Trusting God With the Girl He Gave You
About the Guest
Thank heaven for little girls! Jonathan and Wynter Pitts talk about their adventure of raising four girls. The Pitts talk realistically about the challenges of loving, guiding, and protecting their daughters. They believe their primary assignment is to help their children have a right relationship with God and the world around them.
Jonathan and Wynter PittsJonathan Pitts is an author, speaker, and the Executive Director of the popular Christian broadcast ministry The Urban Alternative founded by Dr. Tony Evans. Jonathan lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Wynter, and their four daughters. Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You, a ministry to girls (age 6-11) and their parents, that includes a quarterly print magazine, journal, and other print and web resources. Wynter has a passion and drive to introduce young girls to Christian v...more
Jonathan and Wynter Pitts talk about their adventure of raising four girls. The Pitts talk realistically about the challenges of loving, guiding, and protecting their daughters.
Trusting God With the Girl He Gave You
Bob: When Jonathan and Wynter Pitts became parents, they recognized pretty quickly that this was not an assignment they could tackle casually.
Wynter: We just realized, early on, we had these four girls that we knew we couldn’t do this the right way and—with all the messages and, statistically speaking, just the things that were coming against us—we were like: “Okay; how do we fight back on this? We can either be totally just kind of in despair, like, ‘We’re raising girls, and it’s a mess,’ or we can take the proactive response and say: ‘You know what? We’re not just going to wait for our girls to grow and then we fight whatever challenges have to come, but we’re going to prepare them to be the ones that are going to stand out and fight against what’s happening in the world around us.’”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, June 18th. Our host is Dennis Rainey; I'm Bob Lepine. So, what does intentional parenting look like, especially if you’re the parents of girls? We’re going to hear about that today from Jonathan and Wynter Pitts. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I was thinking, coming in here, about what we’re going to be talking about; and I thought, “So, is it harder to raise sons or daughters?” And then I thought about my own kids; because, you know, we have two girls and three boys—
Dennis: Be careful; they could be listening!
Bob: They could be! [Laughter] It’s harder to raise kids depending on who the kids are. It’s different raising boys and girls, but I think personality has more to do with the difficulty issue than gender; don’t you?
Dennis: No. [Laughter] We had four daughters and two sons. I can just tell you—by the time we were done with raising them through adolescence into college, both Barbara and I looked at each other and we went, “Girls were far more challenging than the boys.” You could take boys to the woods—and go hunting or fishing and stuff like that—
Bob: Oh, I thought you were taking them to the woods and getting a switch!—I thought that’s what you were doing. [Laughter]
Dennis: No, no; no.
We have a couple of guests here who—well, the father of this family is a minority in a sorority.
Dennis: Isn’t that right, Jonathan?
Jonathan: That’s pretty true.
Dennis: It is true.
Dennis: Jonathan and Wynter Pitts join us on FamilyLife Today. Wynter, Jonathan, welcome to the broadcast.
Jonathan: Thank you for having us.
Wynter: Thank you.
Dennis: They’re from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They have been married since 2003; they have four daughters. Wynter gives leadership to an organization called For Girls Like You; and what does that do, Wynter?
Wynter: It is a resource ministry for parents of girls and young girls / tween girls. It started out as a print-magazine publication and grew into other print and online resources.
Dennis: Jonathan is the executive director of Urban Alternative, which is known, best of all, by Tony Evans.
Together, they have written a book called She Is Yours: Trusting God as You Raise the Girl He Gave You. Let’s go to the time when you guys found out you were pregnant.
It was not exactly the game plan that you were planning on executing; right?
Wynter: Not at all. We met in college and were married two weeks after our college graduation. As all of our friends were kind of planning jobs, and futures, and careers, and trips, we were planning a wedding. We got married, and we’re like: “We’ll just do it together. We’ll wait and have kids.” We had a five-year plan to have kids.
We got married; went on our honeymoon. About two months later, we were pregnant with our first daughter. [Laughter]
Dennis: How did you find out, Jonathan?
Jonathan: I was actually on the golf course. She calls me, and she says—I can’t remember how you said it—but she basically said that she was pregnant. I said: “Wow; that’s incredible. I’ll see you when I get home.” She was like, “What do you mean?” I was like, “Well, I’m going to finish my round, and then I’ll be home,”—[Laughter]—which wasn’t the smartest move!
