In Do You Need to Worry About Your “Good” Child, I shared the concept of children who are sneaky in their disobedience. Because they are rarely caught and corrected, they can spiral into habits and attitudes that are very dangerous for them and those around them.
So how do you know if your “good” child is actually much more disobedient and rebellious than you realize? It’s tough, that’s why that type of child often gets by with it well into adulthood. There are some warning signs though, that alert you to dig a little deeper into your child’s character, behavior and ultimately heart.
- Other parents seem uncomfortable around you and/or your child. There can be a lot of reasons for this to happen, but be particularly aware if the uncomfortable behaviors are only apparent when they are discussing some sort of misbehavior or attitude issues with other children. Often, when they are young, these “sneaky” kids will brag about their misdeeds to their friends. Younger children especially will often share these stories with their parents. Understandably, many of these parents won’t approach you directly, but will find ways to remove their children from your child’s orbit as much as possible.
- Your child seems a little too eager to share their “obedience” with you. Even good kids have a tendency to roll their eyes, sigh or give the groaning “yes, mom” when asked if they obeyed you in some way. Unless they are very young, rarely will a child excitedly report back how obedient they were. It’s not fool proof, but yet another warning sign you may need to dig a little deeper.
- Your child’s friends cut each other looks or giggle when you ask your child if he/she has obeyed you in some way. Yes, it can just be childish immaturity, but it can also mean they know your child is lying and are reacting to your ignorance at the lie.
- Your child’s friends have a bad reputation. Yes, your loving Christian child will have at least one or two kids in their “crowd” that don’t have a stellar reputation. Usually, though those kids are drawn to a “good’ child, because they think it will help them be better. Your child will have probably shared with you about the child’s problems and asked for your help in encouraging their friend. If other parents or teachers are constantly naming all of your child’s friends as “trouble makers” or other negative labels though, it’s a huge red flag. Most kids tend to gravitate to children that are like them.
- You catch your child in numerous lies – or especially half-truths, partial truths or omitted truths. Once again, your child just might have a problem with lying (which needs to be addressed). Often the child who is “sneaky” though will have to begin more lying and manipulating to remain uncaught as life and their disobedience get more complex. Once again, those partial type truths are the most dangerous. They often go unchecked and uncorrected as lies, because there was at least a kernel of truth in them. Don’t let them slide.
- Their stories seem plausible enough, but something still feels “off”. This is one of the few times in parenting when you do need to trust your “gut”. It may be nothing of real consequence, but if something feels wrong about their story, then it may be there is something disturbing underneath what they shared. Asking lots of questions designed to get them to share more information will help. Most people when they talk long enough will let the truth slip at some point. You don’t have to “grill” your child like a criminal, but asking interested open-ended questions will often help.
If your child is “sneaky” in their disobedience and rebellion, it’s not easy to catch them in the act. The older they are, the more practice they will have had at tricking you. While not proof by themselves your child is sneaking around disobeying you, the signs above are warnings your child is having some sort of issue with character and/or possessing a godly heart. Keep digging until you find your child’s “real” heart. Then work on smoothing out your child’s character issues as you continue to point her/him towards God.