Focus on the Family Broadcast

The Importance of Leaving and Cleaving

The Importance of Leaving and Cleaving

Pastor Ted Cunningham offers wisdom to newlyweds about the importance of separating emotionally, relationally, and financially from their family of origin in order to form a strong bond with their new spouse.
Original Air Date: June 4, 2021

Preview:

Ted Cunningham: If you have a tough day at work and you get in the car, and your first person you’re going to call is your mom not your wife, that’s a problem.

End of Preview

John Fuller: Ted Cunningham is with us today on Focus on the Family, and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, here at Focus on the Family, we love marriage and I hope people feel that and know it. Uh, it’s foundational to the family and it’s a gift from God. And we need to lift marriage up to its proper place. And I think in many ways, restore, uh, what God intended with marriage. In fact, um, it’s the reason why we talk so much about it here on our program. We like to equip you with those tools to help you live your marriage in such a way that others are going to see something wonderful and beautiful in your marriage. It’s, uh, a witness to the world. Uh, today we’re targeting newly married couples, but this also applies to their parents. That’s the good news, we’re all going to benefit from the discussion today. Uh, we’ve got some solid, trusted advice about the importance of God’s design to leave behind your childhood family and cleave to your spouse. So we’re putting this in the family formation category. And we have invited o- one of the best speakers and authors on the topic of marriage, and that’s Pastor Ted Cunningham. He’s the founding Pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. And Ted, you’ve seen a few weddings, I think. Uh, does one stick out like uh-oh (laughs)?

Ted: Oh, boy.

Jim: I remember- I remember one- I was in a wedding and the guy passed out, one of the groomsmen keeled over into the candelabra, which almost caught the, uh, the drapes on fire (laughs).

Ted: Uh, I’ve had them from, they- they’ve been so out of control crying they can’t say the words to-

Jim: That’s sweet though.

Ted: … that- that is. And you have to pause, you have to wait. I’ve never had a bride or groom pass out, but I have had groomsmen [inaudible].

Jim: Yeah, why is always the groomsmen? What are we doing wrong?

Ted: Uh, they’re not even really doing anything.

Jim: Are they bored or they’re falling asleep? (laughs) What’s happening?

Ted: They have one job.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: They have to stand there in a tux. That’s it. That’s your only job. If you can’t make that happen, uh, we- we picked the wrong guy.

John: And as Jim said, Ted’s the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. And he’s a popular author and speaker, a very funny fellow, I might add. And, uh, you’re going to have fun today.

Jim: Uh, Ted, formally, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Ted: Great to be back.

Jim: Now, Ted, you are a contributor to a compilation book that we worked on. Actually, it’s a series of things, uh, DVD curriculum and other things. Ready to Wed. I think Greg Smalley, who kind of orchestrated that resource and the other attached resources, saw that if a couple receives 10 hours of counseling or more, their risk of divorce is significantly reduced. Um, you’re a pastor, you’re counseling couples who are thinking of getting married. Do you see that play out in your own- in your own church?

Ted: Oh, absolutely. We- it’s a requirement for us. If- if you are wanting to get married, you know, at our church or by someone from our church, uh, we- we require a minimum of six hours, believing 10, 12 is better. But our goal is that you don’t just go through premarital, you- after you- you get married, you plug into biblical community through a small group or home group.

Jim: You keep growing?

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: And continue to grow.

Jim: I can remember when Jean and I did our premarital counseling in Southern California, I remember there probably a dozen couples involved. And it was a all-day Saturday, uh, for two or three Saturdays, I can’t remember. But on the second or third Saturday that we were doing this, I remember three couples got up and said we’re not ready and we may not be right for each other. Which is a mark of success-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … isn’t it?

Ted: Absolutely. And I think for- for Amy and I, we (laughs) we went through a lot of skills based premarital. And what I loved about Ready to Wed, and- and it’s Greg and Erin Smalley’s heart and passion for marriage, is more at the heart level. We never really got into the heart conversations and the family of origin issues, and the messages written on the heart. We were dealing with budgeting and dealing with, you know, the first night of intimacy. And anyway, we were going through more of the skills and not so much the voices or the messages written on the heart.

Jim: Which is what really crops up in the marriage pretty quickly. Um, you may not see it in that honeymoon period, the first maybe a year or two, but those things will eventually begin to pop their heads up like groundhogs, right? (laughs)

Ted: Yeah. And it’s- it’s-

Jim: … whack-a-mole.

