What’s a Mother to Do?
About the Guest
Raising a daughter can be challenging these days. Especially when she becomes a teenager. Darlene Brock, a mother of two grown daughters, talks about teaching modesty. Brock encourages moms to be relentless when pursuing the hearts of their daughters.
Raising a daughter can be challenging these days.
What’s a Mother to Do?
Bob: As a mom raising daughters, how much freedom do you give your girls to make decisions that you may not be crazy about? That’s a dilemma that Darlene Brock faced with one of her girls.
Darlene: She had hair, waist-length, in second grade. She said, “I want pink in my hair.” I went, “Okay, we’ll do pink in your hair.” I took the philosophy of, “I’m not going to fight over the things that don’t really matter.” To me, pink hair does not matter. There are much more important things in my daughters’ lives than the color of their hair.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, May 4th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. When do you let your kids make the decisions; and when do you say, “Uh-uh”? We’re going to talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m just thinking—if we were putting together a help wanted ad for a position here at FamilyLife—said, “Here’s what we’re looking for: We’re looking for somebody who has some experience as a coach. They need to have been a creative counselor. They need to be a media director—looking for somebody who is a professor of gender studies, financial consultant, a communication specialist, a military strategist; and we’d like for them to have some experience as a body guard, as well.” I don’t think we’d get very many applications—at least not somebody who’s had experience in all those areas.
Dennis: That’s exactly right; but we have, in our midst, one woman who did it all.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: She did it all perfectly. (Laughter)
Darlene: Yes, I’m laughing.
Dennis: Yes, that’s right. Darlene Brock joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Darlene, welcome back.
Darlene: Thanks. Good to be here.
Dennis: Darlene has two adult daughters today. She and her husband Dan have been married since 1978. She’s got an interesting background. She and her husband were pioneers in the Contemporary Christian music industry way back when and became agents for a number of clients who won Grammy’s, Dove Awards—had all kinds of fun doing that.
Bob: You’ve been to the Grammy Awards ceremony?
Darlene: Yes, several times.
Bob: Yes, so was it cool?
Darlene: It’s kind of messy. (Laughter)
Dennis: Messy? What do you mean messy?
Darlene: Yes. You get a lot of musicians that—it goes to commercial—and they just get messy. That’s all. (Laughter)
Bob: We need to go out and see what happens when the commercials are on.
Dennis: Yes, we need to find out what really takes place there.
Darlene: None of mine. None of the bands that we worked with—this was—
Bob: —just the people sitting around you; right?
Darlene: —just—yes, exactly.
Dennis: Well, Darlene has just finished a book called Help Wanted, and it’s about this advertisement here. You’ve kind of listed out all the qualifications for being a mom and raising daughters today. You lump it all under the first category that Bob mentioned—being a coach. You mentioned earlier that being a coach sometimes means you have to bench—you have to bench the players.
Dennis: Explain what you mean by that.
Darlene: I believe in punishment. (Laughter) I think it’s a part of motherhood. My first child was my willful child. I read every book known on strong-willed children—obviously, Dr. Dobson’s, at the time—
Darlene: —because I had the one that would look me in the eyeball, at two years of age. I’d say, “Don’t touch that;” and she would promptly stick her finger out, exactly where I told her not to do it. It started really early, and often before my second cup of coffee in the morning, which is not a good time for me. So, you do—you have to be in charge. I figured if I did it while she was still shorter than me, then, I had a shot when she was 16.
Dennis: Then, if you had been that good of a coach in terms of benching the players, share with us a couple of your finest “benchings” that you did as a mom.
Darlene: Well, it’s ironic to me because you think you have your standard punishments; but what you really want to do is what your child really doesn’t want you to do.
Darlene: My first, you put her in time-out, and she was absolutely miserable. She wanted to be in the middle of everything, all the time; and it drove her crazy. My second child has an entire world in her mind. She can sit in the corner for hours, and totally entertain herself, and have the biggest time. Sitting her in timeout was worthless because she was enjoying it. It just didn’t work.
