5 of the Best Ways to Bless the Parents of a Rebellious Child


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It's easy to be a perfect parent when you don't have any children. Before you criticize and judge parents of a rebellious child read this...

I started this post several months ago when I was all fired up about a comment I read on Facebook followed by an article posted on Hello Christian.

Respect is taught at home. If your kid is a disrespectful little *#%!, it’s your fault. Not society’s. Not music. Not video games. Yours! (uncredited quote on FB)

Kevin Swanson, a pastor from Colorado, said, “As a pastor, if your children turn out to be sinners…if it turns out they abandoned the faith while they are in the household, accused of riot and unruly debauchery, et cetera, within the household, you need to resign as a pastor,” (quoted from article at Hello Christian) 

And the following rant came flying out through my fingers on to the page…

If like the people above, you have perfect children, I’m happy for you. Really, I am.

But seriously, what do you hope to accomplish . . . discouragement? Guilt? Pain?

Parents with rebellious children are already discouraged. They feel guilty and oh my, are their hearts hurting!

They don’t need you to help them feel bad about themselves.

But you need to know that…

Like you perfect parents, they love their children and they are doing their best.

And if your perfect children are still young and everything has been easy so far, I’d like to caution you . . . you may find yourself eating your judgmental attitude.

How do I know?

Because I’ve been in your shoes. When our children were little, we were brilliant parents and I was a pro when it came to judging parents who had out of control rebellious children.

Good parents have good obedient children, right?!

I got humbled!

I’ll spare you the details. Just know, I have a lot of compassion for parents who pour everything they’ve got into loving, raising, and praying for their children while feeling helpless because of the choices they are making.

And as I finished writing that sentence, I was spent. Emotion and memories made it hard to keep writing. I click save and set it aside . . . but the other day, I revisited the subject and thought it might be time to add some positive words and helpful suggestions to my diatribe.

So, here goes…

If like me, you ever find yourself in the frustrated and I don’t know what to do parent category, remember you’re not alone…

  • Adam and Eve’s son killed his brother. (Genesis 4)
  • Noah’s son was disrespectful. (Genesis 9)
  • Jacob’s sons sold their brother into slavery. (Genesis 37)
  • Eli’s sons cursed God. (1 Samuel 3)
  • King David’s son tried to take over the kingdom. (2 Samuel 15)
  • The son in the “prodigal” story squandered his future inheritance. (Luke 15)
  • And through the history of the kings of Judah and Israel – good kings had sons who were evil kings.

There is nothing new under the sun. Children, like their parents, have been sinning since the first family.

Friends let’s do better. Let’s stop comparing and judging and make every effort to support and help each other for the benefit of our children and our communities.

It's easy to be a perfect parent when you don't have any children. Before you criticize and judge parents of a rebellious child read this...

5 of the Best Ways to Bless the Parents of a Rebellious Child

1. Build Strong Relationships

So many families find grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins living long distances away. I believe children benefit from the love, encouragement, and counsel of other adults in addition to their mom and dad. Having other parents cheer for your children and reinforce your beliefs and values is great for everyone involved.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiates 4:9–10

2. Refuse to Compete or Compare

Oh, how I remember the questions. How did your child do on that test? How many points did he score? How did she do on the audition?

It’s one thing to be interested and caring and quite another when you start competing and comparing. It takes a self-check. If this is hard for you, pray about it and determine to become a super-encourager of your children, their friends, and their friends’ parents.

“Comparison is the death of joy.” ~ Mark Twain

3. Refuse to Judge

Don’t judge your friend when her child sins! Everyone messes up! Everyone makes mistakes! Your friend has most likely talked with, corrected, and disciplined her child for the very thing you’re judging.

She needs your love and encouragement and her family needs your care and compassion now more than ever. So, stop and ask yourself how you’d want to be treated if your child did something similar.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

“Judgment…is one of the ego’s tools to foster separation through comparison.”  ~ Peter Santos

4. Listen with Love

You know the saying, “Listen to understand not to respond.”

