FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Wise Wants

with Rick Horne | December 16, 2009
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What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Rick Horne, a guidance counselor for over 30 years, talks with Dennis Rainey about the importance of leaning on God for wisdom when parenting an angry teen. Today, Rick teaches parents how to find out what their son or daughter really wants by asking that teen some thought-provoking questions.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Rick Horne, a guidance counselor for over 30 years, talks with Dennis Rainey about the importance of leaning on God for wisdom when parenting an angry teen. Today, Rick teaches parents how to find out what their son or daughter really wants by asking that teen some thought-provoking questions.

  • 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.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

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Wise Wants

With Rick Horne
December 16, 2009
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Bob:  There is a line in parenting between molding and shaping our children as they grow, and trying to control our children as they grow.  Here is Rick Horne.

Rick:  When a teen gets the sense that the parent or a teacher, or an administrator or a youth pastor has his agenda, we are written off. 

Song...  All I really wanted was.... a chance for me to get on with my life

 .... But you keep on getting in my way!  

Rick:  If we come with an approach that gives the impression that we have a different set of wants for you; you have some wants, but they are wrong.  We have some wants and I am your parent and you need to want this and you need to do this.  This relationship with your mom and these words that you are going to speak or not speak they are not going to be open to what we have to say.

Song...  Cuz’ you don’t know me.... you don’t know me... what makes you think I am on your side.  Don’t tell me... that you need me, get off my back – time to get a life. 


Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for the Wednesday, December 16th.  Our host is President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I am Bob Lepine.  We are going to talk today with Rick Horn about what parents of teens can do to influence a child without exasperating them. 

Song... So, why can’t you just leave me alone! 

Bob:  And welcome to FamilyLife Today!  Thanks for joining us!  You know there is this debate I hear from parents from time to time; some parents will say, “Boy the teenage years, you hang on by your fingernails just to get your kids through it.  Then there are these other parents that I run into that say, “Well we didn’t have any problem with our teenage years, I think it is just how you parent your kids whether you are going to have problems in your teenage years.”

Dennis:  Yes!  I have met some of those folks!  I didn’t care for them, but I have met a few!

Bob:  So, you are thinking you are thinking that it is normal for parents to experience some push back from their teens during the teen years? 

Dennis:  Well I will tell you a little story, I was in the airport onetime with Dr. Bill Bright, who was then the President, and of course the Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and I had picked him up at the airport and we were walking along and evidently, I don’t remember what I had said, but I must have said something that our teenage sons were a little angry.  I will never forget this, he just kind of grunted and he said, “Hmmmm, all teenage boys are angry!”

Bob:  Maybe at home, this had happened to him? 

Dennis:  So when I ran across this book, Get Outta My Face that Bob placed on my desk I thought, “I have got to meet Rick Horne!” and so he is here sitting across the table from me.  Rick welcome to FamilyLife Today!

Rick:  A Pleasure to be here! 

Dennis:  It is all about teenagers, their anger, and how we as parents can be more effective in dealing with them.  Let me tell you, Rick has got some experience.  Not only does he have 4 graduate degrees from various institutions, but here is the kicker, he has 30 years experience as a Christian School Guidance Counselor, plus, six children of his own.

Rick:  That is the crucible!

Dennis:   I have got a feeling that he has seen this look, Get Outta My Face.  Tell us what that look, actually looks like.  What does a kid whose really angry look like from your experience? 

Rick:  There can be a lots of different appearances; rolling eyes, a smirk, it can be just a flat face with no communication at all just a, “I can’t wait for you to finish this sentence and are you done yet, can I leave? I have had enough; I don’t need to hear anything else.”

Dennis:   Take us to your house, you have six kids, just give us a scene....well, one of the highlights of raising your six kids.

Rick:  Well, I can remember with my oldest, I can remember driving home from a hockey game one time, field hockey; she had asked permission when she was 15 years old to go out with a fellow to a Jr./ Sr. banquet that she was invited to, and she had asked me days before, “Can I do this?”   “Can I do it?”  She had asked her mom because our rule was nothing could occur until 16

at all.

