When Children Rebel

As parents, we often feel like we have failed. Our precious little ones, who were often mostly obedient, become teenagers, and it's like they become possessed by some foreign enemy. Our once compliant child or children are now rebels without a cause!

With the exception of those few teenagers who dance through life with the rare symptoms of joy, laughter, fun, and respect, most teenagers catch the Jekyll and Hyde disease where one moment they are the loving child you raised - seemingly perfect, engaging, and a pleasure to be around - to an evil monster who gets offended when you even look at them, let alone (God forbid) you ask them a question. They seemingly enjoy annoying their parents and testing their limits, while accusing their parents of being the cause of all their problems.

I used to think I was the only one who felt like all the invested time and education, installment of morals, and promotion of godly values were completely flushed down the toilet and wasted forevermore once my children began to display their rebellious attitude.

I often watch families with seemingly perfect children, and wonder, "How in the world did I get it so wrong?" I have read countless parenting books from world-renowned experts. I have interviewed tons of other parents, listened to numerous podcasts, studied God's word on parenting, and prayed with sweet agony for God to fill in the gaps and make up my shortcomings as a parent.

Surely with all that painstaking, behind-the-scenes warfare would shove my rebellious child back into right-standing and change them back into compliant, respectful, unselfish, giving, loving, kind, compassionate human beings. Is that too much to ask?

The truth of the matter is that is too much to ask, and too much to expect from human beings who have only experienced a few short years on this earth.

After all, most of us are much older and wiser now, and we still don't get it right most of the time. We were all born into a sinful world where self-centered and rebellious attitudes start at an early age. From the moment a toddler discovers something they want, they have no regard for whom the rightful owner is. They want and they want it now! They don't care what it is, if it is good for them, or if it belongs to someone else. If they want it, they intend to get it or throw a fit when told, "no."

I have often threatened my rebellious and disrespectful child that if they "don't straighten up, I'm gonna send you back to Jesus and let Him deal with you!" That's a nice way of saying, "I'm gonna send you to your grave," speaking metaphorically, of course. Or as Bill Cosby used to say, "I brought you into this world, and I'm going to take you out, if you don't straighten up."

Human behavior hasn't changed much from childhood to adulthood. For the most part, we still care more about me, myself, and I than we do for others. At the end of the day our self-preservation, and that of our family, is more important than the stranger or acquaintances we encounter. Granted, we like to think we are caring, generous, and positive influencers in our jobs, communities, and society in general, but let someone cut you off in traffic, or irritate you at the airport, and the small amount of godliness we possess goes right out the window when that rebellious spirit takes over!

I had a divine revelation during my own self-evaluation as a parent, wondering and praying for God to intervene in my own children's lives, and help them do better. God reminded me of a message a dear friend told me. "If God's own children rebelled, what makes you think yours won't?"

That hit me like a ton of bricks! God is the perfect parent. He doesn't have mood swings. He is the ideal Father who loves us despite our rebellious attitudes, disobedient actions, negative thoughts, and lack of compliance. He extends grace and mercy far more than we deserve. Sometimes, He offers tough love and a firm hand when we get too far out of line, but it's always for our own protection and redirection.

This is the example in which we should live with our children. They're going to rebel! They're going to be disobedient, disrespectful, and downright hateful to the point every last nerve in your body is going to be tested and tried. But, at the end of the day, the laws and boundaries we set are not going to be what keeps them