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Dave & Ann Wilson: Learning How to Parent

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 12, 2022 2:03 am

Dave & Ann Wilson: Learning How to Parent

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 12, 2022 2:03 am

Learning how to parent can feel part adventure, part battle, part dumpster fire. Dave & Ann Wilson have your back with solid advice & practical application.

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We're going to get started here in a minute, but before we do, we wanted to bring you, our listeners, in to something we feel like is really important. Oh, this is critically important, and I don't know if our listeners even understand this, but we are a listener financially supported ministry that generous listeners and donors like you give one-time gifts or even monthly to make this possible.

It doesn't happen without donors like yourself. And here's the exciting thing is right now we have a spring match, which means anything you give monthly will be doubled. And so we're looking for family life partners. Those are our monthly partners who say, I want to be a part of helping change marriages, families all over the world, and I want to jump in. And when you jump in at any amount, it's going to be doubled for 12 months.

Which is remarkable. Yeah, that's amazing to think that I could write a check, make a donation, and literally change somebody's life. So go to You can sign up right there, jump in, become one of our partners. There's some pretty cool benefits that we'll share with you later that you get, but I just want to say you can make a difference by just donating today.

Go to and make your donation right there. It could change a family's legacy. I think there's a fierce battle going on in our country. Oh, I don't think anybody disagrees with that. You're talking about COVID? Yeah. What do you think I'm talking about? I think most people when they hear that would think, you know, the pandemic that we've been walking through for over a year or the protests and things going on in the streets.

Or politically, our differences. No, I was actually thinking- I don't think that's what you're talking about. No. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. I was thinking that there's a fierce battle going on over the hearts and souls of our sons and our daughters. Which is not a new battle.

No, it's a battle that's been raging since the beginning of time. And yet I felt when we got married and started having kids, I felt ill-equipped to engage in the battle because I wasn't sure what we were trying to do. You know, I just got married thinking, yeah, we're going to be happy and we're going to raise happy kids and successful. And man, there's so much more to it than that, isn't there? Yeah, I don't think we had a clue when we got married.

Although, I do remember sitting at the weekend to remember downtown Chicago in a ballroom. And it was the first time I ever heard that concept that your marriage is not taking place on a romantic balcony, but at the center of a spiritual war. And man, oh man, that very concept I'd never thought of. I had never thought of that either. And then take that into parenting.

Right. How do you think that relays to us as parents? Does that put fear in you, thinking that there's also a battle raging for the hearts of our sons? No, I get excited.

What? There's something about me as a man that says I want to be in a battle. I want to fight. I don't.

I want to hide in the bunker. I do too, but I want to defend and I want to send warriors into that battle because it's epic. It's about eternity. And again, one of the things we learned earlier in our marriage is it's not about us. We get the opportunity to multiply a godly legacy. And that's exciting to think, you know, I was sort of handed a godless legacy. And we get to change that.

The Wilson name can be about warriors going into the battle. I want that for parents. I love what you said.

Like, you're excited. And I think I could be driven, especially with teenagers, with so much fear of how the culture will affect our kids. And yet I look at what you just said and I think, oh, no, that's what I want. I want to have that idea like, oh, we're raising warriors or just men and women that will impact our culture positively for the Kingdom of Christ. And we sure didn't do that perfectly, but we tried and actually wrote a book with that was the whole purpose.

It's called No Perfect Parents. But it really was we hope to inspire parents to a higher vision, a grander vision of not just trying to raise happy, well-adjusted, popular kids, nothing wrong with any of that, but warriors to send to a spiritual battle that's real. And so it was sort of fun to go back to our church that I pastored for 30 years and speak on the book, but really to inspire the parents and the families in our church to a higher calling that what are you trying to raise and how do you raise warriors? So this is a message we gave. And hopefully you will be inspired to do what God's called you to do as a parent and that's send a warrior or warriors into a real battle. Here's what we're going to try to do today.

We're just going to walk you through an overview. Some of you are parents. Some of you were parents, meaning your kids have grown and they're gone, but they're coming back. And some of you may have got pregnant last night. You don't know. And maybe you're going to be a parent.