Bob:  So she is like 9th grade at this point?

Rick:  She was at 9th, yes!  She would have been 9th grade. 


Bob:  And this was the junior - senior banquet? 


Rick:  “And how many 9th or 10th grade students get to be invited to that kind of thing, Dad?”

And I mean this is really something.


Dennis:  So he is an older guy?


Rick:  He is!  He is a junior!

Dennis:   That brings on all kinds of issues, in and of itself, right there. 


Rick:  Oh!  Yes!  It does! 


Dennis:  All of us as dads know how a junior or senior in High School thinks.


Rick:  I had thought about it and she had talked to her mom and her mom said, “Well, you know you have to ask dad about this.” So she did and I said, “Give me a few days to think about it.”  So we are driving along and I said, “Jen, I have thought about it and I think we are going to stick with the standard that we have established.  I know this is disappointing.” 

Well at that moment; we have always had good communication, I pray with her each evening, and we always had a pretty good relationship, I mean the ice, the coldness, and the temperature in the car really went down very quickly.  And it was true also that evening when I tried to pray with her.  I was praying by myself, for sure.  So there was definite temperature, a thawing that needed to take place.


Bob:  Now, you are a High School guidance counselor....


Rick:  I do have all the answers....


Bob:  You have got graduate degrees in this kind of stuff.  As a parent, when that kind of stuff has happened with me, when your kids develop this kind of an angry heart, because you are parenting and they don’t like the restrictions or the boundaries.  You can feel a fear as a mom or a dad that you are somehow, by your decision, pressing your child toward rebellion, that you are fostering in them a heart that is going to turn away from you and you are going to lose them.


Dennis:   Or you are going to lose the relationship from them.  The chill is going to be a permanent Antarctica.


Bob:  Right!

Dennis:  That you will never get them back.

Bob:  Is that a real danger for us as parents that it could happen because we put boxes and restrictions on our kids?

Rick:  Well, I think all of this has to be taken in the larger context of the relationship.  What you have been doing with your son and daughter through the years.  There is hope, even if we have botched things up, majorly; there is still hope because the word of God still gives great principles for healing and for helping.  The material I have tried to write about as well as our own experiences, these are for sinners to practice not for perfect parents to practice.  So, I am grateful for that because I qualify.  

Our confidence has to be in not that we have applied the right technique, not that we have said it exactly the way it needs to be said, or that we have not been offensive.   Our confidence has to be in the fact that Lord you have given this responsibility to parent and to seek by the grace of God to be faithful to You.  I am going to seek to be respectful and loving and faithful to my son and daughter and I am going to trust You.  We cannot control our kids.

Dennis:  And I am going to hold to my convictions when our children get angry and push back on us and not wilt under the emotional pressure.

Bob:  But, we read in Ephesians 6 where it says, “Do not exasperate!  Fathers do not provoke your sons or your daughters to anger.”

Rick:  It doesn’t mean don’t cross their will, but it does mean there is a pattern of inattentiveness, a pattern of disrespect, or a pattern of unwillingness to listen to force my will, impose my will (in a sense) or let the kids think that every time I am talking to them it is my will that matters not theirs.

Dennis:  As I was reading your book, and listening to the stories, I was honestly a little envious of you.  What a privilege it would be to be a High School Guidance Counselor for three decades and to have student after student come into your office and spill the beans and in many cases, probably share things of what their parents are doing wrong; maybe share some things the parents are doing right, and really glean a number of lessons from other people’s mistakes.  Did that happen a lot of times as you counseled these young people?

Rick:  Well, not only the young people, but even their parents.

Dennis:  Yes!

Rick:  You are absolutely right about the feedback and the sensitivities, but I would make one correction to your perception to what I do, as a school counselor.  Teens don’t usually go to adults for the solutions.  Who do they usually go to?

Dennis:  Yes!  Sure their peers!

Rick:  They go to their peers!  They are not knocking down the door.   So, what this effort in using the scriptures in working with teens does is it empowers parents, youth counselors, and youth pastors to go to the angry kid because they need help, but they are not going to come saying, “Oh, Lord, help me!  Counselor, please help me!  I know I am out of line here, I know I have a bad attitude.  Please, I don’t want this bad attitude.  Help me to correct it.”