Yeah that!

When dealing with a difficult child, parents need to know they’re not alone. Be the friend who listens and loves. And when it comes to giving advice, the truth is what worked for you may not work for them.

Share your thoughts if asked, if not . . . listen, love, and pray.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” ~ Roy T. Bennett

And the best help!

5. Pray for Your Friends and their Children

Can you imagine the difference we could make if we sincerely prayed for the families in our circle of friends? What if we asked God to draw us all closer to Him, to bless us with wisdom in parenting, and to guard and protect our children’s hearts and minds to make wise choices?

Praying for someone is an act of love and one of the greatest gifts you can give a friend.

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado

5 of the Best Ways to Bless the Parents of a Rebellious Child - Counting My Blessings by Deb Wolf

I believe we can do this!

We can bless each other with encouragement. We can come together as friends and families and teach our children the joy of living as friends and family without sniping and tearing each other down with criticism and condemnation.

And finally, please stop and think about the hurting parent who’s doing their best before you write a blog or social media post that blames them for every mistake their child makes. It might just come back to bite you and you may find yourself having to humbly eat your words.

Don’t forget to leave your prayer requests…

May we pray for you

and pray over the list left by our friends.

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  1. Deb?, as absolutely always? your posts has blessed me?, thank you for always being so open?! Our family has some of that judgment within us regarding parenting and oh how every family can benefit from it ending?! I’d forgotten I can pray about this and oh how your reminder helps me?! Thank you kabootles!! And I’ve often wondered if there a way to tithe to you?, I always receive from your beautiful womanly posts?, have a beautiful day?

    1. Sue, You bless me like crazy! Thank you for your kind encouragement. My ministry here at CMB is my offering back to God for His grace and mercy in my life. So, I choose not to receive any financial benefits from my writing which is why the only advertising I do is for the ministries Rev and I support personally and you can find links to them in my sidebar. Thanks again for blessing my Monday with your kindness! Big HUGS!!

  2. Such wise words for both parents and grandparents, Deb! We have to remember that our children are not extensions of us, but their own persons with their singular journeys before them. Yes, we can listen, love and pray, but we can never force a change in their hearts – only God can mend their hearts and ours, too. And yes, let’s encourage those hurting parents!

    1. Amen, Martha! They definitely have minds of their own and their own journeys to fulfill with the Lord. Sometimes those roads are hard to understand. I love the way you say, “only God can mend their hearts and ours, too.” You’re absolutely right! Thanks, blessings, and hugs, my friend!

  3. What an encouraging word today, Deb!
    Great suggestions and much grace in this one!
    Sure do appreciate you~

    1. Thank you, Melanie! It’s a tough subject and one that hits home so as always, I so appreciate your encouragement. I’m so thankful for you!

  4. Thank you Deb for your suggestions for tithes. May you enjoy a good cup of coffee or tea today?.

  5. Thank you for your wise words in this post. No one can fully grasp the truth of it unless they have had the heart pain of seeing their child make unwise choices! I used to think a strong Christian home and instruction was the answer, but my son did it all “right” and yet one of his five children went astray. It happens and our fervent prayers and God’s grace is the only way back. May we leave all judgement to God and show love and compassion to hurting parents.

    1. You are so right, Toula! I’m praying now for your grandchild. The pain for parents is overwhelming and they so need our love and prayers. Sounds like you’re doing just that for your children and grandchildren! God bless you!

  6. Deborah Burch says:

    It’s time somebody said it and you did so very well! Amen

    1. Thank you, Deborah! I so appreciate your words of encouragement!

  7. This is great. I always feel like I’m going to do some major screwing up when it comes to my kids. What a lovely reminder that we are all doing the best we can and how to cope as well as help others cope through an already tough time period in life.

    1. Brittany, I think all parents do some screwing up when it comes to raising their kids. So thankful to live under grace when it comes to parenting, too. Thanks for your encouragement! Blessings and hugs!

