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 mom. You may wonder if God has given you more than you can handle.
As a counselor 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. . .
This article is the last in a four-part series on teaching your children. The first one focused on younger kids, the second looked at teens, and the third considered young adult children. If you’re married, why not share these articles with your husband?
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. They just coverup better, like my high-achieving high school friend who hid vodka in her locker.
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.
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Jot down important 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!
Mom, 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. In a future post, I’ll spell out what this looks like in real life. Meanwhile, if you need help now, please contact me. I counsel by Skype and in person.
- 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
Parenting a rebellious child affects you! You may experience anger, fear, and depression. Here are a few practical ideas for you to glorify God. Remember, you have God’s power to lead a godly life.
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 mom to a rebellious child, but in Christ you can persevere. You can have true joy in the journey.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Teaching your child to love the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind. . .
Isn’t this the deepest hope of every Christian mom and grandma?
Of course it is. You want to parent in truly biblical ways. You probably consider Christian mothering more important than helping your child do math problems or learn spelling words. You’re right!
But don’t you feel ill-equipped for teaching a child to love the Lord? Are you afraid you’ll mess up? Or that you already have?
Teaching a child to love the Lord is daunting, worthy of an oh-my-God-help-me prayer.
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But it also is rewarding and among the greatest blessings of parenthood. It is God’s call to every mom and dad!
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
4 Parts in a Parenting Series
This article is the first in a four-part series on teaching your child to love God. The first focuses on younger children. The second zeroes in on preteens and teens. The third on young adults. The fourth is encouragment for moms and grandmas! You need it, don’t you? A drink of water to cool your thirst.
(Do you want the whole series? Please subscribe to this blog.)
Each article is short and has recommended resources for you to learn more about godly parenting.
What you won’t find is drivel from popular parenting blogs or fluffy books that sell themselves as “Christian” yet fail to contain Scripture or use it rightly. Instead, you’ll get words of God’s wisdom from God.
What’s Your Goal?
Have you stopped and asked yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish as a Christian mom?”
Why not cling to the apostle Paul’s goal for his spiritual children? That they be changed into the image of Christ.
. . .my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! Galatians 4:19, ESV
The phrase “formed in you” refers to becoming more and more like Christ. It’s synonymous with complete in Christ (Colossians 2:9-11). The church word is sanctification.
How do you teach your child to become more and more like Christ?
I love the way biblical counselor Lou Priolo specifies the three ingredients of the “Christ formed in you” process:
the Spirit, the Scriptures, and time.
INGREDIENT 1: The Spirit
Your child needs the Holy Spirit for heart transformation so he or she can become more and more like Christ. No Spirit, no godliness or growth or anything good.
Mom, you do not want a “well-behaved” child.
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Your goal as a parent is teaching your child to love the Lord with all their heart.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
Your part: As early as possible, begin teaching your child about who Jesus is according to the Bible.
INGREDIENT 2: The Scriptures
Can a Young Child Learn Spiritual Truths?
Yes! Here are two examples.
- Timothy, a young man, whom the apostle Paul befriended learned God’s Word from a young age.
. . .and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15
Guess who was integral to Timothy learning scripture? His mom and grandma!
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5
2. Lou Priolo shares the sweet story of his daughter Sophia, who was 2 years old at the time, saying “Daddy, you should ‘Do all things without complaining or arguing'” — quoting Philippians 2:14. The little girl quoted Scripture after her Daddy sighed grudgingly when asked by his wife to do something.
Hearing a little child quote Scripture is music, isn’t it?
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Does your child know some Bible verses? Do they flow from your child’s heart easily and often?
Your part: Teach your child to love the Lord by quoting Scripture. Show him or her the verse in the Bible. Read it together. Memorize it.
INGREDIENT 3: Time
It takes time to teach your child to love the Lord. God didn’t invent an “instant mature Christian” pill. As mentioned, becoming more and more like Christ is a process. While teaching your child, you’ll grow spiritually too.
It’s worth the investment of your energy, isn’t it?