Dennis:  Yea!

Bob:  There is a certain amount of wanting to revel in their anger and kind of enjoy the rebellion a little bit.

Rick:  Could be!  Sure!

Bob:   Often times when a parent tries to engage an angry teen all they get is what we already described; a blank face.  I am not going to engage.  I am not going to talk to you.  You go on and say am I doing something wrong, and the teenager just isn’t going to talk to you, they aren’t going to say anything or they just are silent with you.  What do you do in that situation?

Rick:  Part of the reason for that is because most of the time angry teens, when they shut down; the reason they shut down is because they believe that it is your want not their want that you are there to talk about.  They have a very myopic, self-centered orientation as an angry teen.  Most teens do!

Dennis:  Yes!  Right! 

Rick:  That is just where they are!  I am not justifying that, I simply describing it!  It is a self-centered sinful response.  They are wrapped up in themselves and their universe and their way of seeing things.  When you or I come as a parent come with an approach that gives the impression that we have a different set of values that you (the teen) must adopt, a different set of wants for you.  You have some wants, but they are wrong.  We have some wants and I am your parent and you need to want this, you need to do this, you need to choose this behavior, that pattern of homework study, or this relationship with your mom, or these words you are going to speak or not speak. 

When a teen gets the sense that I, as a parent, or a teacher or an administrator or a youth pastor has his agenda we are written off.  They are not going to be open to what we have to say.  So the task that we have is to understand what they want and then work with their wants.  It is kind of like karate.  In karate, you use the weight or judo or one of the martial arts, you use the weight and the movements of the opponent to your advantage.  One of the things the scriptures seem to do in the whole book of Proverbs even Jesus modeled it in some instances, is to use the wants of the people that He is talking to as a way of getting to the truth.

Dennis:  I really agree with you on this.  I am thinking back to a conversation I had with one of my teenage sons; I really can’t remember, so I am not trying to protect his guilt at this point, but I can still show you the spot in the road where we were jogging along and we had this... what felt like this weekly battle around taking the garbage up to the top of the hill.  Now, we  live at the bottom of a hill, it is not a big hill, it is not one that would cause somebody to file child labor laws against us to ask them to push the garbage can; which has wheels on it, by the way, up to the top of the hill.  

And we are jogging along and I say, “Son, what would motivate you to take the garbage can up to the top of the hill when it is suppose to go up there on Sunday night?”  (His answer) “Nothing!  Nothing!”  I said, “Would $0.50 motivate you?”  (His answer) “No!”  “Would $5.00 motivate you?”  (His answer) “No!” 

I said, “What if I told you that every time you took the garbage can up to the top of the hill I’d pay you $500, would that motivate you?”  (His answer) “Well, I might start thinking about that, dad.”  And I said, “Really the issue is your motivation; what it would take to motivate you to get that garbage can where it belongs. 

Now there are such things in life as duties.  We called them chores.  How do you help a teenager understand that they have some responsibilities around the house?  I don’t think I would ever be able to have convinced our teenage son that this is his want.  I did talk about freedom in the future as he became responsible to deal with matters like this that he would be given more freedom.  Which he does want!  So, am I getting near the crux of the matter at that point?

Rick:  I think you are.  Why don’t we role play?  You be your son.

Dennis:  I could do that easily.

Rick:  Okay!

Dennis:  I know where they got this!

Rick:  So, what is his name?  What do I call you?

Dennis:  Well, in this case...

Rick:  I will call you Dennis.

Dennis:  Yes! 

Rick:  That would be the name.  Here’s Dennis!  We will use Dennis.


Dennis:  Alright!


Rick:  Okay! 

*Role play between Dennis and Rick:


Rick:  Tell me Dennis, what is it that you want about life?   What do you want?


Dennis:  I want to be free!


Rick:  Okay!


Dennis:  I want to out from under all the rules of this house.


Rick:  Because, to not be free... what kind of experience is that?


