How To Raise Teens Who Don’t Rebel: Five Surprising Secrets

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 How To Raise Teens Who Don't Rebel: Five Surprising SecretsPinGuest Post by Rebecca Lindenbach, author of Why I Didn’t Rebel: A Twenty-Two-Year-Old Explains Why She Stayed on the Straight and Narrow—and How Your Kids Can Too.

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I’m Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, and I was the perfect kid.

Well, not really. I fought with my sister, hated cleaning the toilet, and got pretty moody in high school.

But when it came to the big things, I never rebelled.

 

When I tell people that I didn’t rebel in high school, most of them scoff and say, “Yeah right—everyone rebels in high school.”

And when I tell people that I wrote a book about why I didn’t rebel, the first response is usually something along the lines of, “Well there’s no magical formula that means a kid won’t rebel—all kids rebel unless you’re just lucky and get a good one!”

Neither of those responses has ever made any sense to me. First off, why is it so hard to believe that teenagers don’t have to go off the deep end in high school? And secondly, why can’t we figure out ways to make rebellion less likely, so we don’t have to leave it up to luck?

 

*See Also: Do You Know What Your Teens are Doing Online?

 

Last summer I interviewed 25 young adults who did and didn’t rebel. I poured into their stories and delved into psychology research to pick out themes that made us less likely to rebel so that parents can know it’s not all about luck.

So today I want to give you a peek into five of the things that my parents and other parents of kids who didn’t rebel did to help us make good decisions even when all our friends were not.

 

How To Raise Teens Who Don’t Rebel

 

**By the way, if you want additional help and strategies for raising teens who don’t rebel, be sure to check out Rebecca’s new book, Why I Didn’t Rebel: A Twenty-Two-Year-Old Explains Why She Stayed on the Straight and Narrow—and How Your Kids Can Too — out this week!

1. My Parents Taught us That Being Different Was OK

 

For those of us who didn’t rebel, fitting in was never the goal. But instead of saying, “You’re different” and leaving it there, they taught us to go above. Our parents made it very clear that the reason we were going to be different was because they expected us to use our potential in high school, not waste it partying or experimenting with drugs.

Our families showed us that being different was OK by making being different really fun. Whether it was family board game nights, camping in the summers, or being involved in International Bible Quizzing, our families gave us a place to fit in that made it so that we didn’t feel like we were missing out on much by not going to that friend’s party on the weekend.

My parents taught me that I was created for more than normal. They showed me what it was like to belong to a family centered on God, not on what others think. It’s not about being OK with being different—it’s about striving for more than the status quo.

 

2. My Parents Trusted Me

 

The teenage years are hard to parent. As children age through adolescence they start needing more and more independence—but they’re still often pretty inexperienced at making decisions! It can be a tough balancing act for some families.

Those of us who didn’t rebel were given a ton of freedom. But it was how we were given that freedom that made the difference.

We weren’t just told, “Well, you’re 14 now, so no more rules! Go off and have fun!” Nope. Instead, our parents shifted so that the boundaries in our home were more of a conversation than a list. For example, instead of being told our curfew, we had a discussion so that we could choose a responsible curfew for ourselves.

Our parents didn’t feel the need to hold onto us with a clenched fist—they trusted that they had raised us to be good people. But most of all, they trusted in God—they didn’t feel the need to suffocate us with rules because they believed that we had the Holy Spirit to show us the way.

 

*Related: 7 Common Parenting Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Now

 

3. My Parents Made Talking to Them Easy

 

In high school, people talked to me about their issues. They told me all sorts of things that I was likely way too young to be dealing with—but whenever I asked them, “why don’t you talk to your mom/dad?” They’d laugh and say, “I’d be grounded for a year! And they’d just scream and I don’t want to deal with that.”

I had parents who were so easy to talk to that communication was just a reflex in our family. And that’s because my parents had gotten into a habit of giving us real time to talk to them. When we came to them with something—even if we had done something wrong—the first thing they did was listen, not punish.

 

Too often parents try to force the conversation, and then when their teen finally does open up they get punished harshly or yelled at—which simply makes them less likely to open up later.

We were punished for the bad behaviour, of course. When we needed a consequence for something we had done, we talked about it civilly with our parents and came to the conclusion together. And that way we knew that opening up was safe—we wouldn’t be dealt with unfairly. It made for a very different family dynamic than families where kids were grounded the second they confessed anything.

 

 

Related Video: Parenting Teens With Confidence and Joy

 

 

4: My Parents Were Honest With Me

 

Teenagers are a lot smarter than people give them credit for. And that’s where a lot of tension lies between parents and their teens.

Many people I interviewed who rebelled were keenly aware of things going on—but they were never allowed to talk about it. You can’t talk about how Mom is overly sensitive, or how Dad has a temper, or how the family doesn’t have a lot of money. For many kids, there was divorce or death in the family that could never be talked about because the parents hadn’t dealt with it themselves yet.

The result? The kids became either exhausted or fed up with the façade their family was trying so hard to maintain and decided, “Screw it. I’m doing my own thing.”

