Chapter 7: Lies Women Believe About Children
Day 3: Avoiding Rebellion
Lie #29: “All children will go through a rebellious stage.”
My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
Did you know that there are some children who manage to make it to adulthood without going through a rebellious stage?
(I was one)
How does this miracle happen, you ask?
It’s something that begins long before your child reaches adolescence, and it’s something flows out of what we talked about yesterday – investing, protecting, and training your children.
Whether you realize it or not, you are always teaching your children, and far more is caught than taught. So if you’re not being proactive to teach and train your children in the ways of the Lord, you are teaching them the opposite.
By now you should be noticing a pattern in these lies about children; they all must be confronted with proactive, strategic, hard work, and that work is rooted in the Scriptures and your own personal relationship with Christ.
Unfortunately, many parents don’t prepare for the inevitable turmoil a child goes through when they hit puberty, and in failing to prepare, they not only are frustrated and overwhelmed themselves, but their children are left to figure things out on their own or, sadly, with whoever in the world will give the advice.
Other times, the parents know it’s coming, but rather than prepare the right way (which we’ll talk about shortly), they prepare the wrong way – they prepare for fights, attitudes, and problems by expecting them, being defensive, and often, making things worse instead of better.
By believing that rebellion is inevitable, parents make the mistake of beginning to excuse it at the beginning stages, feeling it’s not a big deal yet, or even believing it’s just not a big deal. Sometimes they avoid the confrontation simply because they’re too tired or busy, or even afraid.
The worst part of believing that rebellion is inevitable is that it allows parents to excuse their children’s behavior by believing that they can’t help it, it’s normal, or even natural for them to behave in these ways that are, in reality, sinful. And of course, if the parents excuse it, the children will not only excuse it, but indulge it.
So how do you avoid the rebellious years? And if you’re already in them, how do you survive?
As I said earlier, it starts early on. From the moment your child takes their first breath, they will attempt to rebel. It’s the sin nature, and it’s nowhere so dangerously allowed to run wild as in a little child, believing it’s cute, rather than sin. And so we let the child make their own decisions, we let them talk back, we let them push boundaries, and we think it’s okay because to a point, we still feel in control.
Don’t be mistaken – failure to deal with rebellion will reinforce it.
If you don’t root out rebellion at a young age, your children will continue to rebel for the rest of their lives, and soon it will be out of your control; and not only yours, but theirs as well. Rebellion reveals that a person believes they are above authority, know better than their authority, and believe that they are above consequences. This attitude can quickly grow from being against parents to teachers to bosses to law enforcement and beyond – and at some point, your child will have to learn the hard way that they are NOT above authority, and there ARE consequences.
Ultimately, this rebellion not only affects their earthly relationships, but it also keeps them from being able to have a right relationship with God, being unwilling to submit and surrender to His control.
The cure for rebellion is learning obedience. If you teach your child the importance of obedience from a young age it will have a lasting impact on the rest of his or her life.
Learning submission begins when they are born. It’s in the choices you make from day one. Will you feed on demand, or on a schedule? Are there boundaries in the home? What happens when your baby crawls out of bounds? If they don’t eat their dinner? If they throw a fit? Do you laugh at them? Do you try to coax them, make a deal, bribe them? Or are there consequences that enable them to learn to choose obedience next time?
What was “cute” at 3 is uncomfortable at 13 and dangerous at 23.
Along with the simple obedience that a child must learn, they must also be trained in the knowledge of God. Too many parents wait until a child is older to have important spiritual conversations with their children; and by that point, the child’s mind has already been shaped without the influence of God, and it becomes much harder to teach them. Don’t wait to share Christ – begin as soon as you possibly can.
Teach your children to value time with God, to value church, to learn the scriptures, and to pray. Teach them how to seek God for the answers to their problems, and most of all, teach them about God’s grace to help them to overcome and walk in obedience and life.
In the time of Christ, Jewish boys had such an incredible spiritual education. By the time they were 5 they knew a number of Psalms by heart, and by the time they were 10 years old, the boys had memorized the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible). Their training continued so that by the time they were a teenager, they had also memorized great portions of the rest of the Old Testament.
