Parents Ask Dennis
About the Guest
Dennis Rainey says that, as parents, we cannot head off all trouble before it presents itself. So parents should stay in "the book"--the Bible--and stick close to their kids. Parents respond to Rainey's challenge with questions of their own.
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
Dennis Rainey says that, as parents, we cannot head off all trouble before it presents itself.
Parents Ask Dennis
Bob: Young people, headed into adolescence, are about to embark on a dangerous journey. They need moms and dads who have been there and done that to help guide them. Here’s Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: You’re not going to be able to head off all evil that tries to prey upon your child—your son, your daughter’s life—but I think it’s why God gave children parents and it’s why we must wake up in the morning—with the burden of this Book—of teaching our children how to love God, how to walk with Him, how to get in this Book—let the Book get in them—and how in all of that—how they can serve Him with all their lives.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, May 22nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. There are young men and women who make it through adolescence safe, secure, and standing for Christ. We’ll talk about what we can do, as parents, to point our kids in that direction today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. I have wondered whether we ought to try to have some kind of a national Passport2Purity® weekend, where—not where we get everybody together—but where we pick a weekend and say, “Why don’t we all take our kids, this weekend, and go do something with them, individually, as moms and dads?”
Dennis: That’s a great idea.
Bob: It would sure be interesting to see what would happen if you picked some weekend in June or July—and if the amusement parks, or the national parks, or—you know, the different places parents take their kids if they—
Dennis: Baseball stadiums, shopping mall.
Bob: Would they be filled up a little bit more if moms and dads were on Passport2Purity weekends with their kids on one particular weekend?
Dennis: A father/son or a mother/daughter with your 10-, 11-, 12-year-old, around the gritty stuff of life. You know, the birds and the bees, peer pressure—
Bob: Everything that’s coming ahead, when they hit the teen years.
Dennis: And Bob, one of the things that I don’t think our listeners realize is FamilyLife Today has produced, over the years, a number of resources that are evergreen. They are good throughout the year. They are good for moms and dads to use with their kids—to help them and to equip them, as parents, to really help their kids succeed.
One of the ones that I enjoy giving away to a friend who I may run into—I may meet on a plane—is Passport2Purity. I was on a plane, the other day, with a national salesman. He works for a major company that I’ll not mention here, but he was divorced. He had a 12-year-old son, and he had custody about half the time. I said, “Have you had any kind of a weekend getaway with your son to prepare him for the adolescent years?” He goes, “Never thought about doing that.”
Bob: Yes, I don’t think that’s on most guys’ radar.
Dennis: It really wasn’t on this guy’s. So, I said: “Let me do you a favor. Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and check out Passport2Purity.” He said, “Well, is it an event?” I said: “No, it’s not an event that you go to—that’s hosted by FamilyLife. You host it.”
Dennis: “You, as the dad, figure out where your son would like to go”—or if it’s a mom, where your daughter would like to go—“for a Friday night/Saturday.” Bob, you got away for—
Bob: We went to see Cardinal baseball games.
Dennis: —two nights.
Bob: My son, James, and I did that. My son, John, and I went up to Branson, Missouri. It was a nice drive. We could go up there and did go carts. He liked the presidential museum that they have in Branson. So, you’re looking for something that would be exciting and fun for your kids to do—a getaway trip that they would go, “That would be cool to go on.” And the drive-time—you want it to be about three or four hours from home.
Dennis: Because you can get a lot of work done—popping the CD in the player, there in the car, and listening. And a couple of them—I know, when I did this with my sons, I was driving in the dark. [Laughter] There was a reason why I planned it this way because the CD I popped in the player was about the birds and the bees, and—
Bob: Right. And you’d like it to be a little dark when that happened.
Dennis: —I knew my son was sweating bullets.
Bob: In the middle of that CD, I paused the CD. I remember this. I could show you the spot in the road where I paused this CD. I turned and looked at my son, David. I said, “You’ve got any questions—anything you want to talk about?” He stared straight ahead—didn’t look at me. [Laughter] He said, “No.” He said, “Just keep playing the CD—just push the play button.” He did not want to stop and talk about any of it.