Bob: So, what did you do with her?
Darlene: I had to—actually, take her “dream world” away—if that makes any sense. The things that she liked to create would go up on the top shelf. She was a very creative child.
Bob: So, whether it is Crayons® or whatever she was creating with—“You can’t play with that right now.”
Darlene: “You can’t play with that right now,” because that mattered to her the most.
Bob: You have to figure out where the pain is.
Darlene: You do!
Dennis: What they really like.
Dennis: Because when you become a mom of a teenage daughter, it’s a different type of punishment when you bench them at that age.
Bob: You can’t take away the Crayons of teenagers.
Darlene: Well, I don’t know. Chelsea kind of missed them—but yes. No, you can’t.
Dennis: But I’m curious as to what your favorite “benchings” were, in terms of raising teenage daughters. For ours, it was taking away media.
Darlene: Same with ours. Media, it was huge—and still is huge. That is a whole area I’d really like to address, too, because I think we have to stay actively involved in the media of the child.
Bob: Now, let’s talk about that because you were—you were in a media company. You and your husband owned a record company as you were raising your teenage girls; right?
Bob: So, you’re—all around you—I mean media is a part of the way you bring home the bacon. You were monitoring carefully what your girls were listening to, involved with, and taking some of that away at appropriate times?
Darlene: Absolutely, and I think one of the most dangerous parents is a clueless parent. If you do not know—if you don’t even know what movie ratings mean, let alone what movie ratings are on particular movies, if you don’t know the music that is the top ten downloaded songs, if you don’t know the number one YouTube® video that’s being viewed—if you don’t have that information, you’re in trouble when it comes to teenage kids.
You want to help your child make choices. You don’t want to always dictate because you are training them. You’re teaching them to make good choices. You’re not just saying, “What your choices should be...” because they will leave your house. They will make their own choices. It is like strengthening an athlete. If you’ve not prepared them for those—to make on their own—they are going to get in trouble.
Dennis: Okay, let’s say your daughter was listening—like this probably never happened in your household—she was listening to a song and singing some words that she ought not to be singing. You overheard it, or you knew the words of the song, and you heard her humming it—
Dennis: —what would you do?
Darlene: Make her come down and sing it for me. That’s exactly what my dad did to me. There was a little ditty on the radio—car radio—called Sunshine when I was a kid. It had a cuss word in it. My daddy didn’t cuss. He didn’t think that should be appropriate.
I was a 13-year-old girl, in the back seat, singing. Daddy was listening to me, which normally you think is pretty cool when you’re a 13-year-old girl and your daddy is listening to you sing. Well, he turns the radio down. I stopped. He said, “Oh, Honey, don’t stop. I want to hear you sing—keep singing that song.”
Dennis: Did he know where it was going?
Darlene: He absolutely knew where it was going. He’d heard it. I had no choice. I had to sing the line that I knew my father did not want me saying. I sang it feebly. You know, as quietly as I could. (Laughter)
Bob: You didn’t change it to “dang” or “darn”?
Darlene: No. No.
Bob: You just sang it word—like—
Darlene: I just sang it because I knew he knew, and there wasn’t any out. He turned around and said, “And we think that’s appropriate why?” I said, “I guess it’s not, Daddy.” He said, “It doesn’t matter what form it comes in. It’s still not appropriate.”
That was the way we treated our daughters—is you have to be willing to stand by what you listen to. If you can come in the room and you can quote the lyrics to me, comfortably, “Okay, we’re probably alright.” “If you are squirming, you better rethink that one.”
Dennis: This approach is all the way through your book. You talk about encountering—maybe going into a dressing room with your daughter. She’s 13 or 14 and beginning to try on things—you know the strapless evening-gown-type deal that—
Dennis: Yes, and you say instead of throwing a fit and saying, “Take that thing off! You’re not going to wear that! No daughter of mine is going to go out and wear that.” You use the same approach there as well; don’t you?