Bob: Oh, that’s a rookie mistake. [Laughter]
Jonathan: Barely married—a couple months, you know—so I should get a little bit of—
Dennis: Yes; you have to have a rookie mistake like that. [Laughter] But you started out on a sprint; didn’t you?
Wynter: We did; we did.
Dennis: And they kept coming.
Wynter: And they kept coming. We say the short end of our story is five years / four daughters.
Bob: And with all of them, did you know what they were going to be before they were born?
Wynter: We did; because we kept thinking, “The next one will be a boy,” each time, even with the twins. We—you know, we found out really early—sonogram—so it was the twins—we already had the two girls. We thought, “Surely,”—when we found that it was twins—“one of them, at least, will be a son.” So we—early sonogram, the doctor said, “Well, we don’t really want to say.”
We said: “We’re pros at this. You can tell us; we understand.” They said, “Well, we see one girl; and we think one may be a boy.” We were like: “Of course! Perfect!” We went back a couple weeks [later] for another sonogram. They were like, “Oh, no; that’s two girls.” [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, I may have sounded like I was negative or down on girls; because they were a little more challenging to raise—not so. I loved being daddy to four daughters.
Jonathan: Yes, sir.
Dennis: Let’s go back to when you first started having these little girls put in your arms to be able to shepherd and be parents of them.
When did it dawn on you, Jonathan, that a little girl is different than a little boy?
Jonathan: For me, it was, I think, from the earliest stages; because I realized the weight of the responsibility with a girl maybe differently—I don’t know; I’ve not had boys, so I don’t know what that weight feels like—but with my little girls, I just felt this weight of needing to protect, needing to guide, needing to—all these things that you have to do. You realize—and I don’t know if this is politically correct to say anymore—but you realize that it’s your job, as a dad and as a man, to protect this little girl; so I felt it really early on.
Dennis: This broadcast is—
Jonathan: —not politically correct.
Dennis: It’s not politically correct. [Laughter] It’s biblically correct; okay?
But I do think that a dad does feel different about a little girl—and being a protector and one who helps her move through the perilous years of growing up. Certainly, today, these are challenging years for girls to grow up in.
What do you see as the major challenges, from where you sit in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, as you raise your daughters?
Wynter: One of the biggest things is—it’s not anything new; they’re just different—but the messages and the lies of who they are and what determines their value. I don’t think that that’s a brand-new thing—that can go back over time—but the way that it’s delivered is just—one, with social media, and internet, and all those things. It is just thrown at them constantly—these false images of what they should look like; how popular they should be; you know, what it means to be a good friend; what it means to be a girl—just all these things—of just lies of who they are / their identity.
Bob: Somewhere in the process of raising these girls, the two of you got together and said, “You know, we really have three primary assignments as we raise these girls,” and it’s all around helping them have right relationships; right? Unpack that a little bit; will you?
Jonathan: Sure! Well, you know, the book’s broken down into three different sections—
—her relationship with God; her relationship with you, as her parent or grandparent; and her relationship with the world around her.
When we think about the world, we think about everything in the context of relationships. As parents, we realize we’re primarily responsible for raising our daughters in the Lord; and hopefully, we each, as a parent, have an opportunity to introduce them to the Lord and guide them in the Lord—so that’s the first part.
The second part would be her relationship with you. The book has a lot of prayers in it; and the main prayer in the book—we talk about how we, obviously, want to be her friend—but we’re not her friend first. So “What does the relationship look like between a parent and their daughter?”—so we talk a lot about that.
Then, her relationship with the world around her. One of the things that we say—and I just love this; because I feel like, as a parent, this is one of our primary responsibilities—is raising our girls and raising our children to have a greater impact on the world than the world is actually having on them.
Bob: Yes; Wynter, that’s what I thought of as you guys were describing the challenge today around identity and how the world is trying to define what that should look like.
It occurred to me that if you are, as parents, really taking care of relationship number one; their relationship with God / relationship number two; their relationship with their parents—that’s the foundation from which you can begin to address how the culture is trying to influence who they are; right?
Wynter: Absolutely; because we just realized, early on, we had these four girls that we knew we couldn’t do this the right way and—with all the messages and, statistically speaking, just the things that were coming against us—we were like: “Okay; how do we fight back on this? We can either be totally just kind of in despair, like, ‘We’re raising girls, and it’s a mess,’ or we can take the proactive response and say: ‘You know what? We’re not just going to wait for our girls to grow and then we fight whatever challenges have come to them, but we’re going to prepare them to be the ones that are going to stand out and fight against what’s happening in the world around us.’”
