Why Do Teenagers Rebel? Thoughts from a 19-Year-Old Who Didn’t

Why Do Teenagers Rebel? A 19-year-old explains how it doesn't HAVE to happen!Why do teenagers rebel? Is it automatic? And can you do things that prevent teens from rebelling? I asked my 19-year-old to help us answer that today!

“All kids will rebel, and my job as a parent is to be there to help catch them when they fall.”

I’ve heard Christian parents say that to me time and time again–strong Christian parents, too. But the Holy Spirit does not have an age limit. The Holy Spirit is with ALL Christians, young or old. And so if we can expect ourselves to act appropriately, we can certainly expect our teenagers to as well.

I’m a big believer in this philosophy, and I’ve written about these two different approaches to parenting before. This week, I thought I’d let other people speak about how to raise kids to make good decisions. We started on Monday about how to raise kids who won’t date too young, and then on Tuesday my 16-year-old chimed in telling us why she’s not dating in high school.

Today I’ve invited my 19-year-old to share her thoughts on why teenagers rebel. I said to her, “can you just write something explaining why you DIDN’T rebel?” She sent me this. It makes me tear up to read it.

Hello. My name is Rebecca Gregoire, and I was the perfect teenager.

Obviously I’m saying that as a joke, but by most standards, I truly was pretty perfect. I never drank, never smoked, never partied, never dated, never even swore. (Honestly. I didn’t swear until I was 18.)  I may have been moody, but I always had a good job, and was extremely involved in church and volunteered in childcare and youth ministries. I didn’t rebel at all–I walked the straight and narrow all through high school, and am continuing to do so now that I’m living on my own.

I’m not saying all this to try and make myself look great–I’m saying it to make a point. I’m saying it to destroy a myth that has been hovering over Christian circles for way too long.

Teenagers do not have to rebel.

I am living, breathing proof of that statement. And so are the three girls I live with, and my best friends at our university IVCF group. We didn’t rebel.

Before I continue, let me tell you something else about myself.

I am not demure in any sense of the word. I don’t like listening to authority, and I often get frustrated when I’m told what to do, or how to do it. I like to question everything. I’m naturally extremely proud, a challenger of authority, and extremely stubborn.

Why am I telling you this? To prove that I’m not “naturally predispositioned to submit”. I’m actually the complete opposite.

Whether or not teenagers rebel isn’t contingent on their natural personality, and kids aren’t “guaranteed” to rebel. Obviously teenagers aren’t guaranteed to NOT rebel, either, but there are things you can do that make it less likely.

My family had two children who were complete opposites, and neither of us had a rebellion stage. So it has to be something about the family, not our natural dispositions.

So why do teenagers rebel? And why do some teenagers never rebel? I’ve tried to pinpoint what kinds of things my parents did that helped my sister and me not rebel (though, of course, there are never guarantees that a teen won’t rebel), and here’s what I’ve come up with:

5 Reasons I Didn’t Rebel as a Teenager

My parents instilled in me a sense of family honour

Often teenagers feel distant from their families, like they’re part of it by blood, but that’s it. In my family it was never like that. My mom and dad would make decisions on their own, of course, but they always talked everything over with my sister and me. Even things that we weren’t directly impacted by–we’d discuss everything over the dinner table.

My family is the kind of family where everyone is involved–it’s a team experience. A result of this is that I received a huge sense of family pride, dignity, and honour.

Family honour has been lost in our culture. We are so focused on ourselves, and have become extremely selfish. And I think a lot of that is that parents put their children’s wants over the family’s needs. In our family, Katie and I never went without. But we didn’t get everything we wanted–I wanted an X-Box when all my friends were getting one, but because that would cut out of major family time my parents said no. A small example, I know, but it shows the worldview my family had. No matter what, family comes first.

When your mindset shifts from “me” to “we”, your behaviours and your actions aren’t just going to affect you–you begin to see how what you do affects other people. What I do when I’m in my free time reflects on my family, whether good or bad. And for me, that was a huge incentive to be responsible and make my parents proud.

Dayspring House Full of People I Love

My parents were extremely encouraging, but also demanding

There needs to be a middle ground. I cannot stress this enough.

So many parents I see are all about the encouragement. Their kids can’t do any wrong in their eyes, and they just constantly pour love and affection and butterflies and rainbows into their children’s life. And then other parents are the opposite–they don’t pay any attention to their kids unless they do something wrong and then they blow up. Or, even if they don’t explode in anger, they only ever criticize and never praise their children.

My parents had a happy medium. We weren’t coddled, but we weren’t picked on, either. My parents chose their battles, and also encouraged us when encouragement was necessary but didn’t lie and tell us we were great at something when we weren’t. For instance, my parents never would have told me that I should go for a career in gymnastics, because I am not flexible in the least.

We always knew where our parents stood, and through that, we always knew that they were honest and had a better understanding of who we were.

My family talks about everything

Open communication was big in our family. My mom and dad always made sure not only that they had time to talk to us, but that they had a specific time and place to do it, too. When I was younger, we talked before or after reading bedtime stories, or at the dinner table when we were eating together. When we got older, that spot moved to the hot tub we had in our backyard and car trips to and from the grocery store, friends’ houses, etc.

The biggest part, though, was that we didn’t just talk about school, work, and the like. We talked about whatever was going on in our lives–whether I was thinking about a new blog post idea, how Katie was doing with her skating, or what movie we really wanted to see–anything that came to mind. Our parents became our confidants, and that built a level of trust.

Moreover, our parents shared things with us, too. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a line here. But in our family, my parents simply humanized themselves to us. My dad would tell us about his favourite movies growing up, my mom would ask our opinions on knitting patterns. She’d even tell me when she had angst over commenters on this blog!

This built a partnership between us. A partnership where one was the parent and one was the child, of course, but nonetheless, a relationship where the actions of one person directly affected the other. Because of that relationship, I never felt like I needed to rebel to be heard, to be understood, or to get my way. I knew that if my parents said no, it was for a reason.

We were never expected to rebel as teenagers

My parents never encouraged any idea of teenage-hood rebellion. They never joked about us rolling our eyes, acting exasperated, or having attitude at all. Rather, they actually made us think that teenagers and the whole rebellion process was stupid and unnecessary. I always figured that I would grow up straight from child to adult, with no “silly teenage stage” in-between. You may think that this is no fun, or that kids need their time to be silly and make mistakes.

But what kind of message does that send the teenager? If kids expect that when they hit 13 they’ll start wanting to go to parties, or go out with boys, or watch inappropriate movies, then they will grow up to fulfill those expectations. On the contrary, if they are raised to believe that those are all optional, and actually unnecessary and somewhat frivolous, they won’t want to disappoint or seem silly, and so are more likely to make positive choices and act like an adult. This doesn’t mean that we miss out on a childhood, or miss out on teenage years–it just means that we use them for training for adulthood, and have fewer regrets when we’re through it all.

Also in this category is that we had very few rules. My parents never needed them, because they didn’t expect us to break them. When parents have a lot of rules it always seems to me like they’re trying to control their kids, and if you have to control them, you’ve lost the battle already. My parents always assumed we’d pick up on their values and make good decisions. Through our close relationship, heart-to-heart talks, and–when necessary–confrontations, we learned their expectations, they learned our points of view, and our family worked together instead of parents trying to reign in their children. Now, I only think this worked because we grew up in such a structured, close, and trust-filled family, but that was a big thing for me. I never felt stifled, so I never felt a need to rebel.

God was centre in our home

Our home never revolved around work, sports, school, or activities. It didn’t even revolve around other people–it always hinged on God and his plan for our family. Growing up in that kind of an environment shaped my view of my actions, choices, and the effect I had on others. When you’re used to basing everything on God’s will and God’s plan, suddenly the parties don’t seem as important. It isn’t as tempting to lie about who you’re hanging out with. Smoking, drinking, and the like just doesn’t really have any appeal, because they don’t help with your ultimate goal–to become a person God will use for great things.

