Rebellious teenager

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by JoeKan, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. JoeKan

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    Dec 3, 2005
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    I have a teenage girl in our church (16 yrs old) that has been raised in a christian home her entire life. She lives with her mom and step-dad. She has always been polite and respectful, until recently.
    Het attitude has really soured. I'm not sure what is causing this, but it is very uncharacteristic of her.
    She has shown disrespect towards her parents, myself, and anyone else in authority. She has told some of the youth that she is wanting to have sex with a boy that she knows. She doesn't want to come to church anymore, doesn't want to read her Bible nor hear any preaching tapes. She has repeatedly lied to her parents, been deceitful (calling boys on her cell phone, w/o her parents permission, then trying to cover it up). And the list goes on and on.
    Her parents are about to have a melt down, not sure what to do next. I need some Biblical counsel as to what to do. They're coming in for counseling later this week. Can someone reccommend a book I could read about dealing with rebellious teens? Anything will help.
    I personally believe that what is the cause is her relationship b/w her step-dad. He never hugs her, affirms his love towards her, takes her out on "dates". He basically has nothing to do with her and so I think she is looking for love elsewhere.
    Any help will be greatly appreciated.
  2. Shiloh

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    May 2, 2002
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    The Book I would recommend is the Bible. Start with,
    Eph 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
    Eph 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

    (She has told some of the youth that she is wanting to have sex with a boy that she knows.)
    I would say she probably already has.

    As far as her rebellion, I'm sure it hasn't just started. I would say it should have been curbed 15 and 1/2 years ago.

    (I personally believe that what is the cause is her relationship b/w her step-dad. He never hugs her, affirms his love towards her, takes her out on "dates". He basically has nothing to do with her and so I think she is looking for love elsewhere.) The problem here is that she sees her step day hugging and affirming his love and going out on dates.....with her mom! ...And doing nothing with her. You have your work cut out for you! Been there done that!
  3. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    May 22, 2002
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    This is hard situation that countless parents and authority figures endure. There are no "pat" answers for rebellious teenagers.

    I can only give some some examples of what I did and still do with rebellious teenagers that I work with.

    I. Disrespect
    Never get into a screaming match or an argument with them. That's hard not to do. It makes them suddenly your peers. And they are not and never will be. A very wise man, Harry Wong, once said, "It takes one fool to smart takes two fools to make a conversation out of it."

    The following is what works for me with grossly disrespectful teenagers.

    Say something like this if a teenager is trying to start something with verbal disrespect. "If you want to talk to me about this situation and express your feelings, you are going to have to talk respectfully to me. I am the adult and you are not. I want to hear you out. I want to know what you are feeling that is causing you such turmoil. I do not want to stand here and listen to you hurl disrespect at me. And I won't do it. Come and find me when you are ready to talk with me and not at me. I'll listen to anything you have to say when you are speaking in a respectful tone." Then walk away.

    II. Sour Attitude

    Part of a sour attitude in teenagers just has to be ignored as long as it is not disrepectful nor causing any disruption in the family nor a result of something dangerous to the teen.

    The rolling of the eyes (not in response to an adult), the constant sighing and moaning, the slumped shoulders, the sudden laziness, the "I don't care" shrugging, the lack of eye contact, and the constant look on their face as if they have a bad case of constipation is just how some teenagers cope with the weirdness of not being a child and not being an adult.

    When they display these outwardly signs of sourness, what you have to remember is that something on the inside is sour, too. And that inside something is what needs to be treated. When the inside sourness is healed, then the outward sourness will fade.