You're going to find out this week. You're like, yeah, I remember the Wilsons. They're a little wild. So, you know, we became parents 35 years ago. Right. And we were not prepared for the parenting journey.

It's so funny. I'm looking at some of you have kids. Some of you don't. You have all different circumstances in the room. But before we had kids, I thought, I'm going to make sure I'm really good at this. So you know how you try to prepare yourself as much as you can before you have kids. And so I'm pregnant.

We're living in California. And I heard of a Bible study for just moms down the street that were young moms. And so I'm like, I'm going to go to that. So I got all dressed up wanting to impress them. And I go into the door and I thought, what is happening? It was like World War Two was going off in this room.

Kids are screaming. Moms are talking really loud. It smells like poop in the room. I look at this one mom. She's got spit up like running down her shoulder.

And a cheerio is in this ponytail in the back of her head. And I'm like, what is going on? And I really thought, this is the prideful part that you can have before you have kids. I thought, come on, women.

Like, get it together. This is disgraceful. You know, like, how many of you have said this? I will never be like that.

Show me your hands. Then you thought, I will never. Yes. Yeah. How many of you said this when you see teenagers and your kids are younger? You're like, my teenager will never be like their. Oh. So anyway.

Yeah, they will. What happened was I realized, like, I became every one of those moms in the room. And yet I really didn't care because when you're in it, you're just in it.

You don't even realize the capacity you have to love someone that much. And then you also realize how you feel so frustrated and angry. And you think, I don't even know what I'm doing. And we can remember back. You're not prepared. I mean, next thing you know, you're a parent. Like, yesterday you weren't. Today you are.

And you're supposed to know how to do this. I mean, I don't know if we put it in the book or not. But I remember when we had our firstborn, CJ. I was walking through the hospital behind Ann, she was with one of the hospital doctors or a nurse or something. And I looked down and there's something hanging off her heel. And as I get closer, I realized it's her underwear.

She's walking around the hospital with her underwear flopping around on the floor. How many parents can relate to that? It's like your life just. Well, I don't think that really has happened to anybody but me.

That's kind of weird, actually. In the hospital. But I do remember bringing our first baby home, CJ. And I remember standing above him in the crib, literally looking at him as he's sleeping for those three minutes that he actually slept. And thinking, how do I be a dad? Didn't have a dad. Grew up at home with no father.

I didn't have any idea. And I'm like, where's the parenting manual for this? And the truth is, there actually is one.

It's a pretty good one. It's called the Bible. Now, I grew up not really reading the Bible. I was dragged to church by my mom and didn't start reading the Bible until I became a follower of Christ my junior year in college. And I had no idea that the Bible was really relevant to practical issues in our life, like marriage and family and parenting.

And you pick it up and you start reading it. And by the way, I'm not saying that the families in the Bible are the kind of families you want to copy. They're the most dysfunctional families you'll ever read about in any book.

I'm not kidding. Just don't copy those families. But the truths about family and parenting are literally life changing. Here's a passage that we sort of base our book on. It's Psalm 127 where the psalmist is writing just a perspective about children. He says this, Behold, children are a gift of the Lord. By the way, for some of us parents, we need to be reminded, the person sitting beside you right now, she's a gift. He's a gift. No matter how your child was conceived, whether they're planned or not, that child is a gift.

Yeah. It says, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Now, that passage there, like arrows, even highlighted that. Arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are children. I mean, what do you do with a bow and an arrow?

You shoot it at a target, whether it's an animal or a bullseye, whatever. It's the same thing with children. It's like you need to step back and think, what are we launching these children toward? And so one of the things we try to do in our book is try to, the subtitle is, The One Secret That Will Change Your Parenting. Our marriage book was The One Secret That Will Change Your Marriage, and it was really, as you might remember, we almost lost our marriage at year 10 until we realized you've got to go vertical.

That's why it's called Vertical Marriage. The secret in parenting is the same thing. The vertical aspect, we weren't going to call it vertical parenting, but our publisher said, nope, you guys write about all your flaws, and it's sort of like mistake after mistake, so we're going to call it No Perfect Parents. And our kids wrote in it, so they get to tell you what worked and what didn't work.

