Appreciating Your Kids for Who They Are
About the Guest
Are your kids as different as night and day? Today parents of four Tim and Darcy Kimmel talk to parents about tuning in to their children to discover who they really are and how they're wired. One way to do that, they explain, is through an interactive game called the Kids Flag Page.
Are your kids as different as night and day?
Appreciating Your Kids for Who They Are
Bob: Darcy Kimmel remembers when her children were little, I mean really little, before they were walking or talking. She says even then you could already see aspects of their personalities starting to manifest themselves.
Darcy: By the time they could speak you pretty much knew what was going to come out of their mouth because you knew if this child was going to be happy or if they are going to be discontent or analytical or sassy. Some of them are a bit more sassy. And so it really does help to see, well you know God pretty much put these things in them. Now how am I going to make the best of them?
Child's Voice: Proverbs 22, verse 6:
“Train up a child in the way he should go even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, August 23rd. The host of our program is Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We're going to talk today about how we can better understand our children’s bent so that as parents we can do a better job of training them up.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. I know I am dating myself a little bit here but thanks to Nickelodeon and TV Land, some of those cable networks. Maybe our younger listeners will know what I'm talking about. You remember the old Patty Duke TV show, don't you?
Dennis: Oh, man, yeah. Do I ever? That was bad.
Bob: I loved the Patty Duke Show. Patty Duke paid two characaters. She played the teenage ... well: “Here's Cathy who has lived most everywhere from Zanzibar to Barkley Square. But Patty's only seen the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights. What a crazy pair. But they're cousins. Identical cousins.”
Dennis: It just troubles me, Bob, it just troubles me that your brain can remember this kind of stuff.
Bob: Here's what made me think about this. The whole premise of the show were these two identical cousins both played by Patty Duke. They looked alike, they walked alike, they talked alike, but they were very different. I was thinking about my own kids who don't always look alike or act alike or walk alike or talk alike.
Dennis: But they came from the same place.
Bob: They came from the same place, but they are very different. And one of the challenges we face in parenting is figuring out how we parent Patty and her cousin Cathy even thought they are cousins, “identical cousins.”
Dennis: Some of our listeners have no idea. Others, unfortunately, have a brain like yours and can remember all those words to all those songs.
Tim Kimmel: What was it? “One pair of matching bookends, different as night and day.”
Bob: There you go. See.
Dennis: Unbelievable. Well, that was the voice of our guest on today's broadcast. Actually, our guests, Tim and Darcy Kimmel, join us again on FamilyLife Today. Tim and Darcy, welcome back.
Darcy: Thank you.
Tim: Glad to be here.
Dennis: I don't know how many times they have been on the broadcast, but it could be close to a coup.
Bob: It's a near takeover.
Dennis: I think it could be.
Tim: We are like those guests who never leave. Company who won't leave.
Dennis: You are just a great resource for marriages and families. We are grateful for both of you. Tim and Darcy, of course, give leadership to Family Matters. Tim and Darcy have been speaking at our Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences since 1987.
Tim: That's right.
Darcy: In fact you just did one a few months ago in Little Rock and had a number of people receive Christ, and I think about 45 couples who were engaged came to the conference.
Darcy: It was really great to see all of those premarried couples there.
Dennis: We are glad that they come because they only use one seat.
Tim: Exactly they give foot rubs.
Dennis: It’s good for the other married folks to see the engaged couples attending that.
Tim: They are semi-delusional about what's going on, and we try to sober them up and show them how to get throught that thing with grace and favor and everything.
Dennis: Right. Well, you know about what Bob is talking about children being different.
Dennis: Darcy, you guys have a number of children and undoubtedly they're different. Just go down them real quickly and describe the difference in your children.
Darcy: Well Karris is our oldest and she's real outgoing and real talkative, real cheerful, and joyful
And then along comes Cody and he's a lot more, oh, intellecutal. We call him a nerd. He's a fun nerd. He's just real academic.
Shiloh is very intense. She is a character and she will tell you exactly what is on her mind.
And baby brother Colt, who is 6'4,” is as likeable as the day is long. He is the best friend you will ever want. They are all different.
Dennis: Yeah, and you know, if you don't understand those differences and know how to meet each child in the midst of his or her own drama and [understand] how they are hammering out life, well I want to look here. Proverbs 22:6 may be the most misinterpreted passage on parenting perhaps that we quote. It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when is old he will not depart from it.” That is not a promise that a child is gong to walk with Christ, is it?
