Why I'm Encouraging My Kids to Rebel

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In today’s world, being a young man or a young woman of godly character is a bold, courageous act of rebellion. So, let's encourage our kids to rebel!

My mom was terrified of the teenage years.

When my older sister turned 13, my mother had a complete meltdown. I remember her sobbing and telling my sister, “You’re 13 now! I’m so afraid you’re going to rebel!”

You know what? I’m horrified by the thought that my children won’t rebel. I agonize everyday that they aren’t being defiant enough

I pray that everyday they will fly in the face in what they’re told to do.

Let me explain. 

Rebellion is usually against a dominant or accepted way of thinking. It’s driven by these thought patterns: “Most people are doing the right thing so I’m going to do the wrong thing.” -OR- “Everyone is telling me to do THIS, so I’m going to do THAT.”

Well, it’s a new world and everything has been turned upside down. The world encourages — no, even celebrates — doing the wrong thing. In fact, everywhere you look, we’re told, “Do whatever you want. Your needs and desires are always most important.”

In today’s world, being a young man or woman of godly character, would be a bold, courageous act of rebellion.

So, I’m appealing to my kids’ independent streak (they both have a generous one), and I am encouraging them to shake things up. Here’s a few areas I pray I’m encouraging a rebellion: 

Live with integrity. 

No one’s word seems to mean anything anymore. People often say what they think others want to hear. Or, they promise things to get what they want, with no intention of ever following through.

I include myself in these “people.” During the years I struggled so much with people pleasing, I didn’t set a good example in this area with my kids. I did  just tell people what they wanted to hear. To please them or avoid conflict. Often, I wasn’t able to follow through because I’d overcommitted.

I didn’t just do this with other people. I did it with my kids. They learned that my word didn’t mean much.

I’ve had to ask for their forgiveness. Changing old ingrained patterns takes time, but I’ve tried to show them a new way of doing things. I do my best to keep my word. I speak the truth in love (most of the time!).

In today's world, being a young man or woman of godly character, is a courageous act of rebellion.

More than anything we can say, our actions teach kids integrity. If we want our kids to rebel and have integrity, we have to show them how it’s done. Seizing everyday opportunities to show integrity can make a big impression on our kids.

For example, when someone makes a mistake and undercharges me for something, I go back and make it right — to my own disadvantage. As my daughter once said, “Nobody does that, Mom.” Well, I do, sweet Daughter. And if you want to have integrity, you will, too.

Pursue purity.

This one can seem downright impossible. You can hardly watch a commercial — let alone a TV show or movie — these days without being hit over the head with in-your-face sexual images and messages.

One thing that I wish I had done differently and earlier with my kids was to stress that purity is not just about not having sex before marriage.

Purity starts way before they are ever faced with that dilemma. The Bible says to guard our hearts because it is the wellspring of life.

One of my favorite phrases with my kids is to say, “You’re too valuable to do that, say that, or watch that …”

Trust God’s Plan.

In today’s world, a lot of people think they are “owed” something. Here’s the brutal truth: Not one of us is “entitled” to anything. In fact, without a loving Savior who was willing to come down and give His life, we would all be in a world of hurt without hope.

He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. Often, it doesn’t look like what we’ve dreamed up in our heads. We may not think it’s “fair” at times. But if we can ask Him — over and over again — to help us accept the challenges and disappointments, we can open our eyes to His love, purpose and provision even when we are in pain and confusion.

Trusting God’s plan isn’t easy. I’ve failed many times. But when I’m in tune with God, I can help my kids see God’s plan and purpose even in their disappointments and challenges. 

Stay Devoted to God.

According to a 2006 Barna Group study, 61% of today’s young adults who had been churched at one point during their teen years are now spiritually disengaged (not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying). 

Why do so many of our teens walk away from God? Lots of reasons. But I think a big one is that they don’t see faith being lived out in a bold, practical, everyday kind of way. Because God is not boring. He’s not a brutal taskmaster. He isn’t irrelevant. He and His Word are real, alive and active — if only we’re pursuing a relationship with Him each day, moment-by-moment.

That is what drives me everyday to live out my faith. I want my kids to see that faith is not an option. It’s a necessity — like food or oxygen. It’s vital to our very being. It fills us up and gives us life. And we don’t have to live our faith out perfectly for them to see this. Thank goodness.

I thought I wanted compliant kids. Now, I’m praying they’ll always be rebels. 

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