It’s time to go back to the basics! There are four aces up your sleeve that you can play at any time with your kids. Listen in to today’s episode to learn how to win at the card game called, “parenting”.


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Doug: Well, I have a question. “I am the parent, but it feels at times like I’m kind of being drug along by my kids, but I’m doing it because I love him so much, and I don’t know how do I… What do I… Who? Dr Leman, help me. I don’t know who’s in control of this house anymore. I don’t know what’s happening around me, and if I’m the parent or the kids are the parents. Help me understand what to do.” That’s the topic we get to ask Dr. Leman today. How do you parent? Who’s in control? What authority do I have? What can I do and what can’t I do, and what’s allowable?

Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us today, really glad that you’re with us. If this happens to be your first time, welcome. I want to let you know that this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, Dr. Leman, I was role playing, but there have been times as a parent that I have wondered like… do I have the control as a parent? Am I [inaudible 00:01:17]? am I not? Help us understand this concept that you talk about, that we have four aces, and how does that help us in parenting?

Dr. Leman: Well, “You got to know when to hold them, know fold them,” Kenny Rogers once sang a song about that called The Gambler, I think it was called. Well, yeah, parents, you don’t realize it, but you got four aces in your bed pocket. You’re the parent. God has given you the awesome right to be the parent and to be in authority over you. Now, some of you have chosen not to take the authority that all mighty God has given to you, because you’ve been driven on the notion of making sure your children are happy at every turn. If you’re going down that track in life, I can guarantee you, you are going to end up miserable and your kid’s going to be a mess, because that’s not our goal in parenting, to create a happy child. Our goal in parenting is to really, rear an adult who someday is going to be a really contributing member to our society, is going to think well of themself and others, treat people right, realize that they’re not more important than other people, they’re not the center of the universe.

Dr. Leman: And that only gets done if you understand that you do have all the gold in your back pocket. I mean, think about your kids right now. They wouldn’t have underwear on today, quite frankly, if you didn’t pay for it. They wouldn’t have socks on or tennis shoes. So you have all the gold in your back pocket and you have those four aces. Your kid can’t join an organization without your signature. And again, I know people are saying, “Hey, Leman, parents’ rights are disappearing left and right.” They are, but you still have full authority, and you have to exercise that authority right. And kids have to understand that you’re the loving father and the loving mother, and that means that you’re going to give lots of love, lots of kisses, lots of vitamin E, and encouragement, but you’re also going to sprinkle that with some vitamin N which is no, for their good, for their safety, and for the betterment of the entire family, because one member of the family can’t go run out in right field and let the rest of us hover around home plate.

Dr. Leman: That’s not fair. Everybody has to participate, everybody has to give back to the family. So exercising authority, it sounds easy, but it’s not because you have the neighbors’ kids who live by a different set of rules than yours. You’ve got your brother’s home and his wife who use language that is unbecoming to you, and you don’t want your kids to listen to it. You got Uncle Harold who obviously has a problem with alcohol. You got your mother-in-law who has terrible bad breath. I mean, name your situation. There’s all kinds of things that influence our authority, because we’re always telling ourselves, “I should do this, I should do that,” and I think all of us need to stop shooting on ourselves, so to speak, and realize who we are, what we truly believe, what are our convictions, what kind of kids do we want to put on this earth, and have a general game plan on how to get there.

Doug: Dr. Leman, why is it important for us to know that we have four aces or all the gold in our pocket, that we are in authority as parents? What’s important about that concept?

Dr. Leman: Well, because I think most parents, they don’t realize they’re there because they start out being so driven to make sure their kids are happy at every turn. Now, kids are hedonistic by their nature, so they’re going to be always asking for more. So if you give them X, they’re going to want Y and Z. And it’s like, you mean I can… I mean, I have people who email me and say, “Is it okay for me to discipline my child? I’m afraid they’re not going to like me.” Well, there’s a parent that really doesn’t understand that they got four aces in their back pocket. And so, you can’t have kids running on different planes. There has to be a oneness in the family, and you’re not going to exercise those four aces, that gold in the back pocket, as I like to call it sometimes, without having mom and dad on the same page.

