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How Do I Deal With Teenage Rebellion?

May 15, 2009

The words “teenage” and “rebellion” may seem like they go hand in hand, but it hasn’t always been that way.  In the past, getting older meant a child was becoming an adult.  Look at their behavior that you call “rebellion” and ask yourself some questions.  Is this behavior really my child simply becoming an adult?  Because sometimes what we label as rebellion may simply be the child making a decision for themselves.

teenage rebellion

One thing that may help (MAY help, mind you!) is to think about the choices that other adults make.  If your child makes a decision that you don’t agree with, but it’s a decision that other adults make all the time, maybe it isn’t rebellion at all!  Maybe it is simply your child becoming an adult!  For example, their choice in clothing, or how they style their hair.  Their choices may not be your choices.  But are those choices OK?  If another adult made that choice, would be really be upset or confused?  Because if not, perhaps it’s an OK choice for your child to make.

Here is a picture of one of my children’s favorite “rebellions” – facial hair!


Facial hair

Some parents allow their children many choices in their homeschool.  Instead of telling them when each thing must be done, they just tell them WHAT things must be done. “Finish these ten things before 5:00″ for example – leaving them to decide when they want to do each item.  Some children would prefer to get up at 5:00 and be done by noon!  Is that wrong?   Or just a choice they make?  What if it’s on the other side?  What if they get up at noon, and don’t finish their schoolwork until 5:00?  IS that wrong, or just a choice?

Frankly, in my home, I truly did make them finish their work by 4:00.  I know that it MAY have been a fine choice for them to make, but it didn’t work well with our family.  I needed my husband to “play the heavy” in some areas, so they had to be done before he got home, in order for him to work his magic and make sure it was all done each day.  We had sports in the afternoons, and I really don’t do well after dinner.  Having them turn in assignments during my own times of fatigue would have been horrendous!  So make sure that you decide what works for you family, more than anything!



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  1. Janet says:

    You know, I have been reading and hearing a lot about children becoming adults. The “teenage” stuff didn’t exist in the older days. In the Bible days, a Jewish boy became capable of making decisions and transactions for his father after he turned 12/13.

    I hope I can remember the things I’ve read in about a year or so. I need to get a good understanding before the teenage stuff starts to happen!

    Thank you!

    May 15th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

  2. Becky says:

    My son likes to work for an hour or two in the evenings, after swim team, from 8:30-10 or so enabling him to be “done” the next days work by 11 or 12…working at night..but really working ahead…my other children sometimes take from 9-4:30 to do their work…I like for everyone to be done by 2 or 3 at the latest..after that I am tooooo tired.

    May 15th, 2009 at 7:02 pm

  3. J W says:

    “Fuzzy” (as my daughter described your son) is better than nose rings and tattoos… I’ve always thought teenage angst and rebellion was a result of…

    1) The social context of public schools – enough said.
    2) The gradual erosion of the joy of learning.
    3) Not being taught critical thinking – how to form an opinion and make effective arguments in favor of it.
    4) Being forced into a mold – in other words, not being able to make progress at one’s own pace.
    5) Not being taught how to self-teach.
    6) Not being able to spend much time developing interests and cultivating passions.
    7) Propaganda and pap. See the book _Lies My Teacher Told Me_ by James Loewen. The Bible shows human beings exactly as they were (the classic example is King David), and look at how much we learn from it! How can we expect teens to fully understand history, science, religion, or literature if we’re not showing them that there are some things that just don’t quite “jive,” there are some things we really wish hadn’t happened, and there are a lot of things we just plain don’t know about? Teens resent bland, one-dimensional propaganda. “Booooooooooooring.” Pap doesn’t allow for lively, challenging discussions!

    Is it any wonder that these developing minds turn towards creating their own culture if not given a good, healthy, realistic context in which to develop their capacities?

    May 16th, 2009 at 7:49 am

  4. Christy says:

    This is what I’ve been trying to tell my dh.

    December 7th, 2009 at 7:40 am

  5. Jenny says:

    Thank you for this post, Lee. This does seem to answer many questions we face and is something I have been thinking, but could not articulate as beautifully as you have here. I have a teen daughter who wears the most awful eye liner, but I stopped mentioning it a few months ago, but my dh has not. I have pointed out to him that many of the women we know wear lots of make-up so it is “normal” to most women, just not to me. Anyway, thanks!!

    October 12th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

  6. Kimberly says:

    We’re going to skip the teenage years :) Our son is going to be a “young adult” instead – we’re even going to have a “ceremony” on his 13th birthday in just a few months. In a lot of ways, he’s very independent already and gets to make a lot of his own choices. He also pulls his weight around here – we all pitch in as a family and always have – I think that’s going to help a lot. It also doesn’t bother me when he sleeps in – the beauty of homeschooling :)

    November 24th, 2011 at 8:14 am

  7. Margie Collins says:

    Thanks for this. I have recently prayed for wisdom as to recognising when to allow something different to what I want that is OK – just them expressing independence; this guideline as to what another adult would do is helpful. Perhaps as a Christian I might add (another godly adult) – just to take into account issues that arise that are not on!

    August 9th, 2012 at 4:11 am

  8. Jen says:

    I love this article! My 12-year old asked for logic & Latin for this year’s coursework. In researching resources, I came across the classical education model and read about the dialectic stage of development which he’s entering. “Arguing” is a completely natural, God-given stage of development. He’s learning to exercise his reasoning skills and needs guidance and practice. Realizing this shed a whole new light on the “rebellious teenager” stereotype. These kids need to have their developmental efforts respected and nurtured. When they’re criticized and punished for reasoning inappropriately, they aren’t given the opportunity to learn how to do it effectively! We have done them a disservice! This information opened my eyes, and just in time. My kiddo really enjoys practicing his logic and reasoning skills. :)

    July 19th, 2013 at 1:21 pm

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