Q & A With Barbara Rainey
About the Guest
On today's broadcast, popular author and speaker, Barbara Rainey, answers your most perplexing questions about parenting.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
VariousFamilyLife Today features marriage and family experts who have devoted their lives bringing biblical principles to people in ways that positively change their lives. With each program, we are continually reminded that people throughout the world are receptive to the messages of love and hope offered by our radio guests.
On today’s broadcast, popular author and speaker, Barbara Rainey, answers your most perplexing questions about parenting.
Q & A With Barbara Rainey
Barbara: I think that you have every responsibility to communicate what you would like to see, but do it in a way that it’s how can we work this out in our family, what would you like for me to do, how can I help, without you taking over, because communicating is so much of everything in a marriage. It’s understanding where you’re coming from, so he knows your needs and understands what your desire is, and what your heart is, but in a way that is nurturing to him so that he can be the leader.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 3. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to do some eavesdropping today, listening to some conversation that took place not long ago between Barbara Rainey and a group of young wives and moms. Stay tuned.
Bob: Welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.
Dennis: Bob, you know what, I’ve been reading some of the mail from our listeners, and they want you and me out of here.
Bob: What do you mean?
Dennis: They want us off the broadcast.
Bob: Well, but this is…
Dennis: As in take the pink slip, and leave, Cleave!
Bob: This is what I do – this is my job, are you telling me I’m fired?
Dennis: No, we’re both fired! (laughing) Our listeners want to hear from Barbara, my wife. I mean they have written; they appreciate the fact that we are now empty nesters, and that we are including her in on an increasing number of broadcasts here on FamilyLife Today, so frankly some have been so bold to say “Have you guys thought about a second job?” Well, I haven’t, but you know she is good, I have to admit, so today you know what, Bob and I are out of here.
Bob: It’s all up to Barbara.
Dennis: We are just going to pass the microphone to her. She’s actually not here in the studio. Actually, what we want to share with you is a question and answer session that she had with a group of young mom’s in Nashville, Tenn. at Fellowship Bible Church in Franklin. They invited Barbara to come over and spend some time with the young mom’s over there, and fortunately someone pushed the record button on a tape recorder, so you and I are out of here Bob.
Bob: She was doing her Titus 2 best, that day, and so we will turn it over to her, here is Barbara with some young mom’s.
Dennis: I’m leaving – just keep the microphone.Tell me when it’s over!
Bob: Okay (laughter)
Moderator: Okay, our first question--we are going to jump in, and our first question is with being a mom, and I know you have invested so much in your family, and family time. One of the moms asked, how can we teach biblical principles throughout the day to preschoolers, and what does spiritual training really look like?
Barbara: Well, I think spiritual training is really parenting. I was thinking about some of the things that we teach our children through out the day, and the spiritual principles that we are teaching. For instance we teach our children to obey – well that is Ephesians 6:1 where it says children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right, so when you are teaching your child to obey you and to do what you say, to come when you call, all of those things you are teaching a biblical principle. I think sometimes we forget that.
Another one is the whole idea of giving thanks when we pray over our meals, we are teaching our children to be thankful. When we teach them to say please and thank you which was always a big deal for me with my kids, we are teaching them to be thankful, and to have the right attitude, and that is a Christian attitude, that’s a biblical perspective. I think sometimes we just think it’s a kindness. Well, where does kindness come from? It comes from God! We wouldn’t be kind if we didn’t know God, and I think we forget that, that we are teaching biblical principles on a daily basis in some of the small things that we do.
Another one I mentioned, too, is the whole issue of forgiveness. Ephesians 4 tells us to be kind to one another, tender hearted, and forgiving. Well children aren’t naturally kind, they are not naturally tender hearted, they are tender. Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m saying they are not, but they have both.
We have to train that tender side, and reward the tender side, and teach them when they are not tender hearted. When they are mean, and when they take toys, and when they hit and bite, and those kinds of things we have to teach, we have to discipline, and we have to teach the forgiveness side. So in all of these little daily things, and there are so many daily things about parenting.
