Instilling Values in Your Kids
About the Guest
How do we keep the culture from swallowing up our kids? On the broadcast today, Dennis Rainey talks with Teen Mania President Ron Luce about the pervading culture that’s luring our kids away from their faith. Hear Ron and his daughter, Charity, talk about some of the issues, like modesty and purity, that every teen must grapple with.
Ron LuceIn 1986 Ron Luce and his wife Katie started Teen Mania Ministries with a dream to raise up young people who would change the world. The ministry has expanded greatly and has become very influential within today’s Christian youth culture. Ron received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Theology from Oral Roberts University and his master’s in Counseling Psychology from the University of Tulsa, along with an honorary doctorate from Jerry Falwell of Liberty University. He is a sought-...more
How do we keep the culture from swallowing up our kids?
Instilling Values in Your Kids
Bob: Last week, major media companies spent tens of millions of dollars with one objective in mind – they wanted to win the heart of your teenager. What did you do to try to win your teenager's heart last week? Here's Ron Luce.
Ron: We've got to raise our families in a way that reinforce our values. The world is hammering them, trying to pull them and steal them away, and they look a lot more glamorous than what our values are, and we better be smart about how we instill our values and what we allow them to watch and not just go, "Oh, it's just another sex scene," "Oh, it's just another little bit of nudity," and now, supposedly, they're supposed to have a wholesome romance and a good marriage? We have to set them up for success.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 10th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. There's one thing you can do, as a parent, that the media companies can't do – that's to unconditionally love your son or daughter. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I had to just kind of shake my head when I was looking through Ron Luce's book, "Re-Create," because I knew by the time you got to the third section of this book, I thought, "Dennis is pounding the table on this part. He is" …
Dennis: I kept my feet on the floor.
Bob: But I knew that …
Dennis: Ron, however, hasn't.
Bob: I knew when Ron got in here …
Dennis: He's going to have preaching on the table …
Bob: I would just need to move aside and let the two of you guys go at it, because this is kind of a soapbox issue for you, isn't it?
Dennis: It really is, because I believe young people today are being under-challenged. They are not being challenged spiritually to be world-changers and to make the difference that they can make. And, Ron Luce, do you agree or not?
Ron: Absolutely, and they're willing to step up if someone would just challenge them.
Dennis: Well, Ron has written more than 20 books. He has his own weekly television show for teenagers. He has three teenagers himself, which makes him an authority, at least, in terms of understanding the needs of teenagers.
You know, one of my big mistakes in ministry, Ron, was I wrote a book, Barbara and I wrote a book about raising teenagers before we were done.
Ron: You had to change your whole philosophy?
Dennis: We had to go back and re-read our book several times. God used that to humble us substantially. So I don't know if you're writing any books about how to raise teenagers, but we are talking about how to create a culture that really is a culture of truth and love and relationships, and we've been talking about how we can do that in our homes, how we can do that in our church, and one of the sections in your book, Ron, that you talk about is how we, as Christians, can begin to retake the world for Jesus Christ.
Now, if we're going to do that, I think we, first of all, need to understand how the world views us. And I found it interesting in your book that you quoted a book that I'd read recently called "Unchristian," which describes what people in the world think of us as followers of Christ.
Ron: Well, they think that we're pretty hateful; that we hate homosexuals; that we hate anybody that's not like us; that we're finger-pointers; that we're too political and, you know, if we're going to have an effect on people, we need to at least understand where they're coming from. It doesn't mean we have to acquiesce and believe what they believe. The fact is that the culture that I'll say we – I'll say "we" as believers, have allowed to sprout up around us is very anti-Christian, it's negative to the Christian message, and it's hammering our kids.
And so here we are, thinking we're doing our job, and we might have a little devotional in our house, we take them to church on Sunday, they go to youth group but, 24/7, there's a culture that's very anti-God that's very cool, very slick, and drawing kids away from God and the things that we think we're instilling in them, we're not at all, because the culture is like a firehose, ramming it down their throats.
