Rebel Without Cause
Yes, I am aware the movie title is “Rebel Without A Cause”, but that is not what I am writing about. As a parent, you look at your child differently than you do other children, right? Do you judge other parents by their child’s actions?
Every child is rebellious at some point, some are rebellious their whole life. I have always chuckled at the commandment, “Honor your Father and Mother so that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12). God did not stop at the honoring of your parents, He explained why. You have heard comedians say that their Moms would yell at them “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.” Well, that’s the second part at least in Biblical days. If you did not die, you felt like it. Disowning your child to save face is another culture.
Do not spare the rod, my Daddy did not. I still rebelled, sorta. Growing up in a house with a quick temper and a long arm, taught me if I am going to disrespect my Mother, do it out of arms reach. Back-handed into a window once taught me that lesson. My Mother was rarely the disciplinarian, my Father had that honor. We respected our parents out of fear. I swore I would raise my children differently. I spanked; I did not beat. I did not punish in anger, something my Father could not say. Before you judge, my Father was loving too. He was funny and fun to be around (most of the time). We had a great relationship as adults.
I grew up with a people pleaser brother. EVERYONE loved him. He was the favored child. He could do no wrong. Even when he moved out (many times), he could still do no wrong. I lived in the shadows of him. We as children (and teens) did not get along. I resented his specialness. I craved the attention (love) he got from our Mother. I was not a people pleaser. I was not rebellious either (hello, fear of parents killing me went a long way). And then it happened, he rebelled. Here was my chance to become the golden child. The only thing that changed when he rebelled was him. Their relationship did not change, nor did my status in the family.
Then he died. His experimentation (rebellion) ultimately cost him everything. On the day of his funeral, I told him in my private moment that the wrong one died. He was my Mother’s life. Once he died, we never talked about him with her again. My Dad and I had many conversations about him. She could not bear it. My Mother could not tell anyone that he was dying. She lived in fear of someone finding out, even family. People judge and she could not bear that either.
But what about the judging. Is it our place to judge other parents? We have no idea what their life behind closed doors is like. We also have no idea what that child is like outside of the environment we experience them. I once had another parent tell me that I had my hands full with my child. I was stunned because their child was just like mine. We have no idea how we would parent a child that is different than our own. Yes, you can say I would raise them the same way I did my own child. But that does not always work.
My Mother loved my brother and showed him how much all the time. But when she loved me in the same way, I did not feel loved. Our relationship suffered because my Mother did not understand how to love me the way I needed to be loved. I was a rebel at heart. I did not need to be shamed into submission, I needed to be encouraged to take flight. There was no encouragement in our house for me. I had people outside of our house that would encourage me from time to time, but I needed my Mother’s approval and encouragement.
My child is a rebel at heart too. She has to learn from her own adventures and mistakes. She is not a people pleaser. She found her wings early and is soaring without a care. You may see her as a rebellious child and needs to be reined in, but her spirit of freedom is hers to control. Where I was once ashamed of her rebellion, I now stand up and say “Her rebellion is not mine. It is not a reflection of who I am as a parent. She is her own person.” Her journey is her journey, no matter how stressful I find it. My place is to support and offer guidance wherever I can. Oh, and to PRAY. I pray often.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Here’s to the training, the rebellion, and the growing old in the Lord.