One Reason Children Rebel Against Their Parents

One Reason Children Rebel Against Their Parents

Photo: ©JonathanCohen from Getty Images Signature via Canva.com

Children are one of God’s many gifts to parents. As parents, we have the responsibility and the privilege to guide them into a practically biblical experience of knowing and loving God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Because they were born as fearful humans, a parent must understand a child’s propensity to fear and intentionally imitate Christ to them, hoping they will come to the Savior, the conqueror of all our fears.

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Cooperating with God

Children have a limited God-awareness, which is their innate, made in the image of God morality, per Romans 2:14-15. The Lord gives them to parents, fellow image-bearers who should cooperate with the Lord (Ephesians 5:1) in real, practical, and mature ways that ultimately lead to their salvation (John 3:7). This graphic helps to communicate a child’s Adamic standing and the parent’s role in closing the gap that separates them from Christ. The following six points explain the meaning of the infographic.

  1. Children are born in the image of God—as seen in the green pie shape, which is part of the incomplete circle (Genesis 1:27; 2:7).
  2. These kids are also born in Adam—as seen in the “Adamic” piece of the circle (Romans 5:12).
  3. A parent’s job is to cooperate with the Lord by leading the child to the Lord’s salvation—as is noted by the green directional arrow (Ephesians 6:4).
  4. A flawed parenting model will create “a regressive effect” for the child (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16). Rather than drawing a child closer to the Lord, they rebel, which widens the gap.
  5. Parents can either impede or facilitate the child’s path to God (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
  6. In many cases, a dysfunctional child—after they become adults—will desire a spouse as a means to a better life rather than pursuing God. This wrongly motivated choice only exacerbates the longstanding dysfunction.

Natural Regression In Life

Practically Living Christ

The impact we have on our children is powerful because we are their earliest and most profound influencers. As they grow up in the context of our care, whether that care is good or bad, they are affected by our attitudes, words, and actions. What we do to them becomes the shaping influences that they will either imitate or reject. Our goal is to export to them—as much as we can—Christocentric attitudes, words, and actions.

Though no good or bad parent can make a child righteous or unrighteous, God calls us to cooperate with the Lord in the salvation of the child by (1) modeling the life of Christ before them (Ephesians 5:1) while (2) teaching them everything that He taught (Matthew 28:19-20). Thus, your life relationships—spouse, friends, relatives, workmates—become the pictures that your child experiences.

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Suppose you were not presenting the life of Christ to your child (1 Corinthians 11:1). In that case, the chances of a kid rejecting God when they become teenagers are exponentially higher than parents who humbly present Jesus to their children while they are young. Though you realize only the Lord can save a kid, you don’t want to complicate that process by not being a disciple of Jesus.

A Kid’s Core Issue

Fear is the initial problem you will see in a child who is rejecting their parents. It starts while they are young. Let’s suppose a parent has a pattern of any of the following traits. These are not episodes but patterns in a parent’s life. If they exist, the child’s fear will increase.

  • Distant parent
  • Angry parent
  • Abusive parent
  • Critical parent
  • Divorced parent
  • Preoccupied parent
  • Impatient parent

A child’s fear forms a mental stronghold (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) that is much higher than a child living in a loving and safe home. You cannot overstate the need to provide a secure home, which is what love does. When a husband and wife love each other well, it permeates their children’s hearts, stabilizing them in an insecure, unstable world. When a parent exacerbates the child’s fear through any of the behaviors outlined, it will compel the child to find the security (safety) they crave through other means. He is looking for an accepting, approving, and loving community.


You will find a simple biblical template to model for your children in the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23. These nine elements give you a snapshot of what Christ was like and how you should be to your children. Look at the Christlike template to see how you are doing and how you may need to change. You can preface each Christ-trait with this question: “Are my children experiencing the (insert fruit) of Christ through me?”

  • Love of Christ
  • Joy of Christ
  • Peace of Christ
  • Patience of Christ
  • Kindness of Christ
  • Goodness of Christ
  • Faithfulness of Christ
  • Gentleness of Christ
  • Self-control of Christ

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Call to Action

  1. How are you guarding your heart against thinking that what you do matters so much that you could permanently damage your child to where they never choose Christ?
  2. There is the parent who believes their works matter too much, and there is the parent who presumes against God’s grace and does not put forth the effort to be a Christlike example. Are you either one? If so, what is your plan to change to be a cooperating disciple, not a complicating one?
  3. As you think about the fruit of the Spirit and your child, what specific way can you change to avoid complicating problems in their lives?

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