Which is Better–Time or Stuff?
About the Guest
What do you remember about your childhood? If you're like most people, you remember the faces of loved ones and special times spent with them. Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with authors Michael and Hayley DiMarco to answer the question, "Which would kids rather have--time with you or more stuff?
What do you remember about your childhood?
Which is Better–Time or Stuff?
Hayley: If you come at them and say, "I care about you, and I love you, and I want this in our relationship," if you haven't been acting like that, by giving them time, by listening to their mundane stories, by driving them, maybe, where they need to go, by just being there, then it's going to be a lot harder when it comes time for you wanting more.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, August 3rd. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. When was the last time you had some just "being there" time with your teenager? We'll talk today about why that really matters.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. You know, we've been talking this week about parents having the right balance between authority and relationship, and I'm thinking about parents who are going through their own personal traumas or crises, and sometimes, Dennis, those parents don't have the emotional equity, the bank, to be much of anything with their kids.
It may be a relationship between mom and dad that's not going well, it can be job-related stuff or whatever. All of a sudden, the child is just relegated to no man's land.
Dennis: You know, Barbara and I were talking about this just this week. There is a lot of pain in our country. I mean, all these families, the one next door, the apartment complex, perhaps, that you live in – all these families that look so well-scrubbed and clean, and life is happy, and everybody is working, and everybody is smiling. There's a lot of broken people experiencing hurt and pain, and it's draining, and in the process of being drained, God has given us the responsibility, as parents, to be able to raise and love and lead and guide and shape the conscience and character of the next generation of teenagers.
I'm just thrilled for different members of the body of Christ who have gifts and abilities and insight who can come alongside us from time to time and help us. Hayley and Michael DiMarco have joined us all this week, and we sure appreciate you guys and your ministry at Hungry Planet to the next generation of young people but also to this generation of parents. Thanks for being on the broadcast, you guys.
Hayley: It's a lot of fun to be here.
Michael: You bet.
Dennis: They've written a couple of books – one for teenagers called "Stupid Parents," the other one for the parents of the teenagers called "Not-So-Stupid Parents," and if there's too much stupidity in all that for you, hang on, because we're going to have some explanation here what it all means.
Hayley, you talk about materialistic parents being stupid in terms of raising their children. I mean, we've got the situation that Bob's talking about, parents filled with pain. Sometimes they mask the pain with material possessions and, in the process, miss their kids totally, don't they?
Hayley: Well, yeah, there's an interesting point when you think parents want to provide everything for their kids. Most parents want their kids to have what they didn't have, and so I think it usually springs out of this desire to work as much as you can to give your kids what they need and what they want.
And so a lot of parents you find are working just horrible hours – working, working, working. You have both parents gone, and they have a wonderful home, they have great cars and good furniture, but the thing to remember is when you're talking to anybody, really, adults as well as teens, what are the things that you remember about your childhood? Is it when your parents got a new SUV or that new couch they got? It was so much better than the old couch – or the new kitchen that your parents put in?
That's really not what kids are thinking about. That's not the memories that they love, that's not what provides for them, really, the stuff that they need in life.
When parents are obsessed about buying things for their kids, they might think they're providing for them, but they really are missing the mark and becoming stupid parents in the eyes of their kids.
Bob: You talk in your book about a season in your family, when you were growing up, when your parents didn't have the emotional equity in the bank. Reflect on that from a teenager's perspective.
Hayley: Well, divorced is probably one of the hardest things that any child will have to go through. It will color the rest of their lives, and that's what it ultimately did to me.
My parents got divorced when I was about 12, and at that point a couple of things happened. I felt like I was getting divorced as well. My father was gone, and he was leaving me, which is a tragedy for any child to have to live with, but the other thing that tends to happen is that my mom became a best-friend parent, which meant that I was her best friend, because she needed somebody, and when she started crying, because she was so devastated, I was the shoulder that she cried on.
At that point, I made the decision, I remember the strangest thing, I thought, I thought, "Well, I'm the man now, so I'll be changing the light bulbs, doing the plumbing." A stupid thing like that – I thought – that's what I thought, the first thing I thought. But that's the practical outcome of me thinking my mom's not able to parent any longer, my dad's gone, so I've got …
Bob: There's a void here, I've got to fill it.
Hayley: Mm-hm, mm-hm, and it colored the rest of my life for at least 20 years.
Dennis: Yes, in fact, in your book to teenagers, "Stupid Parents," I want to read what you wrote about your relationship with your mom.
Dennis: "I know, for me, that's totally how it went. My mom and I were best buds. I didn't have to do anything around the house that a normal kid did. I didn't have chores, didn't have to cook, do dishes, even clean up my room if I didn't want to. I know it sounds dreamy, huh? But wait, there's more.