Dennis: Give us an illustration of some of the messages coming at your daughters—I mean, fresh from your family.
Wynter: My 11-year-old is in school. She came home one day and she just said, “Mommy, my class teases me all the time.” Now, they’re her friends, and she wasn’t like crying; she was like, “I don’t know any of the songs or the music that they know.” She wanted me to download and listen to some of the music.
That may seem like a minor thing; but for her—the one kid in her class who does not know the popular songs or the things that have become completely normal to these other 11-year-olds / things that, not only I don’t let my kids listen to, but we don’t even listen to—when she was kind of trying to put the pieces together and tell me what it was, she was begging me, basically, to let her be a part of that and to get some of the music.
I just said: “No; but what we’ll do is—I’ll buy some of the CDs that we like. You can share them with your friends. You don’t have to fall into what they’re listening to and let that determine the messages that you get to hear, but you can actually deliver to them a different message in a different way.”
If you think about music—like that plays in your mind; and those words become a part of what you’re singing, and what you’re thinking, and all of that—so just being able to even, there, say: “You know what? No; we’re not going to do that—we’re not going to feed you with that—but you can be the one to feed your friends with something different.”
Bob: You know, anybody who can think back to when they were 11 or 12 years old, we remember how powerful it is for our peers to affirm us or how powerful it is when they don’t affirm us. I remember walking into school on the first day of school when I was in the fifth grade. Now, I just need to explain a little fashion stuff to you guys; because you’re younger than me, but this was in the late 1960s. The style in that day was wide, bell-bottom pants and polka-dot shirts. For some reason, polka-dot shirts were big back in ’60/’70—
Dennis: I could see you in a polka-dotted shirt!
Bob: Well, I was!
My mom had picked out some bell-bottom corduroys and a polka-dot shirt for my first day of school.
Jonathan: I think that’s back; right, Wynter?—that style? [Laughter]
Wynter: You just described my 14-year-old, actually, so—
Bob: I was kind of a fashion trend setter back in the day. I walk in; and I remember Tommy Langenbach took one look at me, and he said—he called me Lippy; I don’t know where he got that nickname for me, from my last—Lepine/Lippy—he looked at me and said, “Lippy’s going mod”; right? So, that was his definition of my fashion.
Dennis: Was it a positive statement?
Bob: See; I didn’t know, but I knew that whatever he said mattered. Whether I was ever going to wear those clothes again or not was all based on what that peer group gave approval to. It wasn’t based on, “What do I think I want to be?” It was all this hunger inside of me to want to fit in / to want to conform—to want to be approved of and liked.
As parents, we can forget that that pressure is powerful in the lives of both sons and daughters. We have to help our kids understand: “Who you are is not what your peer group tells you who you are; who you are is who God says you are.”
Jonathan: Yes; I think it’s actually really powerful, because we actually made the decision to bring her home from that school—really, not related to those issues—but just wanting to pour into her more. Just one of our girls is home—Wynter’s homeschooling her—I guess I’m homeschooling her too. [Laughter]
Bob: It’s like this just dawned on you!
Dennis: You guess? [Laughter]
Bob: “Oh, I guess I’m doing that too.”
Jonathan: When she left the school, one of the—I can’t remember if it was a teacher—but somebody came back to us and said, you know, basically, the girls in her class said they’re going to miss Kaitlyn. One of the reasons they said they were going to miss Kaitlyn, our 11-year-old, is because she was the one that would keep them out of trouble. You don’t realize the power—or I guess our kids don’t realize the power they have and how much they matter, even when they’re looking to just matter to the kids around them. That was just a very positive moment, as a parent.
Dennis: And I just want to affirm that kind of leadership. You said it earlier—you have to be the parent of your child, which means you have to set the tone; you have to embrace the values; you have to be willing to be unpopular by not letting them listen to those songs.
We did the same thing with our teenagers, all the way through adolescence. I’m going to tell you—they didn’t appreciate it at the time; but they didn’t have those words bouncing around in their brains, and they weren’t being pulled off into a subculture of teens. By the way—back to what Bob said—by the time we raised six kids, we were very respectful of how powerful peer pressure is—especially beginning around the age of ten, eleven, twelve, all the way through adolescence into college—that peers have on our young people.
