My teen age child is rebellious. What can I do?

What can Christian parents do to help their wayward, rebellious teenagers?

Keep the relationship. Maintain communication and affirm your unchanged love. The child knows your standards; nagging will destroy communication.

The Lord (Isaiah 1:2) and the prodigal’s father (Luke 15:13) had wayward, rebellious children. Combining these two illustrations provides several suggestions:

1. Continue to communicate as positively as possible (as God did through Isaiah).

2. Expect, long for, and plan for the best (as in both cases). "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man [and his wife] availeth much" (James 5:16).

3. Refrain from dwelling on and nagging about the negative (as when the prodigal returned).

4. Allow a mature child to make his choices and live with the results. Sheltering him from the results of his choices is counterproductive (as in both cases).

5. Don’t compromise your own standards (God remains the "Holy One of Israel" in Isaiah).

6. When confrontation is necessary, plan to express yourself effectively ONCE (as in Isaiah).

7. Keep the door open for a gracious welcome (as the prodigal’s father).

Two points contrast with both illustrations:

1. Only one parent is in view, but each parent must maintain a united purpose and effort.

2. We are failing parents. Honest admission of our limitations may help reduce resistance to our parenting. Submission to the Lord in the circumstances will help us to learn more of His heart’s longings for us and others who wander from Him. As heartbreaking as the experience is, in the Potter’s hand it can make us more like our Father and more effective as parents.

D. Oliver