Bob: Ron, there are some folks who would look at this whole idea of being kind and understanding and loving and compassionate to those who are in the culture, and they would say, you know, "While we were trying to do that 10 or 20 years ago, the folks who are opposed to the Gospel took over." And laws got change and agendas got changed and …
Dennis: Educational systems got built.
Bob: They would say, "If we try to just be kind and loving, we're going to marginalized and off in the corner. We've got to stand up and fight fire with fire."
Ron: Yeah, and we have been marginalized but not because we stood up, it's because we shut up, and we were intimidated, I think, into the corner that said, "You know, you Christians are to be seen and not heard. Just go to your Christian thing in your little basement and let us run the entertainment world, the education world, the political world," and, listen, our very Constitution was built out of the values that came out of men of God that were following the Lord, you know? And to say that now our biblical values have no place in public life is just crazy.
But there's too many Christians that are churchgoers that they struggle even in their own belief system, like how much are they close to God and their own sin – how can I possibly be vocal? I don't want to be one of those naysayers or one of those people that are pigeonholed is that you're a negative person, and you're hateful just because you speak up, and what we put in the book here is all kinds of stories and instances of ways that you can speak up and kids are speaking up. It's not negative, it's not mean, to say, "You know what? This is not right, and this is not wholesome, and it's not going to help our kids."
And I think it's important for us to try to find ways to stand up that even the logic of a non-believer, you could at least play into that. I like what – and he's not known for being a great theologian or a spiritual man, but Rudy Giuliani stood up for many moral things when he was the mayor of New York City. He was responsible for shutting down thousands of Triple X shops but not because it's morally wrong, but it's because he just decided, "Well, our kids shouldn't be around it." So every Triple X porn shop within 1,000 feet of a school and a church got shut down. It got passed, and thousands of them had to close their doors.
Well, we accomplished the end objective using rational, you know, sense of anybody, even if you're not a believer, you can say, "Well, kids shouldn't be around that kind of stuff." And so there's a lot of arguments I think that we can make that would make sense to people rather than just point our finger and pounding our fists and saying, "It's morally wrong." They don't care. That's just from our point of view, as far as they're concerned.
Dennis: Ron, many times, Barbara and I would look at what's taken place in the culture, and I never lived in the era, back in the days of old when you would live out on the plains of Kansas, and the buffalo would stampede and would just completely clear a path across the plains. But, frankly, I kind of feel like, as a follower of Christ, attempting to stand for truth. At least when we were raising kids, that the current and the culture were stampeding over us in the process of attempting to raise our children.
Where do we begin, as parents, and how do we know, really, which hill we need to charge, and which ones we need to leave alone? Because there are so many hills that need to be taken for Christ in the culture. You could wear yourself out just going uphill and fighting battles.
Dennis: Where do we start?
Ron: Well, I think, first of all, of course, we've talked about start with your own kids, make sure that the culture is not stampeding them, and that you have a very strong culture, and so many things we've not been able to talk about – how to make sure that you're instilling your values, that they've become their values and things we've put in the book.
But, broader – look at the culture in your community, in your town, and …
Dennis: Well, before you leave that subject, though, you had a couple of teenage daughters. The issue of modest dress had to come up at your house.
Dennis: Okay? I want to hear how you handled that, but I don't want to hear from you, I want your daughter to come in the studio, who is listening out there, and I want her …
Bob: You're going to bring Charity in to talk about this?
Dennis: I want to bring Charity in. She's 17 years old, getting ready to go to college.
Bob: She just put gum in her mouth, and now she's got to take it out. You made her waste a piece of gum. Are you going to replace that for her?
Dennis: I – I'll buy you a piece of gum, Charity.
Bob: So on the subject of modesty that Dennis was talking about …
Dennis: Do you remember talking about this with your dad?
Charity: Well, yeah, I think the conversation came up more with my mom, but I remember being a little girl and having – one time I wanted to buy a two-piece swimsuit, and she said, "You know what? I think you're getting too old for that. When you become a young woman, it's time to start respecting your body, and you're getting older." And more, instead of talking just about the issue of modesty, talking about the purpose behind it and how we want to honor ourselves and protect men – protect their eyes from thinking wrong thoughts and like not exposing your body.
