Confessions of a kid who didn’t rebel

An interview with Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach, author of Faith Today‘s May/Jun cover story, “Help your kids embrace the faith: trading in picture-perfect faith for authentic experience.”

FT: Rebecca, you have a book coming out in the fall with Thomas Nelson called “Why I didn’t rebel.” How did this all come about?

RL: I wrote a blog post for my mom [writer Sheila Wray Gregoire] on the same topic. We had about a quarter of a million people in the first three weeks read it, and we had over a million people see it on Facebook. It was shared on pinterest. I was getting people sending me screenshots asking it if was me. When it blew up, I did all my interviews and made it into a book.

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach is the writer of “Help your kids embrace the faith,” Faith Today’s May/Jun cover story.

FT: Why do you think your blog and ideas touched such a nerve?

RL: It’s a topic that touches everyone, right. Everyone knows a teenager or has a kid or has a family member like a grandchild or niece, just that kid at church that you take under your wing.

We’re also just really curious, and we’re all busybodies, that’s how humans are. So, when you hear “why I didn’t rebel,” you want to know. I did think about how I could word it in a way that made people interested.

We all have vested interest in helping people not make mistakes. A lot of kids in my book who did rebel wanted to help kids not go through the stuff they did in high school. Comparing our experience to others is a normal thing to do. It also offered hope to parents, your kids don’t need to rebel.

FT: For kids who did rebel, what kind of regrets did you hear?

RL: That’s the thing that I wished I had put in the book but I didn’t have space for. Their regrets weren’t so much about how things turned out, most of them are successful and came back to the faith. Their main regret is they didn’t have a good relationship with their parents. A lot of the girls regretted being promiscuous in high school and had their hearts broken, but most of their regrets was their fighting with their parents, and the relationship they didn’t have.

FT: Did that change? Do they have a better relationship now?

RL: Very few of them do. Of the ones who rebelled, only one has a seriously awesome relationship with their parents. A lot of them have experienced growth in their relationships, most of them respect their parents and think their parents did the best they could. But when they have a crisis, they still don’t go to their parents. But the kids who didn’t rebel  still count on their parents.

FT: So, did the rebellion harm their relationship with their parents?

RL: I think it’s a chicken or egg thing, but I’d lean more toward the relationship with the parent makes rebellion more or less likely. There was one girl that everyone loved at church, she got assaulted and she went off the rails after that. Her parents did all they possibility could. For another there was a divorce. There are times when you rebel even if you do have a good relationship.

I would argue that having a good relationship built on empathy and listening is one of the best things you can do to prevent rebellion. There’s no one-size formula, but a lot of the rebellion had to do with not feeling heard at home, and so they seek out being heard elsewhere.

One girl said her big issue was her mom, and that she can count on one hand the times her mom said she was proud of her, but she was always being reprimanded. She was not encouraged and when she got to high school she started going around with kids who were out partying every weekend who said, “yeah, good for you.” She finally had people who didn’t assume the worst of her.

FT: What do you hope will come out of the Faith Today article and your book?

RL: I hope parents start talking to kids like they are actual people and not just kids. Your kids are people, not just spawn, you know? It’s all about having that relationship where you feel heard. If you’re in a friendship where all you get are lectures, or reminders to do this or that, or expectations you feel you need to live up to, rather than celebrations for the times you do, it feels really draining.

Kids and their parents need to be able to have a friendship and talk about the funny cat video they saw on YouTube, and that embarrassing thing that happened at school, and laugh about it. When your kids are five or six, they don’t need it so much, but as they become independent adults they need more than a pillar, they need a mentor, and that looks very different from how most parents parent teenagers, at least from my research. My main thing is getting parents to talk to kids like they are actual people, that’s how you make those relationships stronger.

FT: Thanks Rebecca!

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach wrote Faith Today’s May/Jun cover story, and the upcoming Thomas Nelson book Why I Didn’t Rebel. Subscribe to Faith Today so you don’t miss great articles like that one.

 

 

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