I’ve Learned How to Relate to Rebellious Son

By Danchun, Malaysia

Photo on Best Running

I am an ordinary housewife. I have a son and a daughter, both of whom are clever and lovely. Like all the parents in the world, I used to hope my children would grow healthily and happily under my painstaking care, and that I could build up a good relationship with them. However, the result was not as I expected.

When my son went to elementary school, I found that he barely reviewed his schoolwork in the afternoon. Every day he came back from school, he would either watch TV or go to sleep, and he wouldn’t begin to study until he felt like he played enough. As a result, he often couldn’t finish his homework at night, which made him struggle to finish it the next morning. Thinking it was a bad habit, I often nagged him: “How could you expect to study well like this? You should learn from your sister and do your homework in the afternoon and go to bed early in the evening. Then you’ll be energetic the next day.” But each time I nagged him, he would pout, pretending not to hear me and then still acted in the same way as he did before. Seeing that he turned a deaf ear to my words, I began to scold him. When my husband heard this, he advised me: “He is still young. You shouldn’t control him too much. Let him decide when to study.” But I said: “It’s because he is young that I should have more control over him. If he cannot develop a good habit now, will he be obedient when he grows up?” After hearing what I said, my husband could only shake his head.

When entering junior middle school, my son often went out for fun with his friends and didn’t come home until very late. Worried that he would pick up bad habits or have an accident, I bought a cellphone for him. As long as he stayed out late, I would call him every little while. Every time he would answer my call with great impatience and sometimes even turn off his cellphone. When I asked why he did that, he pulled a long face and said: “You kept rushing me on the phone, making me lose my face before my friends. I’ve grown up. So stop controlling me, OK?” I replied: “I was worried about you. I’m just being a mother.” Then he said: “Even though you are worried, you can just make one call. Doesn’t it get annoying making so many phone calls? If you can’t do that, I thought you might as well take my cellphone back.” Hearing this, I was very sad, and thought: Am I wrong to care about you?

As he grew older, we had more and more quarrels with each other. Soon, it reached a point where he was bored with whatever I said. Sometimes after school he directly went to bed with sweat all over. When I told him to take a shower first, he said impatiently: “You really care too much. Is there anything you don’t want to control? It’s really annoying.” When I asked him to get changed, he replied: “If you buy me more clothes, I will not need to wash them every day. Or buy me some cologne so I won’t be smelly.” Later he became idler and idler. If I didn’t urge him, he seldom took the initiative to learn. He never actually studied unless the test was two or three days away. I didn’t like his cramming for exams, so I usually advised him to study in a down-to-earth manner because only in that way could he study well. But not only did he not listen to me, he even often talked back to me, which filled me with anger. I thought: How have I given birth to such a worthless son?

Once when he returned home from school, I, while working, saw he laid down his schoolbag and then sat on the sofa, playing mobile phone leisurely. Then I said: “You have an exam tomorrow. How could you still be in the mood to play on your cellphone? Go review your lessons.” Unexpectedly, he muttered without raising his head: “It’s none of your business. I will review them at night.” Hearing this, I said: “You are always cramming for your exam. It isn’t a good method of studying….” Before I finished my words, he suddenly shouted at me: “Just mind your own business. Stay out of mine!” Hearing his accusation, I said angrily: “I’m your mother. If I don’t take charge of you, who else can?” Then he responded disapprovingly: “Even if you are my mom, you still have no right to control me.” At that time, I thought: I worked hard to bring you up but not only do you not feel grateful, you actually are becoming more and more disobedient. You really think I cannot control you? Then I stood up, walked up to him, and slapped him on the face, scolding: “I have no right? I have the right to beat you. You think you have grown up and thus can speak with me like that?” Immediately, his face turned red. He looked at me in shock and then ran to his bedroom with tears and slammed the door shut. Seeing all this, I became miserable. Although I had constant quarrels with him, I seldom beat him. But what he said really hurt me. Since then, he seldom talked to me but went directly to his bedroom with a long face when he came back from school. Sometimes I had just talked him off a few words, and then he would slam the door and leave. Hearing the loud noise he made, our neighbor often asked me what was wrong with him. Each time I just replied with a forced smile. Seeing him become like this, I felt very painful, not knowing why my earnest intention was paid with such a result. How could I live with him in the future?