Dennis:  Well, you are imprisoned!   That is how I feel a lot of times when I come home.


Rick:  So, you are restricted.


Dennis:  Oh, it is terrible!


Rick:  You can’t make your own choices...


Dennis:  Yea!  You and mom are just always on my case about all these things I have got to do.  Constantly!


Rick:  And that is not pleasant.  That is not fun! 


Dennis:  Chores, there’s homework, all these things just keep piling up.


Rick:  That’s right!  All these responsibilities!


Dennis:  Yes!  Yes!  I want freedom!


Rick:  That is pain!


Dennis:  It is!


Rick:  So let me ask you this?  Is the way you are responding right now, getting you the freedom that you want?


Dennis:  Well, I am hoping it will.


Rick:  Well, is it now?  I mean, has it worked in the past?


Dennis:  It doesn’t seem to be.


Rick:  So, what has your behavior gotten you? 


Dennis:  Well a lot of lectures from you.


Rick:  Okay, that is not fun!


Dennis:  I don’t like those!  I am tired of the lectures! 


Rick:  So, if you don’t want the lectures, and you don’t want the restrictions.


Dennis:  I am tired of the stories, the sermons... I don’t!


Rick:  Has there ever been a time where you have not had restriction and stories and lectures.


Dennis:  Well, maybe when I was little.


Rick:  okay!  Can you think of a time, maybe in the past year, was anything that you wanted that you were able to actually get?


Dennis:  It is kind of hard; I usually don’t think in terms like that ... I am a teenager.

Rick:  I understand, but teenagers live by their wants.  Okay.


Bob:  Let me ask you son... (I am just jumping in here to help you out).


Dennis:  Now this is really going to be good.


Bob:  How about like when you wanted to have some wheels to drive out on Friday night?   Did you get that?


Dennis:  Oh yes!  I sure did!


Rick:  What is it that you must have communicated to your mom and me that gave us the sense that you could be trusted with the wheels?


Dennis:  You know these are hard questions.


Rick:  I know they are, but you are intelligent young man.


Dennis:  It is hard.


Bob:  He’s intelligent enough that he sees where it is going.


Rick:  That is exactly right!

Bob:  And he doesn’t like what he sees.


Dennis:  I am going to get passive on you now!

Bob:  What you are doing and what you are modeling here and I think this is really helpful, you are saying you can help a young person connect responsibility and privilege.


Rick:  Exactly!

Bob:  Being responsible and gaining freedom.  What the kids want is they want the freedom, but they don’t want to mess with the responsibilities.

Rick:  The important thing is the freedom he wants, not the freedom I want him to have.  He needs to articulate what it is that he wants, so we need to be willing as parents to be listening and appealing to our angry teen, “What do you want?”  Now that freedom thing is a big, big chorus that they sing.  And that is great! 

That is a presumption all the way through the book of Proverbs.  Underlying so many of the Proverbs is some positive of quality of what I call in the book, “wise wants.”  Kids often operate just with ‘surface wants.’  I want to stay in bed.  I don’t want to take the trash to the top of the hill, I don’t want to be bothered with that, but what they want they want underneath that is they want freedom, they want to be considered adults...


Dennis:  They want to be trusted.

Rick:  They want to be trusted.  What we need to do is move our kids from thinking about the ‘surface wants’ to then asking the question about the “wise wants” that are under there and assume they are there by God’s common grace.

Bob:  But, when they say, “ I want to hang out with the people I want to hang out with and I want to be able to do....

Dennis:  What I want to do.

Bob: What I want to do.

All:  When I want to do it.

Bob:  Which may include I want to be able to drink or I may want to be able to use drugs or I may want to be able to be with my girlfriend and be sexually active with her.  I mean we may be talking about their wants being sinful, destructive behaviors.  What do we do then?

Rick:  Underneath even the most perverse wants there are ‘wise wants.’  So, I want to sleep with my girlfriend; what you really want is a relationship that lasts.  You want something that is meaningful.  What you really want is pleasure that you aren’t regretting, that is not going to be something you have to hide.  Is that what I am hearing you say?   You really want that kind of relationship?  Is what you are doing or the way kids go about getting this right now really providing that for them?  Would it give you the real things that you want?  The ‘wise wants” that God has put inside of you. 