I remember with my kids, it felt like some days that is all I did. All day long was correct, and spank, and we sat on the lap, and cried and said I forgive you, and we prayed and we got up and we went about our business, and an hour later I was just doing it again.
An hour later it just felt like that’s all I did all day long. You do feel that way because it’s such a repetitive thing. Child training is so repetitive, but in the process of doing those things, you are teaching your children to be kind, and to be tender hearted to their siblings, and to forgive.
That’s the basis for what you are doing, so I think there is a lot of biblical training that goes on. Sometimes we don’t quote the verse to our child while we are doing it, and we might not be thinking, we’re just thinking this is right, and this is not right. So I think with toddlers, and preschoolers, you could be doing a lot of biblical training but you are not necessarily memorizing Bible verses.
Moderator: This next one I think is something that most of us struggle with. How do we balance making time to play with our kids with all the other things that need to be done?
Anybody can relate to that, cleaning, laundry, and all the things to catch up on. What’s the answer?
Barbara: There isn’t an answer!
Here’s how I think about balance. I think about it in all areas of my life. I think about a pendulum. I don’t know why I think about a pendulum, but you know something that’s hanging, and I think about it swinging. How often is it really in dead center? It’s usually here, and I’m out of balance, and I go okay, I’m out of balance here, I’ve got to go this way, so I go this way, and I go okay, I’m out of balance this way. I need to go this way. So, I go back this way.
Balance is something that if it’s perfect dead center. Well, are we going to ever be perfect? No! So, you kind of need to let yourself off the hook on that, and you need to realize that it’s the balance of your overall life. It’s the sum total of what you’ve done with your children.
It’s not necessarily this minute. Or, am I balanced this minute, because you’re probably not going to be. Am I balanced today, maybe not? I mean your house may be a mess all day for a week, and by the end of the week you decide I can’t stand it anymore I’m going to clean it, and you clean all day long. You know, that kind of a thing – I mean you just can’t, you can’t maintain a balance in everything, every day. It’s impossible! So, I want to say that in the beginning to let yourself off the hook because you can’t, and it’s okay that you can’t. I think (laugh) I really do!
So, the other thing that I would say is that in finding that balance, there is two things. You need to decide. One: you kind of need to know yourself. Are you a task person, or are you a relational person? I think we all tend to sort of be one or the other. I tend to be more task driven than I am relationship driven, so I always had, that was my struggle in balance. I was so frustrated because I couldn’t get my tasks done, because I kept having to stop what I was doing to spank somebody,
or to clean up spilled milk, or to get the laundry in the thing, or somebody, you know, had a dirty diaper. I mean I just couldn’t stay focused, and that was a real frustration for me. Then there are people who are more relational oriented, and they won’t get any of the tasks done, because they’re having so much fun playing. So, I think you need to sort of know yourself, and know which direction you need to lean.
Moderator: What battles are worth fighting?
Which are not? Like, you know, we face battles every day whether they want to put their coat on, what food they’re going to eat, are they going to eat any vegetables, any peas, you know, any fruit, you know sibling rivalry. I mean, what is it that really we need to say this is the battle worth fighting?
Barbara: That’s a tall order of a question!
Moderator: Do you have a couple battles that we’re fighting?
Barbara: This is a super spiritual answer, so you can kind of take it for what it’s worth.
The first thing that I thought of is really the things we need to fight for, the things that God values. I know that’s not in getting into any particulars. We can go there, but I was thinking about one of the two things that are going to last for eternity: God’s word, and people.
Sometimes, I think I’ve gotten caught up in the real picky things like eating vegetables, and some of that kind of stuff when it really didn’t matter. I would forget that it was the relationship with my child that really mattered, and that was more important than whether or not he did exactly or she did exactly what I thought they should do.
A lot of it is just our personal value system. My kids laugh at me now, I went through some stages, speaking of eating vegetables, of the healthy eating kind of thing. I started out real motivated, and then I’d kind of slide. Then I kind of got on this kick again when I discovered that some of my kids had allergies, and I mean we were eating healthy food, I was baking bread, it was all whole wheat, we were you know, making yogurt.
