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How Your Child's Rebellion Mirrors Your Own


The primary skill which we must engender in our children is the capacity for reason, the ability to make rational decisions which serve their best interest. However, even as reason manifests, its exercise absent knowledge and experience often produces poor outcomes. No doubt, that proves to be the tragedy of teenage years, an emerging capacity for reason eager to self-determine without much knowledge to determine with.

As adults, we find ourselves in a similar position relative to God. Certainly, I may confess to any number of incidents where I had to be figuratively wrestled to the ground and given medicine against my will. In retrospect, I have come to recognize little difference in the relationship between my son and I in that regard and my inverse relationship with God. In either case, there exists a significant disparity in knowledge. I know better than my son the benefits of his taking antibiotics to address a double-ear infection. God knows better than I the benefits of following his will for my life.

My son imagines a preferable outcome from skipping his dosage, as I have often imagined a preferable outcome from relying upon my own judgment. If my son had the benefit of my knowledge, he might arrive at better decisions. So might I if I shared in God’s omniscience. Alas, just as I cannot upload my knowledge to my son and must teach it to him over time, God’s design requires a progressing relationship to benefit fully from his counsel.

The analogy works to a point. A key difference between the relationship of father to son and that of God to creation is the eternal nature of God. My son will eventually match my capacity, and perhaps even surpass it. I will never match God’s. Therefore, a point will never arrive beyond which I will not require His custody. He will always know more and better. We properly understand humility as the acknowledgement of that fact, not a sanctimonious self-flagellation, but an accurate comparison of our capacity to His.