When Your Teen Says ‘No’ (part 2)

October 25, 2012 by Paul Chappell

In part one of this post we looked at six spiritual responses for parents when their teen or young adult is rejecting.

To recap:

  1. Love Christ unconditionally.
  2. Love your child unconditionally.
  3. Pray for wisdom.
  4. Be sure your own walk is real.
  5. Realize it is the nature of young people to question authority.
  6. Remember to be thankful for the good benefits of your pastor and church.

(If you missed the last post, I’d encourage you to read it before reading this one.) And now we pick up with nine more responses:

7. Guard your spirit.

Young people are excellent at pushing your buttons. It’s a pastime for them! And when a parent or teacher responds demonstratively, that provides fuel for their fun.

Seriously, a young person who is going through a season of rebellion will watch to see if they are affecting you. If they see you respond in anger, they will rebel further. This is when it is vital to remember Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Hold the line firm, but do it with gentleness, love, and while investing lots of time.

8. Seek counsel before discouragement affects your whole family.

Don’t allow your spirit to unravel so far that you believe the situation is hopeless. Ask for help from wise, godly people who have consistently walked with God for years. Read books that provide biblical answers on parenting, and seek help. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”

9. Don’t assume people are judging you when your kids struggle.

When a teenager is struggling and a parent already feels poorly about it, the devil wants to further demoralize you by making you think everyone is watching and judging you. There may be a few judgmental people around you (and nothing you do will change them), but remember that most people either don’t notice and/or are praying for you and wanting to encourage you.

10. Be careful of accommodating your theology to the mood or emotion of your current situation.

Years ago, a lady in our church who was concerned for her unsaved husband decided to move her membership to a more liberal church because she hoped her husband would like it better and would get saved there. What ended up happening is that her husband was never saved and neither of them are in church now.

As a family, you may have differences in preferences, but be careful that you retain a firm grasp on the doctrinal truths of the Bible and that you don’t let the emotional charge of your current situation pull you away from truth.

11. Learn to disagree without picking sides.

Recognize that you may have a different opinion or preference than your young person, but you can still have unity in your spirit. Especially as your children mature into adulthood, be careful not to insist that absolute agreement on every issue is a condition of your fellowship with them.

12. Remember your teen is still developing doctrinal and practical positions, but yours should be set.

The teenage and young adult years are a season of growth. Hopefully, you have already helped them lay a firm foundation of basic doctrines, but their philosophy of life is still developing. As parents, we need to give them room to grow.

That being said, remember that your philosophies of life should already be mature. As the parent, it’s not for you to follow your child’s journey of discovery! They need you to be the “ancient landmark” providing an anchor point as they are growing.

13. Beware of faulty thinking concerning the church.

The Bible does not teach us to find a church where the whole family feels comfortable, but rather a church that teaches the whole counsel of God. Like Joshua of old, parents must set the spiritual direction for the family (Joshua 24:15). Instead of catering to the changing preferences of your young person regarding what makes him feel most comfortable at church, remind him to elevate truth above preference.

14. Be careful what you give in negotiation.

A child who is struggling can make you feel like you have to make a choice: “It’s either me or the church” or “It’s either me or the school.” In reality, it is rarely as drastic as the gigantic, systemic problem they perceive. Many parents who have negotiated concessions away from the truth or even from a sound church, have later learned that they really didn’t solve the problem in the end.

You may (and you should!) give your child time, love, and gifts; but do not relinquish your position as a parent. Anyone can be your child’s buddy, but he needs you to be his parent.

15. Claim the promises of Scripture.

Even when the situation looks the bleakest, remember that God is able to do the impossible. Look to Him for strength, and never give up hope for your child. I’ve seen many young adults go through troubled waters and later return to the Lord and to their faithful parents who continued to love them unconditionally. I’ve also seen parents who jumped ship in the middle of their child’s crisis. Rather than returning to the Lord, those kids said, “See I knew it was never real from the beginning.” Claim God’s promises, and remain faithful to Him.


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