Ted: … it’s that moment, you- you’re trying to figure out why your- your spouse says or does the things they do. And then you’re over at your in-laws house and your mother-in-law-

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: … and your father-in-law says or does something, and you had that moment where you’re like, Huh, that’s it-

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: … right there.

Jim: You see it in live action.

Ted: That’s it. I just saw it. Now I know where it comes from.

Jim: Now being a guy, the one thing not to say in that moment is, “Honey, you remind me of your mother.”

Ted: Yeah. Oh, you never do it.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: You never do it. (laughs)

Jim: That’s not good advice. Uh, what would Amy say, your wife, about good things a woman shouldn’t say about her husband?

Ted: Yeah. Amy, when- she’s seeing more and more of my dad coming out in me.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: And- and- and there’s a lot, I get my- the mom that comes out in me, my mom gets excited very easily. I get excited very easy when things are happening. And- and- and I love to tell, you know, my family to calm down. Hey, hey, everybody calm down, calm down.

Jim: Because that’s a good place.

Ted: Yeah. I guess, we’re at a good… And Amy reminds me, We are calm. We are all calm in this room, Ted right now, but you.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: But we, uh, we see- we love now seeing, you know, after being married for 20 years, uh, how much the family of origin still plays into it.

Jim: Oh, isn’t it?

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And the older you get, the more obvious it gets, I think.

Ted: Well, and the-

Jim: I don’t know.

Ted: … older you get, the more I appreciate it.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: Probably 5-10 years ago, even I’m seeing my mom and dad come out and me I’m like, Oh. But now I’m, as they’re getting older even I’m saying, those are the qualities I’m- I’m wanting.

Jim: Well, and that was the section that you contributed-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … in Ready to Wed, which was the leave and cleave. Now that almost sounds very Christianese.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And, uh, it would be good for people that don’t even understand what we’re talking about. What is leave and cleave?

Ted: Yeah. Genesis 2:24 says, For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother, be united to his wife, and the two become one flesh. Most of the time we look at that verse as a marriage verse. But the first half of that verse is parenting. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother. In other words, it’s the job of a parent to make sure a child leaves home as an adult, not on a journey to become one. That’s the most important thing. Biggest mistake I think we make as parents today is we treat our children like children right up until the very moment we expect them to be an adult.

Jim: Wow.

Ted: And so, for- for me, it’s not academics, it’s not athletics, that raise our children into adults, it’s parents. And it doesn’t say for this reason a child leaves his mom and dad, it doesn’t say, For this reason an adolescent leaves his mom and dad. It says an adult. Wow. I think about that. My- I’m supposed to send my children out of the home not on a journey to become an adult, but as an adult, prepared for the responsibility of work and relationships, and in the context of Genesis 2:24, cleaving. I- I’m supposed to be preparing my son at 11 years old right now to be a husband, and my daughter at 13 soon 14 to be a wife. That’s my responsibility. And that’s where we get into the whole leave and cleave. I am preparing my children to leave. If ask my 11-year-old, What’s your dad’s definition of Genesis 2:24-

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: … he will look at you and go, I will not be with mom and dad forever, so plan accordingly. That’s right. And I tell my kids all the time, We love you, you’re a welcomed addition to this home. But your mom and I, we got big plans after you leave, right? And- and they’ll be like, Well, where are you going? Well, first of all, we’re going to Disney World-

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: … okay? We’re- we’re treating ourselves for raising you children.

Jim: Taking the victory lap.

Ted: Yeah. So- so the responsibility of parents, it’s not my job to send Karin and Carson out of the home for 10 years of self-discovery, and to figure out who they are. I’m supposed to send them out prepared with the- the milestones of adulthood, ready to go for work and relationship.

Jim: What are some of those things you’re doing both for your daughter and for your son?

Ted: So, if the definition of prolonged adolescence is too much privilege, not enough responsibility, it’s time as I move them into the teenage years, to help them understand privilege is at the end of responsibility. Y- you have to start laying on more of the responsibility, you have to start allowing them to make more decisions. If it’s true, we treat our children like children right up until the very day we expect them to be adults, this is why so many young people crash and burn their freshman year of college. They’re just not ready for the responsibility of all that freedom. I- my mom and dad were on me, some of them say, They were on me all the way up until they dropped me off at college. And then they weren’t there to be on me. And so, I wasn’t prepared for it. Ideas were thrown at me and events were thrown at me and activities were thrown at me, and I just said yes to all of them. And so, I think that starts way back earlier at that tween stage, when individualization and separation kick in. And your child, according to the Scripture, is actually becoming a little adult, that we- we have to stop seeing the tween years as this push back period of time where they’re rebelling. It’s not automatic rebelling, it’s- they’re becoming adults.

