How to Raise A Teen Who Won’t Rebel?

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,
how You
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.


4 thoughts on “How to Raise A Teen Who Won’t Rebel?

  1. I can appreciate that the article goes against the modern philosophy that teens “have” to rebel to become independent. I can remember an older mom with teens telling me, as we worked on a church bulletin board together when mine were little, not to dread the teens or expect them to be rocky, that each age and stage has its good and bad parts. I so appreciated that. I think some of the points the article outlines can be a help.

    On the other hand, the Bible never guarantees that if we do x, y, and z, our kids will turn out perfectly. I can remember telling someone that when my oldest was 3, I discovered that he had a will and was not afraid to use it. 🙂 Not that I didn’t know he would have one, and I knew that he would be a sinner just as his parents were, but it still surprised me when his former compliance disappeared.

    And then some kids never outwardly rebel, are “good kids” as far as anyone can tell from the outside, but they’re going through the motions because they’ve grown up in a Christian culture and not because they have the reality of their own personal relationship with Christ. That scares me most of all.

    I so agree with your conclusion – we all need God’s grace so much.

  2. We need to have a conversation on this when we see each other. It sure is a provocative topic. Perhaps you’ll blog again on this because of all the facets it entails.

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