EDITOR'S NOTE: Interested in having The Old Schoolhouse magazine delivered to your door? Sign up with promo code "5OFFCW" and receive 20% off your subscription.

Ever feel like you are raising one of Joseph’s deceptive brothers as described in the Bible instead of a valiant Joseph? Or one of David’s bitter and prideful brothers instead of a courageous David? Ever feel like you are raising a brutal Cain instead of a righteous Abel? I’m talking about that one child who brings you to tears or to your knees—someone I call a rebel.

You know the type: those dear children who are very bright—so smart they can be manipulative and put you in a corner with their words before you know where the conversation is even going. They can find good reasons for not obeying and find creative ways of getting out of work. They are so full of themselves that they become fools.

These are the ones who are highly emotive and eruptive, sulky and moody, extremely hyper to extremely depressed. They have a way of making extremely drained parents—emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

These are the types of children that aren’t supposed to belong to good Christian homeschool families. They are the ones who look good in public but behind closed doors wreak havoc on the peace of the home. We train them up in the way they should go, and they go the opposite direction—on purpose and with fury. We can feel shame, guilt, and self-condemnation. We question ourselves: What did we do wrong? Are there any answers? Will this ever end?

In answer to the overwhelming response we received to Part 1 of “Homeschooling the Rebel,” (Summer 08—you can order a copy of that back issue from our online Schoolhouse Store, www.TheOldSchoolhouseStore.com), I now give you Part 2. Part 1 was written about one of my children who was born rebelling and wore our family thin, especially between the ages of 9 and 12.

Following is the long-awaited update. I will keep it gender non-specific to guard my child’s identity as I share practical ideas and insights in dealing with a rebel, including input from my child. I also hope to share some of the blessings of being chosen by God to raise a rebel.

Here are some things I have learned about parenting and homeschooling the rebel:


As I sat my rebel down to talk about how far we have come, I asked about what I could have done differently in those extremely trying years. The answer surprised me: “More consistency.” Looking back, I remembered being pretty consistent, but was I always consistent? No. And because I wasn’t consistent 100% of the time, my rebel would push the limits 99.9% of the time just in case I would overlook it this one time. When I did realize that, I tried hard to keep my word on every threat or warning of punishment, and we began to see inklings of change.

The Words of a Former Rebel: “I would see how far over the line I could go and still get away with it. When my mom wasn’t consistent, I pushed it to the limit every time. When she started to keep his/her word on punishments and follow through every time, I began to realize I wasn’t going to get very far. The times that she said I wouldn’t get to go somewhere special with the family if I continued my disrespect, and then found myself alone with a babysitter while they were all away, made a real impact on me. I was horrified.”