Why Christian Kids Rebel

Why Christian Kids Rebel

In his book, Why Christian Kids Rebel, Dr. Tim Kimmel reminds parents not to get fixated on the external appearances of a child who is just trying to fit into his culture. He says that if we understand ‘rebellion’ to refer to “actions or attitudes that contradict the core spiritual beliefs the child claims to embrace” we can look past the externals that might artificially put up barriers in our relationship.

In other words, we are talking about a “deliberate decision to do things, say things, or believe things that are contrary to the heart of God.” He or she is showing “deliberate antagonism toward God, God’s standards, or the people God has placed in authority in a child’s life.” (p. 31) Some youth practice compartmental rebellion where they still claim to follow Jesus but still choose to resist their parents.

Kimmel lists eight reasons kids rebel (pp. 33-50) He says Kids in Christian Homes Rebel Because:

  • They Are Actually Lost and Don’t Know Christ Personally.

Is there remorse, a desire for God’s Word, desire for fellowship with believers, sensitivity to the lost? Expecting an unbelieving child to react like a believer will create additional frustrations

  • They are angry at God.

Has there been a significant loss, a horrific personal violation, chronic pain, physical limitations, unfortunate incidents? When a child loses a sense of feeling control they may react strongly

  • They are mad at their parents

Could there be favoritism, poor financial choices with consequences, poor health, broken promises, nagging, toxic control, broken relationships, a lack of grace? We need to own up to our issues and mistakes and openly take responsibilities for our actions and choices.

  • The strengths of their personalities are pushed to extremes

Traits need to be used in balance. If a child is criticized instead of channeled there will be trouble

  • They are in a state of confusion or disillusionment

Transitions are tough – like gaining new siblings, starting dating, facing a new school or grade – confusion is part of growing up but without guidance and understanding it can go sideways

  • They are in bondage

Satan has some standard traps – “For security he offers money, sex, and materialism. For significance he offers popularity, sex and applause. For strength he offers control, sex, and abuse. The enemy starts with small compromises and then enlarges his territory of control.

  • It is an essential part of their spiritual pilgrimage

It is natural and necessary for a child to move from the faith embraced by their parents to the faith embraced by themselves. This may be hard for a parent to support them through.

  • They are reacting to flaws within the brand of Christianity they are being exposed to

Imposing unnecessary legalistic restrictions or practices can create an artificial environment which the young person will stand against. Almost every family faces the challenge of children transitioning through one of these phases. Parenting with grace through the growing up years is crucial as we grow in our culture of grace at Faith. May God encourage you as you realize you are not in this phase alone. No matter what happens, remember that you and your children (spiritual and physical) are loved more than you can ask or imagine.

Growing Gracefully

 “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” -Leo Tolstoy

“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future” -John F. Kennedy

Great leaders recognize that change is inevitable and certain but that doesn’t mean we all embrace it.

One of the hardest things about living in our world is that everything and everyone is changing. There is a satisfying sense of control when we settle into having things around us which are predictable and reliable. Some of us like to anchor in place and then try to keep everything much the same. It might be wiser to adjust the set of our sails to flow with the changing winds around us.

Studies have shown that we resist change sometimes because our autonomy is impacted and we sense that we are no longer able to exercise our own power to effect a comfortable environment around ourselves. Humans don’t usually like feeling unsafe and moving into the unknown. A clear certain process with simple steps and a timeline help us make those incremental adjustments needed to move forward.

We like to be empowered to voluntarily take the next steps. When decisions are imposed on us suddenly so that we are surprised, it isn’t unusual for us to resist. Planting the seed of an idea and allowing it to grow under our community care is crucial. As creatures of habit, we humans live well with most routines – adjustments can be very discomforting. We don’t like confusion and we seldom like change just for the sake of change. We need to understand the why.

In our mutli-cultural, multi-generational community at Faith there is a strong investment in what we have been familiar with (whether that means the building, the leadership, the style of worship). Leaders responsible for getting us to where we are may feel sensitive about change beyond what they’ve engineered.  We need to celebrate those who have got us to where we are and to show dignity and respect for their faith and sacrifices. We also need to encourage those who are moving us forward.

Skepticism about vague visions of the future is common. Most of us need a lot of information, inclusion, support and assurance when dealing with change. Transitions that move too quickly are unnerving. Being stuck in the middle of change can often feel like a failure and leaders need strong support and affirmation to continue with the additional workload that change brings. Change is disruptive on relationship, programs, stability and resources and some pushback should be expected by those impacted.

All of us have experienced change that didn’t go well and we all have stories that impact what is happening here and now. Unless we experiencing true healing from our past trauma, it is difficult to share enthusiasm for what is currently being experienced. There are real threats with change which result is real pain. This is ultimately what we fight against for none of us desire to experience pain. Just as doctors communicate clearly about procedures and the resulting impact so change facilitators need to clearly share the realities of what change means to those involved.

All of us have fears about change. The key is talking openly about it with those who are involved in leading the change so that a more sensitive transition can be designed. While your input may not stop the change it may adjust the pace of the change. The key for us as a church is to walk through the path of change together under Christ. Our unity will speak volumes to those who are watching us.

Just remember, change or not, you are loved more than you can imagine.