We talked about everything together. She knew all of the stuff that was going on in my life, and I knew all the stuff that was going on in hers, and that was great. I really do have good memories of growing up, but there are a few negative things that can come, and, for me, it did come out of the kind of parent-child relationship that I had with my mom."
Is that healthy?
Hayley: No. My mom is awesome, and so I would hate – and I don't want to criticize any women that have to go through this, because there are a lot of women that are doing their best that they can after a divorce, and we had a very close relationship as far as our bank account with one another. We really were full.
But I know that one of the things that I actually didn't consider until I got older was, if you had asked me, "Do I feel safe in this home?" I would have probably said, "No." Because I was a teenager trying to figure out how to run a household, trying to figure how to run my life, because I didn't really have anybody that really knew that.
Dennis: And trying to help your mom.
Hayley: Right, and trying to help my mom.
Dennis: With her life.
Hayley: Right. And that's, I don't think, anything that any teenager should have to go through. We're not programmed for that at that age, and it colors the rest of your life.
Bob: And you understand how a parent, going through the split-up of a family, can come to the children and hang onto the relationship. You've just lost the most significant relationship of your life, perhaps, and now you're looking to make sure that the other ones get shored up, right?
Bob: And you let kids off the hook in terms of chores because you think they've been through enough, they shouldn't have to be saddled with chores and cooking and keeping their room clean as if that's a punishment as opposed to a healthy discipline.
Hayley: Our life lessons.
Dennis: Right, right.
Bob: For those children. So your mom was responding as most people will respond in those kinds of circumstances. She just hadn't stopped to pull back and consider the full impact, and you said it impacted you for the next 20 years. If you had to pick the dominant impact that it had on your life, I know what I think you're going to say, but you say it, and I'll tell you if I was right.
Hayley: I think one of the biggest mistakes that my mom and her family made after the divorce was to tell me everything that my dad did wrong – to vilify my dad.
Now, my dad did do a lot wrong, and it was his fault, but I didn't need to know, as a young person, everything my dad did – his sexual exploits when he wasn't there, the things that he did wrong, I didn't need to know the laundry list of it, but I heard it all. And that imprinted on my brain to the extent that I didn't trust men, I became the man, essentially. I knew everything, I could handle everything, I took care of everything, managed my life. When I dated men, they would say, "Why do you act like the man? I feel like the woman in this relationship."
It's because that's what I told myself I was going to do. I made a promise to myself that I was going to be the man.
Bob: I was guessing that a difficulty trusting men, knowing not only when your mom and dad got a divorce but also when you got married.
Hayley: That's right, I put it off.
Bob: Bingo, you know, you put it all together, and you say, "That's a part of the mark that gets left on the soul of a little girl."
Hayley: And there's not a lot that you can do. There's always going to be a mark in divorce. There's no such thing as the perfect divorce. We can't heal that wound. But there are some things that I talk about in "Stupid Parents," and "Not-So-Stupid Parents," that you can do to try and, at least, not make it as black and bloody and bruised as the mark could be.
Bob: Such as?
Hayley: Well, like I had mentioned about my mom – you can't vilify the other person in the marriage and certainly don't ever, ever, even in a moment of anger, say it was the kids' fault. You know, "He left because you were too hard to handle." That will damage a child for life.
Dennis: Well, they're already thinking …
Hayley: They're already thinking that, and then you're confirming it, and it's very difficult to erase it. Only Christ can erase that kind of an imprint in your child's mind.
But it's important, I think, for parents to stay close to one another in proximity. If you're divorced, and you want to move as far away as you can from that, your ex, that's devastating to the child, because now they're not going to be able to see the other parent as much, and it just ruins that relationship.
Michael: The one thing that we constantly hear is "My parents tell me that this is a good thing, that it's for the best," but the teenager – and I think all children – inherently know that this is a really terrible thing.
Bob: There is something wrong here, uh-huh.
Michael: And when parents, especially to teenagers that have the mental capacity to realize the negative impact that divorce brings – when parents tell teenagers, you know, "No, this is really going to be a good thing, it's going to be healthier," the parent loses the ability to be trusted by the teen, because the teen knows inherently that that's not true, and they're looking for authenticity. They're looking for the tough, dirty truth that this is going to be hard, but we're going to make it through it, and you still have two parents that love you.
Dennis: What you're saying is your books are about stupid parents, but there's something that is even more stupid called stupid divorce. And because the kids see through it, and they don't see it as being something good that delivers.
Michael: They see it as something extremely selfish.