Tim: And a lot of people think, If I bring them up in Sunday school and camp and maybe put them in a Christian school and put a lot of theology in their head, when they are older, they are going to embrace that.
It's talking about their unique inner wiring, their hard wiring, or the actual word is their “bent.” It's much like you were going to make a bow and arrow and you took a branch out of the tree. There's a bent to that tree. It you string it against that bent when you tork [twist] it, it's going to snap and break. And so he is saying, Find out how I have uniquely designed that child and raise him according to that, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Bob: And so are you saying that the way I parent is fundamentally different depending on who the child is? I mean, it seems to me like some things ought to be the same no matter who the child is and the child should conform to what I am teaching them rather than me confirming my parenting to who they are.
Tim: Well the morals and the values of the home are non-negotible.
Dennis: The convictions that you teach your child to believe and obey and live by, they are absolute.
Tim: Yes. Right. They are absolute and they are the same for all of us, but at the same time you have some kids who love a crowd. There are other kids who want to be quiet and by themselves. There are other kids who want to lead. There are other kids who want to follow.
Well, if you take the follower and make him be the leader or you take the leader and push him to be the follower, you're bringing the worst out in these kids and you shouldn't be surprised there is turmoil in this home. And on top of that, this is the best way to prepare a kid to really connect to the heart of God.
I believe the primary job of a parent is to connect to the heart of their child so that they can transfer to that child a heart for God. But what do we usually fall back to: health, education and welfare. That's what we think our job is, and so we get focused on those. And, by the way, those are the “B: priorities of parenting and obviously we have to do those things, but that becomes the “A” priority of parenting. Well, you don't even have to be a good parent to pull those things off. On top of that, we get a lot of help doing those. But our primary job is to connect to the heart of the child and that's what God does when He parents us.
Dennis: Our assignment as parents is to step back and become a better student of them than they are of us. And, by way, that's all they are doing is studying Mom and Dad.
Darcy: They take careful notes.
Dennis: And sometimes we don't.
Bob: I don't want to stereotype, but it seems to me that oftentimes Mom is more attuned to differences, to the uniquenesses, to all that's going on in a child's heart more than Dad. I mean she has more proximity typically than dad does.
Darcy: Right. She is generally spendng mroe time with that child than Dad does. I don't want to get sexist here, but I think women have an intuition. They can listen with their heart as well as with their ears. So moms do have the opportunity I think to tune in better.
Bob: Do you remember when you kids were babies, did you start to see the uniquenesses of their personalities even emerging before they could speak.
Darcy: Definitely. Before they could speak you pretty much knew what was going to come out of their mouth. Because you knew if this child was going to be happy, or if they are going to be discontent, or analytical, or sassy. Some of them are a little more sassy. So it really does help to see, well, you know God pretty much put these things in them. Now, how am I going to make the best of them? How am I going to nurture the things that are positive and redirect the things that could be negative.
Dennis: Darcy, as you were talking there, I reflected back on how Barbara and I started our marriage. We received premarriage counseling and the couple who took us through some of that counseling gave us a test called the Taylor Johnson Temperamental Analysis Test.
Bob: I remember that. That's the I, J, S. P, something like that.
Dennis: Nope. That' not it.
Bob: Oh, that's Meyers-Briggs, isn't it?
Dennis: It's the DISC. And what it does is, it talks about whether you are a task-oriented person or a relationship-oriented person. Whether you are fast-paced. Whether you are detailed or big-picture. I won't get into all of the details of that. But not long after we started having children, we realized that we needed to better understand our children because that test had really helped Barbara and me understand each other and how to realate to one another.
Well, Barbara, at the time we first were married, was extremely self-disciplined and I was very impulsive. That helped a bunch because she became a little looser around the hinges and I tightened things up. It would be interesting to take that test again today.
What happened was, we began to give those tests as our children got old enough. There was a children's version of that test and it gave us a snapshot, not a perfect snapshot, but a snapshot of what the makeup was of that child. Now I'm going to tell you, it was invaluable. Well, Tim, you've actually taken that test a step further and you've created something that I wish we'd had when we were parents.