So many times I see families who drop everything for good grades, or who don’t go to church if it’s a busy week at work, or who choose extracurricular activities over youth group and the like. My family, however, was the opposite. If we were tired, too bad. Get in the car, we’re going to church, because that’s what God’s called us to. If Mom and Dad had a hard time with work, we went to church because that’s a place of rest. If I was struggling with school and needed the day to study I didn’t have that choice, because it was my decision not to study earlier.

God came first in everything. And my choices were shaped because of that worldview.

As for Me and My House Wall Decal

I honestly don’t think there’s any one way to make sure your children don’t rebel. Every child is different, and every family contains unique people. But all I know is that for me, this worked. In my family, the trust, communication, and centrality of God in our home made my teenage years one of partnership with my parents rather than a constant battle.

So don’t give up hope–the teenage years don’t have to be war!

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Life as a Dare

You can find Rebecca at her blog, Life as a Dare, where she writes about her quest to simplify faith, relationships, and life in general.

 

 

 

The Talk(s)If you’re wondering how to foster a relationship like this with your kids, what Rebecca writes about sounds a lot like what Barrett Johnson is teaching us in his book the Talk(s) ! He really emphasizes keeping open communication with your kids. It’s the best book I’ve read about how to talk to your kids about sex, dating, and relationships, and it’s my store here! Or you can order it in paperback here.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Comments

  1. I am the oldest of six kids. The youngest is now 21, and not a one of us rebelled in our teens. Sure, there were some emotional outburts and slammed doors, and a few of us may have been listening to music Mom and Dad didn’t like, but nothing major. And today we are all living for The Lord. I think the most important thing my parents did was to make home a safe place where we could talk about anything. We were free to share our opinions, even if Mom and Dad didn’t agree to them. And we NEVER had to fear getting blown up at or screamed at if we questioned something they said. My parents had lots of rules (many of which went by the wayside by the time they got to child number six!) but they loved us unconditionally and made us feel valued.

    • That seems to be the common thread–that we could talk about anything! I think kids need that.

      • I was raised in a household with a pretty fair amount of rules. As a family, we did NOT talk about “anything”. BUT, none of us 3 kids ever rebelled. To me, the success in our family was that the reason for why we acted the way we acted, talked the way we talked, and lived the way we lived [as kids] was because of God, not because our “parents said so”. A christian child can’t refute God’s standard if there is a healthy respect for God, which is something my parents did a good job of. Whether a household has lots of rules or not, lots of communication or not, kids MUST know their parents love them, and the parents MUST lead by example. My parents did not expect of us anything that they did not expect of themselves. If we had a rule, they followed the rule too. Double standards kill a kid’s respect for their parents.

        • “Double standards kill a kid’s respect for their parents.”

          I completely agree! I was the kid who did rebel once I hit my teenage years. When I was a little older and (mostly) out of the “rebellious” stage, my mom asked me once why I rebelled as I did and how she could keep my youngest sister from acting the same way (by the way, this is a TERRIBLE question to ask a child of any age). When I thought about my reasons for rebellion, the biggest I could think of was the double standard in my family. My parents were big on “do as I say, not as I do.” Once I was old enough to see the hypocrisy in this kind of parenting, I began to rebel. Less as a way of pushing back against my parents, and more as a way to experience for myself everything they tried to keep from me – but had no problem doing themselves.

          I believe the easiest way to keep teenagers from rebelling is to place God’s will at the center of the house and to lead by EXAMPLE. If I knew I was expected to live up to God’s standards for my life rather than my parents’, I would have been much less likely to act out because I would have seen them living for God first.

    • Excellent! First, let me ENCOURAGE heavy hearts – parents, take heart for those facing a prodigal child: God had ADULT CHILDREN – Adam & Eve in the garden of EDEN – without societal sin, sin natures, or sinful peers – yet they rebelled from walking in the very presence of their PERFECT FATHER. We can parent WELL & still have rebellious children. Second, do not think I minimize this post – it is encouraging with powerful truths about healthy, godly relationships between parents and their kids with an honest ending comment acknowledging there is no magic to prevent ALL rebellion. Following God’s example is paramount to parenting & family life, no matter what path our children take. Amen for godly Children & Parents!

      • April,
        Thanks for including this healthy and correct perspective. Yes there are also godly parents who raise children that go astray, e.g. King David (Absalom), Hezekiah (Manasseh), Jacob. And, ungodly parents whose children choose to follow the Lord, e.g. Manasseh (Josiah), King Ahaz (Hezekiah). Does godly parenting always result in godly children? No. Does ungodly parenting always result in ungodly children? No. Parenting can only enforce external rules and attempt to shape the heart. Ultimately each child must choose his own way. By God’s grace the children of godly parents often choose the wise path. But sadly not always.

        • April and Glenn – thank you for your comments above. We are Christian parents who are dealing with the huge, huge sadness of a child’s decision to turn his back on the Lord, having made a commitment years before. We are wrestling with thoughts of “what did we do wrong? why has this happened? when/will the Lord soften our son’s heart again?” Frankly, I can’t describe the pain of this experience – it’s worse than bereavement. So I really needed to read these counterbalancing comments. I hope that all Christians can extend grace to each other in issues like this, and keep praying for those young people who do rebel. There is hope – there has to be – Luke c. 15.

          • Beverly says:

            We too are in the midst of a prodigal season. Have we done everything right, no of course not, but everything we’ve done or tried to do has been with genuine love and good intentions, but sadly one of our children has chosen to take a different path right now. God, the perfect parent, has prodigals as well. What’s made matters worse is influences from a peer and that peers’ family as well as being enabled by that peer’s family and some of our family. Fiona, you are correct, no one can describe the pain of this experience – I have at times described it as feeling like a death. It is extremely heartbreaking to see a child with so much potential and such a good heart (as the person this child is today isn’t the real person) take a wrong turn. We need to pray fervently for our children and all children as there is so much they have influencing them.

        • I agree, in the end, guidance is in the hands of God.

  2. Rebecca, thank you for sharing this and putting it so well into words. I have often wondered what exactly happened with my brother and me, who similarly were just … good kids :-) . A couple of these particularly struck a chord with me, like family honor, good expectations, and having a good balance between demanding and encouraging. I think the “family honor” one was the one I have never been able to put into words. My parents definitely gave us a sense that being a part of our family was a good thing, something to be proud of, and something to not take lightly. And I think that was so valuable to us — it really is good to know you are part of a group, and have responsibilities not just for yourself, but for others. And that being part of that group is something to feel good about! Thanks again. It will be good to think about these things a little more concretely as I’m more seriously pondering how to be a parent.

    • Yes, I never would have picked out Family Honour, but that was the first thing Becca talked about when we were talking about this post. I guess just realizing that your identity is first in God, then in your family, and only then with peers. Most kids have it the other way around.

  3. My Dear Rebecca
    I must say that I cried while reading this. I have watched you grow throughout most of your life and have seen first hand how your family works…well at least from the outside. It is such a joy to read your words affirming your parents methods. I too worked hard to use these methods with my daughter and have found they are effective, certainly enough to keep her grounded and founded in God’s expectations even more so than mine as her mother. Today I am proud to say she is a wonderful woman and mother. She married a wonderful Christian man and together they are now focusing their lives for themselves and their two children on the Lord and working to secure a solid footing for THEIR family.
    You are a testament to the focus of your parents…following fair and open relationships in a family unit. KOODOS KID!!!
    Jill

  4. I think you’ve got some good points here, and I’d add one more:

    I think a lot of kids ‘rebel’ for the same reason Adam and Eve rebelled back in the beginning… they doubted God’s love for them. I think, sometimes, kids don’t feel secure in their parent’s love for them, so they go seeking that love somewhere else: Peers.

    I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head with the issue of expectations. Kids, teenagers included, are really good about living up to expectations, and they will work hard to do so. (see child of parent who expects crazy, unrealistic things). If a parent expects disobedience and disrespect, they are likely to get it.