Hayley: But oftentimes, I think, in the vernacular of the parent, when they talk with their friends, when they even talk with certain counselors, they say, "Well, it's just not healthy for the kids to live in this kind of environment. We're fighting, we're arguing."
My answer, if you're going through that right now, and you think, "I've just got to get divorced to protect my kids and myself" – outside of abuse – if you're saying that, you're lying to yourself. What you really need to do is fix that and don't go the route of a divorce.
Bob: Are you about the same age today that your mom was when your mom and dad got a divorce?
Hayley: Yeah, I think so.
Bob: Okay, so let's imagine you and your mom are peers right now, and your mom comes to you and tells you today all of the stuff that was going on with your dad – here is my circumstance, here is my situation, "Hayley, I don't see any way out other than a divorce." Knowing what you know about all of that circumstance, what are you going to say to your mom?
Hayley: Well, the first thing I'm going to say is, "As soon as you had a child, every decision you make not only affects you, but it affects them, and you no longer have the right to be self-obsessed. You no longer have the right to self-protect."
I mean, I could go into any number of sections of Scripture and find a void of caring for yourself and being so preoccupied with yourself that you can't …
Bob: It's not a central them of the Scriptures.
Hayley: No, and self-protection is not. What is is loving those who hate you; what is, is turning the other cheek; what is, is forgiveness. Now, certainly, there is a sin that is grounds for divorce, and that is if somebody commits adultery in their relationship, but that's what happened in my parents' relationship and just because that happened did not make it easier for me in the divorce.
So I would counsel her to stick it out and to figure out what she needed to do to improve the relationship, because in every book that I write for teenagers and adults, we cannot change other people. We don't have the power to change other people and that's, a lot of times, what we want to do in our relationships. What we have to do is focus on changing ourselves. It takes two, when there's a divorce impending, it always takes two, and we have to look at ourselves. If the other person is not willing, you've got to look at yourself and figure out what you can do.
Bob: And if she said, "You just don't know the pain I'm going through, I can't take it, I don't have the energy, I'd just rather die," you'd say, "Tough it out."
Hayley: Well, I don't know if I'd put it like that, but I would certainly dive into God's Word and begin to find out the answers to that, "I think I'm going to die." Because He never said it was going to be easy in this life. In fact, He said we would encounter much difficulty, but it's through that difficulty that we're sanctified. It's through that difficulty that we draw closer to God. It's through that difficulty that we end up on our knees.
In fact, without that, we don't need Him, do we? We kind of ignore Him. We go along in our lives; when the pain hits, that's when we hit our knees.
Dennis: And I'm just glad to hear you saying that, because what we've sought to do here on FamilyLife Today is create a counter-cultural revolution. Divorce has so infiltrated the Christian community today that every time we talk about divorce here on the broadcast or at our conferences or on our website, FamilyLife.com, in our literature that we create, I always want to make sure we're communicating.
You know what? We love the people who have been divorced, because we have a generation coming out of divorce – kids who grew up in homes like you did who are adult children of divorce, who have experienced it, and then a generation who have divorced and who are living with the regret of that.
But God has called us to be counter-cultural. He has called us not to be conformed to the world. He has called us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and that comes from the Scripture.
It was interesting, Hayley, what you said and what you challenged people to do was to counsel them according to the Word. It's so easy in the Christian community to come alongside a family member, an associate at work, a neighbor, somebody even at church and tell them what they want to hear, which is "Toss the towel in. Go ahead and divorce him. Yeah, it doesn't make a lot of sense to stay in that marriage. It's a dead marriage. Why try to revive it?"
They're coming to our Weekend to Remember conferences by the thousands. We read the comments, and it's amazing. I read one the other day, a couple said, "We decided to stick it out. We couldn't believe our marriage of only 14 months was nearly over."
There is virtually nothing in this culture calling people to stay together.
Michael: The popular wisdom and, I hate to use the "W" word in this case, but the popular wisdom and pop psychology says, "Well, you've got to take care of yourself." Well, this isn't healthy for yourself.
I've, I think, talked about before – I was married when I was in my early 20s, and it lasted two years, and one of the first things that I told Hayley when we started dating was that getting a divorce was the worst mistake of my life, and as you all know, I've had a lot of big mistakes in my life. But, for Hayley to hear that from me, saying that that was the worst mistake of my life not because I pine for an old relationship but because I broke that covenant and because that was a picture of Christ's relationship with the church.
I felt it was important for Hayley to understand that that was a huge mistake and that I understand what marriage is and what that commitment means; that it's not about me being happy or – which I am – I'm terribly happy, I'm looking at my wife in the eyes, I'm terribly happy, but it's not about my happiness, it's about modeling Christ's love for the church.