Bob: When your mom said that, did you go, "But I want the two-piece, and the other girls I know wear two-pieces," or did you go, "Oh, okay."
Charity: At first, I was, like, "Oh, wait, there's more to life than just being a little kid," you know, that was like one of the first times I started growing up. And so, yeah, all my other friends would wear it and stuff, but then, I don't know, I think the fact that she just cared enough to share that with me meant something to me, and so I was, like, "Oh, wow, I have a piece of wisdom that my friends don't," you know?
Bob: It is a little harder, though, to go shopping and have a commitment to wanting to …
Dennis: Oh, man.
Bob: … be modest, isn't it?
Charity: It is. I don't know, layering has been in for the past few years.
Bob: That helps, doesn't it?
Charity: So I've just been taking advantage of that.
Dennis: Have you ever rebelled?
Charity: Have I ever rebelled?
Dennis: Yeah, about your dress?
Charity: I don't know. Have I ever rebelled?
Dennis: What about it, Ron?
Ron: I don't think so. I think she has been very noble in the way she's carried herself and, you know, when other people are showing far more skin, just like, "I just don't feel comfortable in that," and I think when they were real small, our girls, we would even, like, when you would see a little glimpse of – you know, on a little movie, and somebody's carrying themselves – we would teach them why you wouldn't want to do that, you know, this is the world's idea of love or being attractive and that kind of thing and so, as they grew up, and then Katy's having these kinds of conversations with them that are a little bit more private kind of – you know, about their bodies – that they were kind of set up. Like, we could see the world sees things one way and we, as believers, see life a different way. And so we're just kind of filling more of that in – more of the blanks in for them.
Bob: But do you ever see girls who you think, "Boy, they're not dressed as appropriately as they ought to, but the boys sure like to hang around those girls." Do you know what I'm talking about?
Charity: Yeah, I do, but those aren't the kind of boys I want, you know? Like, I don't want someone who just wants me for my body. I want someone who wants me for who I am, you know, and so that doesn't really – that's not really the kind of guy I want.
Bob: But if you're over in the corner all alone, aren't you wishing some guy would come over and say something to you?
Charity: Well, I'm not over in the corner alone, so that's a good thing.
Dennis: Good answer. Way to handle Bob. I like that. Gimme five.
Charity: Oh, thanks.
Dennis: There you go. What would you say that parents, as you're watching maybe some of your classmates at school, the big mistake they're making in this area with their daughters?
Charity: The mistakes that they make in, like, talking to their daughters about modesty?
Bob: Or just in general. I mean, as you watch what moms and dads are doing as they're raising teenagers. If you had a chance to coach a mom or a dad and say, "Here is what I'd say," what would you tell us?
Charity: Well, I think when kids start to grow up and, like, come home dressed a certain way or listening to a certain sort of music, then parents can get kind of intimidated, but kids – every kid wants a relationship with their parents, every kid wants their parents to be interested in their life and what they're doing. And so just for parents to care enough to share with them about modesty; to share with them about values and, like, "Hey, this is how our family is, this is the kind of people we want to be." I think kids really listen, you know, when it's from their hearts, and it's not really preachy or that they don't stand off altogether.
Dennis: Yeah. You and your dad drove up here from Texas, and on your way up here, you had a father/daughter talk about understanding the opposite sex.
Charity: Yeah. I'm about to go to school in a few weeks, and so we have this list of stuff that we're trying to do. One of them is we're going to run our easy five miles, and then one of them is we have to have man lessons. And so we started those man lessons on the way up here, and I had my notebook out, and he was telling me some different things, how to understand men and guys and the way they think.
Dennis: Yeah. So when you go to college, you're going to understand guys, and you're going to be able to change your world, change your culture.
Charity: I hope so.
Dennis: Because you understand the way guys think.
Charity: Yeah, I think I'm trying – I'm trying.