You had an opportunity recently to get together at a local Christian school—and you were pretty excited about what this school is doing with Passport2Purity.
Dennis: That’s right. The head of the school, Dr. Gary Arnold—who is really a blue-chip leader—it’s one of the top schools in the country. In fact, they received one of the highest awards you can receive in all of education for their school, which is kindergarten all the way through high school.
But Dr. Arnold and I were having lunch together. I just told him about a dream of mine—that I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if a Christian school would take all of the kids in the sixth grade through Passport2Purity?—have the parents grab the resource and take the kids through it.” Well, he got back to me in a couple of weeks and said, “We’re going to do that.” He made it mandatory.
So, they invited me to come over and speak to the parents. They’ve got 144 sixth-graders, and those parents are going to do it. They’re in the process of doing it, right now. I spoke to them for about 45 minutes.
Bob: And we’ve been hearing this week what you shared with the parents—
Dennis: And then, we did a Q&A.
Bob: And I thought it would be good for our listeners to hear the questions that the parents had and how you responded to those questions because you lay out a concept like this—and if it’s new for a mom or a dad—the idea of a getaway couple of days with your son or daughter to prepare them for adolescence—there are going to be some questions; right?
Dennis: You wonder: “How do you do it, and does it take a lot of preparation? Is the parent on the spot?” Here’s the thing—this thing is as close to a guaranteed slam dunk, using basketball terms. It sets the parent—whether mom or dad, whether you’re a single parent, even with the opposite-sex kid—because there are some single parents who take—some moms who take their sons away on this, and there are some grandparents—
Dennis: —who take their grandkids away on this Passport2Purity getaway.
Bob: Well, let’s listen to some of the questions that came up after you had spoken to the parents at Little Rock Christian Academy and as they were starting to think about—starting to engage with the idea of going on one of these Passport2Purity weekends with their son or their daughter.
Dennis: And just before we go there, let me just finish this thought, Bob. One of the things we’ve done in this is we want the parent to look good in front of the child because we know, after the Passport2Purity weekend is over, it’s going to be the parent who carries the load of finishing the process, all the way through the teenage years of raising that young man / that young lady, all the way to adulthood. So, we’re making you look good. It’s our desire for your stock to go up because you know about this stuff and you’ve taken them away for this weekend.
Bob: Maybe, some of the questions you have about Passport2Purity are some of the questions that the audience had for Dennis, just a few weeks ago, as he shared this message. Here’s some of that Q&A.
Man: First, just a comment. I got your book on Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date when my oldest was probably six or seven. She’s been scared to death ever since then. So, thank you for that—can’t wait to put that into practice—but we have daughters. So, what is my role, as Sherry leads the girls through Passport2Purity—but what is my role, as a father, as Mom takes the girls through the Passport2Purity?
Dennis: This is called So You Want to Be a Teenager? Here’s the way you do it: The same-sex parent—mother/daughter—goes through Passport2Purity. As a follow-up to the Passport2Purity weekend, you, as a daddy, keep this book. Do not give them the book. They will read it because of the curiosity factor—all the way through. So, you retain possession and read it, out loud, in her bedroom—just go in there and throw yourself across the bed and say, “We’re going to read a chapter a week for”—however many chapters there are in this book.
This was written by my daughter and son. They assisted us in writing this. So, it’s edgy.
It’s talking about where they are; but at the back, it has a dozen extreme life commitments that you get a chance to walk through—around boundaries they are going to face in life—to make up their mind, in advance, what they are going to do. It’s all built around Daniel, who decided in advance, he would not defile himself with the king’s food.
And here’s the thing, folks—better to have them make a decision prior to facing these issues than to be facing the issue and having made no decision. I’m just telling you, it’s the way to do it. There is a birds and the bees in here for girls—that you get a chance to read aloud, and blush with her, and have it be just nervous as all get out—but it gives you a chance to connect.