Tim: Yes, I work with this brainach in Wisconsin that understands those four quadrants the standard quadrants of personality (they go all the way back to Plato) in the DISC model or these different temperaments. We looked at them and thought Let's create a game that a parent can play with a child and when they are done they understand what this kid loves the most and the kids have a better understanding of how they are hardwired. And what kid doesn't want to play games about them?
And so we created this thing called The Kid's Flag Page. It comes just like a game and has a board there and different parts that you play with a child and when you are done you can create a cool little, we call it a Flag Page. What we did, we took those four quadrants and made them countries: there's Fun Country, Control Country, Peace Country, and Perfect Country. They correspond to the four letters of the DISC and even the Flag men (choleric, sanguine, all this stuff that goes way back). When you are done, you understand what their home country is, their adopted country, and their favorite personalities and motivations.
We have just not had a tool like this to work with kids that is interactive. Usually, you do it on the kid. But what I like about this is most of those personality tests we've had in the past, you really could not do them until the kids are 18, 19, 20 years old.
And so the kid finally does one of these things and the parent looks at it and says I didn't realize you are hardwired this way. All this time I thought you were really annoying. I just thought you were really weird. And it turns out God made them that way.
Bob: You know, some people when they look at this whole issue of personality or personalty theory will look at tests like these, or instruments, games like you are talking about and say, The thing that concerns me is that it will identify my child in a particular bent and then my child's going to excuse sinful patterns in their personality and say, “That's just how I am. That's just how God made me.”
You've heard people kind of excuse away stuff the Bible talks about as wrong saying, “That's my personality. That's who I am.”
Dennis: I want to comment on that Bob because when I took that test when Barbara and I were first married, and it pointed out that I needed to be more self-disciplined, the exact opposite occurred.
The test revealed where I had a weakness in my flesh that I needed to address as a young man starting out my marriage getting married and having a family. I think what parents can do with tests or games like this is use them to reveal the propensity of maybe a fun-loving child who loves fun country to just always be about fun and not be disciplined to do their homework, do their chores, etc.
Darcy: So if you know what those propensitites to weakness are, you can say Okay now, this is where we are getting into an area. You need to come up with a system to deal with your laziness or your lack of discipline.
Dennis: They will be dealing with this for the rest of their lives.
Darcy: And if they don't deal with it, life is not going to be that exciting for them.
Tim: But to respond to Bob's whole thing of pigeonholing a kid and then that kid feeling like he can use that as an excuse. All of our personalities when pushed to an extreme become weaknesses. It doesn't matter who we are. So, any of us could default to that. But what I've done, there is a book that comes with this kit and I go through each country.
For instance you've just talked about Fun Country and I talk about there are pitfalls with Fun Country and guess what the two main ones are: shallowness and sarcasm. We just say it right there in the book. You've got to know that your kids could easily default to these things and we've got to correct them on that.
The whole point of finding out how they are wired is so that we can wretched them back into a balanced view and that's where grace comes in. Because there's nothing in God's grace that gives us a license to go off course and step away from His standards.
Bob: And the reality is all human personalities are affected by sin.
Tim: All of us.
Bob: We've all got sin patterns, flesh patterns, that are tied up. Yes, we are uniquely stamped with a personality that I think God pours into our soul, it shapes somebody's environment. But as you said, you can tell with a little baby before environment has ever worked in some of those personality differences.
The reality is I remember when Amy was a baby, she is our oldest. I used to put her on my knee. She was a year or two year old. She would smile at me and I would say, “You know, you are a sinner, you are just racked with sin.” She would smile back and she would nod at me. She didn't have a clue what I was talking about.
But the point was I wanted to be thinking rightly as a dad. You can put those cute little babies in your arms and say, “They are so cute; they are so innocent.” No, the reality is they are little sinners waiting to express their sin in more mature ways as they get older.
Dennis: They are incredibly selfish and self-absorbed.
Darcy: As we all are.
Dennis: Right. Exactly.
Tim: Any parent that gives me pushback when I say what he just said, that you gave birth to a sinner, they say, “How can you say that.” Simple, have you ever had to teach your kid to lie? Or to sass? Or to be territorial? Or to hit their sister?
Dennis: Or to disobey a rule?
Tim: Yeah. They do this innately. Do you ever have to teach them to say “Please” or “I'm sorry” or “thank you.” Well, yeah, we have to teach them all that. If they are so good, why do we have to teach them all of the right stuff and don't have to teach them any of the bad stuff? They are good right out of the blocks on that.
