FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript
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The Deadly Traps of Adolescence
Day 1 of 10
Guest: Dennis and Barbara Rainey
From the series: What are the Deadly Traps?
Bob: The road along which a teenager travels has traps on either side.
Teenager: Dad? Dad? Slow down. I can't see. Well, I know you can. Dad, are you sure this blindfold doesn't come off? What traps? Huh? Where? Hey, Dad, I'm going to let go for a second. I'll be okay, don't worry. I'm just going right over here. See? See, I'm fine. There, see? Nothing happened. There weren't any traps. Huh? Where am I going? Just out. Dad, I know, I still have the blindfold on, and you've been down this – I know, I know – bye.
(footsteps and then teenager yells)
Bob: Ouch. This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, July 9th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. The road to adolescence is paved with deadly traps. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition, and there you have it. You heard the sound of another teenager in the snare.
Dennis: Yeah, and did you hear that cry – "Hey, Dad." Have you ever done that?
Bob: I've been off in some of those snares as I wandered my way through adolescence.
Dennis: That's right, and I've cried out, and sometimes I've been too far away from home, Bob, yeah, and it's a serious matter, though. We're laughing about it – these snares that are in existence today for teenagers are all too real and all too dangerous.
Bob: We're going to be talking this week about some of the deadlier snares that are laid for our teenagers in our culture today, and this is material that comes out of a book that you and your wife, Barbara, have written recently. In fact, Barbara is in the studio with us. Hi, Barbara.
Barbara: Hi, Bob.
Bob: The name of the book is …
Dennis: … oh, no, you've got to do more than that, Bob. I mean, she is denying all types of motherly and wifely duties to be in here, and I just feel like (applauds).
Bob: That's right. We're glad you're along, our listeners are glad you're along …
… good …
Dennis: … yeah, back by popular demand. You know, we were having dinner last night with a couple and they said, "You know, we really like it when Barbara is on the broadcast."
Bob: And I really appreciate, too, and I know Barbara does, that you have offered, Dennis, to do a lot of the laundry and a lot of the dishes as a result of Barbara …
Barbara: … yeah, dinner is the big thing.
Dennis: I don't remember that.
Bob: We're going to be talking about things that come out of a book that the two of you have recently written. It's entitled, "Parenting Today's Adolescent," and remind us of what are the big concepts that parents need to be aware of as we go through the process of raising our children.
Dennis: Well, the book is really built around three underlying assumptions, and the first one is so important. In fact, over the next few days the listeners are going to hear us over and over again pound the table about being relationally involved in our children's lives – not merely being at their events, not just going with them but having our hearts connected soul-to-soul.
Bob: Barbara, if you don't have the relationship in place, you're really headed for some turbulent waters as you head into adolescence, aren't you?
Barbara: Yeah, because it's so easy for our teenagers to get involved in myriads of activities – just thing after thing after thing, and they're after school at practices, and they're going to ball games at night, and they're getting up early to do things, and you just don't see them anymore, and unless you've got connecting points, unless you're pursuing that teenager and asking questions constantly – where are you going? What are you doing? What's happening in your life? Who are you hanging out with? and pursuing that child to get to know that child and stay after it, you're going to end up going your separate ways.
Dennis: Yeah, in fact, last night Barbara and I were both up late with a teenager on our bed, and it was fascinating, because we were having a discussion around one of these traps that gets an adolescent. It's the trap of deceit. And our daughter was on the edge of the bed down near one corner, and I looked at her, and I said, "Sweetheart, you need to understand that it's not you in one corner of life and us in the other corner, and that we, as your parents are adversaries. We are in your corner, and we're fighting for you, and we want to keep you out of these deadly traps that are going to get teenagers."
And I just need you to know and need you to understand that, as parents, the reason we love you and are going to battle for you is because we want to save you from the pain that we just heard at the beginning of the broadcast of that teenager walking off into that trap.
And I said to that teenage daughter, "Do you understand what we're saying? We're really pulling for you? We're not against you. And, finally, all too late last night, she nodded her head and said, "Yes, Daddy."
And it was an acknowledgement that only came about after a 30-minute conversation, Bob, that the easiest thing to have done would have been to gone to sleep. I mean, both of us were dead on our feet. We were whipped, but it was one of those magical moments that God orchestrates where if you don't fight it through and go ahead and love that child and stay relationally connected, you're going to miss a phenomenal teaching opportunity with that child.
Bob: And that "Yes, Daddy," was resignation that, "I know this is true intellectually but, boy, it doesn't always feel like we're in the same corner, and you're fighting for me."
