Help, I have a rebellious child!
I hear this more often than you would imagine. I thought I would address this issue today.
Before I get into it let’s ask, “What is a rebellious child?” We need to determine if it truly is rebellion that is the issue.
Rebellion is a serious issue. God’s Word speaks very clearing about rebellion, and it should never be taken lightly.
Here is Isaiah 59, we see the clear pain of rebellion:
Behold, the Lord‘s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
2 but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.
4 No one enters suit justly;
no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
5 They hatch adders’ eggs;
they weave the spider’s web;
he who eats their eggs dies,
and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.
6 Their webs will not serve as clothing;
men will not cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil,
and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
desolation and destruction are in their highways.
8 The way of peace they do not know,
and there is no justice in their paths;
they have made their roads crooked;
no one who treads on them knows peace.
9 Therefore justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not overtake us;
we hope for light, and behold, darkness,
and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
10 We grope for the wall like the blind;
we grope like those who have no eyes;
we stumble at noon as in the twilight,
among those in full vigor we are like dead men.
11 We all growl like bears;
we moan and moan like doves;
we hope for justice, but there is none;
for salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you,
and our sins testify against us;
for our transgressions are with us,
and we know our iniquities:
13 transgressing, and denying the Lord,
and turning back from following our God,
speaking oppression and revolt,
conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.
Rebellion is the choice to do the opposite of what is expected of you.
Rebellion is a heart condition.
But is your child truly rebellious or is she just impulsive, lacking discipline and self-control.
These are NOT rebellion they are immaturity.
Here is a very basic example. You love video games. You know that playing video games makes you grumpy, and irritable. Playing video games isn’t going to kill you, but it does have serious side effects. Yet you struggle with the disciple to not overdo on video gaming. You do NOT want to overplay, You know that it is not good for you, but your lack of discipline in this area frustrates you continuously. This is NOT a rebellious behavior. It is a foolish behavior, and it is even a stupid decision on your part. But being stupid, being foolish, and lacking discipline is NOT always a sign of rebellion. Everyday that you remember who you want to be and what you want to accomplish for the Lord, and you stay away from overplaying on video games is another day towards a more disciplined and healthy life. But it takes work on your part.
Maybe you have an issue like this. Maybe you smoke, or over eat, or have an obsession, or bad habit of your own. Whatever your issue is, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I do this bad habit because I want to hurt myself, or others, or to disobey God?
- Do I do this bad habit because I am weak and fall into old patterns of behavior?
When you answer these two questions you can clearly determine if you are rebellious or just immature in this area.
Immaturity is Not a always sin, Rebellion IS!
So, now that we know the difference between immaturity and rebellion, ask you child the same questions.
When the child is NOT having bad behavior, sit down and ask them clearly why do you do ….?
Fill in the blank with your child’s issue or issues.
Ask them if they want to obey you?
Nine times out of 10 the child has a great desire to obey and do what is right. In these situations, you can praise the Lord, your child is not rebellious. Nope, they are just a child with a human nature. Children have so much growing, learning, and training that has to be done over and over and over. I have children in their 20 now, I have married children, and I have grandchildren. And I can tell you they still need reminded and helped in maturing and growing in obedience. Seriously, don’t you still need help? Don’t you still struggle to do that which you want to do. Even the Apostle Paul struggled in this, and he was a Pharisee of Pharisees. Yeshua Messiah came to Paul and taught him one on one, and yet Paul struggled. So, if Paul struggled to do what was right, how can we expect our 10-year-old to be more mature that us?
Be patient with your children. Help them identify their weaknesses. Help them make a plan to be disciplined and self-controlled. Often, I find in families, there are common struggles. If mom struggles with controlling her tongue, often her children do too. If dad struggles with over reacting in anger, usually his children do too. So, work as a family on these things. Challenge one another, recognize each other’s weaknesses, offer grace and mercy, and stir each other on in love.
Five things you can do to help a child who is struggling to be all that YHVH created them to be, but desires to obey with all their heart:
Pray for them, pray with them, pray over them, teach them the importance of talking to God.