  8. bethany mcilrath says:

    I have a little sign that says “Make your words sweet in case you have to eat them later!” This made me think of that. Such good points- I especially appreciate this list of Biblical heroes whose children chose rebellion in big ways. I’ve been reading through Ezekiel and in one chapter God explains that in His justice He holds people accountable for themselves- not for their parents or childrens’ sin. Thanks for this!

    1. What a great sign! I need one of those. I use to have a sign that read, “Be nice or leave.” 🙂 I like yours better! Words make and break so many relationships and the broken ones are left with hurting hearts. And yes, remembering we are each individuals with free-will helps when parenting gets hard. We keep doing the work, pray tons, laugh when we can, and leave it all in God’s hands. Blessings and hugs!

  9. Hi! I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your honesty! I haven’t personally had someone judge me but I’ve been hard on myself as a parent when my kids sin. I’m a prodigal child myself, just recently coming back to the Lord and this really spoke to me – I need to have more grace with myself when my children make mistakes as our Father does with us.

    1. I hear you! It’s so easy to be hardest on ourselves. I’m so glad this blessed you! We’re doing our best and praying tons and entrusting our children to God’s care! So thankful for His grace and mercy for me and for them. God bless you!

  10. Thanks for this! I was good at judging other parents, too, when my kids were little and “perfect”. And then the teen years hit. And suddenly my younger daughter–my sweet, straight-A perfect kiddo–was cutting herself… WHAT!? And my older daughter–my creative, artistic kiddo–was obsessed with hair dye, piercings and tattoos… and not only telling me she was leaving Christianity to become a witch, but that she thinks she’s asexual. No joke.

    We’d always tried to hard to show God’s love to our kids and raise them well… but when they grow up, they will make their own choices. My heart still aches with it, and I pray for them every night. Thankfully, our younger daughter no longer cuts and is seeking God. But our older one remains far from Him. Prayers appreciated.

    1. You have definitely ridden the parenting roller coaster, Godsgirl! I am praying for you and for your girls. Entrusting our children to the One who loves them most and best – what a gift that is! I’ve been holding on to an Elisabeth Elliot quote…

      “Leave [her] to Me this afternoon. There is nothing else that I am asking of you but that. Leave [her] to Me. You cannot fathom all that is taking place. You don’t need to I am at work—in you, in [her]. Leave [her] to ME. Some day it will come clear—trust Me.”

      I pray this blesses you! Thanks again! God bless!

      1. Thanks Deb! Thanks for sharing your faith!

  11. Sonjie Wiley says:

    This was so encouraging, I have struggled for over 20 years with my oldest daughter and have felt judged and guilty as a parent. Now it seems that many around me are just now having to experience problems with older early adolescent children. We need to love one another and encourage one another as we pray for these wayward loved ones. We are powerless but God is not????

    1. I’m sorry, Sonjie! That is one of the hardest parts … the feeling the judgment of others in the struggle of feeling helpless. I’ll admit, I was guilty of a bit of judgment myself before the Lord allowed us to walk our own difficult path. You’re right, we need to love and encourage each other while we hold one another up in prayer. Thanks so much for visiting and for adding this wisdom. God bless you!

  12. I don’t know if this was already said, but Adam and Eve had the perfect parent … and they rebelled
    Never say “ my child would never do that “

    1. Amen, Nancy! Thank you so much for this helpful reminder. God bless you!

  13. Deb, thank you for writing this, we were one of those hurting families who received mostly judgement when our 17 year old daughter rejected Christ/ Christianity. . We were encouraged by a few at church who had gone through it but we felt alone and ashamed. Fast forward 10 years. God has blessed me by helping me to encourage others who are going through what we went through. This post was spot on thank you.

    1. Thank you, Diane! I really appreciate that you took the time to share this with us. I love that the Lord uses our pain to bless others. It is so helpful just to know that we’re not alone … that someone else understands. I think one of the hardest parts of parenting a rebellious child is feeling alone and judged. Thank you for being a parent who lets us know we’re not. God bless you and your family today and in the year ahead.

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