It’s the parent’s job to serve and care for their kids, but should children also be required to serve their parents? In today’s episode, Dr. Leman discusses the long-term impact of making your children serve in today’s self-centered society. Learn more about Dr. Leman at


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Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing

Produced by Unmutable™


Doug:                       Well, hello. I’m Doug Terpening.

Andrea:                  And I’m Andrea.

Doug:                       And we are so glad that you are with us today, and if this is your first time with us, just to let you know, this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or a child, please go seek a local professional for help.

So, Dr. Leman, this is going to be coming out on June 26th, and I believe in just a week or so, don’t a whole bunch of people crash at the beautiful lake house out in Buffalo area?

Dr. Leman:           Yeah, they do. You know what’s funny about that, Mrs. Uppington … If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Mrs. Uppington, that is the affectionate term that I call my lovely first born wife. She’s the classy one. That’s why I invested the word uppington. In fact, you might want to know that her license plate says Uppington. Her stationery, her little thank you stationery that she sends to people, on the top it says Mrs. Uppington. As you come in our property, it says, “Private property. By order of Mrs. Uppington, no trespassing.”

So we’ve had fun with the term uppington, and she’s the classy first born. I’m the youngest one that is very different from her, and I go back to New York usually in late spring, and sort of clean up the property, and those of you who live back east, you know why you clean up property? Because you have leftover leaves. You have twigs and limbs that have fallen off of trees, and we live in a very wooded area, and I must have picked up a thousand of those suckers, and I was out raking under bushes those tough to get leaves at 10 to 10 at night in the dark.

Now here’s the irony. When Mrs. Uppington arrives, she arrives seeing the place cleaned up, the lilacs are in bloom, and she really has no appreciation for all the work that went in beforehand, because she never sees it until it’s time for the princess to arrive.

Why am I telling you this?

Andrea:                  Oh, Dr. Leman, I’m so sorry.

Dr. Leman:           Good. That’s what I wanted. I was looking for a little sympathy. Thank you, Andrea, as only a woman can do. But, yeah, we go back, and that’s my downtime, and yet we’ll continue to do podcasts from there this summer, and we’ll give you a grist for the mill, and by the way, we focus on parenting here, but I’ve written books on marriage, bestselling books.

Doug:                       Well, I was just about to say, and I’m like, oh man, this could go sideways, my next statement, but I’m still going to say it. So the good people at Baker Revell are the ones that are helping to make this podcast possible, so we thank them for that, and they just let me know, too, that they’re putting one of your books on mega-sell, and it’s Have A New Sex Life by Friday from June 27th to July 3rd for only 99 cents on e-book.

Dr. Leman:           Wait a minute, 99 cents?

Doug:                       99 cents, less than a buck.

Dr. Leman:           Great sex for 99 cents? I withdraw the statement.

Andrea:                  That is not what he’s saying.

Dr. Leman:           Wow.

Doug:                       Andrea’s going to turn red. Don’t go there.

Andrea:                  I’m not turning red. Maybe with fury.

Dr. Leman:           This that a download I take it?

Doug:                       It is a download, yep, so for your Kindle, for your Nook. Anywhere that you have a digital device, you can get it.

Dr. Leman:           Wow. Well, I hope you heard that. That’s a wonderful little book. What’s nice about downloading that book, I often think that when people walk in a bookstore and they see Have a New Sex Life by Friday, they pick it up. They look at it and they go, “Oh, my goodness, this looks so interesting. Oh, isn’t that Mary Adams over there? Oh, yeah, it is,” and they put the book down, or they look at the cashier and they know the cashier, and there’s something about walking up with a book with a title like Have a New Sex Life by Friday that might be a little intimidating for people to pick up and put in their hands. So the download thing is really a great idea.

So that is loaded with great information about you weird women and us strange men, and how you can make this marriage work, and so many of you are just hanging by a thread. I’m a realist. I look at a lot of marriages behind closed doors, and many of you just struggle, and many of you are in just ruts and don’t know what to do, don’t know the right questions to ask, don’t know how to get things moving. This is a book, I promise you if you read it, you’ll find help for your marriage immediately.

