Why You Can’t Ignore Passive Rebellion

Learn the parenting mistakes to avoid and what to do instead to prevent rebellion or pushing your kids away.


What are some of the causes of rebellion? Very simply stated, rebellion is the rejection of authority. It has two parts: external and internal. External rebellion is obvious disobedience. For example, you tell your rebellious toddler to pick up his toys, and he responds by saying ‘No!” Internal rebellion isn’t as easy to see, as it’s more of a stubborn attitude that doesn’t want to submit to authority, due to pride.

Obedience also has two parts, as shown in I Kings 8:61

“Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments.”

Obeying is doing what you’re told with a happy heart. The absence of the happy spirit is what we call PASSIVE REBELLION.

In my last post, Are You Raising a Rebel, we talked about effects of rebellion and the importance of focusing on what is in the heart.

Young boy with angry rebellious look

1. When we ignore the subtle signs of rebellion that our kids show, we are teaching them to be deceptive.

When we let them get by with just “looking good” on the outside, while their heart attitude is defiant, we teach them to be deceptive and to be hypocrites. Basically, we are telling them that God doesn’t care what’s on the inside.

2. When we don’t discipline our children for passive rebellion, it often leads us to discipline in anger. 

We see things, and let them go; we threaten, but don’t do anything about it. Their behavior becomes an irritation, and finally, they do one more thing, and we lose it, exploding with anger.

When you discipline out of anger like this, it may temporarily change their behavior, but not because they want to change their heart. Instead of focusing on what they did wrong, they tend to think “I’m in trouble because I made Mom mad.”

Overcoming Anger God's Way

They become people-pleasers, and nothing changes on the inside; they just learn how to ACT in a way that keeps them out of trouble.

We need to address the heart issues causing the behavior, rather than controlling the behavior.

In the big picture, all discipline is about bringing our children into a right relationship with their Heavenly Father that He might bless their lives. It’s not about controlling behavior, modifying behavior, or minimizing embarrassment. Biblically correctingd your child is one of the greatest ways to win their heart to you and to God forever.” (Passionate Parenting)

 3. When we correct, train, or punish only for the EXTERNAL obvious rebellion,  we aren’t dealing with the SOURCE: rebellion in the heart. We are only dealing with the symptoms.

An example of this would be when I was dealing with migraines. I took Ibuprofen, Tylenol, and Excedrin Migraine for the pain. These would help temporarily, but the migraines kept coming back because I wasn’t getting to the source of what caused them. I was simply treating the symptoms, which helped only temporarily. I had to go to the doctor and find out what was causing them, and take care of that problem.

When we just deal with the obvious symptoms of rebellion in our children, and don’t deal with the passive rebellion coming from a heart problem. Our kids often develop a lifestyle of hidden sin, which turns to open rebellion in the teen years. 

I said this in the last post but will repeat it because it sums up this point.

The truth it that teenage rebellion doesn’t start at age 13. It starts much earlier, in a young child’s heart, often in the form of passive rebellion.

Don’t fall into the trap of letting “little things” go that show passive rebellion. Ask God to give you the wisdom to notice it, and guide you to the heart issue you need to deal with. Don’t just manage behavior, but monitor the heart!



& BIBLE VERSE CARDS TO HELP YOU![magicactionbox]

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  4. Just a few examples of passive rebellion could be: doing things their own way rather than how they were told, rolling their eyes at you, pouting, pulling away. They all show a resistance to your authority, or subtle rebellion. Think of it as sitting down on the outside but standing up on the inside.

  5. What would some examples of passive rebellion be?

  6. So what does a parent do when they didn’t take care of the heart issues when their children were young and now the children are teenagers and have bad attitudes? I know with God there is always hope but where do I start to try to change things?

  7. Candy, you have got that right! When I’m tired, it’s so much easier to just scold or rant, rather than take the time to deal with it properly, and address the heart. But like you said, the lasting benefits that come are worth it!

  8. Absolute truth! Managing the behavior seems so much easier in the moment, but monitoring the heart takes time and commitment that will reap lasting benefits. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

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