A rebellious child is opposed to authority — yours! And his defiance hurts, doesn’t it? It causes you to question your effectiveness as a loving, godly parent. You may wonder if God has given you more than you can handle. In this practical article which first appeared here, BCC counselor Lucy Ann Moll encourages moms and dads to persevere.
In the counseling office, I’ve heard from moms and dads who need help figuring out and responding to a rebellious child. My hope is to provide encouragement to you so you know. . .
- You are not alone. Other parents of children, from early childhood to young adulthood, have also dealt with rebellion.
- God’s Word contains what every parent needs to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).
- You have an identifiable enemy.
- God gives you his power to persevere.
The goal: to encourage and equip you
with help and hope for your heart!
You Are Not Alone
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
“My daughter met this new kid who introduced her to weed. Now she sneaks out of the house and lies. What happened?”
“I can’t get through to my 24 year old. Over and over I tell him he has to get a job. He says he’ll look for one ‘tomorrow’ but never does.”
“Joey won’t do anything I ask him — pick up his stuff, turn off the TV, do his spelling homework. I don’t know what to do.”
Your child’s problem may be backtalk or bullying, stealing or sneaking out, lying or laziness — or all of these. Even “good” kids might rebel.
Tragically, rebellion is worsening! In We Cannot Be Silent, R. Albert Mohler Jr. writes, “We are facing nothing less than a comprehensive redefinition of life, love, liberty, and the very meaning of right and wrong.” Do you agree?
God’s Word Has Everything You Need
As you wrestle through the issues of parenting a rebellious child, have you found hope and comfort in the all-sufficient written Word?
Romans 8:28 has an encouraging message. Please do not let its familiarity blow by you.
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.
All things. Including the hard. Especially the hard.
The Lord promises:
I will never leave you or forsake you. So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me? Hebrews 13:5-6
May I encourage you to read the Bible daily? Like nothing else, God’s Word strengthens you and comforts you. It instructs and convicts. It is God speaking to YOU.
Jot down important biblical truths God impresses on you. Think on these truths (Philippians 4:8).
You Have an Identifiable Enemy
When your son blames you, when your daughter refuses to follow rules — know this: Yes, your rebellious child is reponsible for their own sin. However, Satan loves to rip apart a family any way he can. He tempts your children to hate you!
You are in a spiritual war. This war has an eternal significance. Satan is your enemy.
What you can do:
In addition to prayer and reading your Bible for strength, comfort, and insight:
- Discipline your rebellious child. Biblical discipline, say Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jim Newheiser in When Good Kids Make Bad Choices, is the process of setting clear standards for behavior based on the Bible, requiring immediate and respectful obedience, and then taking measured discipinary action when the rules are not obeyed.
- Love your rebellious child. When your child–whether age 4 or age 24–acts like your enemy, choose to show them love (Matthew 5:44-45). Resist revenge. Do good. Forgive as you have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32). Speak life-giving words.
Remind yourself that your rebellious child is NOT the real enemy.
God Gives You His Power to Persevere
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
- Pray for your child with your husand if you’re married (and he’s a believer). Prayer demonstrates your reliance on God.
- Thank God for the trial. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4) Thanking God will lessen your anxiety and complaints.
- Ask God how you can change? Perhaps you are too permissive or authoritarian. Maybe spending more time with your child will improve communication.
- Ask your child for forgiveness. (Matthew 7:1-5) When you sin against your child, tell her you sinned, confess your wrongdoing, and repent. Your demonstration of true humility will have an effect for the good.
These godly responses toward a rebellious child may sound impossible.
Apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5
If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7
Truly, on your own it is impossible be an effective, loving godly parent to a rebellious child, but in Christ you can persevere. You can have true joy in the journey.