    Though let us not discount that children are individuals who make their own decisions, and sometimes choose badly. God was perfect in his love for Adam and Eve, but they still doubted him, disobeyed and ‘rebelled’.
    Mama Rachael recently posted…Quite the weekMy Profile

    • Absolutely! It’s like the story of the Prodigal Son. In that story, the father represented God. And God is a pretty good father, and He still had a son who rebelled. So there are never guarantees, and we each do make our own decisions.

      • Elise Mendez says:

        I do need to add something here . it seems that you all are still married to the same person that you have had you kids with also ,,

        When you divorced the father or Mother of you kids, and bring someone else into the pic , It confuses the child , or children , I thank my God I had a guardian angel on my shoulder cause I never rebelled and I came from a divorced family, But my mom never brought men in and out of the house either, and she stayed with the man that she married.. Sh s not God women, but she made sure I went to church every sunday .. And for that I love and miss my mother ..

  5. Well done and well said! You’ve hit on something revolutionary (to our culture, anyway) that we’ve been telling our boys for years – they don’t have to sink to the culture’s expectations, be that rebelling, being absorbed into ridiculous pop culture, become promiscuous, or whatever. While it’s fair to acknowledge that our kids will make mistakes, that’s not the same as saying they are destined to rebel.

    I felt like you growing up – I loved my parents (still do!) and I wanted to make them proud. It mirrors our relationship with God. I can’t earn His grace by good works, but I want to please Him with my life.

    Thanks for sharing it from your side,

    Julie
    Julie recently posted…On MotherhoodMy Profile

  6. My 3 brothers and I never rebelled. We are all happily married, in church, and working for the Lord. We still have 3 sisters at home, but they appear to be going down the same path. All the characteristics mentioned above were found in our home as well. Probably the most important ones are having a Christ-centered home and expecting teens not to rebel. People tend to live up to the expectations you have for them. If expectations are low, so is the outcome. Teens are especially vulnerable to the level of expectations their parents set for them.

    My parents also made sure to discuss things with us – from our hopes and dreams to worldview issues. Our parents were our trusted guides and confidantes, even though they also made the rules and enforced them. We knew the rules were for our benefit, not something they just made up arbitrarily because they 1) stuck to them and enforced them equally 2) they gave us good reasons for their rules and 3) they didn’t act hypocritically by making rules for us that they broke.

    Our parents helped us build a Christian worldview and thus we saw rebellion as a bad thing, to be avoided as sinful, rather than a normal part of growing up. We were enlisted early, as soldiers for Christ, rather than sitting on the sidelines. We had many productive things to do and we were actively thinking about our own testimony and service for Christ, so we didn’t have the time or inclination to rebel. Besides, how could we rebel against something we really believed? Rebellion usually happens when the person doesn’t really believe it and is being forced to play along. We saw that Christianity was true because we had seen the evidence – in science, in history, and in the lives of true believers around us, including our parents – and we embraced it.
    Lindsay Harold recently posted…A More Accurate Political SpectrumMy Profile

    • Yes, so true. Our kids believed from a young age, and we did a lot of missions trips and basically showed how faith should impact your life. The kids were never “on the sidelines”, and that likely made a difference, too.

  7. Thank you so much for this! This week has been so encouraging and revolutionary for me. I grew up in a broken home that was not focused on God. I now have a wonderful husband and 2 beautiful little girls. But both of us went through terrible rebellion as children, and unfortunately even worse as teenagers, leaving us with no example and no clue on how to raise our girls to get the end result we want for them. This is so encouraging. Thank you for sharing!!!

  8. Beautifully written and valid points. And teens don’t have to rebel. But I will say, that even if you DO do all these things, your teen may still rebel. And that’s ok….because that’s when God brings you (and eventually your teen, I’m believing) to your knees in raw dependence on Him. That’s where the rubber meets the road, and there is a purpose to His plan, even if we do not understand.
    I know of what I speak. :/

    • Hello Carol,

      I agree that this isn’t a “100% guaranteed!” thing, and I do think that no matter what you can never guarantee that your kids aren’t going to rebel. Think about the prodigal son–in that story, the father represented God. Even He has dealt with his children (us) walking away from his ways, and he’s God.

      I’m glad you liked the post :)

      Becca
      Rebecca Gregoire recently posted…The Lost Art of SimplicityMy Profile

  9. I love, love, love this post. I grew up in a Christian but authoritarian family where it was “my way or the highway.” I didn’t rebel (much) but my parents didn’t create this kind of loving and structured home for me either. Then I became a church youth group director in my 20′s and saw parents who were like mine—completely domineering—or the exact opposite. I’m so glad you found a middle ground. I especially like what you say about church involvement and how it’s JUST SOMETHING YOU DO. The kids in my youth group often wouldn’t come to Sunday School because of soccer practice, homework, you name it. Those kids would then come to me in tears because of how stressed they were with all their commitments. Now that I have my own daughter, I’m going to be very conscious of raising her in a Christ-centered home. Church, just like brushing your teeth, isn’t an option, because it’s a place of rest like you said, and a place to recharge and get fulfillment. Thank you for this post and for being an awesome example—like mother, like daughter, I’m sure! :)
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  10. Lovely! Encouraging!
    Might I add another encouraging point? I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I can count on one hand how many times either of my parents accompanied us to church. But, thankfully I had mentors and role models who did see to it that we were churched as often as possible. When I became a teen I had to make the choice to either listen to the Holy Spirit leading, or follow the broken, rebellious model of my family. It’s your choice, teen! Just because you don’t have encouragement at home (I’ve been called a goody-two-shoes a time or two) doesn’t mean you have to give in to the world! Hold your head high & follow Christ!
    I am blessed now with a Godly husband and beautiful children. I honestly don’t think I would have that if I had followed the example I had at home.
    De recently posted…Do I Live Sacrificially?My Profile

    • I’m so glad you liked my post!

      And YES! I completely agree with the “It’s YOUR choice”! We can never use the things around us as excuses for why we did or did not act a certain way, and I really think more people need to understand that. How we act, how we respond, and how we treat others is completely, 100% our responsibility.
      So that part’s on the teens :) The rest is for the parents.
      Your story is such an encouragement! Thanks for sharing!

      Rebecca Gregoire
      Rebecca Gregoire recently posted…The Lost Art of SimplicityMy Profile

  11. Okay, as a mom, I just have to ask: what happened when you were 18 that made you swear? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that story. :)

  12. Love everything you had to share, Rebecca, and the video from your sister, too. I feel like our families are super similar and I am encouraged to continue doing as we do in the way we’re raising our kids, too. Thanks for the fresh burst of encouragement to debunk the rebel myth.
    Elisa Pulliam recently posted…Embracing Your Value as a Mentor & MomMy Profile

  13. I like what you said about family honour, Rebecca! I grew up in a family of eight kids, and that was very important. Not to the point, as in some cultures, where it’s an obsessive, damaging thing, but enough that it was a vital part of our family dynamics.

  14. I could have written this, but my reasons would have been different. It was simply by the grace of God…this song by the Winans always comes to mind when I think about my life – ‘its really no goodness of my own, no, but its by the grace of God, that I’ve been kept and I still have a mind to go on.” That’s it.
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  15. What a great article. So very well stated. I tell my kids all the time that I just can’t fathom what they are thinking as to why they do what they do. When my parents said don’t, I didn’t. When they said do it, I did it. When they said don’t go there, don’t do that…..it made sense to me not to do those things. I didn’t question them. I knew it was because mom and dad said so and that was good enough.

    When I see, hear, learn that my kids did something they were directly told not to do….I just can’t imagine why they would. It flabbergasts me. I ask them what is good for punishment and I always get…I don’t know. I wasn’t perfect by any means. I got grounded once when I was 14. I messed up before my 2 weeks was up and was grounded an extra week. I have kids that think it is a new day so yesterdays talks have nothing to do with today. Others are like I was but some others….sheesh!