Dr. Leman: That’s a gut check for all of us. You have to be on the same page. And so many parents that I run into, one of them is the good cop and one of them is the bad cop. One of them tends to be authoritarian, the other tends to be permissive, and that sends a wild message to kids, not a consistent one. So gut check, are we on the same page? Do we have a plan? I mean, if you work for a living, chances are there’s a plan. It’s a plan that’s laid out for you that you need to follow, or it’s a plan that you’ve designed yourself. But do you have a parenting plan on raising this kid, who when they come into your arms, the only thing they care about is being held and being fed. They have no social interest in anybody else, and your job is to bring them along from a little pup, so to speak, into adulthood.

Dr. Leman: So they’ll be caring for other people, not think of themselves better than others, and there’s a lot of stuff that you pour into the kids, but you don’t pour it into them like jamming it down their throat, you pour it into them by them absorbing what’s going on in your lives as parents. So you are the models, and the kids are always watching. They’re taking all kinds of notes on how you talk, how you interact with people, your attitude, how you talk about others, all those things. Your kids are recording that on their computer every day.

Doug: So what would you say the goal of parenting is? Is it that we want our kids to like us when we grow up?

Dr. Leman: Well, your kids are going to like you, parents, if you love your kids, but you have to understand that love without discipline is incomplete. Love and discipline go hand in hand. It’s a biblical adage, if anybody cares. And as you move along, there’s going to be times where your kids are not going to like you. They’re going to say things like, “You never listen to me! You never understand! You never do this, you never do that!” And you’re going to have your moments, and how you handle those moments, and how you listen to your children, and reason with them, and are fair with them, and yet discipline them with love, is going to determine to a large part, how they’re going to react and respond to you as an adult.

Dr. Leman: I mean, I’ve got five kids and I marvel at the fact that they go way out of their way to spend time with mom and dad. They want to be together, and they want to be with us old folks. How does that happen? My buddy Moonhead says, “Leman, your family is ridiculously too close.” Well, perhaps Moonhead is right, but we are very close. We have each other’s backs, we care about each other, we talk all the time. I think you want to have kids who grow up to be functioning adults who can stand on their own two feet, make good decisions about life. Well, how do you get kids to make good decisions about life if you don’t give them decision making opportunities and they’re growing up under your roof? So it’s a continuing process of learning.

Doug: Well, why does it feel so hard right now to apply this principle? It feels almost wrong to act like I’m in authority as a parent, versus just always trying to keep my kid happy.

Dr. Leman: I think it’s hard because we live in a very permissive society where it seems like nobody’s held accountable for anything. Rarely do you see people held accountable, and parents do the dumbest things. You remember several months ago, these Hollywood starlets who paid 500,000 to a million dollars to get their kids into schools. I mean, parents do stupid dumb things in the name of loving your children. They do their homework, they do their science projects for them, they cheat for them, they make excuses for them, they tell lies why their kid isn’t in school today. They do all kinds of things, and so when someone says, “Hey, hold your kid accountable, keep their nose to the grindstone,” it sounds foreign, it sounds militaristic, it sounds unkind, but the kid who grows up with parents who not only exert love but discipline in the home, are the parents who will rise up and call their parents blessed someday.

Doug: There is a phrase that you’ve used in regards to this, and I’m going to butcher it, so you can correct it for me, but it is one that I later apologized to my children that I didn’t appreciate and [inaudible 00:10:47], which is, “Build psychological muscles.” Can you help explain that? Because now that I have half grown, half in the home, I’ve come to realize that that was a way undervalued goal of Andrea’s and I’s to help our children, because we still were too… Once we went from authoritarian to permissive, and somewhat in the back, we wanted our kids happy. Help us understand what does that concept mean and why is it important for our kids?