Jonathan: As parents, I think most of us have gotten into this place of we’re playing defense; but we need to be offensive, and offense is tiring. You know, you’re the one kind of pursuing / you’re pushing; but that’s how I like to think about it: “We’re playing offense; not defense.”
Wynter: I was going to say, because even in that example, it would have been super easy for me just to find one almost safe song or whatever—you know, “Well, let’s try this one; and maybe you can go and show them a dance to this song.” It’s easy to do that; because she was sad, you know. That’s the last thing I want to do—is to see my kids sad. It’s easier to find a way to make them be able to fit in / to be a part of; but really, it’s a harder job to call them out to be separate.
Bob: In the new video series that FamilyLife® has just released, called FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting™, we talk about identity. We talk about how kids are shaped by their peer group and how parents need to be aware of this and set the tone for it. One of the contributors, Tim Kimmel, said some kids are “asset friends” and some kids are “liability friends”—and your kids are going to be friends with both. They need to know who their asset friends and who their liability friends are and just have in mind:
“I don’t want my liability friends influencing me, guiding me, directing me. I want to lean into my asset friends for that.”
That doesn’t mean that you seal yourself off from the kids who don’t think like you; it just means that you say, “I’m going to be influenced for good by these people rather than being influenced for evil by this other group.”
Dennis: And the way you have to go about establishing firm convictions to be able to fight off this peer pressure is you help the child realize whose they are—as in they are God’s child if they’ve believed in Christ as their Lord and Savior—and that they represent Him in school. They’re on an assignment, speaking of being on the offensive.
That’s really the first part of your book—you talk about developing a relationship with God. What are you all doing to help your daughters realize who they are, as a daughter of the King of kings and the Lord of lords?
Jonathan: Well, I would say, first of all, obviously, Scripture is one way that we’re doing that; but even before that, as parents—
—and as, you know, a mom and a dad and a man and a woman—we need to know who we are in Christ so that we can accurately model, because they’re going to look more to our lives than they are going to listen to our voices. One of the things we try to do is just grow in Christ ourselves. We’re not perfect—we’re still dealing with our own identity issues and things like that—so just, obviously, growing in Christ ourselves so that we can model it well.
And then, taking our girls to Scripture. I mean, we spend quite a bit of time in Scripture. We use our dinner table as a primary place for imparting Scripture; we use it right before bedtime; but we’re also just constantly talking with our girls about what God says—what He says about who they are versus what the world says that they are.
Wynter: I think the things that we make a priority, as a family, matter and speak loudly without the words—so the way that we love our neighbors, the way that we are involved in our church community, the way that they see us interacting with parents of their friends—all of those things make a difference.
When it comes to their identity, our goal really is to live that every day—not just in a response to something that has recently happened, or something that somebody has said about them, or something that they’re feeling or believing that’s not true—
—but really, in our everyday lives, the things that we make priority—our dinner table, our family, God’s Word, our time together in Scripture, our devotion—all those things speak to the truth of what we believe and show them who we are and what God says about our lives.
Jonathan: Yes; Wynter always says—one of the things I love that she says, is, “We need to be giving our girls”—and she stole it from somebody; I don’t know who—
Wynter: Don Miller. [Laughter]
Jonathan: Don Miller says that “We need to give our children a bigger and a better story than what the world is offering them.” You give them like an adventure that they’re going on. I read—1 Peter 2:9 says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” That’s a bigger story; you know, that’s a bigger story of who God is calling them to be. It gives them something better to grasp for than whatever the world is offering.
Bob: You guys try to do family devotions, regularly, as a part of the family? Has that worked well for you?—has that been hard to make happen?
Jonathan: Depends on the day! [Laughter]
Wynter: And I think you have to change your definition of “well”—we’re doing it, and I think that that’s well.
Wynter: Now, does it look pretty, or calm, or peaceful? No!—it’s the most chaotic time of our day—at the dinner table, when we’re trying to do our family devotion; but we’ve been consistent in trying, at least, three nights a week. Mostly, unless Jonathan’s traveling, I mean, it’s four or five nights a week; but at least, three nights a week that we’ve committed to just being around the dinner table, where we already are, and talking about God’s Word.
We don’t pull out these big plans—we tell people, “Don’t run from it.” We’re not pulling out these sermons, although sometimes he tries to pull out a sermon. [Laughter] But really, it’s just—as messy as it is, even that just shows the kids: “Like this is important to us, and we’re going to do it,” and “We’re going to be consistent in doing it.”