Jim: Right. And how to embrace that and encourage it, but do it in a responsible way-

Ted: Encourage it-

Jim: … on their part.

Ted: I even use the word celebrate it-

Jim: Right.

Ted: … promote it-

Jim: Right.

Ted: Like, Yay, you’re an adult. So what that means is, I don’t tell you to brush your teeth anymore.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: That’s not my job, right? That’s like responsibility number one. I’m not going to be telling a 13-year-old, It’s time to take a shower, okay? And I don’t have to tell you-

Jim: But what do you do if they’re not doing it?

Ted: They’re going to experience, someone else’s going to tell them, I’ll say this-

Jim: Oh, that’s true.

Ted: … someone else is going smell them.

Jim: (laughs) That’s pretty true.

Ted: And say, Yeah, you need to take a shower. And I’m just saying, the loving thing to do as a parent is let me help my child understand that-

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: … and their need for it, rather than them getting picked on in the world saying, Man, what do you- What’s going on? That’s your responsibility. You got to- you got to get yourself up, you got to brush your teeth, you got to take a shower, you got to get dressed. I’m not laying out your clothes anymore. You can tell I’m getting pretty worked up.

Jim: Oh no. Pretty much, I just [crosstalk] Brushing your teeth and taking a shower. If you’re not doing those two things, you’re probably not going to be married. (laughs)

Ted: That’s right, exactly.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: And that shouldn’t start when they’re- they’re 18. I just think, my parents would never be my alarm clock at 16, 17 years old, it just didn’t happen.

Jim: And Ted, you talk in the book about, um, your favorite moment in the marriage ceremony-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … and that’s when dad gives away his little girl. And why is that particular moment as a pastor so rewarding for you?

Ted: It’s rewarding, it’s emotional. You know, the guy can be- the dad can be 6 ft 8, 280-

Jim: (laughs) let’s hope so.

Ted: … uh, linebacker when… Because I asked at the rehearsal, Hey, tomorrow, I want you to turn and face your daughter. After I ask who gives this woman to be married to this man? We’re not rushing through this. I want this to be a moment. And I don’t- don’t work to make this some viral moment on YouTube. This is you, dad and daughter. And I want you to speak a blessing over your daughter. You won’t have a clock, so take your time.

Jim: Wow.

Ted: You won’t have a microphone. We don’t need to hear it, we don’t need to get it all recorded. Let this be your moment where you- the… I can’t think of anything that’s more literal for Genesis 2:24.

Jim: Speaking life into your daughter.

Ted: Yeah. This is- I am literally giving you away right now to be another man’s wife. And dad at the rehearsal usually shrugs me off like, Yeah, no problem. I’ll do that pastor. And I’m like, You have no idea.

Jim: Yeah. Let me ask you.

Ted: (laughs)

Jim: Why, um, you know, I think today, I don’t know if it’s technology and entertainment and everything else, we kind of shrug through this amazing moment of responsibility. And we underplay it in so many ways, when this is an astonishing moment.

Ted: And for me, I think, big picture with weddings, I’m super sad that everybody wants them short today, is- is what I’m seeing-

Jim: Right.

Ted: … in church. There- and- and I will have the bride tell me, Keep it short. I- and I used to sit down with couples and be like, Okay, let’s- and my part, let me tell you what the- the elements that I’m over. And then you let me know the special music, if any family is reading scripture and… There are no special elements. There’s no extra this, extra that. Just get right to it. Let’s get this going.

Jim: Get people out of here.

Ted: Let’s get to the party. And I’m going, This is a lot of money to invest in 15 minutes. (laughs)

Jim: Right. But why do you think that is? Why do you think people aren’t cherishing this moment? And how does that play downstream with their commitment-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … to each other?

Ted: That’s a great exam- And- and I know we say invest more in the marriage than you do in the wedding. But I think when we say that, we’re not meaning, you know, don’t- don’t view this as special, don’t view this-

Jim: Right.