Hayley: Now, if you're in a relationship, and you think you just can't handle it anymore, I want you to look at Christ's life and consider how he handles the same kind of torture and pain that He went through.
It says in 1 Peter 2:22 that "when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly."
If you're in this kind of scenario, you need to learn to entrust yourself to Him who judges justly, and He will bring you through this. It might not be in the way you want it to be, but it will be in a glorious, glorious way.
Bob: And it's interesting that right after that passage in 1 Peter 2, the next thing he talks about is marriage – the relationship between a husband and a wife. It's kind of like they go together, you know?
Dennis: And to that person who is facing that right now where this is not theory, He's alive. He's alive. The tomb is empty, Jesus Christ is not a mythical figure in history. He's alive, He can hear your prayer, He can meet you where you are, and He may not raise that dead marriage back to life again, but you know what? He'll meet you and He'll help you grow in faith.
And I just encourage you, if that's you, what Hayley was talking about, is where you are, right now, slip to your knees and commit your marriage and family to Christ and ask Him to become the builder of that marriage.
Hayley, Michael, I just want to thank you guys for your ministry, for being here on the broadcast and just for what you just did – pointing people to the Savior, because that's what we're about here on FamilyLife Today and, frankly, having just traveled the past year to South Africa, coming back from seeing some very needy people, coming back to a country of needy people, I don't know where the hope is if it isn't Jesus Christ.
Bob: I'm thinking about back when you started in ministry working with high school students and quickly realized that the marriage and the family are foundational to what goes on in the life of a teenager, and that's really when God started to move you in the direction of helping to start the ministry of FamilyLife and start reaching out to couples on the marriage relationship.
That's when our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference was first launched because the foundation of a home is the marriage relationship. And over the last three decades we have had hundreds of thousands of couples who have taken a weekend for a marital tuneup. For some of them, it's been more than a tuneup, it's been a complete overhaul of a marriage that was in trouble. But for a lot of couples it's just that wheel alignment that every marriage needs from time to time that gets them back on the road and running smoothly as a couple.
This fall we'll be holding conferences in cities all across the country, and if our listeners are interested in attending one of those conferences, now would be a good time to go to the website, FamilyLife.com, and check out information about where the conference is going to be held, when it's coming to a city near where you life and go ahead and block that weekend out on your calendar and make plans to attend one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. Again, there is information on our website at FamilyLife.com. You can also call us at 1-800-FLTODAY for more information and, of course, we've got copies of the books we've been talking about today available at FamilyLife.com as well.
You go to our website and click the red button that says "Go," what you see in the middle of the screen, and that will take you to the area of the site where you can get more information about the book, "Stupid Parents," and the book, "Not-So-Stupid Parents." One is for teenagers, and the other is for parents, and I think you can figure out from the title, which is for which.
Again, the information is on our website at FamilyLife.com. You can also call us at 1-800-FLTODAY for more information about these resources. 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
When you hear somebody talk about friendly competition, you probably think of athletics, whether it's a softball game or a pickup basketball game or something where folks are just kind of out having a good time but competing, challenging one another.
Well, we have a little friendly competition taking place here at FamilyLife during the month of August. We have our 2007 Challenge Fund going on during the month of August, and we've been hearing from listeners all through the summer who have been contacting us not just to make a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today but to engage in a little friendly competition – to issue a challenge to folks who are like them.
So, for example, we get folks in different parts of the country – like, we heard from a listener in Chicago who called and said, "I want to challenge other listeners in Chicago to make a donation to FamilyLife Today," or it might be a mom whose got seven kids who wants to challenge other parents of seven to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
This Challenge Fund comes at a critical time for us here at FamilyLife because August is the end of summertime, but it's also the end of our fiscal year, and for us to end our fiscal year in a good place financially, we need to hear from as many listeners as we can during the month of August.
So we want to ask you not just to make a donation this month but also to issue a challenge to folks in your profession or folks who share your hobby or folks who have benefited from the ministry of FamilyLife Today the way you've benefited from the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
You can make your donation and issue your challenge online at FamilyLife.com. Click the box that says "Donate" on the left, and that will take you to the form you fill out, and there is a space there for your challenge to be entered. You could also call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a challenge over the phone along with your donation, and we want to say thanks for your partnership with us, and we hope others like you will join with you in helping to support the ministry during the month of August.
And, with that, we've got to wrap things up for today. I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when we're going to hear about what God is doing all around the world as churches are reaching out to open children's homes in different parts of the world. Troy Wiseman is going to be here with us, and he has a goal to see a children's home a day being opened up in countries all around the world, and we're going to talk about how that can happen on Monday's program. I hope you 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 next time 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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