An article has been making the online rounds, purporting to answer the question Why do Teenagers Rebel? It made me think about how to raise a teen who won’t rebel.
I imagine moms of young kids reading this article, nodding eagerly as they think of their own family devotions and the way their kids skip happily into Sunday school class each week. I can relate.
Thirty years ago, I could have written this, in fact. I was that cute, perky, non-rebellious teen (minus the cute and perky part; I was more the somber Eeyore version of non-rebellion). Probably the edgiest thing I ever did during my teenage years was wear a surly frown of protest during youth church choir performances that I was made to participate in against my will each Sunday night.
With age and experience come wisdom. Now, I’m prone to wonder: is nurture given too much weight here at the expense of nature? Sure, you may have passed on good non-rebellious genes to your kids. But what about your spouse? And what about the genes the kids picked up from weird Uncle Charlie or crazy great aunt Mabel? Or maybe your kids were adopted — then who knows what genetic disposition you’re dealing with?
We all come with varying personalities that are surly, contrary, and oppositional to varying degrees. Raising a child to love the Lord and not rebel in other ways either is no doubt a good thing, but given the Lord’s generally non-interventionist style, He gives each child — and each teen — free will. I’ve known many “good” parents who had kids who rebelled. And I’ve known many wonderful kids and teens whose parents have seemed uninvolved and generally “bad.” We can’t all be the Duggars (although even among all those “perfect” kids, I see signs of simmering rebellion and resentment on the faces of at least a few).
The Bible is full of examples of godly parents who’ve had kids who ‘went bad,’ and likewise, non-godly parents who appear to have won the conscientious child lottery.
Ruth Bell Graham, who had a prodigal child of her own, wrote this:
They felt good eyes upon them
and shrank within—undone;
good parents had good children
and they—a wandering one.
The good folk never meant to act smug or condemn,
but having prodigals
just “wasn’t done” with them.
Remind them gently, Lord,
have trouble with Your children,
So if your teens don’t rebel, I’m so happy for you. But I won’t say congratulations, because I’m not sure that your actions had a lot to do with it. And if your teen has rebelled, I’m so sorry. But I won’t blame you, because forces beyond your control are probably involved.
How to raise a teen who won’t rebel? Pray. Not just for the teen, but for wisdom and grace for yourself as well.