Over the last couple of days, I’ve gone around asking teenagers the following question: “As a teen, what is one lifestyle question that you really wish you knew the answer to—from a biblical perspective?” I’ve gotten several really good responses, but there was one response that stuck out to me in particular because it’s such a widespread question in regard to teens. This was the lifestyle question: “Why do teenagers rebel against their parents, thinking their parents know absolutely nothing?” Like, wow. How many of us can honestly say that we have never done this? I know I can’t.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to live in rebellion to our parents. It’s more than possible for us to live in godly submission to our parents as we get older and mature. But I think before we’re able to do that, we need to actually diagnose the problem. Why is it that we, as teenagers, always seem to think we’re so wise? Krys and I (Travis) hope to be able to answer this question through this post. So let’s get into it.
– – – – – – – – – – Krys – – – – – – – – – –
We teenagers are getting older, and with this new maturity comes lots of new changes. One of these changes is our feeling of independence. We are slowly leaving the nest and want to prove our maturity, especially to our parents. We are no longer children, so we don’t need our parents in the same way that we did before. We think that adulthood brings this magic wave of wisdom and knowledge. Sadly, this is not quite how growing up works.
When transitioning to teen-hood, we grow in different aspects of life. A lot of these changes are positive, but at the same time, some are negative. This is a confusing time in our life, as we’re in between the stages of childhood and adulthood, and we’re still trying to figure things out. One of the common results of these changes is pride. We may not even realize that we have it, but it’s there. We are so close to adulthood that we can almost taste it, and we seem to think that we’d be totally okay going out on our own in this big, wide world (even though without our parents, we’d probably be pulverized). We feel this need to prove it to our parents and sometimes try to come across as wiser than them, even though we are totally not. Not only this, but we get totally aggravated when our parents come across as or suggest that they are wiser than us. If this is true, then this might prove that we’re not quite ready to become as independent as we’d like to be. Instead of accepting that they are indeed more knowledgeable, we try to think of an even better answer (even though they’re usually really, really stupid answers).
An example of this is in Luke 15 when we read about the prodigal son. His dad was a farmer and told his son that he should stay and farm with him. Let’s just say that the son didn’t really like this idea, so he decided the better answer was to just move to the city. There he squandered all of his money on stupid stuff and ended up homeless (I know, dumb idea. I just want to smack him upside the head… JOKING!). He ended up having to work for some farmer who made him take care of his pigs, where he had to eat the same stuff as these filthy animals. I know what you’re thinking . . . GROSS! But don’t worry too much about this guy. He ended up going home to his dad, who threw him this huge celebration in honor of his return. I guess one of the things you can learn from that story is that your parents really do know better than you (believe it or not)!
– – – – – – – – – – Travis – – – – – – – – – –
Pride is an issue that humanity as a whole has been struggling with for thousands and thousands of years. While it’s not exclusive to the teenage years by any means, it is very much present during those years. In fact, I would go so far as to say that pride is the root problem behind the mentality of “I know best” that we’re dealing with in this post. While I’m sure that young children suffer from pride as well, I feel like it starts to really take hold in our hearts during our teenage years. It is during these years that we gain an attitude of self-entitlement, and out of this attitude of self-entitlement springs pridefulness. We feel entitled to independence and freedom. We believe that it is now our right. Because we no longer depend on our parents as we did when we were younger children, we start to think that we don’t need to depend on them at all. As Krys said earlier, “We are so close to adulthood that we can almost taste it, and we seem to think that we’d be totally okay going out on our own in this big, wide world.” Ironically, most of us don’t really even want to be completely independent from our parents. Most of us don’t want to have to pay for our own clothing, meals, etc. We want the benefits (or at least, what seem to be benefits) of being independent from our parents, while not wanting to have to take on all the responsibilities that come with those benefits.
One of the worst things about pride is that it’s so hard for the person struggling with pride to detect. Because we’re prideful, we find the idea of struggling with pride outlandish. We just don’t see it. And to make matters even worse, pride isn’t limited to concealing pride. It conceals and/or justifies pretty much all of our sin. When we have an attitude that is pride-infested, we think that it’s okay to disobey our parents. After all, they probably just weren’t thinking straight at the time they made that rule, right? We tell ourselves that because whatever they’ve said doesn’t make sense to us, it’s okay for us to choose not to follow it.
Another less-than-cool thing about pride is that it breeds stubbornness. Let’s think back to the story of the prodigal son for a moment. When was it that the prodigal son realized that he was in the wrong? Was it immediately after he left his father? Was it while he was walking away? Nope. The prodigal son only realized, or at least, only admitted, he was wrong when he had no other choice. Maybe he thought he could fix things. Whatever the case, he didn’t want to return back to his father until he was out of options. It was only when he was literally starving that he realized he’d had enough.
Guys, it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to wait until we have no other option to quit rebelling against our parents. We don’t have to wait until our relationship with them is in shards. Let’s do something about this now. Let’s deal with our pride and let’s deal with our stubbornness. But let’s deal with it in a way that’s actually effective. I’ve tried many times to get rid of my pridefulness and let me tell you, it’s not possible–if I try to do it in my own strength. We need to go to God in prayer and ask him to help us deal with this area of our lives, admitting that we can’t deal with it on our own, that we can’t do it without him.