Woman: Do you have something similar, appropriate, that a mother could do with a son or—?
Dennis: Yes, same book.
Woman: Same book, alright.
Dennis: It’s called So You Want to Be a Teenager? Next question—you’ve got one?
Man: What kind of time commitment is somebody making when they decide to embark on this journey with their child?
Dennis: Well, the actual Passport2Purity weekend is a Friday night and all day Saturday—through Saturday dinner. It’s going to take a little bit of time, probably—where’s the gentlemen, who came up, who said he’d just taken his son? Right over here—give him the microphone. How long did it take you to prepare?
Man: About an hour and a half.
Dennis: Because here’s what you’ve got—you’ve got a parent’s guide—that is your travel journal. Your son or your daughter is going to get their own personal journal that has their projects in it. Then, you’re going to get these CD’s that do it all. You’ve got a CD—that you listen to, as a parent, that’s about 45 minutes long—that you listen to in advance. You decide if you want to get into some of these issues that are in here because it gives you the chance to opt-out. You are in control.
It talks about same-sex attraction. It gets off into pornography. Some parents don’t feel like their child is ready to discuss these matters; and so, you may opt-out. It’s very easy to do it. You just don’t play that part. It’s always optional. You’re aware of it. It’s well-laid out to know exactly what you’re choosing to do. You’ve got the CD you play before you go on the weekend—and then, you’ve got the CD’s that you go through—and then, a music CD, that your son or daughter gets after the weekend is over.
And the cool thing about this—just to let you know, as a parent—we have made this so simple. You’ve got a check list of what you’ve got to do in advance. We’ve even got a kit that has all the object lessons in it. It’s all spelled out in here. You go through it, and it’s a great question. So, it’s a Friday night/Saturday. You generally end the time with a gift—some kind of memorable gift. It may be a purity ring. It may be, for a boy, a pocket knife. But usually, you go do something that they want to go do—like a baseball game, a football game, for a boy—maybe, go to a special bed and breakfast for a girl. But there’s even a list in here of different things you can choose from. You can begin to quiz you son or daughter about what they’d like to go do. Good question—somebody else.
Man: I tell you, we make mistakes. We have three kids, and our oldest is 12. When we get caught up on our mistake, and our child lets us know we’ve made a mistake, we always explain to them that: “Look, there’s not a book. There’s not a playbook. There’s not an instruction manual on how to raise you guys.”
Man: And so, we, too, make mistakes. And I mean, I’m ecstatic on what you’re doing and what this is going to offer. It’s something that I think I need. I need something to follow that somebody has been successful—
My second question is a little bit more general. As you mentioned, at the very beginning, about we’re in the screen society—our 12-year-old has been beating us up quite a bit about having a phone. We’ve delayed that. What’s your recommendation or your suggestion, based on what you’ve seen on any kind of electronics and such?
Dennis: You really want to know?
Man: I do.
Dennis: I think you two, as a couple, need to pray about it. You need to get your values in place, and you need to stick to your guns because it’s like 11, 12, 13—they go to this boot camp. This boot camp trains them into making you feel like, even though you’re a highly-educated person, like you’re an idiot, and like you were born in a former era, and you have no wisdom whatsoever. If you let them, they will take over. That’s just all there is to it. They do not know what’s best for them.
In my sixth-grade Sunday school class, I would ask them, “How many of you would like to ask your peers”—number one—“you’d like to ask your peers about sex?” They chose peers above parents, brothers, Sunday school teachers—you name it. I said: “Now, let me just get this clear. You’re talking about someone telling you how to go to Dallas who has never been there. You want to go to them to ask them?” “That’s right.”
So, you’ve got to remember—the Book of Proverbs is the book of the day. Proverbs talks about wisdom and foolishness. These young people are not mature. They’re not ready; but we’re treating them—we back out at a time when we need to be in there.