Doug:                       That’s really great. That’s why you write these books. That’s why we do the podcast, because we want to help you.

Dr. Leman:           99 cents, 99 cents, unbelievable.

Doug:                       Thank you Revell.

Andrea:                  That’s next week, starting tomorrow.

Doug:                       Yep. Well, let’s jump into our question for the day here. Here we go. So, Dr. Leman, the question to propose to you is should our children be our servants?

Dr. Leman:           Oh, I love the question.

Andrea:                  You say that they don’t live in a hotel, right?

Dr. Leman:           Right.

Andrea:                  Is your home a hotel?

Dr. Leman:           Yeah. Okay.

Andrea:                  This is the flip side.

Dr. Leman:           All right. So that’s my challenge, to answer the question, should our kids be our servants, and the answer is, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

Andrea:                  Ding, ding, ding, drum roll.

Dr. Leman:           Yes.

Andrea:                  What?

Dr. Leman:           And some of you are driving off the road and say, “Wait a minute. This doesn’t sound like you, Leman.” Well, let me explain why I said yes. It’s really important that your kid learns to serve other people. It’s really important that they service their home. Everything begins in the home.

There’s youth car washes out there where I live in Tucson on almost every corner almost every week, because we basically have nice weather. Once in a while, I run into a car wash that’s sponsored by a local church, and they wash cars, but they don’t charge money. Now, someone’s thinking, “These are shrewd marketing business people at that church, because they probably make more money by the donations that people give them.” Well, check this out. They don’t accept donations either.

Andrea:                  Wow.

Dr. Leman:           They won’t take a dime, and what they do on a Saturday for five hours is wash cars, and they pride themselves on doing a great job. So the Windex is flying. The paper towels are in use. The windows are cleaned inside out. The hubcaps are done, and the satisfaction is we help people and we didn’t charge them a dime.

I think Jesus washed some feet to prove a point. We are to service one another, so the answer to that question is yeah. You want kids to be servants. You want kids to get back to the family.

Let me give you a little material that surrounds this. No one member of the family is more important than the-

Doug:                       Than the family.

Dr. Leman:           So we’re all this together. Mom and dad work. In most homes, mom and dad work outside of the home these days. Most families have about two children is the average, and so there’s four of us. In some families, there’s six of us, eight of us, 10 of us, et cetera. But everybody gives back to the family. Nobody rides free.

When you’re just given things, do you really appreciate them, or do you really appreciate things that you worked for, that you had a dog in the fight over, whatever? What I’m saying is that you want to make sure that your kids experience, experience the fact that you do not believe that they are the center of the universe, that they are not to be catered to at every whim. If they want special things, they can figure out a way to earn some extra money by way of babysitting, or garden work, or whatever, and that parents aren’t put on this earth just to shell out their hard-earned money to keep their kids happy at every turn.

I’ll always remind people of one of my most famous quotes, an unhappy child is a healthy child. So don’t get blown out of shape because your son or daughter does not like to do chores around the house or service other people. But you’re the ones, you’re the captain of the good ship family, as I like to say, on the sea of life. My question to you is this, parents, do you have a port of call? Do you know where you’re going? Do you know where your family’s going?

See, as you provide direction for us, us kids, we’ll fall in line basically with your expectations.

Doug:                       Andrea and I, we make so much money that we just farm everything out, and our kids really haven’t had to do anything around the house. Actually the house could function with or without them. How do I make that shift now?

Dr. Leman:           Well, it’s a smart parent who realizes … I mean my career took off in 1981. I had already authored two or three books by then, and quite frankly, I’ll speak very candidly, I was assistant dean of students. I taught at the University of Arizona, and that first year in 1981, my income went up tenfold the very first year, and I remember talking to my wife, and I am not a guy who is motivated by money. I’m very different than most. I say publicly I still don’t have a savings account, and I’m sort of proud of it. Some people think that’s a terrible fault, that you should have this huge savings account. I’ve never been that person. I’ve been the person, what’s come in we’ve given to others, helped kids, done things that we think are appropriate.