Darlene: I do, and it was told to me by another mother who’d been through this. She was brilliant because I was struggling. My daughter was 13/14 and wanting to wear things that I thought completely inappropriate. We were having throw downs. We were like mother/daughters do. You talk, she talks. You yell, she yells—it gets ugly. We were having throw downs; and I said, “I don’t know what to do.” She said, “Never engage. Here’s what you do. You go in the dressing room. When your daughter, at 13, 14, 15 says, ‘What do you think, Mom’”—because they’re always going to say that because they are insecure. They are going to say it.
You say, “Honey, I don’t know. What do you think?” Well, the insecurity continues. The daughter then says, “Well, I’m not sure about this,” or, “I’m not sure about that.” You say, “You know what? You are absolutely right. I think that we can find something so much prettier than that. You are such a treasure. We want to make sure we get the right clothes on you.” You—and you follow it that way.
Now, that doesn’t always work. There was one time my daughter borrowed a skirt from her friend that had zippers on it that shouldn’t have been there, you know? They just shouldn’t have been there. It was too short, and it had too many zippers. I didn’t care for it. So, “We’re going to go give that back to your friend, and you’re not wearing that again.” It was tough, and she wasn’t very happy. She stormed upstairs, but the skirt was gone. It was over.
Bob: This is the grit—you talk about women needing grit and grace. There are a lot of moms who, when the daughter pushes back, and storms upstairs, and is in her room, the mom is thinking, “I’m losing this battle. She hates me. She’s going to check out. She’s going to rebel. She’s pushing back against my authority.” They lose heart because they don’t want to lose their daughter.
Darlene: No, you don’t; and it gets scary. It does sometimes get scary; but if you stay in your daughter’s life, you won’t lose her. You need to find opportunities. We would go on little trips together—maybe a day trip. It had nothing to do with anything. I would take four hours out of the day, and we would go somewhere. I would let my daughters talk about anything they wanted, do anything they wanted. It was away from any of the conflicts. It just was neutral territory. At those times, you build on that relationship, that at other times, you have to challenge. You have to make sure you take the opportunity to build on it.
The other thing I think is really important is—as the mom, you’re a female, too. You react, she reacts. You react, she reacts. All the female emotions step in. Well, you are the grown-up. You say, “We’re going to stop right now. I’m going to my room. You go to your room.” You scream in the pillow. You say all the things that you know you shouldn’t say to her to the pillow, to your room. Then, you come back out calm, and you start over.
Dennis: You are talking about the mom at this point.
Darlene: Absolutely. The mom needs to go to her room, sometimes, just to calm down.
Dennis: One of the things I would do with our teenagers—and with Barbara—I would intercede, and I’d say, “You know, what’s happening here is your daughter is pulling you into the emotional mud puddle. She has made a profession out of mud wrestling. She knows that if she can get you all wrapped up around the axel of emotionally-losing control, or being angry, or being upset, or losing perspective, she’s got you. She’s got you in the mud puddle, and she’s going to put a half-Nelson on you in the mud puddle. If she doesn’t win the argument, she’s certainly going to get the satisfaction of going, ‘I got Mom’”—
Darlene: Oh, yes.
Dennis: —“’into a nasty mud puddle. Wasn’t that great?’” (Laughter) Teenagers—you know, it’s like they go to boot camp somewhere. They learn this training, and parents keep getting pulled into the mud puddle. They really need to maintain objectivity and, again, go back to what you talked about being a coach. A coach can’t go there.
Darlene: No, you can’t. You have to recognize your child is smart. They know—especially, a daughter with a mother—they know how to push the hot buttons. They know what you’re going to react to. They know how to do it, and they are going to use it. You are absolutely right. You have to walk away from it—you have to.
Bob: So, when your daughter, Chelsea, dyed her hair, was that pushing one of your buttons?