Dennis: Tim, this is a game you designed. I'm thinking of a family, you know a family can include grade school children, junior high, high school. What age range do you target this for.
Tim: Well, if you want a kid to interact with, we have tested this down to five very accurately. Five years old. We designed it for five to 12 year olds. But here's what is very interesting. Since it's come out, they have teenagers who are watching and they say I want to do it too. And then the teenagers do it, and the next thing you know the parents do it.
In fact, we were just with some friends and we gave one to them and we were spending time with them. We flew back to Phoenix and I just texted in to say, “We are safely here.” And she said, “We've been spending two hours now just talking about where we are in the Flag Page.” So, it's a real game-changer for families.
Dennis: Darcy, you mentioned that you had one of your children, I believe it was Cody, who was a fun nerd.
Dennis: Very intellectual.
Dennis: Explain why it would be important for a parent who has a child who is very bright intellectually to understand where they fit in terms of what country is their personal country and their hardwiring. Why that is important for parents?
Darcy: Well, I think a lot of times we see some of our children's strengths and if they are not ours we say, this kid is not going to fit into the social scheme of things. I've got to bring them up to speed. I have to make them more of whatever. And we start to devalue the things that God has really gifted them in and push them towards something that isn't natural and then they start to think, “Maybe, there is something wrong with me.” Their confidence goes down.
And the other thing is, that it pits a parent against a child. It becomes me against you instead of us together. So many parents come up to us and say, “I have this child and I don't know what to do with him or her. They're driving me crazy.” I'm thinking, Well that child knows you feel that way. That child knows that he is driving you crazy.Obviously there is not a lot of joy at home right now. T here is not a lot of positive discipling going on, nurturing going on and it's all because the parent doesn't understand that that's really how that child is hardwired. So work with them.
Dennis: This is really interesting the assignment that God gives a parents. Because back to Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child according to his bent, that's what it is really saying. That is an assignment for us that can't be answered in the first two or three years of the child's life. You can see certain bents, but who they are really means observing their likes and dislikes over a period of I think 10, 15 years of raising them.
And what a game like this can do, it can make it fun for the child to find out who they are, what they like, what they are good at, and also we haven’t talked about this, but also appreciate brothers and sisters for what they're good at, too. And what family doesn't need a good dose of respect for the differences in their brothers and sisters.
Bob: I think moms and dads need to re-orient their thinking sometimes as well, because it's easy for us to fall into this idea that our children are somehow going to be an extension of us.
Bob: Rather than stopping and saying, “Who did God make this child to be and how do I steward best this treasure that God has entrusted to me to care for and to cultivate and to launch.” Again, according to the bent that God has put in the heart of the child, not necessarily trying to mold them into our own image.
I think what you guys have put together here, this Kids Flag Page game, is a great tool for parents to be able to better understand the uniquenesses, the personality-differences that exist in our kids and once we understand those then we can adjust what we're doing as parents, still with the same major goal in mind that we raise our kids according to the Scriptures, that we point them in the right direction but we can tweak our approach so that it fits each individual child.
I want to encourage our listeners, go on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. There's more information about this Kids Flag Page resource this game that the Kimmels have put together along with Mark Gungor. Again, go to FamilylifeToday.com. There's more information available there. You can order from us as well, or call toll free 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY. Give us a call and we can let you know how you can get one of these Kids Flag Page resources sent out to you.
Now, it has been encouraging this month. We've heard from a lot of our long-time listeners who have never gotten in touch with us before. Folks have gotten in touch this month and said, "We want to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today and make a donation." We've been encouraged by that. Our goal for the month has been to have about 50 people from each of the 50 states. Or, a total of 2500 new donors join us here at FamilyLife and we've been keeping tabs on that and on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can get an update on how many of you we've heard from.
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This month if you're able to help us with a donation of any amount, we'd love to send you a copy of two CDs that feature an extended conversation we had with Tim and Joy Downs. They're the authors of a book called The Seven Conflicts of Marriage where they look at some of the most common causes of marital conflict. The two CD series is yours when you help with a donation of any amount this month.
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Again, we appreciate you listening; we appreciate you getting in touch with us. We're glad to have you as part of the team; we look forward to hearing from you.
And we hope that you can be back with us tomorrow when Dr. Tim Kimmel and his wife, Darcy, are going to be here again. We are going to continue talking about how we can train up our children according to their unique design. I hope that you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Raney, I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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