When I became really confused and miserable, a sister preached Almighty God’s kingdom gospel to me. In one meeting, I told the sister the conflict between my son and me. The sister fellowshiped to me, “Since we were corrupted by Satan, the arrogant nature has become our lives, so dominated by it, we become conceited and self-righteous. When associating with others, what we see is always their problems but we never examine ourselves. Once we have gained status, we will try to control others and ask them to obey us, without any likeness of a normal person. In order to deliver us from our corrupt disposition, God expresses the truth and carries out the work of judgment and chastisement by the word. Only when we reflect on and know our corrupt disposition in God’s word, and live by His words, can we be continually purified and finally break free from the bondage of Satan’s influence. In this way, we will recover the normal relationships with others.” After hearing the sister’s fellowship, I realized that we are all people corrupted by Satan, and that it was our satanic disposition that caused the conflict between my son and me. I was willing to accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s word and change my own corrupt disposition. Later, the sister sent me some of God’s words and articles of experience about how to deal with the relationship with children, and also advised me to ponder God’s word more.


One day, I read a passage of God’s word on my cellphone: “When parents talk down to their child and say, ‘I’m your father (or mother)! You must do as I say!’ the child takes exception to this ‘must’; it’s definitely not an expression of normal humanity. … In a parent’s eyes, the parent is always a parent, and the child is always a child. Thus, the relationship between parent and child becomes very difficult to deal with, and it’s very hard for both sides to get along with each other. Precisely because a parent always assumes their place as a parent and will not budge from it, keeping that status from which they will not come down, their child becomes at odds with them. A lot of things really result from the parent always assuming their place as such and taking themselves too seriously; they always see themselves as the parent, the elder: ‘Regardless of when, you won’t get escape from your mother’s (or father’s) control; you’ll still have to listen to me. You are my child. The fact of this doesn’t change, regardless of when.’ This viewpoint makes them miserable and wretched, and makes the child miserable and exhausted. Isn’t this the case? Is this not a manifestation that one doesn’t understand the truth?” Like light, God’s word enlightened my heart. I always thought that as a mother, what I did was right and good for my son. In my eyes, my son is always a child. So even though he has grown up enough to have his own thought, I still required him to obey me and do according to what I said, and thought this was the duty I should fulfill as a mother. So, faced with his rebellion and resistance, I never reflected upon myself but heaped blame upon him, thinking that he had no regard for me. How arrogant and unreasonable I was! Pondering God’s words, I came to realize that it was because I didn’t live out the normal humanity but always assumed my place as a parent to control him that my son was often at odds with me and our relations became worse and worse, which made us live painfully.

I continued reading God’s word: “How is the truth to be practiced in this case? (Letting go of your pride.) … So, what is ‘letting go’? What principle do you apply in doing things that is ‘letting go’? What point of view, what attitude do you apply that is really ‘letting go’? Do you know how to put it into practice? You haven’t been a parent, and you don’t know what a parent’s attitude is, what their concerns are, right? Actually it’s simple. Just be an ordinary person: Treat your children, treat those in your own family the same as you would an ordinary brother or sister. Although you have a responsibility, a fleshly relationship, nevertheless the position and perspective you should have is the same as with friends or ordinary brothers and sisters. That is, you can’t control, you can’t restrain your children, and always try to keep in command and have complete control over them. Let them make mistakes, let them say the wrong things, let them do childish and immature things, do stupid things. No matter what happens, sit down and calmly talk with them, communicate and seek. Don’t you think this attitude is good? Isn’t it right? So, what is being let go here? (Position and pride.) It is the letting go of the position and status of a parent, the airs of a parent, and all of the responsibility one thinks they should assume, everything that one thinks they should be doing as a parent; instead, it’s enough that one does the best they can in terms of their responsibility as an ordinary brother or sister.” From God’s word, I came to know that God’s intentions are for me to let go of my status of a mother. That is to say, when associating with my children, I shouldn’t control or force them to act according to my will. Rather, I should learn to understand them. As a mother, I should take my responsibility. When they make mistakes, I should treat them correctly, talk with them calmly, and help them see things in a better perspective. However, at the thought of letting go of my status of a mother, I had some misgivings in my heart. I thought: My son is willful and bad-tempered. If I don’t discipline him, what would he be like? Would he be out of control and show no respect for me? I dared not go on thinking, and then prayed to God within, “Oh, God! What should I do to let go of myself really? May You guide me.” In the next few days, I kept pondering God’s words and praying to Him to give me faith to practice the truth.