Bob: And that message is going to get through to your kids. Whatever they remember—and they remember more than you realize they remember; right?—but whatever they remember about Jonathan’s sermon from last night or the Scripture verse that you went over—[Laughter]—
—here’s the big message that they remember: “Mom and Dad—this really matters to them. They make it a priority. The Bible is important. Our family is anchored in this.” That message is a message that will last with them for a lifetime.
Jonathan: Yes; and we do have fun. I mean, one of the things we try to do is make it light / make it fun. Wynter’s better at that than I am. We’ve tried to just make it—not just something we do consistently—but something that we actually enjoy, as a family.
Over time—especially as our girls have gotten better at reading, and you can just a hand a Bible to one of the girls, or hand a devotional, or hand something—it’s interactive. We try to get them talking about their lives and talking about whatever the Scripture is saying. We still have messy nights—but over time, just like anything else you do—it gets easier and it gets easier.
Wynter: We mean a long time. We’re 14 years in, and it’ still—[Laughter]
Dennis: Yes; but I’ll tell you what you’re doing right—you’re making the dinner table a family time. You’re protecting that, on behalf of your daughters, to use that time to impress upon them the power of Scripture in their lives.
Secondly, you’re also putting them on the offensive, sending them to school to represent Christ.
As you were talking, Jonathan, I thought about 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5, verse 20, which is a great picture of who we are in Christ. Barbara—if she was here—she’d be pounding the table and wanting the microphone to be able to speak. Paul says in
2 Corinthians 5:20: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you, on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
I think it’s really cool that they miss your daughter—that they miss your 11-year-old in the class—because she steered her friends in the right direction.
Bob: She was an asset friend.
Dennis: She was an asset friend; that’s right. She was calling them—whether or not she was preaching the gospel exactly like we would hopefully want her to do it—
—she was calling her friends to do what was right, to be wise and not be a fool, and to follow the path that God has established.
Jonathan: Yes; and I just got chills as you were reading that Scripture. In the first part of our book, we talk about—that’s really a key Scripture; because I like to say that: “To the degree that we show Jesus to our children will be to the degree that we know they will actually see Jesus.”
We can’t control who else they’re going to be around—there are asset friends / all kinds of friends—but we have the opportunity to be a part of that process with them. I think, as parents, if we don’t realize that we’re the greatest ambassadors that our children have—to the degree that we’re ambassadors, they can become ambassadors—I just love that idea of—that’s a bigger story.
Dennis: That is a huge story. If you guys are ambassadors, that makes your home an embassy; so when you step outside the doorposts of your home, over the step, you’re walking out of the embassy into a world that isn’t ours—
—but a world that we’re called to preach the good news of Jesus Christ—to represent Him and call others to believe in Him.
Bob: Well, it’s back to the outline of this book, She Is Yours. Jonathan/ Wynter, you guys talk about helping your child cultivate a relationship with God and then cultivating a relationship with you and others. It’s from that foundation that they are able to engage with the broader culture, as ambassadors for Christ.
We have copies of the book, She Is Yours: Trusting God as You Raise the Girl He Gave You. You can order it from us on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order: 1-800-FL-TODAY is our number. Again, the title of the book: She Is Yours by Jonathan and Wynter Pitts. Order online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or order by phone at 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, our team, here, at FamilyLife has developed a resource for moms and dads to help build a stronger relationship with your kids during the summer months. It’s a four-week series of devotionals for families to do together, designed to help you stay focused on God and His Word and to have some fun times together as a family. This is something we’re providing as a free download. You can get it from us at FamilyLifeToday.com; there is no cost for this resource. Again, go online to download it at FamilyLifeToday.com.
This is just one of the ways that we’re working, as a ministry, to provide you with practical biblical help and hope for your marriage and for your family. We want to thank those folks who make all that we do here possible—those of you who are, not only regular listeners, but those of you who donate regularly to support this ministry. We could not do what we do if it weren’t for your faithful support; so “Thank you for enabling us to reach more people, more often, with God’s design for marriage and family.”
If you are a regular listener, and you’ve never made a donation, we’d love to have you join the team.
You can donate today, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. Again, don’t forget about the devotional for families; it’s a free download when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
And be sure to join us back tomorrow when we’re going to talk about how moms and dads can cultivate a strong bond with their daughters. We’ll hear how Jonathan and Wynter Pitts are doing that as we talk with them tomorrow. I hope you can be here 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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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