The Battles of Raising Today’s Teens Day 4: Battling Rebellion
The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. (Proverbs 30:17, ESV)
That’s a rather harsh Scripture reference to open with today, but I think it gives us a very clear picture of how God views a rebellious child and the serious consequences that follow. This is more than a kid who makes one bad judgment call and immediately feels remorse and chooses not to repeat the offense; it’s referring to a pattern of repetitive disobedience. Not all of us are called to parent children who are considered truly rebellious, but many of us do, and it’s an experience that humbles us and keeps us on our knees.
Once again, this behavior is mirrored in the life of a person who chooses to remain cold and indifferent to the gospel. God requires obedience—this is evidenced in the reality of hell. God doesn’t just gloss over sin and turn His eyes from our blatant refusal to repent and turn to Him for salvation; He has an eternal consequence for those who refuse Him. As the loving Parent that He is, it hurts His heart. He finds no joy in the death of those who never believe in His Son and enter a lost eternity separated forever from God and heaven.
If God has consequences for disobedience, so must we when our own children disobey. And here’s the thing—it’ll hurt us, too. We don’t enjoy punishing our children, but we do understand it’s a healthy part of the process of developing responsible, productive, and loving adults. Our failure to provide not only reasonable expectations for our kids but also consistent consequences when they disobey results in unbalanced and irresponsible adults that are not set up for success.
The sad reality is that some parents will follow the godly pattern of raising their kids, and still watch them fall away. Their kids will still try heroin just once, and lead a life of struggling with addiction. Or maybe they give themselves away in the backseat of a car, and find themselves addicted to the feeling of shifting from one lover to another, never understanding the joy of holy passion found inside a monogamous, Christ-centered marriage. What began as a few drinks at a party becomes a lifelong hunger for the empty allegiance to the bottle. It happens, even when we think it won’t. But it happens much less in homes where clear parameters are set and discipline is carried out when children buck the rules.
The older and wiser we get, the more we begin to see with compassion—not judgment—the struggles parents have with rebellious children. Parenting is not for the weak; it will drive us to our knees faster than anything else. If you’re in the middle of battling a rebellious teen, ask for help. No one will be able to step in and solve your problems, but having someone pray with you and encourage you just might give you the boost you need to stay in the battle. Don’t give up on your child, but do give them over to the only One who can truly change them from the inside out.
Having a rebellious child is often hard on a marriage. As I went through those teen years with our own kids, I saw marriages torn apart from parenting a difficult child. It’s important to stay united—you’re on the same team. The hard truth is that we won’t always agree with our spouse on what we think is best for our child. When that happens, revisit Scripture. Seek Christian counseling if you cannot come to a godly solution. It’s hard enough to navigate a rebellious child without adding a crumbling marriage to the mix. Make a commitment to one another to make decisions that are best for your family and always protect your marriage in the process.
Discipline isn’t mean. We see how God’s Word laid out the pattern for it, and as Christ-followers, we should obey His pattern. As we close, I will share some biblical insight that may shed further light on the subject:
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24, ESV)
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15, ESV)
Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12, ESV)
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29:17, ESV)