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.