Ted: … as an opportunity or just a formality. And so, you know, when that dad on the wedding day after the rehearsal, walks his daughter down the aisle, and he turns to face his daughter, there’s not a dry eye in the place. And you know, he doesn’t have a microphone, so all we hear is [inaudible] I mean, just this little whimpering coming out. But we all have to take a moment to gather ourselves. And then he turns and faces him. And I told my daughter, this is the story I use in the book, The Princess and the Queen. You know, when she was five, she was kind of taking over the home. And I sat her down and said, There’s only one queen in this house. And you ain’t her.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: And she looked at me with those eyes that said, We’ll see.

Jim: Oh, man.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And she’s five.

Ted: And she’s five. And she told Amy the next day, There’s room enough in this house for two queens.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: And I sat her down, I said, Listen, one day a little boy is going to say the words to you, I love you. And- and I want you to know he’s of his father, the devil and a child of darkness.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: I want you to stay away. No, I did not. Make sure every listener knows I did not say that to her.

Jim: What did you say?

Ted: I said, One day, I’m going to stand at the back of a church with you, looking down the aisle, and I want you to understand something at that moment, I want you to remember what I’m saying to you now, what I’m going to say to you as you’re growing up, Your mom is my queen, you will never be my queen. But you’re my princess. And so, one day, I’m going to walk you down the aisle to become another man’s queen. And I said, Between this day and that day, I’m going to do the best I can, to the best of my ability, I want to show you every day how a queen should be treated.

Jim: That is beautiful.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, I hope every father is hearing what you’re saying right now. And to cherish that moment, to, uh, wherever you’re at. If your little daughters 15 now or 5. Um, pick up that purpose today.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: If it’s-

Ted: And- and on the first date-

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: … share that story. Hey, this is my princess you’re taking out right now.

Jim: You had a story in this chapter in Ready to Wed, which is a great curriculum, by the way, and this is aimed at churches primarily, but couples can do it on their own. But we would love for churches to pick this up and- and again to help those couples in your congregation have the best chance at having a lifelong commitment to their marriage. This kind of premarital counseling is what it’s all about. But you had a story in there about a dad who was at the moment and decided he didn’t want to give his little girl away.

Ted: Oh, he wouldn’t answer me.

Jim: I mean, that- th- what happened?

Ted: Yeah. He goes, I go, Who gives this woman to be married to this man? It’s what almost every pastor says with some variation. And he was silent. And I thought-

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: … I tapped on the mic-

Jim: This isn’t rehearsal.

Ted: Yeah. This is the wedding day.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: And what’s funny is we practice it the day before, so I don’t know what happened. I asked a second time, and he just stared at me. And I thought, Okay, he’s verklempt. He’s- he’s caught up in the moment. Let’s give him a moment. Because I think one of the worst things a pastor can do is step on moments like that.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: Just let those moments go. And- but the third time I asked him, he said, I go, Who gives this woman to be married to this man? He responded with, I will not give her. And I went, What? (laughs)

Jim: So now this is getting a little, uh, chilly.

Ted: Yeah. He said, But I will share her.

Jim: Oh, man.

Ted: And I looked over at the groom and I said, I’m sorry, but the wedding is over. And you know, he’s got this look in his eyes like, What- what is going on? How are we going to manage that? I just pause for a minute. And you know me, my big thing is I step on everything with humor. So I tried to make a joke out of it. But I mean, the implication of-

Jim: Sure.

Ted: … that statement for the next 10 to 20 years is what I wanted to address. I- I- I had to hear you know, that moment when you’re sitting in the exit row, and are you willing and able to perform the duties of the exit row? You can’t not.

Jim: Right.

Ted: They res- they require that you say out loud and audible, Yes.

Jim: Right.

Ted: And I have to hear that from the dad. I go… Because I- when a mom comes up to me at a wedding and says, I don’t feel like I’m losing a daughter today, I feel like I’m gaining a son. I tell her the same thing every time. Nope, you’re losing a daughter.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: It’s time for you to back away.

Jim: Well, that-

Ted: That’s the leaving part.

Jim: When you think about it, that’s completely right and logical. But you also understand the heart of the mom-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … who- who wants keep-

Ted: Who’s going to be riding in after this, uh (laughs)

Jim: Right, right. But how- I can’t leave everybody hanging. How- how did you address that with dad?