    I am sharing this post with them. I believe it may do them a whole lot of good to know that it isn’t just me / our house. It isn’t because I’m “picking on them” like they think. To give them all credit though….I’ve never had to fight, push, shove, nor drag any of our kids to church :)

  16. Having made it through my teens without rebelling, I agree with all of this. Family Honor FTW. Giving up my family name when I got married was hard because I took great pride in it. At the same time I knew without a doubt I wanted to give that same experience to my children. I don’t hesitate to encourage them to make a good impression on behalf of our family. Anyway……

    What I really wanted to mention is the book “Nurture Shock.” The research referenced in this book indicates that the rebellious years are the stormy tweens and teens are actually pretty capable of toeing the line. I suspect that parents who whether the storm with rock steady expectations, emerge to see smoother teens years and the parents who assume that the tween years are a foretaste of what is to come, see just that.

    Our kids deserve us to think the best of them. Thanks for a positive voice!!!

  17. Awesome article/blog post. I’m going to share this on my Facebook wall. Thanks.

  18. Such a wonderful post! I think the best thing Sheila did, however, was to love her husband and provide a secure environment for her children. This is so huge! The majority of people in prisons and in gangs come from fatherless homes. When a mother and father work together in unity to raise children in the Lord with love, consistency, and boundaries, your chances of raising godly offspring goes up dramatically.
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  19. gillianmcshane says:

    Interesting article. I was raised in a wonderful Christian home – as were my 3 siblings.. I have witnessed this scenario over and over as I work with families as a Children’s Pastor. There is no formula or recipe. Some kids rebel. Some do it during their teen years others in early adulthood and yet others much later. Some do , some don’t. Some of my siblings rebelled some didn’t. Same home, same rules, same parents. For those of you parents out there who are doing an amazing job of parenting, but you are facing rebellion in your home – my heart goes out to you. Stay strong, seek support, reach out to trusted friends- a rebellious kid does not make you a bad parent or any less a Christian. In fact I would be in your corner, swapping stories, crying together and encouraging you to keep going. Keep going!

  20. I can’t say that my daughter rebelled. She just wanted to feel like she was finally in control of her own life. Did she mess up some? Yeah. She has come out of it fairly unscathed though and is showing a lot of maturity that calms our souls here on the home-front. When she write and talks with her mother, she now praises her instead of blames her like a teenage kid would. I am very proud of the woman she is becoming. It wouldn’t offend us if she just kept a little of our baby girl though.

  21. I also failed to mention that though she was raised in the church, but after about 17 she began to drift and after a while decided she was not a believer anymore. That has made for some very difficult time and strained conversations. We continually ask God to bring her home to both Him and us once again. I feel she has not drifted as much as she would have us believe but is embarrassed to admit it. We don’t press her on the issue. She is being dealt with by the Holy Spirit. We can feel it and place our trust in that. In His time, not ours or hers.
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  22. Kymber Williams says:

    Great post!!! I was drawn to read this because my brother and I never rebelled. It is almost an identical picture to the home we grew up in!! Praying praying we will provide a safe godly fun environment like my parents did for our children!!!

  23. I have to disagree with you in part. Well I think the parent can certainly affect the outcome of a whether or not they have a rebellious teen, these are not the simple answers. I was a teenager very similar to you. I never drank, partied, smoked, did anything to break the rules. I was a straight A student, held down jobs during the summer and school year, and went to college on a full scholarship. My sister, while still very successful in school, was the rebellious one. My parents raised her exactly the same way. You are overlooking natural, immutable God-given personality. Now that I am a mother, I realize that each of my children is different and come with a different personality. I feel as though I need to work a little harder to parent certain children than other children. My fear is that your article will make parents think that there is one simple solution. It is not that simple. It never is.

    • WooHoo, I do agree that it isn’t that simple, as we’ve said in the comments. But I don’t think Becca was saying, “do this and your kids won’t rebel.” The point she was making is that teenagers aren’t GUARANTEED to rebel. They’re not guaranteed to be perfect, either, but she was trying to dispel the myth that all teens will rebel, and that all teens will make bad decisions. No, all teens won’t. And there are certain things we can do as parents that make good outcomes more likely.

      But there are never any guarantees, and ultimately it’s by the grace of God. But let’s just remember that teens don’t have to rebel, and let’s stop expecting them to! I think that’s the main point she was making.

    • gillianmcshane says:

      Woohoo. I totally agree with your post. I do feel that the way this is making the rounds on FB sharing that it will create a “us”
      non rebelling teen households with a “them” rebelling teens household and create another shame on families who are in crisis or deep hurt. It isn’t simple. Life if complex and parenting and been a teen is complex. For those parents whose teens didn’t rebel – wonderful and keep praying as there definitely is latent rebellion as seen in the decline of the current church attendance numbers. I actually would rather live through rebellion in the teen years when the safety net is there than rebellion post teen when they are on their own and not in the net… but then again that is why we believe in a Sovereign God .. right?!

  24. Suha Voelker says:

    Unfortunately, if it’s all about what parents did or didn’t do , then free choice would be taken out of the equation. In the Old Testament God shows us that there were very ungodly Kings who had very godly children as well as very Godly Kings who had ungodly children. Some children will rebel no matter what they were taught. It’s unfair to put that on the parents!

  25. I have been saying this since my kids were toddlers. We had some great role models around us at the time with teenagers who weren’t rebelling. I always say that we are going to skip the teenager phase ;)

  26. I never rebelled as a teenager, I don’t live for the lord, and I consider myself agnostic. I was not raised in a religious home and that has never bothered me, nor has it diminished my goodness as a person. I have two excellent, loving parents who encouraged my two siblings and I to be independent, outspoken, and responsible. None of us were ever in trouble, and we’re all very successful adults. To limit good parenting to being ”good Christians” is hardly all encompassing. I’m in no way insinuating that having a godly, faith centered home is wrong, but it isn’t the only way. The most important thing for children is stability and expectation. When you know more is expected of you, you will never give less. Please remember to be open about other parenting styles and try to broaden yourselves as well. You never know what you can learn from a heathen like me.

  27. Great post, Rebecca! I can relate to all of the points that were mentioned, as the family I grew up in was very similar. There is another point that is also probably true of both our families. Once I asked my little brother (he was about 21 at the time) why he didn’t rebel the way almost all of his friends from Christian families did. He didn’t even have to think about it–he immediately said that it was because our parents were CONSISTENT, especially in their discipline. Many of his friends had been taught about God from the time they were young, and their parents were loving, encouraging, and regularly in church. But as he spent time in their homes, he realised that the kids grew up knowing that sometimes they could “get away with things.” Discipline was erratic, and sometimes there were no consequences for bad behaviour. He said that he grew up knowing that his behaviour always had consequences, and this helped him when he was old enough to start making his own decisions. He also saw our parents consistently living out their values–what they said is what they did. I hope that, like my own parents, I can be a parent who is consistent in discipline and lifestyle!

  28. I love this post – my whole life growing up people have made me feel like such a strange person for not rebelling. I’m 21, and I was married at 19; my younger sister got married 2 months after me one her 18th birthday. My sister and I are polar opposites, but neither of us have ever done anything in the way of rebelling. We never had the desires to drink, smoke, participate in illegal activities, have premarital sex, etc. Like Becca, my parents did not EXPECT me to rebel, and I didn’t need a lot of rules growing up, because I didn’t NEED rules to know how to behave morally. I’m so grateful to have grown up in a way that brought my closer to my parents, and I cannot wait to instill these principles into my children.

  29. What a great article! Truly I think all kids do rebel because all people rebel and all adults rebel against God. Even if in seconds or moments as life goes by. I understand that what we are talking about here is a prolonged season of damaging behavior and / or out spoken disrespect for authority.