So, I say, around the cell phone issue, get your values in place. Personally, I think later is better than earlier. I think the screen is a dangerous deal. And you better have your game plan fully in place on how you’re going to implement it—at whatever point you implement it.
A couple more questions, and then, we’ll wrap up.
Woman: Out of curiosity, as we’re going through the curriculum with our son or daughter and they begin to ask questions about our own life, how much honesty should we have with them?
Dennis: Well, you’ve got to decide what they’re ready to handle and what they’re not ready to handle. I just can’t answer that. I don’t think they are ready, at 11 and 12, for much of any kind of detail. And this is one of the most frequently-asked questions about this and, frankly, it is what keeps a lot of parents paralyzed because they are afraid the question on the past and, “What did you do, Mom?” and all that is going to come up. I think you can delay an answer to the question and say, “You know, there will be a time when I’ll talk to you more about that; but for right now, here’s what I want to talk about.” And you guide the way.
So, you just—I think you have to recognize where each child is and give them appropriate answers that feel right to you. Personally, I’ve been around some families, where there has been too much discussion about the past. I think kids need a hero. I think they need a hero. That doesn’t mean they know everything about you. It doesn’t keep you from being a hero. I think—the Bible talks a lot about the enemy is the accuser of the brethren. I think, on this one, he accuses parents and keeps them out of stuff that they need to be engaging with their kids because of their past failures. That’s a great, great question—somebody else.
Woman: I was kind of thinking this would be a fun, and maybe less intimidating thing, if you got a group of girls and their moms together; but I’d also like to hear your thoughts about that—if it’d be better one-on-one.
Dennis: I’m not saying it wouldn’t be good with a group. I’m saying that the best is just you and her. It is too precious and sacred a moment between a mother/daughter or a father/son to somehow lose it to a group. I feel pretty strongly about that. I would really discourage parents from doing that here. This whole deal is not a one shot—flu shot—that will help you through the season of adolescence. This is just a stepping-out point that you build on, and you revisit it. Yes.
Woman: I have a sixth-grade daughter; but I have a ninth-grade son, who went through it with my husband, who took him through Passport2Purity. But I didn’t do the follow-up—the book. I think we actually have it, but I didn’t read it with him. Would it be too late now?
Woman: Okay; right.
Dennis: I mean, so, he’s embarrassed. So, he goes: “Oh, Mom! Come on! You don’t have to do that.” It’s an once-in-a-lifetime privilege—a holy privilege. I mean—some of the conversations I had with our kids—I mean—there were great moments. One time, my daughter said, “So, Daddy, how does the sperm get in there?” I said: “Well, we’re going skiing later on in the fall. I’ll talk to you about it as we go up the chair lift.”
And so, she turns to me—my first-born daughter—she turns to me, on the chair lift, and says, “Okay.” She pulls her goggles up. She says, “How does the sperm get in there?” [Laughter] I look at her; and I pull my goggles down, pull my mask down. [Laughter] I’m telling you, it’s a clammy-hand moment, but they are great moments. So, we get back, after we’ve had the conversation with her. We’re sitting down, having some hot chocolate, after we went skiing. Her brother says, “Hey, Dad, how does the sperm get in there?” He’s one year younger. So, I say, “Ashley, you tell him.” [Laughter] Great moments in a family—you know—you are just hacking your way through it. You’re just trying to get the job done. So, yes, just do it.
Dennis: Brings back some memories listening to that. [Laughter]
Bob: That’s real family life; isn’t it?
Dennis: It is real family life. Here’s the thing—Moms and Dads, you don’t have to have all the answers. You can even say, “You know, I’m going to answer that question later,” like I did.
Dennis: The point is—is press into it and be found guilty of engaging your 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old around the issues he or she is going to face before they face it because you don’t want the world teaching your children about these matters.
Bob: You were talking to parents of sixth-graders. Is that the ideal time; or how do you determine, with your child, whether it should be earlier or later than 11 and 12?