Dennis: No, it doesn't, but we've got to hang in there. A second assumption that we think every parent of a preteen or a teen needs to have today as they raise these adolescents to maturity is that they've got to have their own convictions. They need to know what their values are, what they believe, and then they need to know how to build those convictions, that they possess as parents, into the life of the child. And that means you have to shape those convictions in the soul of that child and then end up testing those convictions over the next six, seven years all the way through adolescence.
Bob: That's, really, Barbara, at the heart of what we're doing, as parents, with adolescent children. We are transferring convictions to them, helping them establish a bedrock of core convictions.
Barbara: Mm-hm, and if parents don't know what they believe to start with, it is so easy to be blindsided by all the choices that our kids face, and if you haven't thought through what you're going to do about this or about that, all of a sudden, a kid comes home and says, "Can I go do this?" And parents are so caught off guard that they kind of cave and go, "Well, I guess," and then later on they may go, "Well, that wasn't such a great idea, but" …
Bob: … but now, all of a sudden, a precedent has been set.
Barbara: They're stuck, that's right.
Dennis: That's right, and when the doctor handed us a little baby by the name of Ashley, back in 1974, the doctor didn't say to us, "You know, Dennis, Barbara, you better establish a few convictions, because this child is going to need boundaries. This child is going to need fences around her life to protect her from evil but also to give her a chance to formulate her own beliefs and her own convictions before she leaves the yard, moves out through the gate to the big, bad world out there."
And I believe that the whole process of pre-adolescence and adolescence is one long process of taking our convictions that we've come to and implanting them in our children, watering them, nourishing them, cheering them on, picking them up when they fail, and then sending them out, finally, to the world to have those convictions have an impact on a world that desperately needs to see men and women today who stand for something, who have boundaries in their lives, and who are standing upon the Word of God.
Bob: That really takes courage on the part of parents.
Dennis: Yeah, and that's the third thing that parents need to have today, and I hope this book can literally reach through its pages to the hearts and heavy hands of parents and say to you, you know what? It can be done. You can do it. With the strength that God supplies, with the truth in His Word, with the Holy Spirit guiding you, you, as a parent, can raise a teenager that has the courage to stand for his convictions, for her beliefs, for his values, and they can have a sense of a spiritual mission about their lives that will carry them through some early years of adulthood and on into maturity when they establish their own homes.
Bob: Barbara, one of the things, as I read through the book that I kept reminding myself and highlighting, were the parts where you and Dennis say, "Remember, you're the parent. You have not only the right but the responsibility to do these things." Why is it, as parents, that we lose sight of that and forget that we're in charge, and we can say yes and no and you've got to live with that?
Barbara: I don't know exactly why it is, but it is so true.
Dennis: It's real, isn't it?
Barbara: It's very, very true, yeah. I think part of it is is that we, I think, deep down inside, wish it were not so hard. I think we wish that we could teach our kids a principle or a lesson and have them learn it and be done with it and not have to reteach the same thing over and over and over, and I think it's that weariness that we begin to feel after three or four years into the process, thinking, "My gosh, are they going to ever get it? Are they going to ever understand? Am I not making sense? What's the problem here?" And after a while we just get battle weary, because it is a struggle.
Dennis: I think there's something about the human spirit that wears down, and that's why a good bit of the New Testament is directed to our hearts to give us courage and not lose heart. Galatians, chapter 6, verse 9 is, I think, just a great verse for every parent – "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Bob, I think it's so easy for parents today to give up. The number of traps that our teenagers face, the swift current of the culture, the lack of support in the community for people who hold to any kind of convictions – I mean, you're looked upon as weird if you have any kind of statement of belief today, and yet that's what teenagers desperately need, and they need it from parents who have not grown weary in well doing.
Bob: We've got five kids – only two who have moved into adolescence. We're already weary. You've had three already pass through. How do you keep from getting weary?
Barbara: Well, I don't think you can prevent getting weary. I mean, I've been weary the last few days, because I'm looking at our kids and thinking, "I don't think they're getting it. I'm not sure we're communicating right," and it's that feeling like a failure as a parent that wears you down, because you know what you want in the end. You know what the goal is, but sometimes you're not so sure how to get there. And so the process, that race that we're running, is a long one, and I just think it wears us down. And the only solution is is to just take some time and get away and remind ourselves of what the truth is and that God is for us, and that if we'll continue to seek Him and trust and pray – I'm praying more than I've ever prayed in my life for my kids.
Bob: This week we're going to look at seven of the 14 traps that the two of you have outlined in the book, and these seven are probably the more obvious and, in some cases, the more dangerous, or the more deadly traps that are laid for teenagers. And the first one that we're going to be looking at this week is the trap of peer pressure, which is something that all of us face, whether we're adolescents or adults – really, it's a challenge for all people, isn't it?