Two days later, after returning home from school, my son looked crestfallen and sat aside silently. I didn’t pay heed to him but kept doing my work. After a while, I asked him, “Why don’t you have dinner?” He answered, “All you care is my eating and clothing. Don’t you see that I’m unhappy today?” Then he went to his bedroom angrily and closed the door. I heard him complaining, “You care nothing for me. As you have raised me for so many years, why don’t you know whether I’m happy or not?” Hearing his words, I thought: I’m so busy all day long. There is no time for me to care about your emotions. Just when I was about to throw a tantrum, I suddenly recalled God’s word which I read two days before. God asks me to let go of my status of a mother so as to remove the estrangement between my son and me. Since our relations had reached stalemate for these years, it’s better for me to let go of myself and treat him as a friend rather than fighting with him. But then I thought: What if he shows no respect for me when I bow my head and humble myself? I was worried and had no courage to make a step forward, so I came to my bedroom and knelt down and prayed to God, “Oh God! I really don’t want to quarrel with my son again, but it is hard for me to humble and lower myself. May You lead me to practice the truth.” After praying, I felt calmer in my heart. By seeking, I came to realize that I was corrupted by Satan so deeply that I couldn’t let go of my own status even if I knew clearly I was wrong. In fact, God’s arranging this environment was to help me break away from Satan’s influence and live out a normal humanity, and not to embarrass me. After understanding God’s intention, I decided to have a frank conversation with my son.

Then, I knocked at my son’s door, saying, “Please open the door. I want to talk with you.” Unexpectedly, he opened the door. When entering his bedroom, I said calmly to him, “I know that you have some dissatisfaction with me over these years. Today, let’s have a heart to heart conversation with each other. Feel free to share any thoughts you have.” Then my son said, “Actually, quarreling with you tired me out. I don’t want this. Apart from telling me what to do, you never cared about what I was thinking. We had no real communication with each other at all; I feel we were just like strangers.” Hearing his words, I was a bit shocked. I never thought to be regarded as a stranger by my son. I said, “Perhaps I’ve ignored your feelings, but my intentions were good.” “I understand that you want the best for me,” said my son, “but I dislike your forcing me to conduct myself according to the way you like. Besides, you always compared me with my sister, which pressured me. She is her, and I’m me. Why should I be the same as her?”

That night, it was beyond my expectation that my son, always willful and headstrong, could have a heart-to-heart talk with me. I was very touched and knew that all this was God’s wonderful deeds. Since then, I tried to put myself on the same position as my son and learned to listen to his heart’s voice and respect him. I no longer controlled or supervised him. When he made mistakes, I would communicate with him peacefully. If I was dominated by the corrupt disposition so that I couldn’t practice God’s word, I would pray to God for courage and faith to forsake my flesh and practice the truth. After some time, the relation between my son and me improved a lot and my son became diligent. When I was busy, he would offer to help me do the cleaning. Sometimes when we had a disagreement, we would have a heart-to-heart talk with each other and soon the disagreement would be resolved. So, there was no more estrangement between us. To my surprise, when I respected him and no longer required him to study according to my will, he became obedient and even actively did his homework after school. His academic grade improved unexpectedly, which jumped to the fourth place in class and remained stable. Seeing the change of my son, I was full of gratitude to God. I acknowledged that God’s word is the truth which can help us live out the normal humanity. I was too blind and ignorant to know the value of God’s word before.

One day, I overheard my son and daughter talking. My son said, “Do you find mom disciplines us and nags us much less than she did before?” “Yes. When I went out to visit my friend, she didn’t restrain or preach at me. It seems that she has really changed,” said my daughter softly. Hearing my children’s talk, I felt happy in my heart, and realized that it was overstepping the mark to educate them according to my will in the past.

Thank Almighty God. It is God’s word that improves the relations between my son and me. I have truly appreciated that God’s word is the truth and that only when we live by His words can we live out the likeness of a real man. I am willing to follow Almighty God for all of my life. Thanks be to God!

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You may be interested in this article: How to Stop Being a Controlling Mother
Photo credit: Chase Crowson on Best Running / CC BY-NC-ND