Ted: I- I did make a joke. I made light out of it. But then I said, I’ve got to get the audible. I have got to hear-

Jim: Right there?

Ted: Right there. Yes.

Jim: Did he finally say it?

Ted: He said her mother and I. Yeah, he did say-

Jim: Okay.

Ted: … her mother and I. But I wanted to go on to a long-

Jim: Did you follow up later-

Ted: … sermon.

Jim: … like after the ceremony? And say, Let me talk you through a little bit of what was going on.

Ted: Well, this may shock you. But it found its way into the message of the ceremony. Uh-

Jim: Oh okay(laughs)

Ted: … the difference between giving and sharing. (laughs)

Jim: You were that quick on it.

Ted: I had to be.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: I just am like, listen. You know, for you two to become one… I’m this specific with guys.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: Listen, if you’ve called your mom every day to share the highs and lows of your day for the last two or three years after work, listen, you- you can’t do that anymore. Part of leaving is, this is now the new lady you come home to and share the highs and lows of your days with. I had a mom come up to me through premarital counseling and through what’s in this book, and all the examples of lea- the leaving part. We haven’t really talked about cleaving, the leaving part. And a mom came up to me at a wedding and said, How dare you tell a son not to love his mother?

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: And I went, Well, first of all, would you ever hear that? I don’t care what pastor, you would never hear that out of a pastor’s mouth. I said, I never told your son that. Here’s part of the problem. You weren’t in that premarital session. I told your son don’t call you every day.

Jim: Right.

Ted: He can’t do that anymore. But she interpreted that as he’s disconnected from me, he doesn’t love me. And then you have to walk through all of that with, No, this is actually love. This isn’t hate.

Jim: But I need to, um, press you on behalf of those moms that aren’t- they’re not seeing it that way. Tell me why, spiritually. Tell me why I shouldn’t expect the same relationship with my son, even if he has married or my daughter if- if she’s married? Why can’t I still have the same relationship?

Ted: Oh, so here’s what I tell couples. You need to separate physically. So you need to move out if you’re living with your mom and dad. If you- if you’re still in the basement with Star Wars bedsheets, we need you out of there, okay? It’s time to get married. You need to separate financially. I hear couples all the time, I want my parents to take our relationship seriously and not treat us like children. Well, one way you can do that is don’t call home for money. Get a second job before you ask your parents to bail you out. So you’re separating physically, financially, you’re separating emotionally. The problem, if- if you have a tough day at work, and you get in the car and your first person you’re going to call your mom, not your wife, that’s a problem. That’s going to prevent you from the second half of Genesis 2:24, the two becoming one.

Jim: Yes.

Ted: The very definition of Genesis 2:24, the picture we have is, the bond between a husband and a wife has to be stronger than the bond between a parent and a child, period. It- it has to be separate. Then you’re separating, uh, emotionally, you’re separating relationally. And- and I tell couples, If those don’t work, if you can’t separate physically and financially and emotionally, you- and this one really gets me in trouble, you may need to separate geographically.

Jim: Yeah. That’ll help accomplish the other.

Ted: It will.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: You may not be able to live two miles from your parents if they’re stopping by all the time. If they’re wanting to catch up on your life, you know, daily. These are the boundaries that need to go in place if you’re going to truly leave, because we’re talking about leaving, we’re not talking about just moving. We’re talking about leaving that relationship to start a brand-new relationship, which is the cleaving part.

Jim: Yeah. You’re listening to Focus on the Family. Today, our guest is Pastor Ted Cunningham. We’re talking about his contribution to the Ready to Wed curriculum and book produced by Focus on the Family under Greg and Erin Smalley. They head up our marriage effort here at Focus, and they’re doing a great job. Ted, let me ask you this. Some parents, and they probably would be called old- old fashioned. They think having the family around them is a good thing.

Ted: Sure.

Jim: And having that high interaction is a good thing. Intergenerational living is something that more and more people are doing.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: Um, is that healthy or unhealthy? I mean, in some ways, are you describing a cultural norm of today that you leave and cleave, and you separate in every way. Whereas man, the- in the Old and New Testament families typically lived together in the same community and shared duties and responsibilities.

Ted: There was a big difference, though, between, yeah, what we’ve experienced historically and biblically and traditionally, and what we’re experiencing now. Then, you left your mom and dad’s home, and you went right into your new home.