But we tried to say, okay, what's the secret? The secret, besides building your house on the rock of Jesus Christ, is knowing what you're launching your children toward. Here's a question most parents never ask. And if you're a young parent or about to become a parent, man oh man, you need to ask this question right now and write it down.

I'm not kidding. Or take notes or take a picture of it, but it's basically this. What do we want our child to be as an adult when they're an adult? What is it that we're shooting at? What is the arrow being launched toward? We call it a bullseye.

The cover of the book has a bunch of arrows missing the bullseye. Well, and here's the truth. You've heard that old adage, if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it. And I think what happens is, parents, you get in the midst of the demands of life, and you're just making it through a day. And yet if you don't have a plan, what happens is, the truth, our children are being discipled, whether we know it or not. And if we don't have a plan of what we're doing— Disciples means mentored.

Mentored. And if we don't have a plan, our culture is mentoring our kids. And so you can love that or not like it, but the truth is, they're being swayed, they're being poured into by our culture. And so for us as parents, this should put this passion in your heart, like, oh no, I want my kids to experience all that God has for them. I want them to become who God created them to be. Because God has a plan for our kids, just as He has for us, and I want our kids to discover who they are and what God has. And I think it's really easy to not even realize that as parents, we're being sort of mentored by the culture as well. Because if you walked up to most parents and said, okay, you've got a three-year-old, or if you've got an 18-year-old or 16-year-old, what is it you're hoping they'll become as men or women? Most parents have never answered that question, like, well, I hope they're happy. I hope they're successful. Sometimes you hear, I hope they're popular. And then when you step back and go, okay, what do those words mean?

Do we really want them? What's success? What's happy?

What's positive? So I think the Bible has a better mission, a better bullseye. So we took that as sort of a parenting manual and said, so what is it that we're trying to hit? And by the way, we're going to give you the Wilson Parenting Bullseye that we tried to raise our kids to. By the way, our kids never knew what this was. They never knew. We were on the radio, and our co-host called Cody. He's the only one he could get a hold of. And he said, hey, Cody, your parents are on the radio right now and talking about their bullseye and their whole… But they're trying to raise you to be… He goes, do you know what it was?

He goes, I have no idea. But it is important that you know. And by the way, I understand this. Sometimes there's disagreements here between mom and dad about this. And sometimes you're a single mom, like my mom was, and you're doing this alone or a single dad.

But you need to sit down and say, okay. And it doesn't have to be this perfectly stated little thing, but it's like, what are we trying to raise? And all we're going to do today is walk you through ours because our little statement… And we're not saying it should be yours. It's just an example.

And each word matters, and they can sort of define what we call the four stages of parenting from little kids to adults. And we don't have time, but we're just going to do a quick overview. And you're going to be frustrated because you're going to be like, I'm in this stage.

You need to spend more time there. We can't. So here's our bullseye, okay? And again, you don't have to write this down, but this is an example of what we tried to hit. And again, we did hit it.

That's why it's called No Perfect Parents and No Perfect Kids because it's just something you're trying to hit, but you've got to know what you're aiming for. Ours is simply this. Train and launch L3 warriors who make a dent where they are sent. Now, here's the thing. You read that and you're like, I don't even understand half those words. Okay, so we're just going to highlight a couple of things because they get at the four stages. Training is really the first 12 years. We actually call the first stage the discipline stage, zero to five. Some of you are in that stage.

It's the hardest thing in the world. You have to discipline them. So then you go into what we call five to 12. We call it the training stage. And then the teen stage. We call it the coaching stage.

And then the adult stage, which we are in now, is the friendship stage. So let's talk about what training looks like. And we based that whole thing on a passage back in Ephesians 6 where Paul writes a little excerpt about parenting. And he says this. And I think this would apply to mothers as well. So there's the very word training and instruction of the word. Now, by the way, let me say this. Whether you're a parent right now or you were one or you're going to be one, parents, let me ask you.