    It is often the environment of the home or actions as parents that shapes them and makes all the difference as our teens go through the process of becoming an adult. That is why I really loved this post! As a former Youth Pastor, it was my job to save rebelling teens. I found it an impossible task. I focused on minimizing the damage and pointing them to God. Now many years later as a Pastor and Dad who’s kids are approaching their teens, this has been on my mind. I would journal in those days in order to help me process what was happening in teens and hopefully avoid it as a parent myself. I would journal about “Close Space” or what I noticed that the most successful parents found a way to create a super supportive (yet structured) family environment that displayed several qualities. I noticed they usually had a family that was centered on God. They had “Close” relationships between Mom and Dad and kids, but also enough space for kids to think for themselves and not feel that every thought had to conform to their parents. They had “SPACE” and felt free to become themselves. In those days I read about how our kids begin to separate at birth from us and how it increased in their adolescence. One person said that “our job was to allow them to become their own while keeping them close”. In other words without the right environment kids begin to separate and parents react with more rules or fear. I saw that almost every week. If the kids felt like they had no right to process or speak how they felt or how they doubted they felt stifled and rebellion was usually right around the corner. But if a kid felt heard and known, they wouldn’t make a bitter root judgement like, “they don’t understand, I guess I am on my own in this area”. But they really weren’t alone, they were with friends and culture. Those new
    Close Space” friends had a new expectation of what it meant to be a teenager….

    Anyway, I am rambling on and on, thanks for the very helpful post!

  30. I kind of have mixed ideas about this. My older sister was definitely rebellious, but I wasn’t. My younger sister is a little rebellious but nothing she ever did was as extreme as my older sister. So, that’s three levels of rebellion in one household. Our parents had rules and they talked to us about things. Anytime the idea of moving comes up they discuss it privately and then bring up the idea to ask for our opinions (except for the one time we had to move for financial reasons).
    As far as being ‘expected’ to rebel…eh. My younger sister is expected to rebel big time. My parents didn’t start expecting my older sister to rebel until she’d already started.
    I also know people from, to be honest, terrible families who wouldn’t rebel if you paid them. That just isn’t who they are. But, I know people from really good Christian families who rebel 24/7. I really wonder if how your parents raise you has anything to do with it. Maybe in some situations family influences how rebellious a kid will be.

  31. Our family strives to do all of this! One question: did your parents protect you, to some extent, from social media’s perception of what a young woman ‘should be like’, or did your upbringing make up for any exposure you got? Also, what about a cousin, very close in age(Just 2 years older than my 8 year old) who is into makeup, boys, parties and short-shorts? Did you have a person close to you that was like this and how did they influence you, or how did your parents keep them from influencing you?? I would really appreciate your input on this.

  32. I really never thought about the “expectation thing” (expecting teens to rebel). You are right. The one HUGE weakness we have in our family is sports. It drives our week and it shouldn’t. I have 5 kids-20-7 yrs old. 2 adopted. 3 by birth. VERY different-all of them. I am forwarding this to my husband. Great job!

  33. Well done, insightful and full of love and encouragement. Thanks for sharing…and now I will do the same for our readers! You are such a blessing!
    Sherry Gareis recently posted…Something Missin? Might be the Kissin!My Profile

  34. Sheree Slagle says:

    I just want to share a poem from Ruth Bell Graham…who had her own prodigal….
    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,
    too.

  35. Great post! How proud you must be of such a grounded young woman you have as a daughter!

  36. I really enjoyed reading this. It sounds like you and your parents are great people. I do, however, wonder how your parents would have handled it if you hadn’t been an average smart and happy teen. Some children are just born with feeling depressed or wondering if what they’re being told (especially about things like God) are true. I had the potential to a great childhood in a household similar to yours however, when I hit about 12 I became extremely depressed. My parents couldn’t relate to me and tried many techniques to help me, but, never the correct one. This caused a distance between us and eventually I would, as you say, “rebel”. I wasn’t too horrible of a child, but, I think it was 50% developmental issues I was born with and 50% of my parents handling the situation incorrectly. Your parents were blessed to have great children, but, I would be curious in a different life how they would handle not so good children.
    Thanks for sharing!

  37. As a teenager who also didn’t rebel, I would like to say something to parents: be appreciative. I was a fantastic kid; I had great grades in high school, I didn’t party (not because I wasn’t asked to, but rather because I knew the temptations that arose from such environments), I was in a relationship with anothet church going believer. To be blunt. I was a great kid. And yet, said behavior never felt appreciated. My parents always wanted more somehow, and their demands became too much as I entered college. And college is when I began to go astray. Let me be clear, it had nothing to do with the fact that I felt “freedom” from my parents, and their strict, albiet beneficial standards. It was instead because they never seemed satisfied with me and my (frankly) stellar behavior. I had friends and peers who got into more trouble in high school then I had ever imagined. Yet, their parents still instilled in them a sense of pride I had never felt from my parents. And let me be clear, my relationship with my parents has grown to become better. I love them and trust them more than I ever have. But their was a point in our relationship I never felt like they even cared about my many accomplishments, and instead focused on my few downfalls. This, I believe, made it easier to fall into darkness junior year of college, turning to many of the temptations that befall a college student.
    In conclusion, as a parent, if you have a child don’t forget to give positive reinforcement because it might be just as important as negative. Even more so (from experience). God speed!

    • Totally understand what you mean, mine do the same and I experienced exactly what you wrote about. Many parents seem to not realize that expressing how proud and happy they are with their kids is extremely important. It isn’t a conscious decision they make, but rather something unconscious that they don’t even realize they should do.

  38. Christine says:

    thanks for the insight!! I have an 11 year old, and I’ve been thinking on this for a while

  39. Sean Davis says:

    Let me say that rebellion doesn’t necessarily look bad. Adam rebelled again God. He didn’t do it in a way that looked bad to the average person. He didn’t argue with God. Rebellion looks different to different people. All families are rebellious. There are good sinners and there are bad sinners. This mindset is how we view things. Good sinners can be kind and can be easy to get along with. Not bad sinners, they are harder to get along with. Notice I used the word bad sinners. Is there such a thing in Gods eyes? You see the child that causes no outward pain to their parents and is easy going is rebellious. The child that causes outward pain is also rebellious. Let me sum it up this way. God’s first family were rebellious and dysfunctional (Angels) and his second family became the same (humanity). If you and your parent’s have a better track record than God himself then you have a reason boast.

  40. Never rebelled as a teen either. & I agree with what you have said. I never had alot of rules but I agree with it was just expected. I knew what my parents thought was acceptable and what wasnt. Coming from a small town where every one knew everyonefamily hhonour was a big thing & i never wanted to do anything to dishonor my father or mother.

  41. Some of my Muslim friends shared this article because we loved it and agree! The last reason is on point – God being center of the home. Muslim American parents seem to be facing the same problem, and they are rightful to worry about rebelling children. Middle Eastern and South East Asian parents tend to put a lot of pressure on their kids, so the statement about parents needing to be demanding but still encouraging is really important! That being said, my parents and many others did a great job and I am now 21 and never had a rebel phase, nor did my younger sister! We got good grades, were involved at school, volunteer at the mosque, still new how to have fun, and are now in good universities. God is everything :)

  42. Great job to you and your husband on raising wonderful daughters! (I am sure you give thanks to the grace of God for giving you such wisdom). :-) Thanks so much for this post. My husband I have three girls – an eleven-year old and two nine-year old twins. We are the minority when it comes to believing that our girls do not “have” to go through a rebellion phase. The story your daughter Katie shared on why she doesn’t date was awesome. Not only was it practical but she also presented it in a real and fun way. My husband I and just read Rebecca’s article on what “her” parent’s did right. That was also excellent and so helpful! I appreciate all of your posts and resources on marriage, family and parenting. You are certainly gifted and your straight forward nature is appreciated. God Bless you and your family!

  43. I’m so glad you wrote this! My husband and I have 2 adult kids, 23 and 22 years old. They never rebelled either…they both agreed when discussing this blog that these qualities existed in our home as well. All kids want is to have a sense of belonging, value and importance in their home. When they don’t have that, they rebel by looking for it in the wrong places. Keep writing.

