Rebellious Child: Help and Hope for Moms

rebellious kid

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.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. Pray for your child with your husand if you’re married (and he’s a believer). Prayer demonstrates your reliance on God.
  2. Thank God for the trial. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4) Thanking God will lessen your anxiety and complaints.
  3. Ask God how you can change? Perhaps you are too permissive or authoritarian. Maybe spending more time with your child will improve communication.
  4. 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 a Full-Grown Child to Love the Lord

full-grown child

Doesn’t your heart hurt when your beloved, full-gown child makes foolish choices?

If your full-grown child lives at home, you have leverage. Define expectations. Let her experience consequences to foolish decisions. In other words, don’t pay her speeding ticket!

But what about foolish young adults who get arrested, drop out of college, cannot hold on to a job, or who tell you Jesus is “a joke”? How do you teach these young adults to love the Lord?

In this article, you discover:

  • the best way to teach your full-grown child
  • handling your own emotions when he or she make a foolish choice

This article is the third in a four-part series on teaching your children. The first one focused on younger kids, the second looked at teens, and the last one on you, the parent. 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!

Loving a Wayward Full-Grown Child

My friend’s son flunked out of high school. She wondered, “What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t he just show up to school and pay attention?” Later he took the GED, passed, and now has a job — not a great job, but a job.

Her tears dried. She smiled again.

I recommend you take a cue from my friend: pray, speak of God’s wonderful plans, and encourage him to seek God’s will. This is how she taught him to love the Lord. 

PRAYER: She had prayed for that boy all the days of his life. Her prayers multiplied when he had school trouble and hung out with a rough group.

She had tried the usual punishments to effect godly change in her child. They didn’t work. She also tried positive incentives. Still, nothing. She reminded her full-grown child regularly that she prayed for him and loved him unconditionally.

Another way she taught him was through patience! Did you know that young people’s brains are not fully developed until 25 years old? Does this encourage you? It encouraged my friend.

WONDERFUL PLANS. God says the plans he has for his children are “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give them a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Hold on to this truth and share it with your grown-up child, especially when stuggling.

Also, Paul says in Ephesians 2:10,

We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

BIBLE INSTRUCTION. Sometimes young adults and their parents struggle with knowing God’s will for their them. This may create anxiety. Isn’t it wonderful that God doesn’t keep his will top secret?

He spells out his will in many scriptures. Here are three.

  • “For this is the will of God: your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
  • “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  • “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15).

Where God doesn’t clarify his will, he gives wisdom to you and your full-grown child wisdom. Pray for wisdom and follow his lead.

Handling Your Own Emotions

No mom wishes that her full-grown child does drugs, loses their job, gets divorced, or lives in their parents’ basement year after year.

Do any of these sketches of real people resonnate with you?

Andrea disagrees with her daughter’s lesbian lifestyle.

Carol feels sad that her son committed adultery.

Jana is confused that her college-educated son quit his job, moved across the country, and is living on government handouts.

So how do you handle your own fear, anger, and disappointment?

  1. Ask God to make his glory the deepest desire of your heart.
  2. Speak the truth in love to the one who hurt you.
  3. Provide counsel when your grown-up child is making foolish choices.
  4. Trust the Lord.


What’s a mom to do? How does she handle her pain when a full-grown child chooses a disastrous path? You must trust the Lord with your child and leave them in His hands.

This is easy to say and hard to do. Remember that God’s plan for your full-grown child is better than your plan. Find comfort in this. Desire God’s way above all.

My Offer to You

Is your adult child giving you grief? Do you want help in how to handle the situation and find contentment? Please contact me and we can talk by Skype or in person (greater Chicago). I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation. Just ask.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,




Teaching Your Teen to Love God


Teaching your teen to love God is among your most important jobs, isn’t it? And it’s tough. It can also be gratifying and wonderful and amazing!

Before long, your teen or preteen will graduate high school and be at college or in the workforce or Armed Forces. But maybe he’ll waste hour after hour playing Special Ops and trashing your basement.

Be encouraged, Christian mom, the Lord has equipped you to teach your teen well. He has given you the Bible, a “handbook” to solving life’s problems (2 Peter 1:7). He is with you, guiding you. He loves you and your teen. God never lets go.

This article is the second in a four-part series on teaching your children. The first one focused on younger kids, the next one looks at young adults, and the last one on you, the parent. 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!

3 Quick Helps for Moms

  1. Agree with the truth God requires you to obey and apply it. “Bring (your children) up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4, ESV

2. See the teenage years as a time of opportunity.

3. Be wise not naive. “So be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16

From ‘Perfect Family’ to Rebellion!

Jim Newheiser, a pastor and executive director at The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship, shares a story of his eldest son. Barely 18, he told his parents on home visit that he no longer believes in God and was dating a Buddhist girl.

Then the youngest brother, age 13, rebelled too. He informed his parent he no longer wanted to be homeschooled. He desired to attend public school and be “normal.” Can you imagine the parents’ shock?

Has your teen or preteen shocked you too? Do her friends seem sketchy? Does he say “whatever” when you mention Jesus? Has she become a proclaimed atheist or a well-behaved “Pharisee” whose heart is far from God?

In When Good Kids Make Bad Choices, Newheiser reveals,

“We wondered if our sons’ rebellion was our fault. Did our kids turn away from the Lord because we failed to live for the Lord as we should? . . .Can we hope our rebellious children will eventually come back to the truth when they are older?”

Among the statements I’ve heard in my counseling office:

  • My daughter used to be such a good kid.
  • I’ve tried everything. I don’t know what else to do.
  • Do you think God is punishing me?

Not Just Hormones

Sure, hormones are raging, but something deeper is going on in the heart of a rebellious teen:

failure to fear the Lord.

The teen is choosing his way over God’s will. You’ve heard the familiar Bible verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from up” (Proverbs 22:6). Doesn’t this sound like a promise? That good parenting guarantees good kids? And that teens who stray from the Lord will return to Christ?

But the truth is, proverbs are maxims that describe how God has made the world to work, generally speaking. The authors of When Good Kids Make Bad Choices say the Bible teaches three factors, not just one, that determine how kids turn out:

PARENTS: Parents are responsible to honor the Lord and obey his Word in training their children, from infancy to teenage years.

CHILDREN, PRETEENS, AND TEENS: They are responsible to honor their parents and the Lord by responding in obedience.

THE LORD: He sovereignly rules over the lives of parents, children, and teens, and he directs them according to his good purposes.

Keep Your Focus of God

When your teen snaps at you or shuts herself in her room or refuses to do his chores or (you fill in the blank), you may feel like giving up. Fear overwhelms. Anger nips at your heels.

May I encourage you to keep your heart filled with truth about God?

His truth is hope.

You may want to turn inward and focus on yourself and your problems with your teen. Please don’t. Instead, look upward to the Lord, the one who has the real answer, who has given you an opportunity to grow spiritually.

Count it al joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Resources for Parents of Teens

Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp

Getting a Grip: The Heart of Anger Handbook by Lou Priolo

Growing in Wisdom: A Bible Study in Proverbs for Fathers and Sons by Dr. Ron Allchin, D.Min.

When Good Kids Make Bad Choices by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jim Newheiser

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,



Teaching Your Child to Love God

teaching your child

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. 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. 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.

  1. 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? 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.


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,


Fight Your Battle in Gospel Shoes!


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.

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.

1. Pray.

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.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,