I was doing all this kind of stuff, because I was going to make sure my kids were healthy, and we did it all right. It just got to be too much! My kids laugh at me now, and they go I can’t believe you’re feeding us some of this.
(laughter) Fed us, you know!
It was for a while, it was kind of a season that I went through and my kids just sort of had to endure some of these seasons that I went through as a mom.
It’s just kind of part of it. Looking back on it, it’s easier for me to see now how some of those things that I thought were important really weren’t that important. Your children obeying, that’s worth fighting for. Respecting their dad, and respecting you, that’s worth fighting for. Being kind; so those biblical values, those things are worth fighting for.
Moderator: One of the moms asked, what is the best way to transition from being a mommy to the wife that my husband needs, and that I would love to be?
Barbara: I think this is probably one of the most important questions that we’re going to talk about today. The first thing that I think is essential: you have to decide, is your husband going to be number one, or are your kids going to be number one?
If your husband is really into being the priority, and he really should be the priority over your children, you’ve got to first make that decision, and then go from there. Secondly, what am I going to do about it?
Okay if he is number one, how am I going to live that out in my family? How is he going to know that he’s more important than the children? If you figure it out, even if you are working part-time, or full-time, your child still is going to get probably more actual time with you measured in counted minutes and hours. What can you do to communicate to your husband that he is still number one in your life? That’s what you’ve got to figure out!
If you are not really giving attention to your husband, you are not making him a priority when you end up with teenagers or the empty nest you are really going to be strangers. So, I want to encourage you to work hard on your marriage, and meet your husbands needs. Make him feel like a priority when he comes home at night. Don’t just go, oh yes, here’s somebody to help me get my things done.
We do that, and I did that! He’s not your servant! He’s not your slave; he’s not your baby sitter,
He’s your husband! One of the things that I did, as I tried, even when my kids were older, as I tried to save energy somehow, and a lot of times it meant taking naps in the afternoons, instead of getting my things done.
I’m a task person. It might mean for me, and it did many times, that I let my projects go, and during the afternoon when I might get something done that I wanted to get done, I took a nap, or just rested. Maybe not sleep, but rested, and did something so that I could save energy for my husband. That was a hard decision, because it was denying myself those precious hours that I had that I could spend sometime doing what I wanted to do.
Another thing is we made getting away together a priority. Going out in the evenings, or getting away for weekends. I would highly recommend that you get away for a couple of weekends a year if you can, even if you swap kids with another couple, so that you can get time away for a weekend. It was always easier for me to focus on my husband when my kids weren’t around, because they just want Mom. So that was another practical thing we did to try to keep that relationship healthy, and alive, and growing.
Moderator: We would love to know, what are some of your family traditions that you started, and how old were your kids when you started them?
Barbara: One of the things that I think we started early on, that some of you I know do, with your children, and that is just bedtime prayers every night with our kids. That is something we started when our kids were little tiny, and we don’t tend to think of that as a tradition because I think we do tend to think along holiday lines.
That’s a tradition in your family that your children count on, and it becomes a comfort, and a security for them to know that these things are going to happen repetitively in their lives. So, doing prayers, I remember when our oldest one was about four or five months old, I remember getting angry at her when she was tiny. Just being so shocked that I would get angry at this tiny, helpless newborn. I remember thinking when I experienced that, I also needed to deal with it, and I looked at her, and I thought she doesn’t understand what I feel, and I can’t really ask her to forgive me. Then, I thought, yes I can. Even though she can’t respond.
So I thought, I need to begin the practice and the tradition of asking my child to forgive me when I make a mistake, even though she can’t respond to me. That’s another tradition that we started early on with our kids before they even could understand it.
Apologizing when we did things wrong, so that they would see that as an example, and we could begin to teach them. That whole process of dealing with wrongs, and learning to forgive and to ask for forgiveness!
One thing that we did that was holiday related – I remember thinking when my kids were little that I didn’t want my children to grow up thinking about Christmas in a real selfish way. I didn’t want them thinking for months ahead of time like I had done, and my brothers had done. I remember when I was little, we’d sit with the catalog and we’d flip through pages and mark everything we wanted, and it was all about me. It was all about what I wanted, and what I was going to get, and it was such a self –focus. I didn’t want my kids to grow up that way.
