As a parent, it is important to be proactive.  Most of us don’t like confrontation . . . but some things in life MUST be confronted.  Here’s the thing about confrontation:  the earlier you do it, the less of a ‘big deal’ it is.

Do you have a kid who is constantly asking to do things that you have to say ‘no’ to?  Do you then have to listen to them pitching a fit? Can I share some things I have learned as a former parent and former child?

I hope I am talking to someone who has a young child or preteen who is just starting to rebel.  The reason is, this can possibly be stopped in its tracks, before it gets out of hand.  Although not every child who rebels turns into a criminal and a drug addict . . . I would bet that nearly every criminal and drug addict started out by rebelling.  How tragic, that a lot of them could probably have been turned around early.

Here is what you need to understand: when your child comes and asks for your permission, it is pretty much a formality for them.  What they really want at that point, is just a rubber stamped seal of approval without any questions.  This is why they become so angry when you say ‘no’.

Here is why.  By the time your child comes to you for permission they have already considered the ‘opportunity’ they are being invited to participate in, have passed it through their own decision making process, and have then listened to the propaganda their friends give, in favor of it.

When they come to ask your permission they have already made up their mind that it is something they want to do.  Listen carefully–they are asking for your permission at this point, not your advice.

(Hear me out–I’m not going to say you should give in!!  I want to show what is happening . . . why the conflict is occurring. )

In order to short circuit this chain of events, you need to see the steps it goes through, so that you can stop it sooner.

  • The invitation is given  (who you allow your child to hang out with is going to be a big factor in the kind of invitations they get)
  • Your child considers the invitation, whether this is something they want to do
  • Your child’s conscience should react, if this is something they shouldn’t participate in
  • WHEN their conscience warns them, there are several paths they might choose.  Typically, they either:   1.  decide not to do it and don’t     2.  hesitate  (their uncertainty can invite pressure from their friends)     3.  push their conscience aside
  • If they hesitate, their friends persuade and pitch their propaganda in favor of doing it
  • Lastly, they ask permission

Kids are learning, in school, to use their own discernment and make their own decisions.  More and more, they are being encouraged to look to their peers for information and direction . . . and less and less are they being encouraged to ask their parents for wisdom.  In fact, some ‘educators’ purposely try to divorce children from their parents’ influence.  For these reasons it is IMPERATIVE that you teach your kids discernment!!

You need to be proactive and give your kids your guidance and opinions before they need them . . . because when they need them, paradoxically, they won’t ask for them or listen to them.  You need to teach them early so that they will ‘hear your voice in their head’ when they are faced with a decision.

I think, the best way to help correct your child’s bad decision making, is to go through this list and determine where the problem lies.  If you can correct the conditions that are causing your child to make the wrong choices, your child can instead learn to make wise choices.  After all, the best choice is a WISE choice that your child has made for him/herself!

The place to begin, is with your child’s conscience.  Does your child clearly know right from wrong, and good from bad?  What do you base these judgments on?  If you are a Christian, you should be teaching them, from the Bible, about what is right and wrong, good and bad.

There is so much emphasis in our culture on doing what seems right to you, or feels best to you, or what others are doing . . . there are probably MANY kids that don’t have a clear concept of right and wrong to anchor themselves too.  Make sure your child is securely anchored in truth!  Don’t just assume they know these things–start talking to them and find out what THEY think is right and wrong in different situations.

If they clearly know right from wrong, then it is critical to find out why they aren’t listening to their own conscience.  Is there a common thread to these incidents?  Does it usually involve a certain friends?  Is it something a particular authority figure is promoting?  Is it a fear of being different?

Make no mistake, bad company corrupts good character.  Sure, you may have a big confrontation over dis-allowing a certain friendship . . . but if this ‘friend’ is a negative influence on your child, you will be saving yourself many future confrontations and rebellion, and ultimately you may save your child’s life.  ‘Bad’ kids often go from bad to worse.  Don’t let them take your child along for the ride.

If the person who is pressuring your child is an adult–or worse, an authority figure, you may HAVE to confront that person. At the very least, you may have to rearrange things in your child’s life to eliminate, or minimize, that person’s authority over them.  God has placed you, as a parent, in the role of protector of your child.

This last one is going to be hard for some of you to hear.  If your child is afraid of being different, you are going to have to look at your own behavior.  In fact, for all of these possibilities you should consider your own behavior.  Do you have a sound basis for determining what is good and bad, right and wrong . . . or are you ‘wishy-washy’ about such things? Do you heed your own conscience? Do you allow yourself to be pressured by others, to do things you don’t want to do? Kids often model themselves after adults they look up to.  None of us is perfect.  We often grow alongside our children, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Anyways, back to peer pressure . . . peer pressure is another way of saying ‘fear of persecution’.  Here is another place for self examination . . . do you bend over backwards to make sure your child fits in?  If so, you may be (inadvertently) reinforcing their fear of persecution.  If you are a Christian parent, it is important that you equip your child to endure persecution . . . because Christians are promised that they will be persecuted.

Although a child’s rebellion can be exhausting and worrisome to deal with, it is something you CAN overcome. If you are constantly having confrontations with your child, it is usually a signal that something is wrong in their decision making process.

Identify your child’s weaknesses and help strengthen them in those areas.  What is manifesting as rebellion may be a lack of moral certainty, vulnerability to someone who is a bad influence, or fear of persecution.  You CAN help your child to overcome these vulnerabilities.

(The child that is TRULY a rebel is one that knows right from wrong but doesn’t care, and has no respect for [or fear of] authority or the opinions of others.  That is another story entirely, and probably requires a different type of help.  If you are struggling with that, please feel free to email me.)

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