That verse says whose responsibility is it to train and instruct our kids in the Lord? Whose is it? You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson on Family Life today. We'll get back to their message in just a minute. But first, I wanted to let you know about how you as just one family can make a huge difference. There is a community of heroes, really, called Family Life Partners who believe in our mission and give financially every month. And thanks to some of those what I would call generous champions who have come alongside us as a ministry right now, if you sign up to give monthly, you not only receive all the benefits of our partner program, but your donation will be matched dollar for dollar for a year for 12 months to help strengthen families in their relationship with God and with each other. So that means if you give $25 a month, the impact is actually $50 a month. And if you give $50, it becomes $100.

The math is very simple on this. And on top of that, when you give this month, as our thanks to you, we'll send you a bundle of resources, including two specific books, one by Gary Thomas called Lifelong Love and one by Kristin Clark and Bethany Beale called Not Part of the Plan. So become a monthly partner, have your gift doubled for a year, impact families for the glory of Jesus, and get a bundle of books.

Sounds pretty great to me. You can give right now at or by calling 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. All right, now back to Dave and Anne. Whose responsibility is it to train and instruct our kids in the Lord?

Whose is it? It's ours. It's the parents' responsibility.

But it does say fathers. Yeah, look at her. She's going to throw it on me. No, I'm serious because I think we feel this. I'm just going to talk to the men. We feel this as women. We feel the weight of that. I think as women, we carry that all the time. Like, oh, I want to do this. And I look at Dave and I think, man, he has so much influence. And I think it's easy for men to feel like I'm going to use my influence outside our home and when you can get them inside the home.

This was one of our fights. It's like, oh, I can just chill and relax here. And I was like, no, be that guy here that you are out there.

Do you know what I mean? I'm just saying, fathers, we need you in the home. Our children are dying for male figures that walk with God and show them this is what the father's love looks like. This isn't in our notes, so I'm going to add it right here. And there's no way we're going to stay on time.

But here's the thing. I remember when our boys were toddlers. We were at Rochester Park. And I'm a new dad and I've got little boys. And I remember sitting on a bench as Ann and the boys are playing in the jungle gym.

I'll never forget this moment just thinking, this is incredible. I'm now a dad. I never had a dad, but now I'm a dad and I have three sons and my wife's playing on the thing. And I look around, there's other dads sitting and the moms are playing with their kids. So I'm watching this and I go over to Dave and I say, what are you doing? He goes, this is amazing.

I'm just watching you guys. And I said, oh, are you going to be one of those dads? Let me tell you, she did not say it like that. She's being super nice. She sat down and she goes, so what are you doing?

And I said, this is awesome. She goes, are you going to be one of those dads? Look, they're all sitting watching. All the moms are doing it. Are you going to engage with the kids or just be one of those dads? And she left. It was one of those moments, I'm not kidding, that changed me as a dad. Because I was going to watch. And there were a lot of dads watching and I was going to watch.

And that day I made a decision like, I'm going to be the dad who's engaged. I'm going to be on that stinking jungle gym. I'm going to be in the front yard. I'm going to be in the backyard. I am not going to let that window, and by the way, you know this, the window that you have influenced in your kids' life is closing. It's really zero to 12 and 13 and 14.

It's closing. And when we were young parents, older parents would come up and say, hey, enjoy these days. You're going to blink and they're going to be gone. And I would be like, please be quiet because every day feels like a million years.

Yeah, they're never leaving. We don't sleep, you know. You slept. He would fake it. I did fake it.

I hear him crying like this. She would go and I'd, and she'd go get him. Anyway, but after that moment at the jungle gym. Yeah, you were amazing.

I decided I'm getting engaged. I'm not kidding. The neighbor kids started coming to our house. And they would knock on the door and they would say, can Mr. Wilson come out and play?

They really did. Yeah, because I decided that window's, and now we're older parents and we're telling you, it's closing quick. You won't believe how fast they'll be gone. And some of you have that chance with your grandkids. Like, take advantage of those years where they want to be with you. So here's the key in this, you know, training. We started our mission statement with train and launch. Train means it's our job as parents to train them what? In the Lord. It isn't just in life, although that's obviously a very important part of it. But he says, no, the spiritual direction and guidance and mentoring and discipling of your children, listen to this, is not the church's job. Or your school's job. Or your Christian school's job. And by the way, I'm not saying that Kensington Kids isn't going to partner with you. We are.

