appropriately discipline our young children so that we get them pointed in the right direction. 

And we have listened today to a portion of that very first session.  This is actually a multi session DVD series that we have produced for small groups, for churches, or for individual families to use; for an individual mom and dad to sit down and watch together.  There is a workbook that goes along with it, but our goal here was to get practical Biblical insights into the hands of young parents so that in the first 5 years of raising your child you can get it right from the start.  That is what we titled this video series, Right from the Start Series. 

If you would like more information about this DVD series and how you can use it in a small group or how you can get it for yourself, go to our website  The information is available there, again it’s  If fact, there are some clips on the website that show scenes from different sessions so you can get a feel for what the DVD sessions look like. 

Again the website is  If it is easier for you to call the toll free number is 1-800 FL-Today.  That is 1-800 “F” as in Family “L” and in Life and then the word TODAY.   When you get in touch with us someone on our team can let you know how you can have the DVD series sent to you. 

We want to take a minute today to say a word of thanks to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with donations.  We are listener supported and so those contributions that we receive from listeners go to help defray the production costs and the syndication costs associated with this daily radio program.  You are the ones who keep us on your local station and on our network of stations all across the country.  We appreciate those of you, some of whom are monthly donors to the ministry; some of you make a donation from time to time as you are able.  We do appreciate your financial support! 

This month if you able to make a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we would like to send you a thank you gift.  It is a dramatized version of Barbara Rainey’s book, Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember.  We had it created as an audio book a number of years ago.  It is read by a dramatic actor, it features sound effects and other sound design elements so that the story of Thanksgiving comes alive for your family.  And the Thanksgiving, A Time to Remember, audio book is our thank you gift to you this month when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today

Now if you are making your donation to FamilyLife Today online, at, there is a key-code box that you will see on the online donation form.  Type the word, ‘THANKSGIVING’, in that box and we will know to send you the audio book, or call 1-800-FLToday; 1-800-358-6329.   When you make your donation over the phone, just ask for the “Thanksgiving” audio book and again we are happy to send it out to you.  We appreciate your partnership and your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

Now tomorrow, we will continue to look at the issues parents face as they seek to train up their child in the way he or she should go.   We will talk about early childhood discipline tomorrow.  I hope you can be back 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 am 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.  Help for today!  Hope for tomorrow!

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