Darlene: Not mine. I didn’t care. (Laughter)
Bob: That was fine. How old was she?
Darlene: Now, see—that started pretty young. She was in elementary school when we dyed her hair pink.
Bob: “When we dyed her hair”—you were in on that?
Darlene: I was in on—
Dennis: You helped her?
Darlene: I helped her, yes. See, I’m a little unconventional. (Laughter)
Bob: Did she come and say, “I want to dye my hair?”
Darlene: Yes, she’s my creative child. She said, “Mom, I want pink hair.” She had hair, waist-length, in second grade. She said, “I want pink in my hair.” I went, “Okay, we’ll do pink in your hair.”
Dennis: So, your husband Dan—he approved this; right?
Darlene: Yes, he didn’t care. I took the philosophy of, “I’m not going to fight over the things that don’t really matter.” To me, pink hair does not matter. There are much more important things in my daughters’ lives than the color of their hair.
Bob: So, was this a pink streak? Was it all pink? What happened?
Darlene: It changed. I took her to the punk store, which, in second grade, she didn’t really know what all was sold at the store; but there was pink hair color. We got temporary pink hair dye in a little tub, went home, and wrapped her in old towels. She told me how she wanted it. The first time, it was two long streaks on each side of her head. The second time, it was half way down pink and, then, blonde above it. It didn’t matter. It was her choice. It was her creativity.
Bob: This went on for a while? I mean, it was multiple iterations of—
Darlene: Yes, it was. She was, again, my creative child. I would take—on my way to work, I would take our eldest daughter to school. Dan would be left at home with my youngest. Well, he would call me some mornings and say, “Honey, Chels has just got the old cat glasses out again that don’t have lenses. She’s gone to the attic. She’s gotten a shirt of yours, and a skirt of Lauren’s, and her cowboy boots. She’s ready to go to school. Are you okay with this?” I said, “Yes, Honey, are you?” He said, “I guess.” She would go to school dressed, rather randomly.
Bob: Well, now, weren’t there times, as a parent—I mean, I know it’s one thing when your child wants to do something creative and fun—that is fine; but now, we’re talking about Sunday morning—getting up and going to church with your daughter with the pink hair.
Bob: Weren’t you thinking, “I really”—
Dennis: Or the random clothes?
Darlene: Yes. (Laughter) Well, she was never immodest. I—
Bob: Were you embarrassed?
Darlene: No. I know that sounds really odd. Perhaps, if I had been a proper mom, I would have been embarrassed—I would have felt really badly about the pink hair; but—
Bob: If you weren’t managing artists who had pink hair—(Laughter)
Darlene: That helps because they do have pierced eyebrows and stuff. I just kind of bend the rules comfortably, but it didn’t matter to me. You know, the ironic part about this child now is—she is grown. She’s an elementary school teacher, and her husband is in seminary. I’m waiting for the day where she becomes the pastor’s wife. You know?
Dennis: Yes. Yes, exactly.
Darlene: But she has toned down a little bit from the pink hair.
Dennis: Well, while we’re talking about the pink hair, we might as well go to the mom who had a problem with her daughter wanting to, evidently, wear a bikini or an immodest bathing suit of some kind.
Dennis: Share what she did because, if you thought the pink hair was kind of wild, this is out there.
Darlene: Yes. This is a great story, though. This is original Mom 101. She came—her daughter came home. A good friend of mine—her daughter came home with a bikini, with strategically-placed hearts on the bikini—and you know how they can be strategically-placed. She put it on; and her mom said, “There’s absolutely no way. You are not keeping that. You are not wearing that.” That 16-year-old stomped up the steps.
Well, this mom, in a quandary, said, “How can I get my point across?” She’s an artist. She’s really creative. What she did is—she cut three hearts out of construction paper, took their little dog, and posted those hearts, strategically on the dog. Called the family in the room and started singing, “Itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny, yellow polka dot bikini”—marching the dog around the room. The family is on the floor, dying laughing. Then, she said, “So, where did you look?” Her daughter went, “Well, I guess so, Mom.” She realized that it was a funny story, but it really made the point that she was trying to make verbally. She did a visual representation, and it worked.