Dr. Leman: Well, they’re going to face trials in life. They’re going to face trials at work. Everybody isn’t going to like them. They’re going to have bosses who give them maybe rough evaluations. What prepares them for that? They need some experience at taking on things that are difficult, where they have to go maybe and face a teacher or another adult, and maybe owe up to something that they did that was wrong, or maybe question something that they think was unfair to them. I always tell parents, for example, of kids who have to go to juvenile court in the State of Arizona where I live, as a parent, you need to be there in the courtroom, but I always tell the parents, talk to the judge beforehand and say, “Judge, would it be okay with you if I sat in the back of the room, so my 14 year old or 15 year old is up front talking to you alone?” Most judges will see the value in that. I mean, if the judge really needs to talk to you, he can call you forward.

Dr. Leman: But my whole point is, I think the kids need to learn to stand on their own two feet. I mean, you’ve heard me rail on on too many activities for kids, and you’ve heard me also turn around and say, if you have access to a 4-H and your kid’s interested in anything along that line, encourage that kind of an activity. Now, what’s so healthy about 4-H? You both are familiar with that organization, right?

Doug: Yes.

Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Leman: And a kid will…

Doug: You have to serve?

Dr. Leman: Yeah.

Doug: Yep.

Dr. Leman: And the kids in charge of that calf from the time it’s born, or that little piglet or whatever, and they learn an awful lot about life, and economics, and hard work, and those are the kind of experiences that I think gives psychological muscles to kids, so when life throws them a curveball, they’re going to know how to hit that curveball out of the park. I was up at one of our schools, Doug, just this week in Mesa, Arizona, Leman Academy of Excellence, just located out in the East Valley, and I was in every class from kinder to seventh grade. It’s a K through seven school this year, K through eight next. And in several of those classes I looked at kids and I said, “Hey, I have a message for you to take home to mom and dad. I want you to tell them at Dr. Leman said, ‘You’re going to do great in life.'”

Dr. Leman: And you can see it in these kids’ eyes, you can see it how they comport themselves. You can see it in the courteous way they thank you. I may have a kinder and a first grader thanking me for taking the time to come to their class. Hello. I’m going to take a step on the gangplank of life and suggest that kid’s going to do well in life. I mean, meets people well in the first grade? My goodness, that kid’s going to be the top salesman in that organization for sure, or a diplomat, or a politician. We need some good politicians, by the way. But my point is that these kids, they don’t just show up that way.

Dr. Leman: It takes training, and I always, I love the example if you have a puppy, if you don’t start training the puppy when they’re a year old, you’re going to have a bad dog. Train the puppy when they’re young, and you have to train up kids. In fact, there’s another biblical adage, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Well, do we train up kids in our society? I don’t think so. I think we train down kids. I think we’re very negative toward kids. So it takes a lot of that vitamin E. Your kid has to feel like, “Hey, I got your back, but this is your project. Dad might run you down to Ace Hardware and you can get the construct paper and stuff, but this is your project. You’re going to do it.”

Doug: Well, and the reason I wanted to re-go over this one, is that even in Andrea and I’s life, we sometimes will snow plow the roads for our kids and regret it, but when we do stand up in authority, in love, not authoritarian as I used to, our kids do have to gain those psychological muscles and develop. And it’s hard nowadays too to realize, wait, I do have the right to tell my kid no, and I do have the ability to say, “This must be done.” And it’s for their sake, not mine, because we’re raising adults.

Doug: In just a moment, I want to come back to something that you started off with that we haven’t touched on that was super important, that you said we had to make sure we had it right, and that point is that mom and dad have to be on the same page. And to that point, you guys, this is going out on March 24th. You have seven days to get the ebook for only $2.99 between now and March 31st of 2020. And we’re going to ask Dr. Leman why it’s so important to have mom and dad on the same page, but I’m telling you as a dad, this book I would read, because it’s funny, and it’s easy to read, and it’s super practical, and it’s not just me that saying you want to be on the same page, you want to read a great book? Here is Andrea. You said you found somebody on Amazon, right?