Jim: Yeah. It was built during the pre-wedding time.

Ted: And so mom and dad would carve out an acre on the far end of their property, and that’s where you started your family. Well, now, you’re leaving mom and dad, and maybe spending 5, 10 and in some cases, 15 years on your own-

Jim: Right.

Ted: … before you enter into a new home. So that part is very different. And you now have- you’ve built a relationship with your parent as an adult that didn’t happen for most history and- and biblically speaking. So now you have a husband and wife who have adult relationships with mom and dad. And mom and dad were the go-to, you know, if you need something fixed at your apartment when you we’re 28, you call dad. Well, let me tell you, Well, now you got a new guy, whether he’s handy or not, dad’s not the first go to phone call.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: Again, if you- if the goal is oneness, and not enmeshment, and- and having a family that so tied together-

Jim: And that’s the common theme. That’s what you’re really saying-

Ted: That’s what-

Jim: … the two becoming one flesh.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: You have to cleave to each other. Let’s move into that, the cleaving portion.

Ted: The biblical definition of compatibility is specifically two becoming one. And it’s the last half of the verse, because you can’t have it without the leaving part. If you don’t leave well, you can’t cleave well. If you aren’t in a- have healthy boundaries with your parents, emotionally, relationally, financially, it’s going to be very difficult to figure out how we’re going to do this together, just the two of us.

Jim: Where’s that- the other side of that boundary, when a parent, maybe an elderly parent, let’s say the couples in their 40s or 50s, that sandwich generation-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … that they talk about. And, um, you know, it’s- it can be neglect-

Ted: Sure.

Jim: … on the one edge of that boundary, or you’re all consumed with how to take care of your aging parents who may not have planned well. Whatever it might be, whatever the stress is. How- how do you manage that moment in your marriage to make sure you’re one, and- and you’re not being kind of sucked into this extravagant need for your time with the parents, and still honoring them?

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: That’s a really complicated-

Ted: Oh, boy.

Jim: … moment.

Ted: We’re seeing this. We’re- we’re living this out. We’re watching Amy’s parents take care of you know, Amy’s 92-year-old grandfather.

Jim: Wow.

Ted: And so, uh, just when you get to that place where you’re hitting your 70s, and you’re expecting, you know, and I will say this, or parents have been married for over 40 years, and so oneness isn’t an issue. I mean, they’ve pretty much settled that-

Jim: Right.

Ted: … (laughs) issue. And it’s a completely different role reversal. Now, it’s not mom and dad trying to call the shots, and mom and dad looking at decisions that, you know, Amy’s parents may be making and be like, I wouldn’t make that. That- that’s kind of… When we talked about leave, we talk about learning how to make your own decisions-

Jim: It’s not neglect.

Ted: … dealing with consequences. Yeah, no. And- and, and I believe 1 Timothy 5 is clear on that, like, I have a responsibility to care for my parents. Uh, my parents are not the responsibility of the government, or even the church. I mean, that’s primarily falls on me first. And so that’s a completely different issue, knowing that I will one day be bringing them back into my home or being responsible for them physically.

Jim: Well again, you look at that cycle, it’s rather interesting that when your parents are raising you, they’re hopefully preparing you for that time that you’re already an adult when you launch, you’re not going to learn it on the job training-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … in your 20s-

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: … that they’ve really done a good job. And ironically, it’s almost like learning the humility of God, that as your parents then age, and you’re in your 50s, and now, mom’s alone-

Ted: Mm-hmm-

Jim: … because dad passed away-

Ted: Mm-hmm-

Jim: … three years ago, and she’s not doing well. And she’s got to go somewhere, and you bring mom home.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And mom’s now living with you in the little apartment, basement or whatever it might be. Um, how can you manage that moment in a healthy, Biblical way?

Ted: Yeah. I still think the priority of your marriage is what leads to that honor-

Jim: Mm-hmm-

Ted: … to know, Hey, Mom, we’re glad you’re here. You’re a welcome addition to our home, we’re still a united front. You know, though… And I- you know what I tell parents and grandparents again, this idea of advocating for your child’s marriage means you advocate for their marriage not just your child. I think that’s an important piece there. Sometimes we- we pick our child, or we pick one spouse. Advocate for both. Understand the marriage is important. It’s the- the cornerstone in that family, in that home. Support that. And I- and I think it’s one of the- on the topic of leaving and cleaving, and again, going back to this idea that every marriage is a duet in need of great backup singers.