So, one of the things that we decided to do is that we wanted our kids to focus on giving, rather than receiving. We have this little tradition. We still give gifts for each other. We are now into the drawing names stage. Back when our kids were little, even when they had fifty cents, we helped them think about what they were going to give to each other.
Then, on Christmas morning, what we do, is everybody gets the presents that they purchased, that they are going to give, and so my kids are sitting there, and they have five, or six, or seven presents sitting around them. Then we take turns giving and so I would give my present that I got to Stephanie, and then it’s her turn to give. So, the whole emphasis is on giving, and not receiving.
It’s really been fun to watch my kids. They are so excited about giving, and they can’t wait to give those presents. It’s not that they can’t wait to see what they are going to get. It really has sort of worked. I mean they are still excited when they are little about what they get – I mean they still were kids, and they still loved that part, but it’s just a shift in thinking that I think we can begin to do as Mom’s. So, that’s one of the things that we did when they were younger.
Moderator: How young do you think they can start doing that?
Barbara: Probably three, or four, or five, because you can start helping them. I mean, taking them to the dollar store, and saying what do you want to give Daddy this year, and it was fun.
One of the things we’ve done is we’ve made a big deal of Thanksgiving in our house. Every year, we write down the five things that we’re thankful for. I started doing that when Laura our youngest was about two, and of course she couldn’t write. I’ve got this piece of paper – it’s just a lined notebook paper, eight and a half by eleven notebook paper, with three holes punched in it, and I remember asking her, what are you thankful for this year for Thanksgiving?
She said, I’m thankful for my blankie, and my Mimi, and I can’t remember what else, so I wrote that down, and then she scribbled all over it, and I still have that. So, even though she couldn’t write, and she was only two years old, we just started that tradition.
So every year at Thanksgiving one of the things that we do is everyone writes down five things that they are grateful to God for that year. You can start that with little, bitty kids. They may say I’m thankful for my toys, but it’s a beginning. As they get older, we’ve had some wonderful times when our kids would share how grateful they were for a sibling for something, and as a parent you go Oh, Hallelujah, they like each other!
You see all the sibling rivalry, and you see all that stuff, and then you’ve got this moment where they have some clarity.
Barbara: And, they’re thinking and they say I’m grateful for my brother. Especially my boys, when they said they were thankful for each other, I went oh, maybe they will not kill each other!
You have those islands of hope. Then I saved all those, so its really been a treasure to have those cards that my kids have written on every year and see their handwriting change, and see the maturity as they go from being grateful for their toys to being grateful for their brother, to being grateful for God’s word. I mean it has just been wonderful to see that progression. So, that is just kind of a smattering.
There’s a new book out. I gave it to all my kids for Christmas, and it’s on traditions. It’s by Noel Piper – I don’t know if you’ve heard of it or not, it’s called Treasuring God in our Traditions. It might be something you want to get.
She talks about everything from nightly prayers, and all those kinds of just little rituals. Reading books: I did a lot of reading to my kids – that kind of thing that we don’t tend to think of as traditions, to holiday kinds of traditions and how you communicate the truth in scripture to your children. So, I’d recommend that.
Moderator: Our family started doing that after hearing about your tradition, and it has been such a special thing just in the last year. We started last Thanksgiving, and
Barbara: Oh, good!
Moderator: To start a book and I thought to see the progression like you said of what they’ve done. I also wanted you to tell them about the book that you’ve written about Thanksgiving, because someone gave it to us, and I’ve spent some time reading through it this Thanksgiving. It’s something I want to be part of reading to our kids. Could you tell them about the book you wrote specifically for Thanksgiving?
Barbara: Okay, I could do that. I wrote a book for Thanksgiving, and it’s a read aloud book. It’s a book that I hope families will read. It’s very pretty, it has beautiful pictures, and it looks like a coffee table book. I’m hoping it will be a book that is used, not just set out for display.