Dennis: 1 Corinthians, 15:33
says, "Bad company corrupts good morals." That's true whether you're 12, 22, or 52, it doesn't matter and, as parents, what we've got to do is we have to anticipate that the teenage years are the most peer-dependent period in any person's life, and we have to be there, alongside our child, guiding them around these traps so that the enemy of their souls does not ensnare them into evil.
Bob: Barbara, one of the big traps that parents are acutely aware of, particularly in this culture, is the trap of premarital sexual involvement.
Barbara: Yeah, Bob, it's because it's so prevalent in our culture, and we see it everywhere, and we know about kids everywhere who are experimenting in this area, and I think parents are very aware of this trap, and they're scared to death and, as a result, we need to really think through – what do we believe? What are we going to do about this with our kids? What are our standards going to be? How are we going to teach our kids to avoid this trap, because we know it's deadly.
Dennis: 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, says abstain from sexual immorality, period. And, as parents, we are to guide our children around this snare, helping them stay out and away from any form of sexual immorality and, frankly, these are some of the most controversial chapters in the entire book, Bob, because we challenge parents to decide what do you believe about sex prior to marriage, and if your child comes and asks you a question, how will you draw the line for him or for her?
In my opinion today, this is where we're using our young people – when parents don't know what they believe around life's most fundamental drive – the sex drive. It's like if you can't define life around that, then will you define it around anything?
The answer is no and, personally, nothing has caused us more agony and time with our teenagers than getting involved in this area, talking to them straight about their character, their choices, what they're going to do, what they're not going to do, challenging them to the highest standard. And nothing sounds stranger today in this culture than to be in this area with your teenager, tracking with them, involved with them, and cheering them on to purity and a biblical word called "holiness."
Bob: Barbara, right next to that huge bear trap of sexual immorality there is another trap that's a little bit smaller, but it kind of triggers the second trap, and that's the trap of dating.
Barbara: Yeah, they're kind of in tandem, they kind of go together, and they're often laid right next to each other, and you step in one, and you're in the other one. The whole thing of dating is it's such an issue with kids because it, too, sneaks up on parents. We tend to think that our kids can't date until they're old enough to drive or be out in a car, but the whole idea of pairing up – of girls and boys pairing up and kind of becoming exclusive with one another and belonging to one another – all that starts, sometimes, in elementary school but, for sure, in junior high.
Bob: Oh, for sure.
Barbara: For sure. You're nodding like you know.
Bob: Yeah, for sure.
Dennis: Had a few phone calls at the Lepine house.
Bob: A few e-mails, a few phone calls, for sure.
Barbara: That's a knowing for sure, isn't it? Well, I think what parents need to be aware of is that they need to be tracking with their kids and being involved with their kids on this issue, too, because this pairing up business, to the kids, is serious, and what it is, it's the foot in the door to dating, and then it becomes a foot in the door to the sexual temptations because, all of a sudden, they're seeing all these other little couples at school holding hands and hugging in the hall and maybe sitting on somebody's lap in the lunchroom or whatever.
And that begins to look normal to our children because that's where they are all day, and so they begin to think, in their minds, there's nothing wrong with that. So-and-so does it and everybody else is doing it, and so they, all of a sudden, assume that standard for themselves unless they've been taught otherwise.
Bob: And they think, "I'm not normal if I'm not doing it." And, Dennis, even if young people stay out of the trap of sexual immorality, the dating trap has some challenges of its own apart from the issue of sexual involvement.
Dennis: Yeah, exactly, the whole issue of romance is a biggie, and I'm just grateful for Barbara, who has been tracking on this one from the beginning with our children, really trying to protect them from developing this romanticized view of relationships that's so prevalent among teenagers.
It's been said puppy love may be puppy love, but it's real to the puppy and, I'm tell you, to a teenager, that romantic view of life – they fall into that and, I'm telling you, they just want to be in love with being in love.
Bob: Mm-hm, some of that comes out of one of the other traps that you talk about – that's the trap of media, because we're constantly fed in the media a diet of romance and sexual immorality.
Barbara: There's no doubt that the media strongly influences that whole concept of dating, because every movie has got a romantic line in it of some kind, whether it's the major theme in the movie or it's a small theme, it doesn't matter. It's in every movie that these kids see, and they've been seeing them since they were young so this has kind of been building, this whole idea of romance and being in love and having somebody that's my own has been building in their thinking for years and years. It's in every book, it's in every song they listen to, it's just everywhere.