Jim: (laughs)

Ted: One of the best ways for a parent to be a backup singer to their adult child’s marriage is to advocate for the marriage, not just the child. And I know the tendency when that child calls, wanting to go at the husband or call- go at the wife, and- and begins making all the statements. The faster you can shut that down, the better.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: Because, uh, you- you need to say, I’m here for both of you, not just one of you. Those who are absent are protected here (laughs) on this phone call and in this room.

John: Well, Ted Cunningham always has such great wisdom to share with us as he did on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. And I do hope that many young couples are leaning in right now and listening and taking his words to heart.

Jim: Well, it’s so important to get your marriage off on the right start. And Focus on the Family is here to help you. Uh, it’s our privilege to provide you and your spouse with what you need for a lifelong, God centered relationship. And that’s why we have a whole department dedicated to marriage. We want to give you solid biblically based wisdom and advice to help you in any season of your marriage. Let me share with you what one listener told us. She wrote, The sheer contrast between your advice and that of the world intrigued me. And before long, I started to see that everything I was reading wasn’t simply a bunch of people with old school values but was actually based on God’s word. I tell you, I love hearing a comment like that, John. If you’re on the path to marriage, or you know someone who is, a great resource for you is the book, Ready to Wed: 12 Ways to Start a Marriage You’ll Love. And when you donate to Focus on the Family, gift of any amount today, we’ll send you a copy of that book as our way of saying thank you.

John: All the details are at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or call 800 the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Ready to Wed: 12 Ways to Start a Marriage You'll Love

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Recent Episodes

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Investing in Your Child for the Teen Years

A panel of parents join with Jim Daly and John Fuller to discuss preparing their children for the teen years and adulthood, providing a biblical perspective on sexuality, peer relationships and technology.

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The Heart Of a Warrior

War veteran Chad Robichaux uses a story of nearly being captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan to make an important point: when we are at a critical juncture in our life, we need to recognize that fact and then make a move. He calls it being “on the X.” Chad goes on to share how he almost committed suicide while suffering PTSD, and encourages his audience to fight against suicidal thoughts. He concludes by describing how a mission to save his Afghan interpreter turned into a huge evacuation of anyone targeted by the Taliban after American forces left Afghanistan.

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Taming Your Child’s Tongue

In a discussion based on her book I Can’t Believe You Just Said That!, Ginger Hubbard offers parents a Biblically-based three-step plan for dealing effectively with their children’s back talk, whining and lying. She also stresses the importance of dealing with matters of the heart, rather than simply addressing outward behavior.

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Popular Christian vocalist Larnelle Harris reflects on his five-decade music career, sharing the valuable life lessons he’s learned about putting his family first, allowing God to redeem a troubled past, recognizing those who’ve sacrificed for his benefit, and faithfully adhering to biblical principles amidst all the opportunities that have come his way.

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Pastor Dave Carder offers couples practical advice for protecting their marriages from adultery in a discussion based on his book Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions, and Addictions Develop, and How to Guard Your Marriage Against Them. (Part 1 of 2)

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Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

Cherishing Your Spouse Every Day

Do you love your spouse, or do you truly cherish them? Gary Thomas encourages couples to make a daily effort to go beyond the ‘duty’ of love, and combat the natural inclination to drift apart, by choosing to see the best in their spouse.

Mr. Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas is an international speaker and best-selling, award-winning author whose books include Married SexSacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting. He has also written numerous articles for several prominent national magazines. Gary and his wife, Lisa, reside in Texas and have three children. You can learn more about Gary by visiting his website, www.garythomas.com.

cherish front cover

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

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Discover the amazing work our PRC’s Directors, Nurses, and Volunteers are making in their communities! You’ll see firsthand testimonies of a PRC in action, and that there are other options outside of abortions! You’ll also discover how your family can support your local PRC!

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Newest Release - Episode 4: Sometimes the Choice is Hard

Hear real life stories of parents who have made the decision to choose life even though the circumstances were overwhelming. You’ll see why “ALL” life is precious to God and why choosing life is always the right decision!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

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Newest Release - Episode 3: The Power of a Picture

Have you ever wondered what a baby looked like in the womb? With today’s technology, Moms and Dads can see the baby’s heartbeat, facial expressions, and movements! You’ll find out why more women choose life once they hear their baby’s heartbeat and realize it’s a real living human!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

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Newest Release - Episode 5: It’s Going to be Amazing!