Andrea: Okay, here we go. “Loved the core principles that I repeat to myself, like a mantra. ‘B doesn’t happen until A gets done,’ et cetera. It’s what we all know, but forget in the bustle of everyday life. Making the principals a priority really helped me nip adolescent sloppiness and cut childhood whining to a bare minimum.

Doug: So again, if you go online and start reading these on Amazon, there’s sure there’s the few that are crankies, but man, there are some people who have said, “This has helped set us up for the long term.” And if you’re a mom or dad, listening to this and you’re not on the same page, get the parenting book, highlight it, ask them to read it, and you will thank me. So between now and the end of March of 2020 for only $2.99, get the book, please, for your sake. Alrighty. And now, a parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: How do you build trust with your children? By trusting them, by giving them a little rope, by giving them responsibilities, and then when they finish those responsibilities, coming back door and saying, “Honey, I was just thinking today, one of the things that I love about you is when I ask you to do something, you do it, and you don’t do it in a slipshod manner. You do it in a great manner, and I just want to compliment on your diligence.” “What does diligence mean, mom?” Tell him what diligence means. Okay. It’s easy. If you want your kids to have trust in you, you’re going to have to show that you have trust. So always give your kids high expectations, not extremely over the top high. We want to work toward excellence, not perfection. This is something basic to the formulation of a great relationship between you and your child.

Doug: Okay, Dr. Leman, explain to me why Andrea and I should be on the same page parenting, because clearly, I know what’s right and she doesn’t, so she’s just whatever. So help me out.

Dr. Leman: Well, it creates dissonance in a kid’s life when mom and dad are not on the same page. It creates anxiety in a kid’s life. Kids want discipline, number one. They want you to be on the same page. When they see that you’re not and they hear you going after each other, it gives them fear. A number one fear of a kid today is not nuclear holocaust, number one fear among children is, “My parents are going to divorce.” And so working toward oneness and marriage is great. You’re going to have great communication, your sex life’s going to improve. That just got somebody’s attention.

Dr. Leman: It’s really worth… I have a book out called The Intimate Connection, and if you can get to that point in life where you and your wife are on the same page in all things, that’s a dynamite relationship that’s going to feed and encourage anybody that’s close to that relationship. Even your friends, or your sister, your brother, but especially your children who live with you 24/7. So it’s just, it’s one of those fundamental things, it’s the foundation of the family, and like I said, if the foundation of the building isn’t right, the whole building’s off.

Doug: The reason I asked that question is because Andrea and I have seen that played out where we are in agreement, it goes great, and when we aren’t, it’s terrible for everybody around us. And this is why reading some of these Leman books, again, I don’t get a dime from the Leman books. I’m telling you, it’s for your sake and your child’s sake that I do this and say, please, will you do this so that you and your spouse can be on the same page, and also if you’re a single mom or a single dad, listening to this and you’re like, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me,” this will give you the confidence when guilt has risen up and you’re unclear on what to do.

Doug: And the reason this applies to authority is at times, we forget we do have all four aces in our back pocket, and to use them, it’s nice to know when and how to use them in the right way, and that’s what this book gives you, that’s why we do these podcasts, so that you can have the confidence for your kids’ sake to grow up great adults, not happy children, but great adults. And now that we can see that, we almost have a 21 year old, we’re beginning to see, oh wow, this does pay off. I have a 20 year old who calls us, texts us, sends us all sorts of crazy information, and it’s because we loved him and were an authority with him.

Doug: So alrighty, that’s enough about four aces. Please, again, I know I just said it, but I’m going to say it again. Please go get the book. Please. Have a New Kid by Friday, $2.99, March 31st of 2020, wherever eBooks are sold, for your sake. It was great to be with you today, and we love, love helping you as you journey down this road of parenting and adding to the toolbox so you love those kids more and more, and we look forward to the next time we get to be with you.

Andrea: Have a great week.

Doug: Take care.

Andrea: Bye-bye.