  44. I was never a rebellious teenager, and now my son is 13, I still believe that the teenage years are no excuse to lose your mind :) When my son turned 13, he asked to go see a movie, and I told him that it was PG-13 so I needed to see it first to determine whether or not it was appropriate (we don’t do swearing, sex, nudity, drug use, etc. in movies) and he said “Oh, I thought I could go because I’m 13 now” at which point we had a great conversation about age not determining personal standards, about being picky about what we fill ourselves with, etc. and now he totally understands why we were being picky about movies (he just didn’t know what he didn’t know about bad content :) ) I think explaining things and being willing to have open dialog is half the battle with teens.

  45. Amen to that sister!!! I agree wholeheartedly.

  46. Samantha says:

    Hey Rebecca! I’m a teen, and I love your post We seem to come from similar backgrounds (and personalities) – everything’s open and honest, my parents expect a heck of a lot out of me, but I’m OK. :) I think the talking/communicating is HUGE….from my experience, I’ve noticed parents who shelter their kids and don’t talk about “hard” stuff often have kids who rebel.

  47. Carol Hallock says:

    SO WONDERFUL. Our kids are 3 and 1. My husband came from a family of 4 boys who are all in their late 20s/early 30s and they all talk. I know it can happen and your post affirmed this for me! Thank you, thank you!

  48. Hey! Just my 2 cents here as the kid who DID rebel! I’m almost 40 now. My parents did all these things. I don’t condone much of my rebellious behavior, but you know what it was how GOD worked in my heart. I can say with out a doubt my story is mine, not may parents, not my grandparents, but my own. I’ve learned a ton. Grew a bunch. And have a testimony of GOD’s great REDEMPTION. And you know what? Many of the Bible’s greats are/ were slightly rebellious. There are good things that can come from not following all the rules. I’m pretty sure Jesus broke tons of them, of course, He never sinned in his rebellion. Now as a parent, I grow weary, of everyone in every Christian circle requiring that a parent GOOD kids. I haven’t been given the super power to control people. And of course as a Mom who LOVES JESUS and my kids, I of course don’t want them to rebel, but if their story can be of our saviors GREAT REDEMPTION, can I accept that? I’m glad you didn’t rebel. But honestly it isn’t the worst thing in the world.

  49. I really enjoyed this post. I want to add something, too. I’m going to guess (and I acknowledge that I could be wrong) that you got a decent amount of sleep while growing up. That doesn’t seem like it would be a huge factor in teen rebellion. But actually, research shows that sleep has an incredible affect on children and teens. “A” students get an average of 15 minutes more sleep per night than “B” students. (not that grades have anything to do with rebellion, just demonstrating that it can affect one’s functioning) And lack of sleep may very well be contributing to the sullen demeanor that we often associate with teenagers. Just my two cents!

  50. Momoftwosons says:

    This begins by noting what Ryan said about not feeling his parents approval; our oldest son may be could have voiced these same sentiments about his Dad and I, although when trying to give him a sense of accomplishment for the right reason, he would rebel against it by discounting what we had to offer. We never had the satisfaction from him that he was succeeding for anything other than his own approval and standards. Honoring The Lord first was our emphasis, but that was met w/ a scoffing attitude, albeit compliant way, by him. Although he was never outwardly rebellious, at least to outsiders, we knew his heart was rebelling; he, too , would very much pride himself saying that he didn’t drink, do drugs , party, etc, and he sure wanted that noted, and often… As if to defer what some of the real issues of his rebellion were–til this day he is in a slow journey back to the core basics of what our family was and is still about. Ryan, in a way I do understand that you wrote your feelings because they are genuinely what you feel , but understand, too, that parents see more than what meets the eye. You kids are so loved and valued by us imperfect parents-I guess our main goal is for you kids to rise to the standards Christ has set; being confident that you are pleasing Him first and gaining His approval a I’ve all.

  51. Momoftwosons says:

    *gaining His approval above all

  52. Rebecca –

    What a wonderful article! As the father of 6 (19,16,14) – girls, (10, 6) boys and (3 – girl) my wife and I have been blessed w/ amazing children. We also have not experienced rebellion many in the world / church have experienced – I truly believe it is because the children have fulfilled what our hope / expectations are for them – excellence for Christ.

    I have a question for you / your mom. How did you feel the role your father played in your development? Becoming a father was the greatest honor I have been given, and reading your article I see a lot of your qualities in my 3 oldest girls. I am tough, candid, but loving and compassionate in a sense to share my mistakes and realize children grow in different ways. I am enjoying watching them mature and grow and also learning how to listen and communicate, and even reassess what battles to fight and what is important and seeing the girls respond. Thank you again for your article.

  53. Melissa says:

    This article is lovely. BUT, I don’t think it’s generalizable. There are five children in my family, and our home was Christ-centered. My mother was an amazing example of what it means to be a Christian and she lived that every day of her life. We had family dinners, family conferences, and family night (almost) every week. It was never “expected” that any of us would rebel either. But I did. And it didn’t start when I hit my teenage years, it started earlier than that. I appreciate the family dynamic in your home- you’re lucky for that, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee that children won’t rebel. I think what is important about a Christ- centered home, is the example that’s being set. Although I rebelled for a number of years- into my twenties, I came back. I was able to see how unhappy I was because of the happiness I saw in my mom and dad and siblings. But even a Christ-centered home isn’t enough to guarantee that a wayward child will return either. All families are different. All children are different.
    I’m not trying to slam this article by any means, but it’s just your family’s experience. I’m sure other families have had similar experiences, but I know of many who have not.

  54. Momoftwosons says:

    Melissa, I do hear you; there were five kids in my family growing up, and wow, the personalities and journeys were all different w/ my siblings, and myself. I would say that all of us rebelled in some form or fashion, if not outwardly in arguing w parents, then w a contrite spirit manifesting the inner war really going on. My parents were fairly transparent w us, and there was always the emphasis of Christ centeredness, and yet we as children tended to be more reactive rather than proactive in dealing with issues. Albeit, we fully understood the difference between imperfect parents and Perfect Heavenly Father–we appreciated that our parents were human and madeustakes; I think we all ” got it ” that Mom and Dad did not want us to repeat their mistakes in life, knowing full well human nature, and yet we all thought we knew better than they did, you know…fairly typical. For me, it was the arguing between my parents that ruined it for me–where was the respect? I respected both my parents and I knew w/o a doubt they deeply loved each other, but wow, the arguments between them were halting–it took me years to deal w it… So I encourage parents everywhere to create a respectful environment and a safe haven in your home. Of course, not everyone will be on the same page about things, but there has to be a respect shown toward one another.

  55. I really enjoyed this post. It gave me so much to think about as to my childhood and how I had raised my children. I like to feel that I raised them to be always know I am open to talk to them about anything. My girls use to really dread the mother daughter talks we often would have. They thought they were to personal. (I smile as I think about it now) But I think spending family time together was a key to the family. And going to church was a must. We tried to raise them to be good Christians. This article is a good read for any parent or young adult. Definitely give you something to think about.

  56. Courtney says:

    I made it all the way to 19 without rebelling too and for the same reasons. however in college I ended up giving in to the world because let’s face it, it looks fun. while I did have fun, now that I’m older I see why God discourages us not to do certain things. I could have avoided a lot of unnecessary stress and way fewer consequences if I had the discipline to say no in the face of temptation. there’s not just spiritual reasons for saying no, God made sure there were practical reasons too for people like me who tried to balance her faith and still party. God used a husband and beautiful baby boy to curb my little rebellion, and as a parent now I see things from a totally new perspective.

  57. Beautifully written and great insight! You must be a very proud mama!
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  58. Thank you! I always felt kind of like I was the only teenager that didn’t rebel. It’s encouraging to know there are others out there!

  59. It’s an interesting take on things – I never rebelled as a teenager, either. I grew up a preacher’s kid, went to camps and retreats and youth conventions. I met my wife, daughter of a church leader, at church and we led small groups and youth classes. I don’t drink, do drugs, or smoke. Now I’m an atheist.

