“Rebellion comes with the territory.” - a surviving teen parent
If you’ve parented a teenager and you still have your wits about you, you know full well that rebellious teens are not an anomaly. Rebellion comes with the territory, and it's no laughing matter!
Comedian Jeff Allen maintains teenagers are God’s revenge on mankind. He explains that one day long, long ago, God said to Himself, “Let’s see how parents like it to create something in your own image that denies your existence.”
Even humorist Mark Twain showed he understood teenagers when he sarcastically urged parents, “When a boy turns 13, put him in a barrel and feed him through the knothole. When he turns 16, plug up the hole.”
Still, despite nervous joking about parenting teens, teenage rebellion is not at all funny. It is a serious business. In fact, it is way too often a matter of life and death.
And even if you know it’s coming, no matter how much you prepare, it still hurts when your precious teen rejects you and everything you stand for.
Even though you know the alienation your teen has imposed is temporary, and that he or she will ultimately come to hold beliefs and values similar to yours when they have teens of their own, weathering the storm is no joy ride.
The Sting of Rejection
Where it really stings for Christian parents, is when your teenager rejects not just the church, but also God.
There is nothing quite so heart-wrenching as parents who find themselves worrying years on end about their children’s salvation.
“Where it really stings is for Christian parents…when your teenager rejects not just the church, but also God.” -same surviving teen parent
First, know that teen rebellion is natural. To one degree or another, teenagers are supposed to rebel against their parents, even authority in general in its various forms.
Teens naturally go through a growth process called adolescence, the time between puberty and young adult maturity, ages 12-18. During this time, teens move from dependence on their parents to independence of their own.
It is a time of great physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual change. Teens are all about the business of forging an identity for themselves, at the exclusion of practically everyone and everything else.1
Because of the intensity of this stage of human development, there is a great strain between the expectations of well-meaning parents who are trying to raise responsible children and teenagers who find such expectations unnecessarily limiting to what they seem innately driven to do…to become their own person. 1
“Even normal adolescence is difficult to hang in there with, but when you complicate it with drug and alcohol abuse, and other such problems, it can become a nightmare for all involved.” -same surviving teen parent
When such growth is unencumbered by negative complications, like learning disabilities, mental or emotional disorders, family dysfunction, severe personal trauma, or even drug and alcohol abuse, parenting through this time is difficult enough as it is.
When physiological, psychological, familial, social, even spiritual complications are present, that’s when parents begin to describe this time as worse than any nightmare they could dream up.
(In the next article, “What’s a Christian Parent To Do With a Rebellious Teen?” will be the primary focus.)
1 “When Your Teen Rejects Your Values—A Christian Parent Response,” Rick Rood, Probe Ministries, originally 1995, updated 2020.