Dennis: The thing I like about the story is so many battles in raising teenagers escalate into door slamming, and multiple arguments, and the mud puddle, again. This mom had the ability to lighten it up, and do something funny, and make the point, at the same time.
Darlene: I think that is something every mother should incorporate—if you can, incorporate humor into your points. Do it because lectures only go so far.
Bob: If you had—and you’ve written a book, and we’ve talked here this week about a variety of subjects—but if you had five minutes to sit down across the table, with a cup of coffee, with a mom of a teenage daughter and she says, “I just feel like I’m under the pile of this.” You’re going to give her a coaching tip, a pep talk. As you think about what moms are doing, and how they’re living today, and what’s going on, would you tell them to stay in there and fight? Would you tell them to lighten up? I mean, what kind of—what is the overarching advice you would give to these moms?
Darlene: I think the most important thing in motherhood, in every part of it, is relentlessness. You never give up. You never give up. It doesn’t matter what battles you are in; you never give up. The second one is don’t expect perfection from you, don’t expect perfection from your daughter because, if you think your child’s going to do everything right; they won’t. No child does. Then, you have unrealistic expectations you will never meet. You will always feel defeated. If you think you are going to do everything right, you won’t. You have those same unrealistic expectations. So, you have to approach this with fortitude, with an unrelenting nature and willingness to say, “I’m sorry. I did wrong. You’re sorry. You did wrong,” and, “We’re going to move on.”
Dennis: I’d just underscore your statement about persevering because, in this culture, I think a lot of moms give into moral exhaustion. We’re fighting on so many fronts, whether it’s a cell phone and what’s being texted, whether it’s a computer and what’s taking place on it—media, music, the songs that are being sung, the videos they are watching on YouTube. I mean, all of it is coming at these young ladies. It’s so easy to just want to throw up your hands and say, “I cave. I give in. The world wins.”
But you have to realize, God placed you in the role. He gave you the job, you’ve talked about, Darlene—about being a mom. You need to be obedient to Him, just as you called your daughter to be obedient to Him as she went off to Hollywood to be a—hopefully, become a film producer. Moms, today, just need to hang in there—not resign—even though they feel like it at the end of the day, on occasion—and be the moms God’s called them to be.
Bob: They need to have both grit and grace; right? I mean, at the end of the day, that’s what it boils down to. That’s what you’ve been challenging moms with in the book that you’ve written and in the ministry that you’ve established. We’ve got copies of Darlene’s book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. It’s called Help Wanted: Moms Raising Daughters. There is also a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com to find out more about the The Grit and Grace Project®, if you like.
Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. Order a copy of Darlene Brock’s book, Help Wanted: Moms Raising Daughters; or call us, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. You can ask for information about how to get a copy of Darlene’s book.
Before we wrap things up here this week, we want to share with our listeners some exciting news. We had some friends of the ministry, who we were sitting down with recently. They were getting an update on all that’s going on here at FamilyLife, and they heard about a project we’ve been working on. We are putting together a ten-part video series based on material from Dennis Rainey’s book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. We’re planning, this fall, to encourage men to get with other men and to understand better God’s design and calling on them as men.
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We’re asking you to make a donation today. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Whatever donation you make is going to be matched dollar-for-dollar, again, up to a total $435,000. You will not only be helping us finish out the Stepping Up project, but you’ll be helping make sure that FamilyLife Today continues on your local radio station, on the internet, and through all of the outreaches that we have going on, here at FamilyLife.
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We hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Jill Savage is going to be here, and we are going to talk about moms being real. In the middle of real life, how can you be real, how can you stay spiritually-centered, how can you be focused on the right stuff? I hope you can tune in 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 will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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