So that being said, in 1981 … Well, our first child was born in ’72, ’74, ’78. So we had three kids, and I couldn’t understand how people could have two cars. How could you possibly afford two cars? I had a used Pontiac station wagon. I’m going to get to a point here. Be patient.

Well, from ’81 on, I had a few bucks in my back pocket. I had more than I needed. Well, I want to make the point that all of our kids worked. All of our kids gave back to the family, all five of them. When they went to college, they all worked. They all gave back to the family.

So those of us who have more than a few extra coins in our pocket, they’re the real smarts one, who make sure that their kids are givers and not takers. They make sure their kids give back to others. They make sure their kids work. What could be healthier than working? What could be healthier than giving back to other people?

So this is the training aspect of bringing up children, and you need to train kids to be sensitive to the needs of other people, and we have had our kids and our grandchildren present when we’ve given people money, when we’ve helped them out of tough spots. We’ve modeled that, and anybody who knows any of the Leman kids, they basically all say the same thing, “Leman, your kids are great. I don’t know what you did, but you sure did it right.”

I remember an editor who was visiting my home several years ago, and I was driving the editor to the airport, and the conversation went like this, “Leman, how do you do it,” and I said, “Do what?” He said, “How do you have kids that considerate and kind. I’ve never been around kids who engage me in conversation, and asked about my family, and my opinion. It wasn’t about them. They were just into who I was, and wanted to know everything about me, and there was this legitimate, genuine care that came through in taking to your five kids.” Well, I’m telling you, that makes me proud to know that … And I know that’s the way my kids are. They engage people. They have a sensitivity for other people.

Well, again, did they get that by drinking the water in Tucson, Arizona? No. They gave it from the modeling that Sandy and I provided for them. Now, again, I don’t want to sound like I’m Joe Perfect Parent, but I can tell you I’ve been a good parent, and that’s what I tell all of you. Strive to be a good parent. We’re not asking you to be perfect. There’s times we’re asking you to be very consistent.

Doug:                       So Dr. Leman, how though do I switch my mindset? So you kept that mindset that my kids are going to contribute back to the family. How do I get up the gumption to say, “We’re canceling the house cleaner,” or, “We are going to demand that our kids wash the dog,” or whatever it is.

Andrea:                  Mow the lawn.

Doug:                       Mow the lawn. There you go. How do I make that switch?

Dr. Leman:           I don’t want to get in trouble with Mrs. Uppington. Mrs. Uppington has had a lady come to our home for probably 35 years once a week just to do some things. But having that person come in our home did not affect all the chores that the kid did in the home.

To answer your question specifically, I think you need to talk to yourself as a parent and ask yourself what am I doing for my children in this house that they should be doing for themselves? Every parent should have that talk with themselves that says what am I doing for my children that they could be doing for themselves in this home? See, if we’re really rearing self-sufficient children, do they not get training in our home to be self-sufficient? So we’re asking them to be self-sufficient, and yet we’re asking them to be acutely aware of the needs of other people.

I remember a conversation I had with my daughter who was about 11 at the time, and there was a homeless guy who was asking for money, and I admit there’s times that I’ve just blown those people off, especially the young ones. I see a kid that’s 23 years old on a street corner and I’m thinking, “Hey, get a job, man. Don’t be hanging out here on the corner.” For the guy that’s obviously got physical limitations and older.

But anyway, my daughter said to me, and she was pleading. She said, “Daddy, aren’t you going to help that man?” I said, “Honey, I did. I gave him $50,” and I’ll never forget the expression on her face. It was just relief, and kids feel compassion for people.

And so you balance that compassion with being pragmatic and doing the right thing. I went on a mission trip down to El Salvador, and I probably left with … I think I had in excess of $2,000 on me in cash, and I took that as a precaution just in case a foreign country, if I needed cash, I wanted to have cash with me. But when I came back to Tucson International Airport, it’s a good thing I had a credit card, because I had given away all $2,000, and by the way, the American dollar is the standard in El Salvador.