    Parents may never know just what is causing the sourness inside. And many times they don't have to know. Usually it's something that cannot be fixed. Teens get very emotional and caught up in things like the following:
    • a tiny pimple on their face that no one can really see
    • they think that their hair/body is horrible and hideous when it isn't
    • their favorite song hasn't been on the radio in days
    • they wish their lives could be like the celebrities on TV
    • they are bored to tears
    • they are crashing from a sugar "high" because all they had to eat for lunch was a snickers bar, a Coke, and the after school snack at home was two donuts and a glass of chocolate milk
    As long as what is causing the inside sourness isn't an emergency or isn't putting them in danger physically or morally, then parents, teachers, youth workers just need to ignore the outside symptoms and treat the inside by smiling at them, touching them, hugging them (not the teachers or the youth workers), loving them, giving them something to do that is interesting and constructive (not punitive), making sure that there is peace and security in the home, gentle "picking" at them (non-offensive), respecting their privacy, or a host of other things that can let the teen know that the authority figure loves and respects them even in the midst of teenage angst.

    III. Sexual Activity

    You can't say for sure that the girl's relationship with her step-dad is what is causing her to have a desire for sexual activity. You are correct in saying that teenage girls who receive no love and affection from a father or a father-figure (stepfather, grandfather, beloved uncle, kind and moral teacher/youth worker) will come to crave it in any form. It's very sad.

    She needs some plain and blunt talk from her mother. If the step-dad or you want to speak to her about this, that's fine, too, but her mother should be present if any man is speaking to her about sex.

    This is not a time for flowery speech, tempered speech, delicate words, and fear of tempting her. She is already burning, as I read this description of her in your post. And she is 16. This is a time for bluntness, talking to her on an adult level using "adult" words, and telling her the reality of what is going on in her body and why responding in a immoral manner will have horrible consquences on so many levels.

    This is a time to acknowledge her sexuality. Teenagers who are desiring sex to the point that they drop out of church, become hostile to everyone, and who once were precious, but now rebellious are having genuine sexual feelings that are causing them to burn, as the Apostle Paul describes.

    Don't deny that. Don't tell her she is wrong or dirty for feeling these things. Speak bluntly. Guide her to proper outlets for getting her mind away from pre-marital sex. Help her to see that pulling away from her church and her family is aggrevating this situation. And that's hard to do! But bluntness of speech and plain talk is a MUST.

    Make sure that she understands that feeling sexual instincts is normal and natural. She's not a dirty little girl. She is a young woman. It's when she acts immoral that shame comes in. And shame for a young woman can sometimes never be covered.

    Help her to see that the world's attitude towards sexuality in a young woman is so dangerous and so offensive and so painful. Let her express her feelings, not matter what she says that may shock you. She has to get those emotions and feelings plain view and on the table.....before they can honestly be dealt with.

    She is on a great precipice. Treating her like a child or like a "bad" girl is going to push her over the edge.

  4. Helen

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    Aug 29, 2001
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    You could be talking about my youngest daughter. We adopted her at three years old, a big-eyed little adorable toddler. By age six she was already being snobby to friends in the neighborhood. By age fourteen she had tried drugs, booze, cigarettes, was sneaking out at nights, and had pierced her own ear three times. I found a letter in her room from a guy discussing when they were going to try their first sex. In desperation I called my brother, who, with his wife, had raised their two sons.
    They agreed to take her on for a bit. Having a 'dad' helped, but six months later, when she came home, things deteriorated again.

    The one thing that did help, at least temporarily, was prayer counseling. As I recall, I took her once a week and the plan was for her to talk to the counselor without interruption for about an hour and then they would simply pray for about half an hour together. I was not part of it. The results really were wonderful, for in about one or one and a half months she came up to me and apologized for so much of what she had done and said.

    When she graduated from high school, she wanted to live on her own for a year, with us supporting her, of course! That was not an option, but since she wanted to be away from home, we sent her to a Bible school in New Zealand where we have lectured frequently and know the people and have fallen in love with the place (Capernwray in Cambridge on the north island). I told her if she didn't like it after the first semester she could come home. She called and told me, that October, that she loved it and wanted to stay out the year.


