Ask X-ATI Guy
Dear X-ATI Guy:
I've noticed that "perfect" families often experience rebellion among their children. Why does this happen? How can you avoid this?
-Scared I'll be Next in Minnesota
Chances are your family is not in danger of being labeled "perfect." Don't sweat it.
No, just kidding. Many parents join ATI believing they will never experience a child's rebellion. Parents assume that everything is going great and their family is in order. Then all of a sudden some tragedy occurs and a child is a spiritual casualty. Parents are devastated and mystified. We here at X-ATI guy can give you insight into why this happens.
We believe ATI facilitates and contributes to dormant, passive "rebels." These are the silent conformists who outwardly comply with rules and standards, but who inwardly believe that it's all (or mostly) a bunch of bull. They will never say this, and may never even think it, but subconsciously they're waiting until they can get out on their own. Whatever the reason, they feel compelled to shroud their disagreement.
A child who cannot communicate honestly will have no internal balance. When they establish their own independence they will overreact to their freedom.
Here are some tips:
- Teach wisdom, not obedience. Children soon become adults. You should train them to make wise decisions according to biblical criteria. Don't merely demand obedience, because someday you won't be around to guide them.
- Honest communication. Children need to know that they can express their thoughts and feelings (with the proper attitude, of course) and that parents will be willing to listen. ESPECIALLY if the child is expressing disagreement with something. Listen carefully. If the child is in error, guide him to the truth. If the child has identified a real problem, be willing to accept it. Parenthood does not have the guarantee of infallibility.
- Sometimes kids just need to talk. There are times your child will want to talk and is not attempting to elicit your advice; he just needs to get something off his shoulders. Children will stop sharing struggles if parents always respond with: "Here are ten steps you need to take to solve your problem."
- Don't create an environment of fear. If children fear their parent's reactions to a struggle in their life, they will not communicate with their parents.
- Watch their HEART, not just behavior. Kids are good at parroting something they have learned. They can be good at hiding sin, good at behaving "in front of the camera."
- Avoid using spiritual authority to pressure your children in non-spiritual decisions. I know parents who would not allow their 20 year old child to get a job because they wanted her to learn how to "serve" around the house. Stop saying it's God's will! You just want the free labor.
- Avoid the "rebel" label. First of all, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Secondly, it's overused. Finally, it doesn't correct the situation. Instead, use questions like: "Why do you feel this way? What caused you to come to this conclusion? How can we fix this problem?"