Thoughts on Disicipline
About the Guest
Just because you've made mistakes as a parent does not mean you've failed your children. Barbara Rainey answers questions from moms of toddlers and preschoolers, and shares her three greatest parenting regrets and how God redeemed the outcome in spite of her mistakes.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
VariousFamilyLife Today features marriage and family experts who have devoted their lives bringing biblical principles to people in ways that positively change their lives. With each program, we are continually reminded that people throughout the world are receptive to the messages of love and hope offered by our radio guests.
Barbara Rainey answers questions from moms of toddlers and preschoolers, and shares her three greatest parenting regrets and how God redeemed the outcome in spite of her mistakes.
Thoughts on Disicipline
Bob: Some parts of being a parent—being a mom—are easier than other parts. Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: I handled doing chores and all the other things so much better than I did the sibling rivalry thing. That was the thing that was the most difficult for me. It was the thing that upset me the most. It was the area where I felt the most out of control because I felt like I had to be a police detective.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, April 13th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Do you find there are aspects of motherhood that are challenging for you? No doubt. We’ll talk about some of those today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. Don’t you think there are some of our listeners who—if they could get an hour, sitting down with your wife, and just hearing her talk about her own journey of motherhood—
—they would benefit from that?
Dennis: I just left a meeting that Barbara has right now with a young mom, who is like a giant sponge. [Laughter] She is pounding my wife with questions and soaking up the answers because she needs a good night’s rest, and she needs to get on top of this thing called motherhood.
Bob: Titus, Chapter 2, gives instruction to older women. It says you have an assignment; and your assignment is to engage younger women—to teach them to be lovers of God, lovers of their husbands, keepers at home. It really is: “Pour into their lives the benefit of your experience.”
Dennis: And I have to say, Bob, I’m a little concerned about this Facebook®/tweet generation that has all these surface relationships that skip across the top of the lake. I think there is great need for some porch sitting / some longer conversations with an older woman, who can coach you and encourage you in this process of being a young mom.
I would say, if we are talking to older moms, right now, I want to encourage you to find some younger moms you could invest in. If you are one of those younger moms, that doesn’t have access to a mentor, start praying about it—ask your pastor, ask some folks at church—find a mom or two that could coach you through this season of life where you are.
Bob: Not long ago, Barbara sat down with a group of young moms for a Q&A time, just to share from her own experience.
I should also mention Barbara plays a key role in our Art of Marriage® video event that we’ve designed for couples. She helps wives understand God’s assignment for them, as wives. The reason I brought up The Art of Marriage is because, between now and the end of April, our team has a special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners—you don’t need a tax refund to take advantage of this special offer. [Laughter]
We are making available The Art of Marriage event kit, which has all the DVDs you need to host an Art of Marriage event, along with [a pair of] manuals and instructions on how to host. We’ll give you that kit free if you’ll agree to take ten couples through The Art of Marriage in your church/in your community. You get the manuals for the ten couples, and we will give you everything you need to host the event for free.
You can get the details when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link at the upper left-hand corner of the page that says, “GO DEEPER.” Look for information on The Art of Marriage. We’ll provide you any help you need on how to host one of these events in your church or in your community. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call if you have any questions—1-800-FL-TODAY.
Alright, let’s listen as Barbara Rainey sat down with a group of young moms, recently, and talked about some of the challenges of being a mom.
[Recorded Q&A Time with Barbara]
Barbara: I wanted to share with you all a couple of things that I would do differently.
I made lots of mistakes on a day-in/day-out basis. You know, I’d get angry at this kid—and I’d discipline for the wrong thing or discipline in the wrong way—or I was too driven or too task-oriented. I mean, I did all kinds of things wrong.
But those things aside, just sort of an over-arching thing that I wish I had sort of done differently—that I think might have made a difference—I wish I had a little bit more commitment, personally, to really growing in the Word. It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s that I was just so overwhelmed, and I was so busy—like you are—well, like all of you are. It felt too hard to do.
We were in church every Sunday, and we were in a community group/small group. So, it’s not that we weren’t getting fed. It’s not that I wasn’t being exposed to truth; but as my kids got older, I became more involved in doing really good Bible study—serious Bible study.
I just saw what a difference it made in my thinking and in my life, and how much I grew in being able to personally depend on the Lord myself and not depend on what I heard someone else say, or what I read in a book, or what I heard from the sermon.
It’s not that I didn’t do any Bible study at all—but I personally grew so much from doing my own, individual, one-on-one study, with me and the Lord—that I look back on those years when I didn’t have it, and I really wish that I had been more committed to doing it when I was younger, in those early years of my parenting journey. So, that’s one thing that I encourage young women to do.
The second thing that I want to encourage you with is to do whatever it takes to continue to grow personally and in your marriage. We really worked hard on our marriage all those years and still do. In fact, I was talking to Rebecca the other day. She was saying something about something that they were working on in their marriage and struggling with. I said: “Well, I hate to tell you this.