Talk to them about their struggles, allow them to express themselves to you. Listen to them.
Memorize scripture with them that reminds them of who they are in Christ.
Have others in their life that encourage them in the truths that you are teaching at home. (fellowship, family, and friends that are like minded and care about your child)
Recognize when you see them making an effort to change a bad habit or behavior.
Now, what if your child is truly rebellious?
What if they have a terrible heart condition and have no desire to change it?
Sometimes a child may even appear to have a change of heart and begin to be obedient and respectful, just to go back to rebellious behavior in a few days, or weeks.
What can be done if a child is not embracing truth or desiring to walk the way your family is walking?
This is a serious issue and a true struggle for families, especially when a family is growing in their faith rapidly. Often when a family makes a big change in how they walk out their faith, it is unsettling to their children.
It is very important that you include your child in your life journey. Talk to you child about how God is working in your life, show them what you are learning in scripture, teach them that to fear God is more important than what man thinks about you. Don’t just expect your child to get in the car and buckle up for the ride. They are people, they have thoughts, feelings, and questions. Tell them where you as a family are going, and why you’re going there, tell them how you hope to get there. The journey of life in a family unit involves everyone. Give them a role, a task, a purpose, a vision for the family and for themselves. Often taking the time to do family Bible study, having family discussion, and building a vision with your child will be enough to help them step out of rebellion.
Sometimes it is not enough, sometimes if a child has begun a path down the slippery slop they can’t seem to climb up out of that pit.
Sometimes the child seems to be trying and then slips back down again. What can a parent do?
Here is my practical advice for dealing with a rebellious child:
Pray over them, pray with them, pray out loud, pray in the name of Yeshua, ask them to pray for themselves. And pray and pray.
If the child is not old enough to give an ultimatum of being removed from the home, then you must be very diligent to not let that child’s rebellion affect your other children. Keep the child close to you at all time, and if this is not possible then have a second adult that they are always with. This is a tough task and it usually takes two years of doing this diligently to make a difference. Their rooms needs to be by your room. When they wake they need to come to you immediately. They need to ask to use the bathroom. But this is NOT a punishment. This is for their safety and the safety of everyone else. A rebellious child is a danger to themselves and others, always. This is a huge task parent, but it is worth the effort. I promise.
If a child is old enough that they can move out of the home, even if they do not have the actual means to, it should be clearly established that if they disobey or show disrespect in your home, they will be asked to leave. This is a painful thing to do, because we hate to see a rebellious child far from our reach, but we also can NOT tolerate disobedience or dishonor.
Talk to the child often reminding them of who they are to God. No matter if the child is 3 and at home, or 30 and out of the home, you should be communicating often with them of who God is, and whom you see that God created them to be. Take them out to dinner, give them one on one attention as often as you can.
Lastly, and this is important never get down in the pit with them. Satan is tricky and when he has our child’s ear, he will try and steal their heart and mind, and then he will come after ours next. A rebellious child is open to the deceiver, pray a barrier of protection around them, but be ever aware that they have a choice of whom they let into their heart and mind. Don’t get in a fight with the enemy who may be residing temporarily in your child. Stay out of the pit, always reaching down to your child with a hand up. Satan wants to divide families, he wants to destroy your child and you. Whenever dealing with a rebellious child first put on the armor of God and fill up on the fruit of the Spirit.
I hope that this article encourages you today, that most likely your child is not rebellious. If they are showing true signs of rebellion, it may just be they don’t understand truth and your vision in Christ. Lastly, remember even if they are deep in the pit of rebellion you can fight for them, and that God Almighty still loves them even more than you do.
Remember your children are one day going to be grownups, and they can become your best friends serving the Lord along side you. But they are not going to want to be a friend with someone that never talked with them as a friend. If all you do all day is yell, nag, complain, discourage, and cry, then your child will see that to follow Christ is to be angry and frustrated all the time. So, choose patience, choose gentleness, choose to treat your child like your future friend.