Help! My Children Are Rebelling

Josh Buice

Dad-Open-Bible

One of the greatest joys and difficult challenges in life is the calling of a parent. It is our duty to lead and govern the home well for the glory of God. Fathers, in particular, are called to be the governors of the home. Along with the assistance of his wife, the home is to be ordered by Scripture and the gospel is to be central. But, what happens when the greatest effort and care as a parent is disregarded by a wayward child? How should a father and mother respond during those circumstances?

Biblical Leadership

First and foremost, the parents are to lead the home, not the children. In no circumstances whatsoever should children be allowed to call the shots for the family. Whenever a child is permitted to make decisions that parents should be making on their behalf, it opens the door to a long line of decisions that children are happy to make, but often times it’s without proper wisdom and certainly without a biblical foundation.

Voddie Baucham, in his book Family Driven Faith cited some sobering statistics that 70-88% of all students who grow up in evangelical homes and attend evangelical churches walk away from the faith by the end of their freshman year of college. Today, we continue to see fathers and mothers looking to their children to make family decisions such as what church they should attend. In many cases, young teenagers will choose whatever church has the prettiest girls, the coolest guys, or the youth group with the most fun and games. In such cases, parents will allow their children to influence their decisions based on the fact that their child will be happy. But, in all reality, what their child needs most is faithful leadership.

Consider the reality that children need to see their parents making decisions and providing clear and consistent leadership. Children are sinners and as they grow, their sin becomes stronger. In such cases, their rebellion can be more challenging. Biblical leadership leads through such challenges and refuses to allow rebellion to guide decisions. Rather, the parents who are most consistent as Christians will allow the Scriptures to influence their decisions.

When you’re pressed, challenged, or questioned by rebellious children—what answers are you providing? Are your solutions God centered or man centered? Are they pragmatic or biblical? Are they influenced by the stress of the situation or the text of Scripture?

Family Worship

Years ago, a man decided to leave our church for another church down the road. When questioned, he came to the office to inform our pastoral staff that one of the reasons for his decision to depart from our church was the fact that I was pressing the idea of family worship too much in my preaching. He stated, “Not only do I not practice it, I don’t believe in it. I allow my children to make their own decisions.”

To be clear, I do press the idea of family worship because it’s biblical. Voddie Baucham once wrote the following, “The church does not meet as often as the home. Thus, if Christ is to be worshipped daily, it is incumbent upon the home to play an important spiritual role. Consequently, fathers, as heads of households, are thrust into a pastoral role.” [1]

How are we to teach our children the gospel if we are not opening the Scriptures in our home? This is discipleship 101. Beyond their profession of faith, it is our duty as fathers and mothers to govern the spiritual development of our children as they grow in the faith. Part of this process involves the reading of the Bible, praying, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with our children in the home. George Swinnock once observed the following:

A foundation well laid by the master of a family is a great help to the minister…Confident I am our work would not have half that difficulty which now it hath, if masters of families would but do their duties. [2]

Why is it that children today can hardly endure a 45-minute sermon? Because the Bible is not presented to them in their home.

Why is it that children today can hardly endure a 45-minute sermon? Because the Bible is not presented to them in their home. If their father does not put emphasis and value upon the Scriptures at home, how will the children see the value of it opened and preached on the Lord’s Day? Could this be why so many churches today have cancelled evening worship? Is it because certain families complain that the church doesn’t have anything for the children, so they will not attend? What a tragedy it is when parents cannot see that the church service is actually for children too. But once again, where does this begin? It begins in the home.

Solutions for Rebellion

  1. Are you praying with your children? Allow your children to see you and hear you crying out to God for solutions, answers, and resolve from Scripture.
  2. Are you reading the Bible with your family? Not only would I encourage you to read the Bible in a devotional manner or through a catechism format, but I would encourage you to develop a family Bible reading plan. There are many out there. You can join me on my plan. Details can be found here.
  3. Are you singing with your family? Teach your children that it’s not the way the song makes you feel, but what the song says that matters most. It’s not about performances. It’s about true worship.
  4. Are you talking with your children and allowing them to ask questions? Provide them space to ask questions and then demonstrate before them that the Bible always has the answers.
  5. Are you children learning a high view of church membership? That begins with you as parents leading in this area. They must understand what it means to be in a spiritual covenant of membership with brothers and sisters in Christ. They must see you taking relationships seriously and orienting your family around the gathering of the church for worship and fellowship.
  6. Are you consistent or flakey? Consistency is key in discipleship.

May the Lord strengthen you and help you in your efforts to be a faithful and biblical parent. We must remember that God has not called us to be popular, but he has called us to be faithful. He has not called us to be our children’s friend, but he has called us to be our children’s parent. Biblical decisions are not up for a vote, and we can’t give over to our children who have barely overcome the challenges of personal hygiene and making their bed in the morning the most important decisions of life. We have to lead them. We have to lead them faithfully.

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  1. Voddie Baucham, What He Must Be, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009), 135.
  2. George Swinnock, The Works of George Swinnock, M.A., Vol. 1 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1868), 337-338.
Author Dad-Open-Bible

Josh Buice

Pastor Prays Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.