[Bob and Dennis chuckle]
Ron: Well, it's like a moving target, of course. I think the way guys think now, the younger guys, it's getting worse and worse. You know, some of the things they're always saying, you know, they think a lot about sex, and they think a lot about girls being an object and that kind of thing, but we've got to arm our girls and help them to realize that, you know, it's the very small minority of guys that are being raised with a real passion for purity, to keep themselves pure, and this is one of the reasons why I've written this book is we've got to raise our families in a way that reinforce our values and the world is hammering them, trying to pull them and steal them away, and they look a lot more glamorous than what our values are, and we better be smart about how we instill our values and what we allow them to watch and not just go, "Oh, it's just another rape scene," "Oh, it's just another sex scene," "Oh, it's just another little bit of nudity," and we just – after a while, they've got all of this barrage in their brain that now, supposedly, they're supposed to have a wholesome romance and a good marriage? We have to set them up for success.
Dennis: What I hear you saying, Ron, is in being counter-cultural and pushing back, you are equipping Charity to anticipate the issue she is going to face as she goes away to college, and you're being proactive in doing that by helping her understand, for one, how a man thinks and what's going on in young men today in this culture.
And if we're going to change the culture, I do think it does begin at home with our sons and daughters and helping them live lives that are discerning.
Ron: That's right, and I feel like we need to give parents hope that in the midst of the barrage, some horrible stuff in this culture, we can raise on-fire, godly kids that have the same values you have, because you've creatively instilled them and, really, this whole book is a book of hope, this "Re-Create" book, because we felt like, finally, our girls are now 17 and 18, they're really young adults, they're on their own, and they're showing and they're demonstrating that they are embracing the values that were deposited in them, not because we shoved it down their throat but because we tried to work through it and say, "Watch the world."
We talk about it and talk about it and talk about it all through their teenage lives. We try to keep a strong relationship, and so the book is full of all kinds of stories. I was so moved by my older daughter. The first week at college, when she went away last year, she said it was like the week of tattoos. All the girls ran – she goes to a Christian school – to get tattoos, she goes, "but I didn't. Even though I really wanted one, I knew it wouldn't respect you, I knew you wouldn't want me to get one. We talked about that before, and so I decided not to go and get one."
And I thought, "There is an instant there where she's chosen to refrain even though she wanted it, and I was so proud of her.
Bob: Charity, tattoo week is coming up for you pretty soon, you know that, don't you?
Charity: I don't know, guys.
Bob: What do you think?
Charity: I don't know, we'll see. Maybe I could get a tattoo of you guys, like, your faces.
Dennis: Oh, that would really be endearing. That would really be endearing to your husband someday.
I think she's pretty good a verbally sparring is what I think. She was over here grinning. She knew the question was coming to her. But I'm not letting you off the hook. So when tattoo week shows up, did you already decide what you're going to do? Or are you going to wait and decide at the time?
Charity: Well, I don't know. Growing up, I've had a lot of ideas for tattoos, but I get tired of a hairdo after, like, two months, and so I'm, like, you know, if I get a tattoo then …
Bob: If you get tired of it, it costs a lot of money and a lot of pain to get rid of it.
Charity: Yeah, yup, so, yeah, no tattoos for me, I think.
Bob: I like that – no tattoo equals yahoo, yeah.
Dennis: Speaking of yahoo, you had a chance on an occasion when you were about to go on a date with Charity, and it was a chance to meet with a Christian leader and made a choice that later on God confirmed. Do you want to share that story, and then I want to hear Charity's side of it and whether she ever really understood what was taking place there.
Ron: Well, we were actually in New York City, and by a matter of coincidence, God-ordained opportunity, we were invited to be on the Sean Hannity radio program, and he invited Charity to be on with us, and we were talking about cultural issues and, afterwards, Sean said, "Well, why don't you come to the TV studio. We've got Franklin Graham and another well-known Christian leader is going to be there, and to come over to the TV studio and be with us."
Well, Charity and I had already had tickets to a show to go to that night, kind of a little Christmas show, it was Christmas season, and so I said to Sean, "Well, we already have an appointment tonight," and all of this stuff is swirling in my mind, like it would anybody. "Well, I met those guys before, but I – fellowship, so on and so forth, opportunity for TV," and, but, when you make a commitment to your kids, you just make a commitment to your kids, and you just keep your word, and if you break it a little, then they'll expect you to always break it.