This is the place to actually be commending your son or daughter.  I appreciate that freedom that you want.  I respect it!   I wanted it to when I was your age.  I want that kind of intimate relationships and close relationships; you want them too.  And that is good and you know why? 

It’s because God has wired it into you.  See for the first time, maybe, depending upon how the relationship  has been, instead of there being a confrontation now between you and your son or daughter, you are going to be pushing your son or daughter into a much stronger confrontation with themselves.

Dennis:  And to the parent, who is wondering how to practically go about creating some “wise wants” with their children, I would just give them this coaching advice; go to the book of Proverbs.  Take a chapter a week with your teenager and just read the chapter and then talk about it a little bit.

Rick:  As you move through the book, just put a ‘WW’ right beside the ‘wise wants,’ because these underlie virtually all the Proverbs.  Now, some of them are not immediately applicable.  I mean “a soft answer turns away wrath” is pretty immediately applicable.  And you can put a little ‘WW’ there, a “Wise Want.”  Why does that Proverb make any sense to a kid?   It’s because he doesn’t want wrath. 

Dennis:  Yes!

Rick:  That is what Solomon is assuming.

Dennis:  But, realize that the method of teaching you are going to have to employ here is that in the New Testament Time was called the Rabbinical Method of Teaching which is one word repetition.  Over and over and over again, and this was what wore us out as parents; that you had to teach and instruct and teach and instruct some of the same things over and over and over again.   It is no wonder you have heard the same lecture, because we are still talking about the same thing.

Bob:  Well, once you load the software you figure the program should just run perfectly.

Dennis:  You really do!  And you don’t think about the need for growing maturity in the teenagers’ life.  All this, by the way, presupposes a very important point here; and that is that the parents have convictions of their own from the scriptures that they are guiding children to be equipped with for life.  

Bob:  Well, I think as a mom and dad, you can get together and maybe go through a book like this together.  This is a kind of a book that as parents you don’t just want one of you to read.  This something that maybe you read a chapter out loud to each other right before you go to bed at night.  You finish it and you pass it on to your spouse and he or she finishes it and then you spend some time talking about what you are reading together.  It is a helpful book for parents to get on the same page, especially ahead of what can be challenging or trying teen years. 

We have copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, it is called, Get Outta My Face by Rick Horne and you can go to for more information on how to get a copy of the book.  Again, it is called, Get Outta My Face, and you will find in online at 

You can order online if you like or you can call-1-800-FLToday; that’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY.  When you get in touch with us just mention that you would like the book we were talking about on the radio today; the book about teens.  We will know what you have in mind and we will make arrangements to have a copy of it sent to you. 

You know one of the things that in on all of our minds this time of year is gift giving.  We have got a list and either you have already taking care of folks on your list or you are still in the process of doing that.  

We have had some friends of the ministry who have already given a great gift to us.  They came to us several weeks ago and said they wanted to match every donation we receive in the month of December on a dollar for dollar basis; up to a total of $ 1,250,000.   

They told us what they are hoping for is that their matching gift will encourage more FamilyLife Today listeners to make a donation of their own.  So during this month if you make a yearend contribution to FamilyLife, a $25 donation, they are going to match it with a $ 25 donation.  If you send a $100, they will match it with a $100; again, up to this total amount of $1,250,000. 

This is the largest matching gift we have ever had during yearend.  We are hoping to take full advantage of it, so we are asking you to either go online at, or call us, toll-free, 1-800-FL-TODAY, and make as large a yearend contribution to the ministry as you possibly can. 

Again our website is, you can donate online, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make your donation over the phone.  Your donation is going to be matched; it is going to be doubled thanks to the generosity of these friends and we do hope to hear from you. 

We hope you will be back with us tomorrow.  Rick Horn is going to be here again and we are going to continue to talk about the challenges we face as we raise teens and how we can be wise as parents in helping to mold and shape our teens.  I hope you can join us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast 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.

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