A Christian parent’s worst fear is a rebellious child. Your heart’s desire is for your kids to spend eternity in Heaven. If they have a rebellious spirit, they are much less likely to obey God. The blatantly, ”in your face” rebellious child is obvious to most parents. Those children make no attempt to hide their rebellion and may even seem proud of it.
There are some children, however, who are slowly but surely developing a rebellious heart, but don’t necessarily show obvious outward signs of it. They are more quiet about their rebellion. They may seem outwardly obedient, but their hearts are looking forward to the future breaking of those rules. The more this heart gets away with hiding this quiet rebellion, the stronger the rebellious spirit becomes. These are often the children parents believed were ”wonderful” until high school or college when they ”mysteriously went off the rails”.
If you are observant though, the signs of a heart that is possibly becoming rebellious are often revealed by the things that are said when they are caught disobeying or that they say when discussing the topic of disobedience. Said occasionally, they are probably just a convenient excuse. If these excuses become a natural part of their thought process, however, they can help rebellion grow in their hearts.
Here are some common excuses that can be given by young people who are developing a rebellious heart.
- “It’s too hard to obey”. There are variations of this excuse, but the idea is that they can’t possibly be expected to obey a rule or command that is so demanding.
- “I’m obedient most of the time, so disobeying just this once won’t matter.” This is a convenient out for ”good” kids. The danger of this philosophy of course is the idea that if you do enough ”good” things, any bad choices somehow don’t count. This idea is not at all biblical. As all of us who have started out eating a ”sliver” of cake that ended up being a huge chunk of cake know, starting down this road can lead to increased justification of poor choices.
- “It’s not my fault.” Perhaps the favorite excuse of all children – rebellious or not, this excuse is an attempt to avoid personal responsibility for one’s actions. Young people need to be constantly reminded they always have a choice. It may not be between options they like, but there is always a way to obey if they choose it.
- “I don’t know why I disobeyed.” This one is a bit scary, because it shows either a total lack of awareness of one’s own thought processes or that the young person just follows the crowd without thinking at all.
- ”My disobedience actually helped someone.” This is usually an excuse given for telling a lie. It’s the mistaken idea that the only way out of a delicate situation is to tell a lie.
- “I’m a Christian, so I just figured I could ask God to forgive me later.” This excuse tries to use God as some sort of magical ”get out of jail free” card. Yes, God does forgive us when we repent, but using that as an excuse to be rebellious was never the intent.
- “I’ve disobeyed for so long, it would be embarrassing/too late to start obeying now.” This excuse is often used by a young person who has done something he or she believes is a ”big” sin, multiple times. It probably starts as remorse, but can eventually become an excuse to avoid even trying to reform.
- “I’ll become a Christian when I am older and start obeying God then. After all, I’m not sure I’m ready to make a decision about becoming a Christian yet.” This is an excuse within an excuse. The first part may not be verbalized, and the second part may be covered by other excuses. This is often the young person who ”isn’t sure God is real” or who wants to keep throwing out questions for years on end – hoping to find a question that can’t be answered to allow for more stalling.
- “My parents are Christians and I’m really angry with them, so I will reject God to get revenge on them.” I don’t know that any young person would actually verbalize this, but it can be the underlying attitude behind rebellion in some cases.
Quiet rebellion often takes root because it goes unrecognized and unaddressed. Watching for signs of it in your children can help your kids avoid developing a truly rebellious spirit.