It’s the story of the Pilgrim’s, and how our country was founded, and how these people endured incredible hardship as families that come to America. It’s the real story of the Christian heritage that we are all enjoying today.
I knew my kids weren’t getting it in school, they just weren’t getting it anywhere, and I wanted them to know and understand what they’ve been given. When you understand, what you’ve been given, and the sacrifice that it cost other people, it’s so much easier to be grateful.
So, we read that story every year at Thanksgiving. We read about them riding on the Mayflower and the children. When you see the replica, and Plymouth, it’s just astounding that those people survived. Anyway, and once my kids hear that over and over again, they go gosh I do have things to be thankful for. So, the goal is for families to read this every year, just like we read the Christmas story every year, to read the Thanksgiving story every year, and remind our children of our heritage, and what it means to really be grateful.
Bob: We’ve been listening together to Barbara Rainey
Dennis: Now I’ll put the headphones on.
Bob: I actually stayed here so I could listen to what your wife had to say while you went and did some other work. Were you making phone calls trying to find another job?
Dennis: No, I was listening. I was around the corner listening.
Bob: You were?
Dennis: Yes! It pays to listen to your wife!
Bob: It does pay to listen to your wife. She was giving good advice
Dennis: Great advice!
Bob: To the Moms about marriage, and about family. Again this was recorded in a local church setting in Franklin, Tenn. at Fellowship Bible Church there. You could tell, these Moms were paying attention they were listening. I think younger Moms really want to hear from a woman who is a little farther down the path than them.
Dennis: I think there’s two points of application besides what Barbara said here. Number one – if you are a Mom whose journey in raising children is about over, you need to start thinking about investing downward in the next generation of Moms and giving them courage, and cheering them on.
Secondly if you’re one of those young Moms and you don’t find someone like a Barbara Rainey that could come alongside you. Begin to pray and look around your local church, or a Bible study you might be in and see if you can’t find someone that you could set up for a question and answer like they did with Barbara, and just pick her brain a bit. Find out how you juggle all these demands of life, and keep priorities and values, and proper tension with one another.
Bob: In fact what some Moms may want to do is get a hold of a book that you and Barbara wrote together called Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, and if they can’t have you and Barbara come and speak at the church, they can spend time with the two of you looking through this book and understanding what the foundational basics of having a spiritually strong family are.
Of course, you don’t have to study through that in a group setting, you can do that on your own. We have copies of the book Growing a Spiritually Strong Family by Dennis and Barbara Rainey in our FamilyLife Today resource center, you can go on-line at FamilyLifeToday.com and the information about the book is available there. Again the website is FamilyLifeToday.com and because this is a holiday weekend, we don’t have anybody manning the phones today, but normally you can get in touch with us via telephone at 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, an then the word TODAY. That’s 1-800-FLTODAY so, if you want to wait until after the weekend to call us, or if you have access to the internet, just go on-line at FamilyLifeToday.com
As always, we want to say a special word of thanks to those of you who don’t just listen to FamilyLife Today but those of you who help support this ministry. We appreciate very much your financial support, your contributions are what keep this program on this local station each day, and we’re glad to be partnered with you in that endeavor.
This month if you are able to help with a donation of any amount to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today we’d like to send you as a thank you gift a CD that features a conversation Dennis and I had not long ago with author and speaker Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
She is the host of the daily radio program Revive Our Hearts, and we were talking with her about the subject of forgiveness. She’s written a book called Choosing Forgiveness. We’d love to make the CD of that conversation available when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month with a donation of any amount.
You can make your donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com and when you do that, type the word “forgive” in the key code box on the donation form so that we will know to send you a copy of this CD, or call us after the weekend at 1-800-FLTODAY, and you can make your donation by phone and just mention that you’d like to receive a copy of this CD. Again, we want to say thanks in advance for your financial support and we do appreciate you very much.
Well, I hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to spend some time together this weekend, and of course to worship together.
I hope you can join us back on Monday. We are going to talk to the author of a book that Barbara Rainey has been recommending to a lot of people in the last year. Jerry Sittser has written a book called A Grace Disguised about how the soul grows through suffering and loss, and I hope you can join us for our conversation with him.
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 will see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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