And so we left there and walked out, and I don't know that Charity fully understood the invitation that we had to go that night, but we went, and we went to the show, and it was an okay show, but it was better that we had just spent time together. And I remember thinking, I’m walking down the street with her on the way to the show thinking, "Oh, but we could have. Oh, but we could have," and I stopped, I go "Wait a minute. My life is not about the next big break or who is the next person you could meet." I'm always going to have my children with me, and she's always going to remember, did you cancel that date, that thing that we had to go to, and who knows whether this would have ever been a great opportunity to meet somebody, but you're always going to know that your kid is going to remember something. What memory are you placing in the back of their mind?
Dennis: So what did you think about the evening, Charity?
Charity: Well, I didn't even know about all this until we were writing this book, because I helped him edit it a little bit, because I am a writer. So I didn't even realize the weight of that decision – am I going to go hang out with Charity or am I going to be on this interview? And so I was just having a good time, it was, like, "Yay, we're having a date in New York City," and just enjoying it, you know, taking pictures, sending them to all my friends and stuff.
But then when I read it, I was, like, "Wow," and I just think – I think all of us kids, especially me and my older sister, like, as we get older, realizing, like, how our parents really have chosen us over the ministry, over their career, and I've seen a lot of my friends or a lot of people who have kids in the ministry who, bottom line, their parents really just haven't chosen them, so they don't have a relationship or they are hurt, and their parents are in ministry ministering to other people and other people's kids, but then their own kids don't even know who they are.
And so we just – I don't know, we've just been blessed to have a family that we know each other, and we spend time together, and, yeah.
Dennis: That's a cool story. I think what you're illustrating there for all of us, Ron, is that if we're going to make an impact on the next generation, it has to be heart-to-heart.
Ron: That's right.
Dennis: It can't be head-to-head lecturing, you know, sit down and listen to me teach one more time. It has to be built around a relationship where you are connecting your heart and making some statements of priority and staying connected as long as God gives you breath. And I appreciate you, your ministry, and what you're doing through Teen Mania for young people all around the country, and I hope a lot of youth pastors, parents, and student leaders will pick up this book, "Re-Create," and I hope a ton of them, Bob, are going to join us at Soar, which is a youth workers, senior pastor, worship leader, and student leaders conference down in Garden Valley, Texas.
Bob: Garden Valley – that's right outside of Nowhere, isn't it?
Ron: Right outside of Tyler. It's the beautiful part of Texas, and we want you to come this November. It's not hot, it's going to be beautiful on our campus, and it will be a great time strategizing how to really rescue the kids in your region.
Dennis: And I'm going to be there, and Jack Hayford, Jack Graham, who else …
Charity: I'm going to be there.
Dennis: You're going to be there?
Charity: Yeah, so – now don't you want to come?
Dennis: Maybe we can go out and have some paint gun wars or something out there.
Bob: She'll be the one over in the corner by herself. No, I'm just kidding.
Charity: You guys can aim for the tattoo of your faces.
Dennis: There we go.
Bob: We have a link on our website at FamilyLife.com that has more information about the upcoming Soar event, and after paintball, I think there will be some folks who will be sore. You can go to FamilyLife.com. If you click on the right side of the screen where it says, "Today's Broadcast," there's a button that says "Learn More." You click there, and that will take you to an area of the site where you'll not only find information about the Soar conference, but you'll also get information about Ron's book, "Re-Create, Building a Culture in Your Home Stronger than the Culture Destroying Your Children."
We have the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and you can get more information about how you can obtain a copy of this resource when you go online at FamilyLife.com and click on the right side of the screen where it says "Today's Broadcast." Or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. When you get in touch with us, someone on our team will let you know how you can get a copy of Ron's book sent to you, and they'll let you know what information we have about the Soar conference and pass that along to you as well.
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Now, tomorrow we want to talk about how changes in technology have influenced how we study our Bibles. We'll talk about that tomorrow. 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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