But here's what many parents do. Kensington will do it. Here they go. I'll drop them off. They'll get an hour of Jesus. And then, no, no, no. We are in partnership with you, but it's your job.

Not ours. It's your job to do that. And we want to walk through this verse in Deuteronomy 6, 5 through 7. It's one of my favorites in terms of parenting because it gets very specific of what this could look like.

Yeah, how do we train? Think of it, too. If you're single, like, I want you to know you're around other people's kids and you can impact them.

If your kids are out of your house, can I just tell you that the younger generation of moms and dads are looking for other older fathers and mothers to help them? And so listen to this verse from Deuteronomy 6, 5 through 7. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Listen, this is called the Shema. So in the Hebrew culture, they would say this every day. They would say these words because it was so important. And then it says, these commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. It starts with your hearts. So impress them on your children.

How do we do that? Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you get up. And you hear that? Like, it's this time that is going on all the time of that first part when it says these are to be on your hearts.

And I think it starts with us. Here's the hard thing of having kids. You get so busy.

Even with my grandkids, we were just with them for several weeks. I was like, how did I ever read my Bible? You know, there's no time to take a breath. You're not even in the bathroom by yourself.

How do I have time to continue to have God on my heart? And I think this is really important. And it's like that because you're talking to him all day long. You're with him.

You're talking to him. You have Bibles all over the house, in your car, by the table, in the bathroom. I mean, obviously the key to this passage is you can't give away what you don't first possess. Well, you've been listening to Dave and me at Kensington Church give a message from our book, No Perfect Parents. And I love that you ended right there.

Well, I didn't actually. It's the middle of that message, but we've got a lot more to come. We do. But I think what you said is a pivotal truth in this message. You can't give away what you don't possess. Yeah, and I think as parents, you know, we think parenting is about getting a book and learning the how-tos and the tricks. And if a parent walked up to me right now and said, I want to raise a warrior for Jesus, what should I do? I would say, get on your knees and make sure you're a warrior for Jesus.

I agree. And I think we do have a book. It's called The Bible. That really gives us practical help and truth on how God wants us to raise these sons and daughters. And again, you know, where we ended there is as a parent, we got to look in the mirror and say, is the Word of God in me?

Kids sniff it out if you're faking it. You know, they're watching. And if, boy, you're just saying things, but you're not living them, the percentages go down that they're going to do what you say. They're going to do what you do. And so, again, I would just say to the mom or dad listening right now, the most important thing you can do to be the parent you want to be and raise the kids you're hoping to raise is surrender your life, surrender your kids, surrender yourself to a dynamic walk with God and say, Jesus, give me the strength and power and wisdom to be the parent I need to be.

I cannot do it apart from you. And I know it's hectic and there's no time and you're exhausted. And it's like this is one of those things you have to find time to cultivate. And it's not something you do one time. I personally do it every day because I need the help from God. I need the Holy Spirit of abiding in him, abiding with Jesus. I mean, one of my best memories is daily walking into our kitchen and seeing you reading the one-year Bible that you've gone through, what, 17 years in a row, and our kids watched you on your knees on the back deck with your hands up worshipping God. Sometimes because you were just – It's because I'm desperate, people.

I'm desperate and I can't do it. I don't have it in me and I don't have the strength, but God does. But that's the image that I think our kids walked out of our home with, a mom and dad completely surrendered. Again, not perfectly.

We blew it a million times. But boy, we wanted to make sure Jesus is, was, will always be number one and our strength comes from him. And that's the most important thing any parent can do. That's Dave and Ann Wilson on Family Life Today. If you know anyone who needs to hear today's message, you can share it from wherever you get your podcasts. And while you're there, it'd help to get the word out about Family Life Today if you'd rate and review us. Tomorrow, we're going to hear again from our very own Dave and Ann Wilson about how our words count when raising our kids.

And that rules without relationship really equals rebellion. How we can invest in our relationships with our kids. That's tomorrow. We hope you can join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-09 19:02:20 / 2023-01-09 19:14:42 / 12

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