“But it continues to be hard work, even after you’ve been married as long as we have.” She said, “Really?” I said, “Sorry, but yes.” [Laughter] I told Dennis the other day: “I wish we could just coast for a while. I’m tired always having to work on something.” But we’re sinful people; and it’s never going to be easy, and we’re never going to coast.
So, really, keep that as a priority—your relationship with your husband and, then, whatever you need to grow personally so that you’re being refueled and just growing, as a woman—becoming the woman that God made you to be. There are so much of us that we have to sacrifice and lay aside in order to serve our kids and serve our husband—yet, we can’t operate on empty forever. We can’t—I don’t think God wants us to operate on empty forever either. We need to find ways to stay healthy, to stay growing, to keep our marriage healthy so that we have more to give to our kids and our husband. So, I want to encourage you to do that—
—whatever that looks like for you / whatever that means for you—keep that a priority too.
And then, the third thing is the whole idea of keeping the Sabbath. It’s not something that’s encouraged in our culture anymore. When I was a kid, growing up, nothing was open on Sunday. You couldn’t go shopping, and people just pretty much stayed home. It was sort of the accepted way of the culture. Now, we’re so far from that. There are ball games, and practices, and every store you could want to go to is open on Sunday.
I looked up a bunch of verses this afternoon. One of the ones on the Sabbath is where Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” I thought, “You know, God made it for us; and there is a reason for it.”
One of the things that we did to keep the Sabbath is—we—when our kids got old enough to get jobs, they weren’t allowed to have a job where they worked on Sundays, for one thing. If they were on any kind of a team that had practices, our kids just didn’t do practices on Sunday.
The team may have had one, but our kids didn’t show up. I was very strict with myself about not doing any grocery shopping or anything on Sunday because I knew, once I started doing it, it’d be really easy for that to become a habit.
So, we got up, and we went to church. We came home, and we ate easy stuff. Then, everyone had quiet time in the afternoon—even the big kids, when they were beyond naptime—they had to go to their room, and they had to be quiet for two hours. There was some intentionality with my children, but I did it more for me than really for my kids because I needed—I needed the break.
I think that’s a piece of the solution. I think there are other things, probably, that would help; but I think that’s one sort of big idea that’s worth considering and thinking about to kind of take some of that pressure off your life.
Well, those are my introductory comments. We’re ready for questions. So, you all just dive in.
Lady: What was the best thing you did when your children were fighting? Do you remember something proactive or positive things that you did when they were arguing with each other?
Barbara: Well, honestly, that was the most difficult issue for me in raising kids. I handled doing chores and all the other things so much better than I did the sibling rivalry thing. That was the thing that was the most difficult for me. It was the thing that upset me the most. It was the area where I felt the most out of control because I felt like I had to be a police detective to try to figure out what the truth really was. It was so difficult to get to the bottom of it. Oftentimes, I felt like I didn’t get to the bottom of it.
I’ve heard since—several different things that other people have done. In fact, one of the books that I read is this one, Don’t Make Me Count to Three. Her philosophy is that when there is sibling rivalry, both of them are probably at fault.
Both of them have probably made mistakes. One of them may have actually started it.
We had—our two boys got into more fights. We were afraid that they would probably both be in jail by the time they were adults because they fought all the time. The younger one knew how to egg the older one on; but the older one, because he was older and he was always bigger and stronger—he would retaliate. He would always hurt the younger one. Then, the younger one would cry.
It was always so difficult to know how to—and so, sometimes, we disciplined both. Sometimes, we gave them both jobs to do. If I felt like—and this is one of those places where I think I made lots of mistakes—if I felt like one of them was really more at fault than the other one, then, I would discipline the one and not the other.
I like her idea, though, that both of them probably, in most cases—probably nine times out of ten—they are both at fault. They both have heart issues of being angry, or jealous, or resentful, or whatever.
There is not an easy answer to that because you are raising sinful people and teaching them to learn how to relate to another sinful person. They don’t have the maturity to know how to—it’s hard enough for adults to do—but they don’t have the maturity.
Lady (2): Did you always address it; or were there times when you said: “You know what? You take it—you work it out. You get it under control. Then, come out; and I’ll be willing to listen to what you’ve done or what conclusion you’ve come to”?
Barbara: We did both. As they got older, and we really felt like they understood the principles of conflict resolution—you know, we talked to them about—and sometimes, it wasn’t really as big a deal as it appeared to be. They were really just having fun, and it just got out of hand. So, yes, we did some of both. Sometimes, it worked; and sometimes, it didn’t work to have them resolve it. Sometimes, they didn’t resolve it because they didn’t want to resolve it.
