Ever wonder why children disobey? Or specifically why your kid does the opposite of what the Bible instructs, encourages, and commands?
You know God says kids should obey their parents. Perhaps you can recite this verse in your sleep:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Ephesians 6:1–3, ESV
Dr. Ron Allchin, D.Min., founder of Biblical Counseling Center lists five reasons why kids disobey.
5 Reasons for Disobedience
Here are five possible motivations and examples. Discern which one or two best fits your child or teen.
Children can be motivated to disobey by tensions displayed in the home.
Examples: Financial tensions, parental marital problems, discipline issues related to a sibling, family tension with neighbors, parental work-related issues, tension with grandparents, tension in the church that affect the family, and other tension-creating situations.
2. An Unbiblical Model
Children can be motivated by the influence of an unbiblical model.
Examples: Ungodly anger modeled by a parent, or rebellion against an authority modeled in the home (Mom against Dad, Dad against boss, Mom against boss, sibling against parent, or ungodly examples of lying, cheating, stealing, and the like by someone in the home).
3. An Unknown Reason
Children can be motivated to disobey by a present or past circumstance that they witnessed, heard, or experienced that is unknown to the parent.
Examples: Sexual abuse of the child or their sibling, trouble at school, relational problems with child’s peer group, or other present or past trouble unknown to the parent.
4. A Strong Will
Children may also disobey due to their own stubborn, rebellious, strong will.
Examples: The child may choose a path of rebellion or to exercise their own stubborn and strong will in spite of proper parental teaching and modeling. Adam and Eve did!
5. Imbalance in Nurture and Admonition
Children can be motivated by a breakdown or imbalance in nurture and admonition.
Examples: Living opposite of the Ephesians 6:4 example of a balance in nurture and admonition in parenting a child.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4, ESV
Nurture is using rewards and consequences to structure the child’s behavior. Read Hebrews 12:5–11.
Admonition is loving instruction with warning, caution, and rebuke. It involves talking with your child about her disobedience, hugging her, and searching the Bible together for God’s instruction. Read Deuteronomy 6:4–7. A proper balance of nurture and admonition helps your child’s heart respond to God’s heart all the days of his life.
Did you identify a motivation for your child’s or teen’s disobedience? If so, you are on your way to godly parenting. If you’re unsure, ask God to reveal to you what’s happening in your child’s heart.
God wants you to proactively zero in on your child’s heart and train him or her to honor Him. Teach your child to know God and to love Him. Teach your child how to obey.
As you grasp why children disobey and partner with God to teach your child to love Him, you (and your spouse) will bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
For more resources on the relationship between fathers and sons in particular, see Dr. Allchin’s book Growing in Wisdom: A Bible Study in Proverbs for Fathers and Sons.
COUNSELING: Sometimes reading a book on parenting isn’t enough. Sometimes it’s helpful to speak with a caring biblical counselor regarding solutions to the problems. Biblical Counseling Center has three locations in the Chicago area and we also offer counseling by Skype. Our counselors have counseled people living in Australia, China, Switzerland, Germany, the U.K., and other nations as well as all over the United States and Canada.
Contact us today for more information or to make an appointment.