Don’t worry if you don’t get it all right. Who has lived a perfect life but Christ?
Your part: Breathe. Pray. Believe God loves your child better than you do. Smile.
Great Resources for Teaching Your Child
I highly recommend these resources for teaching your child. I’ll have more in my next blog post that focuses on preteens and teens.
Give Them Grace: Dazzing Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson.
Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd & Marcy Tripp
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp
Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training by Lou Priolo
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
When life becomes a battle, you need sturdy shoes.
Forget high heels. Lace up sturdy shoes to stand strong in tough times.
In this short article, you’ll discover:
- The real battle is spiritual.
- 3 part of the shoes you need.
The Real Battle Is Spiritual
Ephesians 6 employs the metaphor of a battle-ready soldier. On his feet are heavy, military shoes. He’d slip and fail if he wore flip flops or went barefoot.
Stand therefore. . .(wearing) shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:14-15, ESV)
The gospel is your firm foundation.
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The gospel is the good news that
Christ saves sinners by grace through faith.
It brings you peace and lets you stand while Satan’s lies and worldly philosophy try to bowl you over.
You’ve heard these lies, haven’t you? That God isn’t fair? Or that you’re worthless? Or don’t measure up?
SOCIAL MEDIA MANIA. If you spend a minute or two on social media, you see pictures and cute quips from beautiful people eating beautiful food with their beautiful friends and family. Doesn’t all that pretty tempt you to become jealous, depressed, or angry? Or throw up?
Please don’t. The other day a friend told me that minutes before she snapped a photo of her kids to share on Facebook they were all yelling at each other and pointing fingers.
This describes our real battle:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Fighting can lead to doubt and discouragment when you and I believe lies. This is one reason to stand in study shoes.
3 Parts of the Shoes You Need
The soldier in Ephesians 6 put on his shoes. He was careful. He was intentional.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
2. Know Scripture.
3. Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (John 14:26).
You and I are soldiers in God’s army too. Our spiritual battle requires sturdy shoes fitted with the gospel of peace. God’s peace.
Together let’s stand strong in the battle.
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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Laugh your head off! It’s good for your soul!
Have you seen a hilarious YouTube video and laughed so hard you nearly peed in your pants? Laughter is medicine to the soul.
The other day my teenage son sprawled on the couch in the loft and was laughing so hard that I had to find out why. John was watching Impractical Jokers and saw Joe pull a good-hearted prank on Sal. His chuckles rolled into laughter as infectious as the common cold. I laughed too, and it felt good.
Listen to this:
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:13)
Laugh with Jesus
Jesus laughed too. Soon after healing many (Luke 4:40-41) including a man with a skin disease (Luke 5:12-13) and a paralytic (Luke 5:24-25), Jesus sought the lowliest of the low–a Jewish tax collector, hated other Jews–and said, “Follow me.” At once this man left everything, even his bags of coins, and asked Jesus to come to his home where he threw Jesus a party.
Can you hear the laughter? As Jesus and the tax collector and a gaggle of his low-life, raucous sinner-friends gathered, don’t you this they grinned and joked and laughed? Jesus was a scholar and had fun. Can you imagine how the party-goers responded? The God-man was with them, just as he is with you, when you’re crying and giggling.
Oh how they laughed in the home of the tax collector. Laughter of freedom from chains of sin, laughter of breaking bread at a party for the best known rabbi in town at the home of a sinner. The wine flowed. Platters of food made the rounds. Laughter rang.
To the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who tsk-tsked Jesus for laughing his head off with tax collectors and sinners–imperfect people like you and me–Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32)
We each have a testimony — a story of how Jesus became real to us as Savior–and every story is a reason to smile, to laugh, for God broke in to a sorry life and made it whole. Angels celebrated. Can you imagine their joyful laughter? Another one belongs to Jesus. And another one. And another one.
This one an adulterer, that one filled with jealousy, and over here a woman dripping self-righteousness. Yep, the latter is me. You can read my testimony here.
