Help! My Teen Is Rebellious! by Dave Coats

The BCC Author Interview Q & A with Dave Coats

As part of our BCC vision, we want to help you to get to know gifted Christian authors and their books. This week we’re highlighting Dave Coats as he talks about the booklet he co-authored with his wife, Judi: Help! My Teen Is Rebellious! Their booklet is part of the series Living in a Fallen World.

BCC: “When we hear the words ‘rebellious teenager’ we immediately conjure up certain images in our mind about what it looks like to be rebellious. How do you portray the 'rebellious teen’?”

DC: “Well, the image parents conjure up might certainly be one type of rebellion, but I doubt that it covers all forms of rebellion. Furthermore, when we deal with teens we tend to think this is a ‘stage’ they are going through and that they will grow out of it. I remember sitting with some parents at a Christian camp session for Q & A in which the one mom hoped she could just make it through this stage till her son ‘got over’ his teen problems. I had to reassure her that teen problems would become adult problems if not addressed.”

BCC: “How would you help a parent see rebellion in its basic form?”

DC: “In the booklet, we address rebellion as a human problem, not as a teen problem. We try to take people back to Eden in order to see how rebellion began. Our fallen nature brings with it this attitude of independence from God which fosters independence from any authority. What will rescue this family of rebellious humans from the destruction that awaits them? The cross. So we take the reader to the gospel for the first glimmer of hope in dealing with teen rebellion. Every biblical counselor should run to the cross to give hope to those who need help and the gospel brings that hope of change.”

BCC: “What do you think helps to break through the walls set up by teens?”

DC: “I KNOW a parent’s brokenness will influence his teenager. When the parent admits to his child that he, the parent, rebels towards God it will start to tear down the walls between them. In other words, the teenager will begin to see his parent in a similar light. We are not perfect, but we can’t be hypocrites. When teens get yelled at by their parents for things and then they see their parents respond the same way towards God, teens get it. They see through the façade when we put it up around us. And just as importantly, the parent needs to not look at his teenager as some kind of alien form in his household. The rebel is doing what humans do who have not yet accepted God’s plan and ways.”

BCC: “Can you explain a little more about the different kinds of rebellion?”

DC: “In the booklet, we trace the idea of foolishness found in Proverbs. The fool is not a wacko person. Biblically the fool is one who decides to go in a direction away from God and truth or righteousness. The fool in Proverbs moves along the line of rebellion more and more in a knowing and decided fashion. He moves from foolishness that is immature into foolishness with knowledge and experience that is determined to get its way. This is the path of the rebel. Eventually he becomes what Proverbs calls the scorner. The hard-hearted rebel (scorner) has no conscience about his anti-God path. We try to help the parent recognize the progression in foolishness so they know how to respond to their rebellious teen. Teens can evidence this foolishness in a more open rebellion or in a hidden and covert response to the parent. Either way, they are moving away from God.”

BCC: “What are some of the practical helps that this booklet offers?”

DC: “We have tried to include several pages of helpful ideas in both the positive and the negative realm. What I mean by positive is you can take many steps in knowing, praying, serving, and enjoying your teenager, even if they are in rebellion. We are called to love them even in their opposition to us. Biblical love desires change while still giving and expecting nothing in return. The negative steps are varied based on what kind of rebellious teen you have. One of the more classic, helpful tools in the booklet is called the ‘conference table.’ Every family with teens needs to develop this tool for their own home and times of resolving conflicts. This tool eventually can be a positive means of mitigating conflict before it develops.”

BCC: “Surely you’ve been asked this question. Is your booklet only helpful for families with teens?”

DC: “We wrote the booklet as a help to any family with rebels in it. That covers all of us. In some way, we all need this reminder of our tendency to stray. ‘Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love,’ the song writer said. I know this is true in my own heart. What home would not benefit from going back to the cross together and seeing their sinful, rebellious tendencies! There at the cross they can work out their problems together.”

BCC: “So then, who would you say should read this book and why?”

DC: “Pastors, youth pastors, people who care about others in the 'body,' parents, and grandparents should read it for immediate help in situations they know. Buy it and give it to others. Hold them accountable to come back to you and talk about what God is showing them about their own rebellion. Pastors and youth workers should read it and help parents recognize trends and directions in their families. The church is a body. We need to get more involved in one another’s lives and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ as it responds to our rebellion.”

BCC: Thank you, Dave, for writing this valuable resource and for helping our BCC readers to learn more about parenting a rebellious teen.”