    By April, after months of counseling and even putting her on antidepressants (all this started around the time of the summer break there), they had no choice but to dismiss her for lying, cheating, and stealing. The day before she left two entire tables were put out in the cafeteria for other students to claim their items, which she had stolen and put in her own stuff. To this day she had not paid back money she stole.

    She will be 23 this year. She is living in another state and, believe it or not, working with retarded adults! And she has started college finally.

    Sometimes it just takes a lot of time. With some kids, the entire idea is to try to keep them from destroying themselves as teens; to give them the time to mature somewhat.

    In your case, it may or may not have something to do with her stepfather. Divorces are always ripping for kids. We went through that three days after this particular daughter turned seven. The shock to the two girls resulted in both of them, at some time later, going through massive rebellion. I did not remarry until both of them were older -- the oldest one was living on her own and working and the younger was starting her senior year in high school. So they both got raised, essentially, by a single parent.

    The ideal is a loving family with an intact, caring marriage. But if that is not possible, yes, the kids are going to react. Yes, it would be ideal for the stepfather in this case to be more supportive. But think of something else -- be caring and supportive of a sixteen year old who is not your daughter and you can be accused of molestation at some time later. He is in a tough spot. The father himself may not know how to handle this situation and may be feeling quite stressed and frustrated himself. A lot will have to do with how long he has been in the family -- was he able to get close to this girl emotionally before the teens hit, or is she resentful of his place in the family?

    The teen years are times when the brain itself is changing physiologically, and that change is not complete until about 20 years old. That is one reason logic does not always work....

    The thing that helped the most with my daughter was prayer counseling. It really helped defuse her anger about our family situation, which, for us, turned out to be the root cause. She had been adopted, which translated into her that her natural parents didn't want her, and then her adoptive dad walked out as well. It was more than she could handle. But keep in mind that she was already a bit of a problem child even at six years old.

    So much goes into all of it. You will be in our prayers. I hope this helped a little.
    #4 Helen, Feb 5, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2007
  5. StefanM

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    Jul 4, 2004
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    Well said, Scarlett.

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    Sep 10, 2005
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    Fix the home problem with the parents and the rest will fall in line. Do you think the girl is prevoked to wrath? Is she discouraged? You've answered your own question. The girl was solid, now isn't. What she is seeking should start at home. Hammer the parents, LET THE GIRL SEE YOU ARE ADDRESSING THE ISSUE. She will regain respect for you and see that the Bible is a fair book.
  7. Bob Farnaby

    Bob Farnaby
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    Jan 6, 2003
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    Based on the limited information there is, a few things to note....

    Firstly, the advice Scarlet O gives is a good basis for work, obviously it will need modifying to suit the people involved.

    Secondly, she is a girl becomming a woman - obvious I know - and has to learn to grow up, someting some do easier than others. Not all kids grow into the people we want, even from so-called 'good' homes. Assuming that parents have done their best to bring up the child, the adult she is becomming is responsible for her own attitudes and actions, and no one, parent nor pastor, can take that responsibility for her.

    Thirdly, what you write about her behaviour isn't untypical of a significant number of teenage nonchristian teenage girls (and boys), just comes as a bit of a shock to those who live a relatively sheltered life in a church based environment. SHould she have sex with a guy it's wrong, it's a bad thing and has a lot of negative consequences, but at the same time its not the end of the world. She won't be the first or last to do it. And God's grace is sufficient to forgive, hopefully others can too.

    So what to do for her? .. ScarletO's advice is good..

    and pray for her, and love her as the child becoming adult that she is.

    For her mother .. pray and listen, to the good and bad parts.

    For her step father .. that he can handle the situation appropriately, not an easy issue. Remeber, step fathers seen as too familiar with teenage step daughters are in a difficult position - when is it loving affection being shown and when is it inappropriate sexual asvances .. the line is often in the eye of the beholder. And the re is the issue that he is the mother's husband, - and maybe not in anyway a substitute father for the girl. May not be a relationship he has any real affinity for.

    So what to do for her? Pray, Pray, Pray ... and love her.


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