5 More Laughs
As you probably know, medical science has uncovered the laugh-your-way-to-health truth in study after study. Google laughter health and you’ll find umpteen studies to peruse. That said, here are five belly-laughing sure bets:
- Watch your favorite funniest sitcom.
- Play with your toddler. Don’t have a little one at home? Scout out a park bench at a popular park and little-people watch.
- Visit the zoo. Skip the reptile house and head straight for the baboons by way of dolphins.
- Read a joke book.
- Roll down a grassy hill, blow bubbles, or play Hide-and-Seek.
Laugh at the Days to Come!
Just as Jesus laughed and enjoyed himself, you too can laugh because you have the best reason of all. Do you know what it is?
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:25)
Christ is your strength (Ps. 118:14). Christ clothes you with his righteousness (Romans 13;14). Christ is your good shepherd who will never leave nor forsake you. He overflows your cup. Whether you’re facing the hardship of bad health or the loneliness of loss or the scary emotions of fear or anger or despair, you CAN delight in Christ.
Yes, you CAN laugh at the days to come. You CAN laugh your head off.
Need help finding your laugh? I’ll help. Contact me.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Constructive concern is a positive, action-oriented attitude. It motivates you. It honors God. It keeps you moving forward.
When my kids were little, I could have worried that they might drown in the community swimming pool. Instead I chose constructive concern: I signed them up for swimming lessons. They kept taking swimming lessons until I knew they could swim well–not perfect, just well.
You never know when a silly friend or a mean kid might push them in deep water, do you?
Can you think of an action you took because you had constructive concern? Perhaps you learned a new work skill or reduced your saturated fat intake or taught your grandchild how to cross the street safely.
In this short article you’ll see:
- two main differences between constructive concern and worry
- basics on living worry-free
2 Differences Between Concern and Worry
ONE: Worry destroys your physical body. Constructive concern motivates you to take care of yourself.
Ulcers, headaches, compromised immunity, gastro-intestinal disorders, sleeplessness — all of these can worsen with chronic worry. Web MD adds:
Chronic worrying can affect your daily life so much that it may interfere with your appetite, lifestyle habits, relationships, sleep, and job performance.
Constructive concern has an opposite effect. If the doctor tells you your blood pressure is high, you eagerly improve your diet. If your kid’s teacher says your son struggles in math, you help him work through math problems after school or you hire a tutor.
TWO: Worry steals your joy as you doubt that God has provided to you everything you need when you need it.
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26, ESV)
Worry takes your eyes off the all-suffient power of God. It causes you to fear the worst and paralyzes you. It draws you into the muck of unbelief.
Constructive concern is peace-filled. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “ Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It honors Christ. It results in calm.
Basics on Worry-Free Living
Most wonderful: you can choose to stop worrying. You can choose constructive concern.
Yes, worry is a sin. Those who are in Christ, which are all believers, have had all their sins forgiven including the worry sin (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, 1 John 2:12). They also have everything they need to lead a godly (and worry-free) life (2 Peter 1:3).
Here are four ways to replace worry with the peace of God:
- Pray to the Lord and confess your sin of worry. Tell him you want to lead a Christ-centered life rather than a self-centered life. Ask him for help.
- Read Scripture. Start with these verses: Isaiah 41:10, Romans 8:28-30, Philippians 1:6 and memorize one of them this week and think about it throughtout the day.
- A healthy lifestyle sets you up for better choices. When you get enough sleep, you’re less likely to get flustered over small problems. When you get good nutrition, you’re more likely to feel energized. When you exercise your mood improves.
- Thank God throughout the day. As you develop the habit of thankfulness, you attitude improves. You look forward to the day. You are more creative and joyful. Problems become opportunites.
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Pretty awesome, isn’t it?
Do you need help with what you’re facing today? Perhaps your husband up and left you. Maybe a loved one is sick. Or you’ve become depressed or anxious. Could you be wondering if you are enough?
If you or a friend would like biblical counseling, may I encourage you to contact me? I counsel women and families by Skype worldwide and in person in greater Chicago. You can send me a confidential message here. I’d love to pray for you and help you.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,