Dennis: Two comments on that. Number one—your 10-, 11-, 12-year-old knows a whole lot more than you think they do. They just look like these—especially, the boys—these little nerdy boys—it’s like: “Man! Will they ever grow up?” I mean, it’s like in an instant, they transform and change. Now, the girls—they kind of start blooming a little earlier—they kind of look like they’ve got it together. In some ways, I think they are more mature.
But know this: Because of the culture they’ve been raised in, they know more—trust me. That was one of the big ideas that I took away from teaching the sixth-grade Sunday school class that I taught for 11 years. These kids have heard a whole lot more than you think they have.
The second point is you’re preparing them for adolescence. So, it’s when they’re ready to hear. I would rather do it just a little early than have the wires be connected and have it be too late. They’re going to hear a whole lot more, if it’s earlier than if it’s later, because adolescence kind of puts some static on the lines.
Bob: You’ve got to make sure it’s not too early because I remember as, I think, I was a cub scout—I was probably eight years old, maybe nine. We were going on a Cub Scout fishing trip. My dad was doing the birds and the bees on the way to the Cub Scout fishing trip. I had no idea what he was talking about. I just kind of tuned the whole thing out because it was making no sense to me, and I was thinking about fishing. [Laughter] He was talking about body parts. I didn’t know what body parts he was talking about. And one of the great things about Passport2Purity is—it is relatable. Your kids can understand it.
Bob: And kids are probably less naïve at nine than I was when I was nine, but you do have to determine—you don’t want to go too late—but you also don’t want to get this too early so that the kids are going, “That’s irrelevant to me.”
Dennis: It’s about the maturity of the child, and there are some 10-year-olds—who you need to go ahead and have this weekend getaway.
Bob: Well, we’re thinking this summer is a good time for parents to do this with their kids. I did all three of my Passport weekends in the summer—no, that’s not true. I did one in the spring, where I took my son with me on a business trip—scheduled an extra day in the city I was going to—and we were able to do that in the context of a business meeting I had. But the other Passport2Purity weekends I did, I did in the summertime—went to some Cardinal baseball games with one son; went to Branson, Missouri, with another one.
So, you pick a location you think your son or daughter might be interested in going—some place that’s a couple hours’ drive from home, maybe—and then, head out in the car on a Passport2Purity weekend. Of course, you’ll need the kit. So, go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order the Passport2Purity kit. Again, our website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order what you need. Again, online, find us at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
You know, while we’re talking about summertime, let me just mention that for ministries, like ours, summertime can be a little bit of a challenge. What often happens for ministries in the summer is that donations lag a little bit. There’s a dip in donation support. The bills still come in the way they always do, but the donor support falls behind a little bit.
We had some friends of the ministry who know that’s the case—or is typically the case for a ministry, like FamilyLife Today. They came to us, a while back; and they said, “We’d like to help you guys be ready for the summer with a little surplus.” What they offered to do was to match every donation we would receive, during the month of May, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $603,000. It’s a very generous offer.
Honestly, we are hoping to take full advantage of their generosity; but to do so, we need our listeners to pitch in—to do whatever you can do. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click the button that says, “I CARE”, and then, make whatever donation you can make. That donation is going to be matched, dollar for dollar. It will be doubled, thanks to your generosity and the generosity of these friends who have put the matching-gift fund together. Or you can call if you’d like to make a donation over the phone. 1-800-FL-TODAY is our toll-free number. Just call and say, “I want to make a donation, and I want to make sure my donation is matched.”
In order to take advantage of the matching-gift fund, we need to hear from you by the end of May. We want to ask you to pray that our listeners would respond, and we’d be able to take full advantage of this matching-gift opportunity. Thanks for listening and thanks for your ongoing support of FamilyLife Today.
And we hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to hear from some young adults. These are young men and women who, a decade ago, went on their own Passport2Purity weekend. They’re going to share with us what they remember about the weekend and how it influenced them, as they went through their adolescent years. So, I hope you can tune in 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 will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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