 

Those of us who didn’t rebel were also keenly aware of our families’ issues. Grief, sin, personal flaws—we had them all. But we could talk about it.

Talking about the issues made the issues seem small. It didn’t make the problems go away, but it helped us feel less powerless.

 

*See Also: Are Your Christian Children Prepared for the Real World?

 

5: My Parents Didn’t Give a Hoot about High School

 

There’s a lot of pressure on the high school experience from parents. We hear “These are the best years of your life!” more times than we can count.

But for those of us who didn’t rebel, that wasn’t the case.

Of course, our parents were encouraging of us enjoying high school, but it was never seen as the most important time of our lives. I can’t tell you how many times my mom told me, “I hated high school. Being a teenager? Not so fun. So just get through this. Adulthood is way better.”

We knew that life would start once we left the nest. The result? Our goal was responsibility and independence. While other kids couldn’t wait for their first high school party, we couldn’t wait for tours of college campuses. And that mentality meant a world of difference.

I enjoyed my teenage years. But I knew that I was made for more than being seventeen. So why would I want to make bad decisions that would impact the future I was so looking forward to?

 

There’s no perfect formula to parenting—life is just messy. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take steps that will make it less likely that your kid will rebel. I’m proof of that—as are many of the young adults in my book.

 

*See Also: Want to Raise World Changers? Do These Five Things

 

Want to Raise Teens Who Don’t Rebel?

 

(Brittany again.)

Hey — I loved this post, and I hope you did too. And IF you did and you’re interested in raising kids who don’t rebel yourself (I absolutely am!), then I’d like to invite you to check out Rebecca’s new book that just came out this week.

It’s called Why I Didn’t Rebel: A Twenty-Two-Year-Old Explains Why She Stayed on the Straight and Narrow—and How Your Kids Can Too.

I got to read it already and I really enjoyed it!

 

Ever since I was a teen myself, I knew I wanted to raise good kids who didn’t rebel — but I never really knew how — not really.

The strategies Rebecca shares in her book are so helpful and make SO much sense. I’m definitely going to be putting them into practice with my kids — and I hope you will to!

Click the button below to learn more about Rebecca’s book and to grab a copy of this book for yourself! 

 

Learn more button purple

 

 

Rebecca Headshot PinRebecca Gregoire Lindenbach is from Ottawa, Canada and the author of Why I Didn’t Rebel. The daughter of blogger and author Sheila Wray Gregoire, Rebecca is an online entrepreneur passionate about challenging pat answers and daring people to live beyond the status quo. She just celebrated her second anniversary this July. You can find her online at her blog, Life as a Dare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  1. Love your post and couldn’t agree more. I was very rebellious and like you said teens are smart. I saw that my mom didn’t know how to deal with me and I took full advantage of that. I definitely wanted to be able to talk about what was going on in our family but the emotions were so over charged that we couldn’t. I love that you wrote a book to assure parents that it doesn’t have to be this way.

  2. I think making it easy for our teens to talk to us is huge. Most teens can’t talk to their parents because their parents are closed. They twist even small things and don’t believe the best in you, so why should the teen trust the parent with the big things?

    1. Great post. Just one thing to mention though, since I’ve seen it recently. Some parents talk to their teens too much, as in revealing private details when going through a divorce, inappropriately making their child their sounding board, and convincing the child that the talkative parent is the victim, and influencing the child to disrespect the parent who is less talkative. I know this isn’t what you meant in your post, but it’s easy for people to pick out bits to rationalize wrong behavior, so I thought I’d mention it.

  3. I know this was written a long time ago, but I just came across it a few weeks ago for the first time, and couldn’t get my mind off of it. I’m having a very hard time with this post. I’m a happily-married young woman now, and was a teenager who DIDN’T rebel. I wasn’t perfect by anyone’s standards, and made many mistakes (ahem, that’s the point of the Gospel). But my husband and I love Jesus and are building our home around that love for Him and each other. I have two younger sisters, one of whom is following a path similar to mine. She’s in college, working hard, living with our parents, and following Jesus. My middle sister, however, is still…lost. She’s searching for the truth. She’s following the path that could only be considered rebellion, and it’s caused our family a lot of pain. All three of us grew up in the same imperfect, loving, loud, crazy, deeply-flawed, Christ-following, wonderful family. Two of us are following the path my parents raised us to follow since we were little, and one of us is not. My mom was recently talking with Karen, a woman who was my small-group leader in high school youth group, and is now someone I look to as a mentor. This woman has three children of her own, one who is following Christ, and two who are still living in rebellion as adults. Karen and her husband were missionaries. They are one of the most God-honoring, kind-hearted couples I know, and they love their children fiercely. My mom was telling me about a conversation she had with Karen, and told me about a piece of wisdom Karen shared with her that ministered deeply to my mom. Karen said, “Linda [my mother], God has our kids in the palm of His hand. I’ve learned that just like I can’t take credit for my children that follow God’s heart–that credit belongs to God alone–I can’t take the guilt or blame for my children who choose not to follow His heart.” That freed my mother from oceans of guilt she had been swimming through. Posts like this one place that guilt right back where it doesn’t belong…on the parents who are desperately trying to be mothers and fathers pleasing to God. Satan would LOVE it if we convince ourselves that the paths our kids choose are due to the way we parent. That leads to either pride or guilt–neither of which are of the Spirit. There’s no set parenting regimen or 5-step checklist that will take away our kids’ human capacity for sin. Karen’s family, and my own family and siblings, are proof that often, it’s not the parenting that makes the difference. No matter our parenting practices, our children have free will, and God is sovereign, and sometimes that’s all we get to know on this side of Heaven.

