One mother said, "Once we took a family vacation and our unlovable son was particularly disagreeable as we were getting ready to go out for the day of site seeing. He left the building after a nasty conflict with everyone and we continued on discussing him and his numerous poor attitudes in his absence. We tried to figure it out and tried to figure out how we could not have our vacation ruined by him. To our sorrow and horror he was sitting on the bottom step of the building, having heard every word we said. The horror was that he heard it that way, and the sorrow was that we could not take any of it back, it was all true."
Another family warned their daughter that if she got too out of hand on their vacation they would out her on a plane and send her home and continue on without her!
The sad thing for us parents is they appear not to care! They act as though they hate us, and could care less about being with us at all. Our gifts are not good enough, or lavish enough or we are not as good as someone else because their parents get them what they want. We appear to be expendable and not needed for counsel or input. Our advise is stupid or preachy or we don’t get it. They have no desire to listen to us. We are only good to give them what they want at times. It is so hurtful to be the parent of such a child.
You may think they are not listening, but don’t be fooled. Your words –both good and bad- are penetrating. Years later I see and hear my son acting on the counsel that was once so stupid to him.
When you have an unlovable child- you essentially have 2 options- as in a Y in the road: one way of dealing with them is to withdraw and back out of their life. Determine not to quarrel with them, or confront them. It is the “peace at all costs” model of parenting. In many ways, that is the easy route to take. Withdrawing emotionally feels better. When I withdraw they can’t hurt me, there is no confrontation or conflict. I can pretend all is well. The child becomes like a terrorist and uses the threat (spoken or unspoken) of verbal retaliation and conflict with you as a weapon to keep you in your corner while they run self will run riot.
These unlovable kids will attempt to draw you into verbal matches where all the reasoning is circular and by the time you are ready to scream they have you forgetting what you originally wanted to talk about. Simple questions like, “Who’s house are you going to?” are responded to with accusation of accusations by you.
The other part of the fork – the other way of dealing with them is biblically. This way will not be peaceful, and there will be conflict and confrontation. “the way of the transgressor is hard.” The biblical road will not feel good all the time. Circumstantially it will be difficult. Emotionally you may be wounded and experience no deeper pain.
As you learn to confront your rebellious child biblically and he or she sees the rules of the game changing there will be much anger and rage on their part. Primarily it is because you are taking back the parental authoritative ground you have ceded over time. These children hate authority and anyone who would dare to alter their reality will have to pay. I would maintain that this road is the only biblical option.
As parents, we are charged with raising up our children according to the law- both moral and legal. To raise them in a way that they will submit to authorities placed in their life. These authorities begin with Sunday or nursery school teachers, hall monitors, playground supervisors, scout leaders, life guards at the pool, speed limits, rules of the road, teachers and professors, boss’s, team leaders and so on. To abdicate this responsibility at any point in the process of growing up brings tragic consequences to the child and to society. If the child is allowed to disregard the authority in the home why would he or she obey the teacher? If the child won’t obey the teacher, why would he or she obey the boss at work? If all children were allowed to go their own way for the sake of peace in the home our world would rapidly be reduced to anarchy. We can see some of the tragic results of this kind of thinking in those who were the hippies and anti-establishment crowd of the 1960’s. There is a new generation of disobedience afoot in today’s youth, equally as troubling and with increasingly far reaching devastating results.