Ever wonder why children disobey? Or specifically why does your kid do the opposite of what the Bible instructs, encourage, and commands?
You know God says kids should obey. You’ve read the verses and have shared them with your kids (and grandchildren).
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
Still, you’re left wondering, “Why is my child acting this way?” Dr. Ron Allchin, D.Min., founder and executive director of Biblical Counseling Center. He also wrote the book Growing in Wisdom: A Bible Study in Proverbs for Fathers and Sons. Click here to grab a free PDF of the book OR get the book on Kindle or in paperback.
Five Possible Motivations for Disobedience
So you want to know why children disobey? Here are five possible motivations along with clear examples. See which best fits your child.
On Thursday you’ll get a practical help for real change in your child and you in part 2 of this blog series on How to Have a Godly Child. Make sure you get every post when you subscribe to our blog by email. The subscribe box is in the left column of this page.
1. Children can be motivated to disobedient thinking and behavior 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 (in-laws), tension in the church that affect the family, and other tension-creating situations.
2. Children can be motivated by the influence of an unbiblical model.
Examples: Ungodly anger modeled by a parent, rebellion against an authority modeled in the home. This latter includes Mom against Dad, or Dad against boss, or Mom against boss. It also includes ungodly examples of lying, cheating, stealing, and the like by someone in the home.
3. Children can be motivated 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. Children can be motivated by 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. Children can be motivated by a breakdown or imbalance in nurture and admonition.
Examples: Ephesians 6:4 calls for 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.” ESV
Nurture is using rewards and consequences to structure the child’s behavior. Read Hebrews 12:5-11. Admonition is instruction with loving 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 disobedience? Great. 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 to 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.