    You could call it a rebellion, I suppose, but it just took me until after I was out from under my parents’ control to learn that their worldview wasn’t the only way to believe. And I wonder where the line is between ‘rebel’ and ‘difficult.’ It seems like there should be some distinction in there somewhere.

    • Momoftwosons says:

      Nathan, could you have been the “compliant” child in the family to avoid conflict? What is the one thing, if you could go back in time to verbalize your feelings as a child, that would have helped you develop a more rounded sense of who you were as a child in your family– in particular, in a ministry family? Can I ask you if conflict in the church played a part in how you feel today? Trust me, I am asking these questions for a reason… Thanks

  60. Momoftwosons says:

    As for the distinction between rebel and difficult… To rebel is just that-”to buck against a certain expectation.” Being difficult can be interpreted that you know the boundary, of the expectation, but you choose to cause friction because it’s a frustration for you. To me, whenever my son was being “difficult,” I knew he at least cared about the subject!

  61. Major life experiences and the ages they are experienced as well as individual personalities can play major roles in “rebellion” or not. Some children need to flex their individuality in a conflicting direction than their parents prefer to find themselves. We lost my step father to cancer when I was 19. My siblings were 9, 11 and 13. I never “rebelled” but my oldest brother (13) had a hard time through high school and moved out of the house at one point before finding his individual path. Incidentally, he was the one that would declare he was “moving out” when he got mad about something as a preschooler. My younger two siblings never rebelled though there were a few questionable decisions that had to be learned from.

    There are no magic answers. I often wonder what it would have been like had my step father still been with us through my siblings’ teenage years.

    • marc lintz says:

      Im a 47 year old father of four—-I get so mad when every adult I come in contact makes comments like; “you got that shotgun ready” “Wow, 2 teen girls, (eye roll)” or even “Im glad I have boys”

      They assume I parent like the average person and frankly thats insulting——I admit I got lucky—my mom and dad have been together forever and my dad/mom stressed FAMILY alot

      I realized in the past 10 years that aside from my relationships with my wife and christ——these kids WERE IT!!!!

      I spend an inordinate amount of time with (all my kids) my 14 year old and 17 year old girls and have since they were little—–THE KEY is NOT quality time its AMOUNT—– (I have 2 younger boys I do the same thing with them)

      My 17 year old has NEVER rebelled and is a GREAT kid—— I think it was because I owned my own business and “forged” A very strong realtionship with her ——both my wife and I did

      I allow her tremendous space, I coach her, if she makes a mistake I encourage her and point out things she can do to improve her decision next time—–Ive done this since she was born—-she trusts me completely

      and its paid huge dividends——

      Mackenzie (17 yr old) stars in hit TV show “Under The Dome” Shes entered a dangerous world and so far so good
      God has blessed her tremendously.

      Best advice I could give—–You can always WORK at your job—-but your kids will only be with you a short time—-MAKE IT COUNT!

  62. Stephanie says:

    Something I wanted to add is that I think a lot of rebellion also has to do with having both parents in your life and them both being good role models. My siblings and I all have different experiences with rebellion. I didn’t rebelled in the least. I followed all the rules until I was old enough to move out and make my own. My brother and sister however did, my brother is my half brother and isn’t as close with his biological father, or with my dad. My dad regrets not taking a more fatherly role, he says at the time he didn’t want to step on my brothers biological fathers toes. And my sister rebelled as well, and while my father and she are very close, she and my mom had many problems. I think because my sister was angry with her for my parents divorce. My main point is that for me the middle child my parents were both super involved in my life during my teen years. And with my siblings one of them wasn’t as close as they could have been. Strong parental relationships really help, I think, because the teen knows they can go to them with absolutely anything, and that the parent will still love them. I think a lot of rebellion happens because teens are acting out, trying to figure out how much they’re loved.

  63. Actually, it is a brave thing to come out and write this article. If everyone is doing one thing the one who is not doing it is the strange one, in a way. You stressed the importance of communication once more. Keeping an unobstructed channel of communication between you and your children reduces a lot of problems. Thanks for sharing.

  64. My parents raised us nearly identical to this and my sister still rebelled. We were homeschooled, we went to church constantly, we were involved in youth group, we were a HUGE close knit family, we never fought. We spoke about everything. I think a lot of it (still) has to do with the teenager. I get tired sometimes when people look to my parents as a “well what did you do wrong with her?” attitude, when really, there was nothing they did any differently and no negligence. They did all they could do. I just think the sin nature exists in every person and regardless of whether your parents were wonderful or not, it still happens where teenagers rebel and the parents are not in control of their actions. The teenagers are in control of what they do. I mean think of Cain and Abel. I don’t think Adam and Eve were horrible parents, I just think Cain was a person with a sinful nature (as we all are) and acted on it.

  65. Great insight. I will try to remember these things as my babies grow. Thank you. Everything except the last part. The god thing isn’t in our life so I guess I will just replace god with humanity family and love of our world.

  66. Wow is all I can say. This was beyond convicting, and it gets a print out for future reference. Thank you!
    Daniel Tomlinson recently posted…More Forgiveness StuffMy Profile

  67. I expected you to get some flack for the wording of the comment about your parents thinking that “teenagers and the rebellious stage” being stupid. Otherwise, I am very grateful for your words.

  68. I “bumped” onto this article and loved it! My husband and I do not have kids yet but we are in charge of the adolecent group at our church…and just as we want to teach our kiddos we also want to help out our parents to be the parents God intended us to become.. and this article was perfect, and hopefully you dont have a problem if I translate it for our spanish speaking parents. Let me also add that its also helpful for our future kids! Thanks!

  69. Sarah Koppenhoefer says:

    I think this is a wonderful post. These are wonderful considerations to take into mind regardless of religious preference or lack of. What I also appreciate, Shiela, that is unmentioned by your daughter, is that you must have instilled some resilience to the pressures of their peers. From what it seems, you raised them to look through the negative aspects around them despite their temptation, or to know from the start that those temptations are unworthy. You must be so proud.

  70. I grew up in an extremely religious household. I was the youngest of 4. All of my siblings were a little rough growing up so when I arrive at my teenage years, I saw the hurt my parents endured and decided I couldn’t put them through it. They thought they were doing the right thing with my brothers and sister and I am sure according to the church and their friends standards they were. I didn’t rebel, but it was out of pity and fear that I did not. I wanted to, but never did. Now that I am an adult, turning 40 this year, I am not the stringent Christian parent the my parents were. No, we don’t go to church because I can’t find a place where I trust the doctrine. Unfortunately, during my younger church going years, there were a lot of people going to church for the social/club/click-type reasons and not God reasons. I can join a bowling league for a club atmosphere. Anyway, we just have been instilling values, morals, stories of God, and an open atmosphere for our sons. They don’t drink, do drugs, go out, or cause trouble. They stick close to us. They talk to us. They ask TONZ of questions about life. They don’t do chores very well, but I guess over time, we will get there. :) My oldest is going to be 17, and I can say, he made his teen years look like heaven compared to other teens parents that I talk to. We are strict. He just doesn’t put himself in situations to get in trouble. He talks about scenarios, “the what if this happened,” if he did go somewhere…. but he never goes…. and then we talk about what the outcomes would be. I think Christianity is a factor in parenting, but it’s not a guarantee your child will be terrific. Case in point, my siblings. The open relationship and communication is a KEY factor in good parenting. If they trust you with an open dialog, then you can guide them and talk about what concerns them, but on their terms.

  71. I find this interesting.

    Throughout my “rebellious” years, I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t party, had perfect grades, and was generally loved by everyone. But, for me, this was less about being a rebellious teenager (or not), and more about being a chronic people-pleaser. In the end, what this got me was an eating disorder from the stress of it all.

    I’m fiercely independent (which I get from my dad), and by the time I was halfway through high school, I was mentally ready to be out on my own, which is prime breeding ground for rebellion. Now, let me say that I have wonderful parents. Godly, caring, incredible people to look up to. But around the time I was primed for rebellion is the time my high school youth pastor became a major influence in my life.

