“You Can’t Make Me!” Teens, Romance, and Rules

Lisa Cherry —  February 7, 2013 — 8 Comments

Teen girl defiant 5144866156_0313991928

By Lisa Cherry

“How can I get my teen to make godly choices in relationships?” This is the question I am asked over and over again from desperate, discouraged parents.  I heard it again just last week.

It was a tragic story of a Christian family with a crisis pregnancy.  Their circumstances caught my attention because of our series this month on Hot Romance.

It seems this family had done more than the average to develop a God-honoring vision for their son. No casual teen dating allowed. Waiting for the "right one" to come along. Sexual purity exhortations. Commands to treat young women as sisters.

"So what went wrong, Lisa?" the mother's heart questioned.  I wondered the same thing! So I gently began to probe a bit deeper. And I think together we unveiled some of the roots of their problem.

Parents’ rules that do not penetrate deeper than rules will not hold over time. Their son's heart roamed when hormones mixed with anger, resentment, and immaturity.

As I shared this mother's pain, I was drawn back in time when we faced a similar problem in our house. A time when our own daughter would shout back at us, "You can't make me!"

Kalyn's story of teenage disaster filled with sexual abuse and its resultant rebellion and wrong relationships is a story I have posted on before.  But today let's explore the tough question that many are surely asking...

How can I make my teen/young adult child make wise, godly choices in relationships when they are enamored with the cheap cultural counterfeits of casual dating with its loose sexual morals?

My humble answer is....we can't.

Wow, that is not a very encouraging answer, is it?

Only our God can change a human heart.
We, as parents, can work in partnership with Him as His agent, but we must have His grace to see true lasting impact.

We can't yell
                            or force
                                                or punish
                                                                        our way to success.

For something about the area of "passion" in the human heart somehow defies the control of another.

However, we are not permitted to “do an Eli” (See 1 Samuel 3: 18) and park our head in the sand and let the kids choose whatever they wilt even if their behaviors dishonors the Lord.

Tricky, huh? Compel but not drive. Encourage but not provoke. Command but not dictate.

I think the only answer is to seek something deeper from our God. We must ask Him for revelation knowledge of His ways to be made real in the hearts of our kids:  a personal conviction that causes THEM to run toward our discipling counsel and not away!

And then, while we are at it, also ask Him for supernaturally empowered leadership skills to be birthed in us as parents that will successfully guide our children into the pathway of light.

Surely our God would respond to such humble prayers!

He certainly did for us!

If you have never read the full story of Kalyn's testimony, check out our book, Unmask the Predators.

Image by Werner Kunz "Angry Little Girl"
License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

*     *     *     *     *

This post is part of my series Will Your Kids Find the Right Mate? Here are the rest of the posts in this series:

Will Your Kids Find the Right Mate?
Two of Our Kids Found Romance!
Can We Divorce-proof Our Kids? Ten Strategies for Parents
The Word that Makes Us Bristle: Can We Divorce-Proof Our Kids, Part 2
Should Finding a Mate Be Like Buying a Pair of Shoes?
Ten Things I Teach My Sons about Girls
The Top Ten Things I Want My Daughters to Know about Boys

Don’t miss this special sale on our Hot Romance DVD:

It's now only $10.00, which is half price.  Now through February 14 at our store.

Hot romance front

Gratefully linked to  Encourage One Another       Legacy Leaver      Thriving Thursday

Women With Purpose


  • lorihatcher

    As my daughters became teens, I realized that I could not compel them, through the force of my will or personality, to love God and honor him with their choices. I could, however, invite God to penetrate their hearts, reveal his love and good plan for them, and draw them to himself. Now, at 20 and 23, my daughters are still the objects of those same prayers. I suspect they will be prayers I will pray for them over the course of their entire lives. It's a burden and a privilege, and not one I take lightly. Thanks for sounding the call to invite God into the equation.  This is my first visit to your site from Hungry for God today. Glad I stopped by :)

    • http://www.frontlinefamilies.org/ Lisa Cherry

      Lori, I love your word "penetrate." That is a powerful choice of intercession for your young ladies! So good to meet you.....

  • Lynne6

    What an agonizing question this is.  I agree, we must seek the Lord, His revelation, and His grace.  Whether my child's choices are the result of my failure, her sin, the enemy's attacks, or a combination, He is still the way, the truth, and the life.

  • LouAnn Smith

    I have 3 boys and they couldn't be more different, but so were their lives. My oldest is 22 and is about to marry a godly young woman who saved herself, as did he. My 16 year old is in high school but brags how he is saving himself and he chooses not to date. It is my 10 year that I worry about the most. He has never been homeschooled (as my other two) and his personality is defiant. Both my husband and I have to work thanks to unemployment and a complete life change over the past 4 years. My 10 year old son has a low self esteem that over compensates with a rebellious attitude and defeatism that is exhausting!! We use to be house parents and had 8 other boys who lived with us with such issues, but they had access to us 24/7. My one son only gets his dad on the weekends and gets remnants of me after a long day at work. I fear for him. He resents going to church most of the time and if things don't go his way, we all pay. I am lost, tired and desperate to not feel hopeless. We pray with him, speak encouraging words to him, challenge him, hold him accountable with LOVE and acceptance!! Nothing seems to work.

    • http://www.frontlinefamilies.org/ Lisa Cherry

      LouAnn, My heart breaks for your situation. Watching a child struggle is
      so painful. We will be praying for you and your family.

      Have you seen a copy of our book called Unmask the Predators? After a severe problem with our second born, the Lord led us through a spiritual process that
      eventually brought breakthrough to our home. I think many of the things we learned could apply to your situation.

      Rebellion, as you know, is a very serious problem.....but no match for the King of Kings!

      • LouAnn Smith

        Thank you, Lisa! I will look into that book.

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