Dennis: When we were writing this chapter in the book, I chuckled out loud, because there were so many distractions. I was working on the computer at home, and my teenagers all wanted to get in the computer to get their e-mail. There was telephone, there was TV, there were movies, there was music – I mean, all these things were happening in our house, and I could hear it. I was going, "There is an amazing amount of media that is shaping and influencing my teenagers."
And most parents are not proactive, we are being overtaken by it, and we're in a defensive mode when it comes to all these forms of media.
Bob: There are other traps that are laid for our kids that we're going to be talking about during this series – the trap of pornography, there's the trap of substance abuse, and then there's a deadly trap of unresolved anger in our kids.
Dennis: We don't realize how important our relationship is with each of our teenagers, and if we don't train our teenager in how to resolve conflict as he experiences it, then that teenager can be isolated from the people that love him the most and that can guide him through the most perilous period of his entire life. Most teenage boys are angry. They're just ticked off at the world. I don't understand what testosterone does to them, but I'm telling you, they just get ticked, and guess who bears the brunt of that anger? It's mom.
And if mom's not careful, mom will get hurt, mom will get angry, she'll get in one corner, they'll get in the other corner, and instead of the parent being in the teenager's corner, they're coming out at the ring of the bell, starting another round of arguing, of words flying around, and the very relationship that teen needs is not in place to protect him or to protect her.
Bob: You know, I can't see our listeners, but I imagine the number of heads nodding as we go through these issues. We all live with these very present issues daily as we're raising our kids, and it's hard not to become weary as we talked about earlier in the broadcast.
Over the next few days as we go through each of these issues, you're going to help us understand how you have come to the some of the convictions you've come to, what they are, and then how you press those convictions toward your children.
Dennis: Each of these 14 traps that we talk about has a description of the problem, then we share what our convictions are about this particular issue – like sex, like dating, like pornography, like media, and after we help the parent understand what our convictions are and how we came to them, then we come alongside the parent and equip that mom and dad to be able to shape those convictions that they hold into the life of their preteen and teenager, so that when that teenager begins to face the issues around each of these traps, he already has some convictions that need to be shaped.
Bob: I know many of our listeners have a copy already of your book, "Parenting Today's Adolescent." But I also know there are some moms and dads who have children who are 9, 10, 11, in what you two refer to as "the golden years." And they're thinking, "Well, I don't need a book like this now because I'm not facing these issues. And, probably, the perfect time to start reading a book like this is when your son or daughter is in those preteen years, because you need a proactive game plan. You need to anticipate some of these issues rather than having them just pop up on you, and you hadn't even thought about them as issues.
I remember when our oldest daughter, Amy, was a teenager, and she had gone over to a friend's house to spend the night, and it turned out that a group of them had been out of the home past midnight. Well, we'd never thought about curfew issues. We'd never thought about those kinds of restrictions, and we had to address that – not proactively but reactively. It took us by surprise.
And what you help us do in the book, "Parenting Today's Adolescent," is start thinking about those issues and develop, as you said, the convictions we have as parents and then determine how we want to help shape our children's convictions as they grow through adolescence as well.
You can to go our website, FamilyLife.com, if you are interested in getting a copy of the book. Again, it's called "Parenting Today's Adolescent." Go to FamilyLife.com and click the red button you see in the middle of the home page that says "Go." That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about that resource and other resources we have for parents of teenagers.
Again, the website is FamilyLife.com, click the red button that says "Go," and find out more about the book, "Parenting Today's Adolescent." You can order online, if you'd like, or if it's easier, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can make arrangements to have a copy of the book, "Parenting Today's Adolescent" send out to you.
By the way, when you get in touch with us, if you are able to help us this month with a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we would like to send you as a thank you gift the new book by Dennis Rainey that is called "Interviewing Your Daughter's Date," and this is a great guidebook for dads, especially those dads who have a daughter who is beginning to be pursued by young men. We'll send this book to you as our way of saying thank you this month when you make a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Go to our website to donate, FamilyLife.com, and as you fill out the donation form, when you get to the keycode box on the form, type the word "date" in there, d-a-t-e. Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, you can make your donation over the phone and just mention that you'd like Dennis's new book, "Interviewing Your Daughter's Date," and we'll be happy to send it to you. Again, it's one way that we can say thanks for your participation with us in this ministry and your partnership with us here eon FamilyLife Today.
Well, tomorrow we want to talk about one of the traps that our teenagers face – actually, this really starts before they become teenagers, but it intensifies in the teen years. That's the issue of peer pressure and how that can be a deadly trap for our teens. I hope you can be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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