That’s what I liked about her book—is she talked about the heart attitude—
—and that really the source of conflict really is our heart attitude and what’s going on within—and training your kids to understand that what’s in the heart is really what is driving the conflict. Sometimes, you have to discipline for it if they lie, or they hit, or wherever you’ve drawn your boundaries on discipline—but sometimes, it’s just a training issue.
Lady (3): I don’t know if it’s a part of that book or another resource, but she has this calendar. In this calendar, she had just the issues—sibling rivalry, lying, or whatever—she has the wrong attitude with the right attitude, with the Scripture verse. So, whatever your kids are dealing with—sibling rivalry—you just go to this calendar and you say, “Okay, what am I supposed to say to them?” I’d liked to say I use it all the time, but it’s hanging on my refrigerator. But anyway, I like that—it’s the kind of thing that is helpful.
Barbara: It’s a good resource because, in the thick of things, it is difficult.
We made a list, one time, of all the different options that I had available to me for discipline and taped it on the cabinet because you get so frustrated, in the middle of it, that you can’t think straight sometimes. I needed to be able to look at something that could say, “Okay, I can try this,” because I just would lose perspective and couldn’t think real well.
Lady (4): Kind of related to that is: “How do you deal with the issue of—you have your children apologize for things they’ve done, but you don’t feel like—this might be particular children—they’re ever really sorry?” Their heart isn’t sorry. They are not repentant, and you just feel like you don’t get to their hearts. They are just saying, “I’m sorry because you made them say it”; but you haven’t really gotten to their hearts. How do you—do you make them keep apologizing or how do you deal with that?
Barbara: I don’t think you make them keep apologizing because you can’t change their heart. I mean, our hearts—we have to decide to submit. So, when they got into a fight or an argument with a sibling, they had to say, “I’m sorry I…,” and name the sin or name the offense—
—whatever it is. “Will you forgive me for…”—name it—and they had to say: “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” And the other person had to say, “Yes,” or “No.”
We had some that would just kind of blow it off, and try to sneak by, and not go through that. We had plenty of times when they—you just looked at them and you go, “Yes, you meant that like a whole in the head.” You know, they don’t mean it; but you just make them do it and hope that, as they become adults, that it will sink in and they will want to choose to do it.
I was flipping through a bunch of old notes before I came. I ran across this little thing on a sermon outline, from a few years ago, where the pastor said: “There are three reasons people obey. One is because we have to—because we have parents making us do it or we have the law telling us we have to drive a certain speed limit. The second reason we obey is because there is some reward tied to it.
So, if I obey the law and I fill out my income tax, then, I’m going to get a refund. There is something tied to it that is going to be beneficial to me—so we do it for that reason. And then, the third reason people obey—which is the hardest and the least often—is because out of a genuine heart of wanting to please God.” Our kids are no different. Our kids obey probably 90 percent of the time because they know, if they don’t, they are going to get in trouble—but that’s human nature.
One of the things that we did—we prayed a lot for our kids—that they would get caught and they would not get away with anything. I remember how clearly God answered those prayers many times. One of ours was prone to stealing—just little things from siblings—but we didn’t want him getting away with it. It was just amazing how God allowed him to get caught. We had another one who was, as a teenager, lifting some money; and we didn’t know it—and kids do that—you know, “I’ll take a quarter out of Mom’s purse,” and they think it is no big deal because it’s just a quarter.
It was amazing, again, how we found out about this one.
Then, as our kids started driving, we had a neighbor, who was driving down the road. Our kid went flying down the road, way too fast. He got on the phone and called us. I was thrilled that he called and told us. So, we prayed that a lot—that God would not allow our kids to get away with anything—we wanted them to be caught.
Then, the other thing we prayed is—we prayed they would repent and that God would give them a heart that wanted to obey Him, sincerely and faithfully, because only God can put that in their hearts. We prayed a lot for their hearts—that they would want to please God and obey Him on their own. I think prayers are really a key element in parenting because you can only do so much and, then, they’ve got to decide they want it.
One of my other frequent prayers, for two of my kids, in particular—my prayer for them was that they would know they were sinners and that they needed Jesus—
—and I prayed that a lot. I prayed it a lot for my youngest one and my oldest one because my oldest one was a typical firstborn, who wanted to make everybody happy, and she was pretty good, and she loved her siblings.
My second one was the one who knew how to push my buttons pretty much better than any of the rest of my kids. He started doing it at five and didn’t quit until he was eighteen or maybe seventeen—I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was seventeen. [Laughter] I really think he had it as his mission in life to get the best of me, and he won more times than I won.
My oldest daughter saw that. She saw what he was doing to me—and she saw that he was making me miserable and that he was pushing my buttons and making life hard—and she didn’t want life to be hard for me. So, she kind of went out of her way to make me happy. I watched her and I thought: “I do not want her growing up thinking that she needs to make her mother happy. That is dangerous. It’s unhealthy.”