    1. Thank you, Alyssa! I grew up in a wonderful family with all the values listed in this article and 3 of us walked with the Lord and 1 did her own thing and is now slowly making her way back in her late 20’s. I am raising 4 daughters and my hubby and I can check every box in this article, but one is still in rebellion at 22. We’ve learned over the years that there is absolutely no formula to raising rebellion free children. The most simple way to look at it is this: God is the ultimate parent and most of His children live in rebellion. In fact 100% do without the grace of salvation through Jesus. So this book, and I’m not trying to be critical, only serves to heap more guilt and shame on parents who find themselves in the pain of watching a beloved child go astray. I understand why people look for formulas and secrets to molding our children, but ultimately our childrens’ journeys are their own and prayer is truly our most powerful tool.

      1. Your responses are absolutely correct in that it’s not fool proof (as stated) and that guilt and shame doesn’t belong on the parents. But I have to say, if you grew up in a loving and gracious family as described then this article isn’t really for you. This information would have been invaluable for my family and relatives who didn’t grow up in a Christian home with Godly parents and who had 4 out of 5 children end up scattered and lost in various addictions etc. This is for the others, the parents of those soon to be or one-day high schoolers to help keep their kids out of “the majority” and the “norm” for typical public school for example and for those who wish to break the cycle and be a first generation Christian home.

    2. THIS. Story of the Prodigal Son anyone? I didn’t rebel either, but my two siblings and I are worlds apart in personality. All raised the same way by the same parents. While my siblings and I love each other dearly and celebrate our differences, if the author knew them, she would likely label both of them rebels.

      As a parent, I do agree with some of the authors points; open communication, trust, and not treating high school like it’s the most important years in one’s life.

      Overall, though, this is not much more than a typical mom-shaming post. I’d love for her to write a follow-up in 20 years to hear about how her own kids (and she) survive their teen years.

    3. YES!!! People have got to stop patting themselves on the back and congratulating themselves for this. I’m sure the author of this post did provide a wonderful childhood and environment for her kids. But guess what, MANY of us do – yet we don’t get the same results. This is shaming parents who love the Lord and have provided wonderful environments for their children, yet their children’s sinful hearts have prompted them to rebel. If your children don’t rebel, I hope you are on your knees EVERYDAY thanking God for this wonderful blessing that HE gave you. Not everyone receives this blessing, despite their love and dedication to the Lord and their children. Children are born with their own wills and desires. Congratulating yourself for this is like someone congratulating themselves for not getting cancer – and shaming someone who does.

  4. Yes! I also didn’t rebel, but while my parents didn’t do all the things you mentioned, one thing they did do. They gave me a place where I fit in, and had friends, and because of that, I wasn’t afraid of being different. Loved this. I’m mom to 4 girls now, thanks for this! I’ll have to check out the book!!!

  5. Oh my gosh, this resonated big time. We have 3 teenagers in the house between the ages of 12 to 16. They don’t rebel (or haven’t so far) and I didn’t know it was because of the way we treated each other. But so much became clear when I read through this blog post. We trust our kids, talk with each other all the time, and we’re honest about things. Transparency is king here.

    Thanks for writing this and making clear why we have awesome kids!

  6. The minute I read the title, I said to myself that has to be written by someone who has never parented children into adulthood. I have. I can tell you there are no magic formulas (though I once thought there was) and all kids are born with rebel hearts, just bent on sinning in different ways. I was a goody-goody kid myself. I grew up in a very dysfunctional home but never drank, smoked, or did drugs. I was always home on time and my Mama always knew where I was. I was still a virgin the day I married as was my new groom. We aimed to raise our children in a Christ honoring home and my children can tell you we did all of those things you mentioned on your list. But, one child still chose a very rough path upon entering adulthood. You can not parent for results. The results are out of your hands. You parent as your service to God and you leave the results to Him.

  7. Wow what a great post! My daughters only 2.5 right now but she is very strong willed. She has a rebel streak that goes beyond normal for a toddler (I’ve worked in child care so I know). I know how I raise her is going to determine whether she uses her strong will to strive or it takes her down the wrong path so I’ve been looking everywhere for the best advice on what to do. Thank you for this post. It’s been the best advice I’ve come across and reconfirmed many things I was already thinking. I may have to order that book!

  8. Please don’t do this to parents. It is so painful. There is no formula and many don’t have the opportunity.

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