How beautiful would it be for our own children to be so steeped in Scripture? I believe it is far greater to be spiritually and Biblically educated than any other type of worldly education. And yet not only are many of our own children Biblically illiterate, but we ourselves have little knowledge of the Scriptures.
Consider the benefits of scripture memory in a person’s life! It keeps our perspective right; it causes us to dwell on the truth rather than temptations and lies. It reminds us who God is; and most of all, it keeps coming back to us just when we need it most.
When we make our relationships with Christ a priority, we can then make our children’s relationships with God a priority; and it is only then that we will be prepared to equip our children to avoid the pain and heartache of sin and rebellion.
Changes will come; your kids will suddenly become emotional, irrational, and confused. But – and this is a big but – just because your teen is going through changes and emotional ups and downs does not give them any right to behave poorly, to disobey, and to have a bad attitude. They must learn to control themselves and respond the right way to these things, just as we ourselves have learned to do.
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
Without self-control, a person cannot be productive in life. And your child will not suddenly wake up at 18, or 21, and find themselves to be responsible, self-controlled adults. It just doesn’t happen.
The teen years are training time to prepare children for adulthood. If they can’t learn how to be obedient, respectful and responsible during these difficult times, when surrounded with a (hopefully) godly, supportive family, how on earth will they learn to be self-controlled as adults in a cold, lonely, sinful, and rebellious world?
How a person acts in their teen years is a preview of their adulthood. If their teen years are spent learning to persevere, control their emotions, trust God, be obedient and respectful, they will be responsible and productive adults.
In direct contrast, the worldly mindset says things like “you’re only a teenager once, live it up.” And far too many Christians have adopted that attitude, to the detriment of many. Teens begin to have the attitude that anything goes, go as far as you and do as much as you can before you have to “grow up.”
They continue to believe that they can act however they want and avoid consequences.
They begin to believe that being respectful, obedient and self-controlled in boring – that being an adult is miserable.
And by association, they can begin to equate having a relationship with God as being equally “boring,” and therefore, not worth their time, since life is really about having fun.
Ultimately, they establish patterns of irresponsibility that become harder and harder to break the older they get – and yet have worse and worse consequences they older they get.
I’ve met far too many people in my line of work who cultivated this worldly mindset, and when I meet them at 40 years old, they act no different than a 14 year old. Their lives are a mess; they have no friends, no family. They cant keep a job, they can’t stay out of jail.
Does everyone who rebels in their teens act this way? No. But many do.
90% of addicts began taking drugs, smoking, or drinking in high school. And I’ll even venture to say that 99% of the women I work with began getting into trouble in their early teen years – many before they even turned 13.
This is why it’s so important to take a long-view of our children. The choices we make will have long-term consequences in the lives of our children. We cannot allow ourselves to be lazy, laid back, or passive when it comes to raising our children. Not only are their lives at steak – but their eternity, as well.
It doesn’t matter how many professions of faith your child made when he or she was little. The teen years are the test. If they are unable to root out the rebellion in their hearts, there’s no way that they can be right with God. It’s easy to follow God when following God means staying within the boundaries of home and school – when it means doing what you’re allowed to do. It’s another thing entirely when you reach the age where you can make your own choices, do whatever you want to do, and no one can stop you.
If you want your child to grow up to choose Christ over self, if you want them learn how to be responsible and trustworthy, and if you want the to be respected even as teenagers, then start now. Teach them now what it means to follow Jesus. Prepare them for the changes ahead. Teach them about grace, and about God’s love and purpose for their lives.
If they’re already in that phase and you feel like you’re losing your mind, take a step back and refocus. It’s time to be proactive. Teach them about grace. Teach them about consequences. Talk about the future. Do everything that you can to help them to succeed in life and in their relationships with Christ. Don’t give up. Trust God. And then leave the results up to Him.
Key Points to Remember:
- Rebellion can be avoided.
- Rebellion excused is rebellion indulged.
- I must be proactive, strategic, and diligent to root out rebellion in my child.
- The Scriptures are a great source of encouragement and training not only for my child, but for me as well.
- The teen years are an opportunity to train my children how to be responsible adults.
- Our choices today will affect our children for the rest of their lives.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.