Loving — Even When it Hurts

By Tim Kimmel
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Focus on the Family
Tips to help parents through their teen's rebellion

Isn’t it puzzling that kids brought up in loving, Christian homes choose to rebel against their parents, or worse, against God? After all, they’ve had Jesus’ love served up in huge helpings. Many have enjoyed the luxuries of a deep Christian heritage — some since the day they were born. Yet they still turn their backs on truth.

If you are a parent with a rebellious son or daughter, please take heart: God knows what you are going through. In fact, He told us how to handle this dilemma in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, which shows us that even God — the perfect Father — has children who rebel.

If you are in the midst of your child’s rebellion, here are some things to help you through this season.

  • Ask for his forgiveness for ways you may have failed him. Remove any obstacle that would block him from moving toward forgiveness himself.
  • Seek wisdom. Sometimes it’s difficult to know when to show your child tenderness and when to give him tough love. You need to lean on God for divine wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
  • Don’t add bitterness to his rebellion. Keep all lines of communication open. Enjoy interaction with him outside the times you are forced to deal with his rebellious attitude. Give him plenty of reasons to believe you not only still love him but also enjoy his company and have confidence in his future.
  • Make sure the rebel knows he always has room to repent. He needs to believe that your door is always open. Like the prodigal, your rebellious child needs to have confidence that if or when he comes to his senses, you have a place for him.
  • Be willing for God to use you to help others. Be available to help other people going through similar problems. As 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reminds us, “Praise be to the God and Father . . . who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
  • Make your life more attractive. Give the prodigal a reason to want to turn around. You don’t want to exemplify the things that may have turned him off to faith. Show him what a vibrant grace-based faith looks like. Let him see that within your goodness is an overwhelming capacity to forgive him when he finally gets tired of running from God.
  • Don’t give up. You never know when someone’s heart will turn around.

This article was adapted from an article that first appeared in the October/November 2004 Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2004 Tim Kimmel. All rights reserved.


Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.
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About the Author

Tim Kimmel

Tim Kimmel is the executive director of Family Matters, an organization dedicated to helping families confront the various pressures they face. Tim is also a popular conference speaker and the author of numerous books including Raising Kids for True Greatness, Why Christian Kids Rebel and Grace-Based Parenting. Tim and his wife, Darcy, have four children and several grandchildren.

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