I just began to pray that God would help her see that she was just as much of a sinner as her brother—just because she acted good on the outside did not mean she had a clean heart. So, I prayed that a lot for her.
I also prayed it a lot for my youngest because my youngest was—she got a little bit better treatment than some of the older ones too. My older ones told me about it: “Mom, you are not doing with Laura what you did with us—she gets away with a lot more.” It is a tendency—it’s hard not to do that with your youngest one, especially when you know it is your last and you kind of want to milk it for all its worth. But I prayed that a lot for her, too, because her next sibling was another one that gave me fits. She saw this relationship—and she saw me struggling with her older sister—and she saw what it was doing to me. I saw her trying to make me happy; and I thought, “This is not good.”
I think I even—by then, I think I understood things enough that I even said something to her about it, verbally.
With my oldest, I didn’t have the presence of mind to even address it—but, by my youngest one, I did. I think I even said something to her: “I don’t want you to feel responsible for trying to make things better.” I prayed a lot for her that she would know she was a sinner and that she needed Jesus.
I think, for some kids—that is a good prayer for them because some of them really are good kids. They like to please, and they like to make Mom and Dad happy. They do everything well, and school’s easy for them. We had one—that school was a piece of cake—he hardly ever had to study. Then, I had others that struggled—really struggled—in school. You know, life is easy for some kids; and it’s hard for others. [For] those that it is easy for—they may need you to pray that they would know that they are sinners.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to a Q&A between some young moms and Barbara Rainey. You know the identity of all of the kids she’s talking about there.
Dennis: Yes, they’re under federal protection so their identity will not be discovered, at this point [Laughter]; but I just got a tweet from a friend who was offended by my earlier statement that I made on the broadcast about this Twitter® and Facebook generation that skips across the top of the lake—
Bob: Wait. Are you mentoring people on Twitter and Facebook?
Dennis: I am not. But I am teaching / I am tweeting.
Bob: So, I guess you are doing some mentoring.
Dennis: I guess—
Bob: I guess you are.
Dennis: I guess we are, but I just want you to know if that’s all you can get—if that’s the source of your mentoring, as a mom or as a dad, young man/young woman, husband/wife—then, okay. But I wouldn’t encourage you to not settle for that because there is nothing like having a cup of coffee with someone, talking about real life in more than 140 characters.
Bob: Life on life makes a difference; doesn’t it?
Dennis: It does make a difference, and that’s what Barbara demonstrated here. Bob, that’s also what we are trying to do in calling people to take advantage of a free resource that we are offering so that couples can impact other couples—life on life.
Bob: Yes, it’s great when you can sit down together and listen to a message, as a husband and a wife, or you can read a book together—but when couples get together with other couples, and go through solid biblical teaching about marriage, it has a profound impact. We know that because, over the last four years, we’ve had more than 600,000 people go through The Art of Marriage video event. These events are hosted in local communities/local churches. The reason that we are encouraging you to consider hosting one of these events—taking the lead—going to your church leaders and saying, “Could we do this at the church?”—we are hoping that there will be tens of thousands of couples who will be impacted by The Art of Marriage this spring and summer.
Here’s what we’ll do to help make that happen—if you’ll agree to take ten couples through the material in your home/in your church—wherever you’re going to do it—and you’ll order the workbooks for those ten couples, we will send you the DVDs/the starter kit for The Art of Marriage absolutely free. You can get the details when you go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Just click up at the top of the screen, where it says, “GO DEEPER.” That’ll take you right to where you can click on and get information about The Art of Marriage video event.
Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call if you have any questions. 1-800-FL-TODAY is our toll-free number—1-800-358-6329. Someone on our team can answer any questions you have or make arrangements for you to get the free Art of Marriage video event kit so that you can host one of these events this spring or this summer.
Now, we want to take just a minute here and say, “Thank you,” to those of you who help make FamilyLife Today possible.
I think most of our listeners know that FamilyLife Today is a listener-supported ministry. What that means is there are people in your community who made today’s program possible by donating to help support FamilyLife Today—that’s how it works. We’re grateful for those of you who have made past donations so that we could present today’s program.
If you’re a regular listener and you’ve never made a gift to help support FamilyLife Today, how about joining the team today in helping to support this ministry? You can make a gift, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone. Or you can mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223.
When you make a gift today, we want you to choose, as a thank-you gift, either a copy of Scott Stanley’s helpful book, A Lasting Promise—it’s all about how our marriages can go the distance—
—or, if you’d prefer, you can select a copy of Ron Deal’s revised and updated book, The Smart Stepfamily. You can choose either of those two books. Again, it’s our way of saying, “Thank you for being on the team and helping to support this ministry.”
And I want to encourage you to join us back again tomorrow when we’re going to hear from Barbara Rainey again. She’ll be answering questions posed to her by moms of preteens and teenagers tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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