So we have modeled giving, and, again, I’m not holding myself up. I just believe that’s what we should do. I think that’s what we’re commanded to do, is people, and think about what our world would be like if we were all givers and not takers.

Think what marriage would be like today in America, in Canada if we were all givers and not takers.

Andrea:                  Dr. Leman, I’m noticing a connection here between teaching our kids to be servants, and then they care for people and they give to people.

Dr. Leman:           Yeah. It all comes out of the heart. You women are just so much better at that then we men. I don’t know. It’s just the way God created you women. I always say the husbands, and you’ve heard me say this, gentlemen, before you do anything in life, what? What do you do, gentlemen? What’s the best thing you can do? You got a big decision to make in life. What do you do first? What’s my answer going to be?

Doug:                       Talk to your wife.

Dr. Leman:           Yeah. Talk to your wife first. Why? Because women are closer to life than men are, and so, again, are some kids more inclined to be helpful? Yes. Are some kids more inclined to be givers rather than takers? Yes. They’re all different. You’re not going to line up all five children in the Leman family and find that they’re clones of each other, because every one of them is very different. Every one of them has different talents.

But I’ll tell you a story. I came home from work one day. It was Christmastime and I said to my wife, “Honey, I’d like to buy Debbie,” Debbie is my assistant, “a new car. What do you think?” Immediately she said, “Oh, honey, that’s a great idea,” because Debbie was driving this old clunker. So I went and bought the car, and we were going to go to her doorstep and sing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new car.” Well, the kids found out about it, my adult children, they said, “That is so cool. You got Debbie a car,” and I said, “Yeah,” and I said, “We’re going to go over. We’re going to sing at her doorstep.” He says, “Can we come?”

I laugh about this. There’s my adult children and Sandy and I knocking on her door singing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new car.” I can’t tell you how it blessed my life to give that woman this car, and what did she do? What did she do, Andrea, when she found out what happened?

Andrea:                  Oh, just bawled.

Dr. Leman:           Yeah. She cried her eyes out. She said, “No one’s ever given me anything like that.”

Here’s what I want people to hear. The kids wanted to share in that. Why? Because they know the joy of giving.

So take a look around. What do you see in the world today? A bunch of takers.

Andrea:                  And they’re not happy.

Dr. Leman:           They’re very unhappy.

Andrea:                  Yeah.

Dr. Leman:           So to answer the question should your kids be your servants, yes, they should be.

Doug:                       And the reason is so that they would get a heart of becoming a giver and care more about others.

Andrea:                  Yeah, and ultimately, they’re happier people for it.

Doug:                       That’s true. Wow. That’s really good, Dr. Leman. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And, Andrea, you lead our family in this by a hundred miles, rather than me, so thank you.

Andrea:                  Well, Dr. Leman, thank you for sharing about your generosity, because it inspires us.

Doug:                       Right.

Andrea:                  To think about, wow, by giving to others, the satisfaction and the joy that we can receive from that, more than trying to keep it for ourselves.

Doug:                       Amen.

Dr. Leman:           Yeah. Yep. Thanks.

Doug:                       Well, thank you, again, for all of you hanging out with us. Thank you to Revell for making this happen. Super quick reminder, the book is only 99 cents, Have a New Sex Life. It starts tomorrow and ends June 3rd, so get it and get it soon, and we look forward, again.

Dr. Leman:           I’m going to download that myself for 99 cents. I can’t believe it’s 99 cents. Oh, my goodness.

Doug:                       So, again, we love being with you, and we love just hearing the stories of how you’re being able to use the material, and Facebook is an incredible way. Dr. Kevin Leman posts there, and you’re blessing lots and lots of people. We look forward to the next time that we get to just serve you really, and just pour out our hearts, and hopefully add to that parenting toolbox, so you can love those kids and they can grow up to be great adults some day. So take care.

Andrea:                  Thank you.