    He taught me, essentially, to not be a doormat. Through him, I was taught that I wouldn’t be able to please everyone, because Jesus didn’t please everyone. Anger was okay, because Jesus got angry. Even rebellion was okay, because Jesus rebelled against a lot of societal norms at the time. What was important was what I did with that anger, and how I let God steer that rebellion to make something good of it.

    My anger was turned toward the injustice of poverty, the lack of compassion we have for others around us. My acts of rebellion looked like working in a homeless shelter and rebuilding houses that were still in shambles *two years* after Katrina hit. My rebellion, to this day, at 24 years old, looks like a righteous frustration with the petty disagreements we let divide us as believers, and my desire to see those become a non-issue.

    I had a serious boyfriend at fifteen. I had an eating disorder at seventeen. I got a tattoo on my eighteenth birthday. My grades slipped at the end of high school. I am twenty-four and still not finished with school. But out of that, I married my husband, that same boy I was dating at fifteen, at the age of twenty, and learned about God’s love in a whole new way. After coming through an eating disorder, I now have compassion and empathy for people I might not have understood, otherwise. My tattoo (a Chi-Rho, which you should look up), was not an act of rebellion, but rather a voluntary branding of myself as a follower of Christ, and not a day goes by that I don’t see it and remember my place in the Body of Christ. My grades slipped at the end of high school as a result of being awakened to the unhealthy education system we have, where a lot of the people I was friends with, I also secretly wanted to fail, because we were all competing for valedictorian. So I stopped participating in that game. As a result, I have a passion for alternative education, and inspiring a love of learning in children. I’m still not finished with college, but because of that, my husband and I are living debt-free lives, trusting completely in God’s direction for us, and I am about to start training to be a Montessori teacher. And in the midst of it all, I am walking closer with God than I ever imagined possible. He is real to me in ways that I have a hard time fathoming, even as they happen.

    I think we’re placing too much emphasis, here, on not rebelling, and not enough emphasis on not sinning. Your lovely daughter is, indeed, rebelling. Just not against you. She’s rebelling in the best way possible, by being a light in our world filled with shadows.

    So teach your kids to rebel, for crying out loud! You rebel, too! But rebel against what society is telling you is true that isn’t. Rebel against the injustices that you see in our world. Pay attention to that fire that God lights in your heart! Because that’s where God moves.

  72. Excellent article! Thanks for writing it.

  73. I loved reading this. Thank you!
    Starla J recently posted…Homeschool Weed Walk Field TripMy Profile

  74. chicken747 says:

    I’m a 19 (well in a few days) year old girl and I never did anything to rebel, my mother and I always talked about anything.
    I grew up with only her and she was the best Mum ever, playing loud music and even let me drink a tiny bit in the house when I became 16.
    She always encouraged me to seek my own path and curiosity’s. Trying things I wanted and went out of her way to help me do it, even if we couldn’t really afford it.
    were an atheist/ spiritualist family and she let me decide for myself if I wanted to be anything other than that.
    Thanks to her and all her crazy friends, being so open and telling me everything I asked about truthfully I’d like to think I’ve began on my adult path with some good footing.
    Thanks mum for everything!

  75. jessicacannonteaches says:

    Your daughter must be my Canadian doppelganger. Everything she said you and your husband did to raise them was EXACTLY what my parents did for my brother, sister and I. My sis are as opposite as can be: think of the pink and blue fairies in Sleeping Beauty and you will get a pretty good idea of our personalities. My brother is the middle child and he did NOT fall through the cracks as per usual statistics. In fact, he has recently married an awesome woman of God, and my sis and I are still waiting for God’s chosen men for our lives. I think it is awesome to read about someone else who can say they have cool parents too, JUST BY BEING PARENTS, not by being the best friend or buddy. I have been trying to figure out for years how to explain my family and now I do, thanks to you and your daughter. God bless you all!

  76. Wow! So much insight. I am a 23 year old mom of a 2 year old. I wouldn’t say I am very religious as I am still finding my solid ground in religion. I was raised Catholic, but feel like I am going a different route than my parents set me on. I rebelled as a child and so did all, and I mean all 6, of my siblings. I realized a lot of correlation in what you have to say. We were expected to rebel. My parents had a hard time toeing the line with being over relaxed with us as kids, then yelling at us constantly as teenagers. It was weird to have such a transition. I realized that the time I was most patient and kind was the time I was most involved in my church, using my mind and hands for good. I didn’t swear at all in that time either!
    I think I know a few things for sure now. I want family dinners every night. I want to find a good balance with my son in discipline and discussion. I also want to make God a priority. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true. Thank you for this post!

    • Sarah, it sounds like you’re off on a great start! Way to go. You know what you want and you’re thinking about it ahead of time and being deliberate. That’s great.

      God bless you!

  77. Daniel Smith says:

    This was extremely encouraging. Thank you for sharing.

  78. connie gregor says:

    I clicked on this link with interest as my daughter is now 12… and had a moment of chills as I read the similarities. She loves gymnastics and participates though she is not flexible :) Our home strives to be like yours but we have a ways to go I’m afraid. and my daughter’s name is Rebecca (Becca) Gregor…. thank you for the inspiring post…

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Trackbacks

  1. […] Thoughts from a Nineteen Year Old Who Didn’t!” *I appreciated reading this article at Love, Honor and Vacuum! It was so encouraging and convicting for me, the mother of eight daughters currently ages 16, 14, […]

  2. […] Rebecca Gregoire – 19- year-old Rebecca (also a daughter of Sheri’s) shares about post about rebellion […]

  3. […] 5 reasons why one Christian teen didn’t rebel. Super helpful for parents. […]

  4. 5 for Friday says:

    […] Why Do Teenagers Rebel? Thoughts from a 19-Year-Old Who Didn’t from To Love, Honor and Vacuum As a parent I was so interested to read this article. I wasn’t much of the rebellious type growing up or into my adult years so I know this can be possible but I really loved hearing it from a standpoint of a teenager today. I only hope my kids can experience life to the fullest without being rebellious. […]

  5. […] Why Do Teenagers Rebel?  Thoughts From a 19 Year Old Who Didn’t || To Love, Honor and Vacuum […]

  6. […] Why Do Teenagers Rebel? From A 19 Year Old Who Didn’t-Rebecca Gregoire @ To Love, Honor and Vacuum […]

  7. […] Why Do Teenagers Rebel? Thoughts From a 19-Year-Old Who Didn’t. […]

  8. […] you, Aunt Emily, for sending me Rebecca Gregoire‘s post. It means so much to have you cheering for […]

  9. […] my self, I thought I’d let my daughters do it for me! On Thursday my 19-year-old will tell us why teenagers don’t need to rebel. Today I’m going to let my 16-year-old explain why she’s not dating in high school. […]

  10. […] Why I Didn’t Rebel. My 19-year-old shares why she thinks she didn’t rebel. She’s not claiming that if you […]

  11. […] 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 […]

  12. […] agree there’s little benefit to high school relationships (an opinion I am so glad my teenage daughters shared), Boy Meets Girl, Harris’ follow-up book about courtship, still left me a little […]

  13. […] 16-year-old explaining why she’s not dating in high school and my 19-year-old explaining why she didn’t rebel as a teen. I thought this was a good way to finish up the […]

  14. […] my daughter liked to say in her post about why she didn’t rebel, stress relationship, not rules. Christianity is about relationship, and when kids have that with […]

  15. […] That suggests that one day my girls are going to play the field, date around or get caught up in all the “boyfriend drama” that supposedly comes with normal growing up. I am training my kids now that there was no such things as “boyfriend and girlfriend” in the bible because that is not God’s way. If I raise them not expecting to need or want a boyfriend, then they won’t wonder if every boy they know is a potential dating candidate. That is something I read in a great article from a teenager that never rebelled.  […]

  16. […] http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2014/02/why-do-teenagers-rebel/ – A great article on some of the reasons one girl didn’t rebel. […]

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