After a couple has chosen life, hear the heartwarming stories of children that culture would have cast aside, yet are making tremendous impacts in their communities. Whether the diagnosis was adverse or the circumstances were difficult, these stories will inspire you to come along side of families who have chosen life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

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Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 2

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

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Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Effective Habits to Embrace in Parenting

To be an effective parent, you must be a leader in your child’s life, guiding with a gentle hand and setting a solid example. Dr. Randy Schroeder provides the insight you need to be a leader-parent. As he explores the foundational Rs—relationship, routines, responsibilities, and rules—you’ll better understand the role you play in your child’s life. You’ll learn great phrases to employ such as “Either/Or/You Decide” and “When You/Then You”. While there is no perfect parent, this nuts-and-bolts material will equip you to lead your child in a loving, confident manner.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder has spent more than four decades writing, counseling, speaking, and teaching. For nearly 25 years, he was Vice President of Student Personnel Services, Dean of Students, and a professor of pastoral counseling at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. He’s also led a successful counseling practice helping individuals, couples, and families to thrive in their lives and relationships.

Cover image of Dr. Randall Schroeder's book "Simple Habits for Effective Parenting"

Simple Habits for Effective Parenting

Effective parenting is now within your grasp! With this inspiring how-to comprehensive book, achieve extraordinary results in raising a child to be self-assured, self-reliant, and responsible! You will be able to successfully lead and lovingly encourage your child toward a Godly life!

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Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution.  Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships  where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast. 

Defending Your Marriage

Is your marriage under attack? Sometimes it can feel like the world is trying to tear your marriage apart. Internal conflicts or external pressures might make you wonder if something sinister is going on. How can you tell if you’re facing spiritual opposition? And what can you do about it? Tim Muehlhoff provides a straightforward resource for protecting your marriage from the threats of the evil one. He looks at what Scripture says about spiritual warfare and how our everyday struggles have deeper spiritual realities. And he provides practical steps for guarding our marriages with the whole armor of God.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 1

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 2

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

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Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage - Part 2

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 2

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

As a spouse, you have three roles to play—a friend, a partner, and a lover. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Pastor Kevin A. Thompson explores those different roles and challenges you to live them out by investing emotionally, physically, and mentally in your relationship. As friends, he suggests we learn to play and laugh together. As partners, he equips us with solid ways to handle conflict and communication. As lovers, he offers some thoughts on how to bring back the sizzle. He shares five keys to saving your marriage: humility, respect, mercy, communication, and resilience. You’ll be encouraged to intentionally invest in your marriage.

Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

Kevin A. Thompson (MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is lead pastor at Community Bible Church, a growing multi-site church with four locations in western Arkansas. Every year he meets with nearly one hundred couples with a range of needs, from pre-marital counseling to navigating the most serious betrayals. A marriage and parenting conference speaker, he and his wife, Jenny, have two children and live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He blogs at kevinathompson.com.

Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 1

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

How a Former Abortion Doctor Became Pro-Life

As an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood, Dr. Patti Giebink believed she was helping women. Later, she began reading scripture and God gradually changed her heart on the abortion issue. Patti tells the story of her long journey from abortion doctor to pro-life and encourages listeners to share the message of life with compassion.

Headshot image of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Patti Giebink

Mrs. Patti Giebink

Dr. Patti Giebink is an OB-GYN who serves on the board of the Alpha Center, a well-known pregnancy center located in Sioux Falls, S.D. She also travels intermittently to work in mission hospitals in Pakistan and other countries. After completing her medical training, Dr. Giebink worked for Planned Parenthood from 1995-1997, during which she was the only abortion-provider in the state of South Dakota. She eventually experienced a radical change of heart on the issue of abortion after receiving God’s grace, forgiveness, and love, and she is now a passionate advocate for the pro-life movement.

Cover image of the book "Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life"

Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life

Unexpected Choice is told from the perspective of a doctor who actually performed abortions through Planned Parenthood. The book chronicles her journey from being a pro-choice physician to someone speaking on behalf of the pro-life movement.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Thank you for committing to pray for the pre-born!

Sign up below for your free seven-day prayer guide. This daily guide will help give direction to your prayers for the pro-life movement. We will be praying with you!