5 Reasons Your Kids Reject Your Beliefs

A friend of mine’s grandfather came of age during the Great Depression. He would then go on to fight in World War II. When he returned home, he got married, started a family, and worked hard to create a comfortable suburban life that included a vacation house on a lake. He completely bought into the American dream and the idea that having nice things made life better. It all looked perfect until his son (my friend’s father) reached college age. The son saw his father’s beliefs as materialism that at best had left him wanting more. From the son’s perspective, it was all vacant of any deeper meaning that he was craving for his life. He became a hippie and antiwar in the 1960s, two things that drove his father to say, “I want to call that college and get my money back.”

The last thing any of us imagine when we first hold our kids is the thought that they might reject our beliefs. It’s certainly not ideal. For me, it would feel like a nightmare. In all of my years listening to teens talk, I heard a lot of anti-parent sentiment. There were several things I saw parents do that would make kids want to turn in the other direction and run. I’ve realized for myself that if my child rejects my beliefs, I probably will have something to do with it. We need to avoid doing these things if we want to pass on our cherished beliefs to our kids. Here are 5 reasons your kids reject your beliefs.

1. You’re dogmatic.

Very few things are one hundred percent certain. There’s always room for exploration, questioning, and doubt. If you want your kids to reject your beliefs, one of the best ways to do it is to assert that you have a monopoly on the truth. People who are dogmatic tend to shut down any kind of questioning, which makes their belief system appear more fragile. If a belief system is too weak to handle questioning, then it’s easier to reject. You can be firm in your faith and beliefs while being open to other points of view. The more you shut off, the more your kids will shut off from you.

2. You lecture and don’t listen.

A mentor once told me, “Don’t brag about your kids. You think you’re making friends, but really, you’re losing them.” I agree and I feel the same way about lecturing kids. We think we’re guiding and teaching them when we’re really losing them. And trust me, I’m guilty of plenty of lecturing. But one of the best principles I learned when I would lead discussions with teens is they were 10 times more likely to remember something they said than to remember what I said. The best way to teach is to ask questions and listen. If your kids feel loved and listened to, they will be more likely to absorb your beliefs. They’ll end up asking you to share and explain, and you won’t even have to impose your beliefs on them.

3. You have no boundaries.

Failing to set proper boundaries makes kids feel insecure. That lack of security can make them feel resentful. As children, they will probably see it as instability. However, when they are older, they may view you as someone who lacks conviction and fortitude. Setting (and keeping) boundaries establishes trust. It communicates that you have the kind of strength and faithfulness they can depend on.

4. You’re inconsistent.

Do you say you’re going to do something and then fail to follow through? Do you set clear boundaries but enforce them only some of the time? When a father is inconsistent, he creates distrust. When our words and our actions don’t line up, it calls our beliefs into question at the very least. At most, we may be deemed a fraud. No one’s perfect, and we will all drop the ball at some point. However, if it’s happening often, then do what you can to make changes. Ask friends or your wife, if you’re married, to help you stay consistent. Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus is “the same yesterday and today and forever.” That’s the consistency we should have for our kids.

5. You’re harsh.

Harsh words repel. They’re like a loud and off-putting instrument. I don’t mean to be harsh and I’m sure you don’t mean to be either. It’s usually just a quick reaction. Proverbs 12:18 gives a strong indictment: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Harsh words are an attack, and when our kids feel attacked, they tend to shut down. If it keeps happening, they will reject where that harshness is coming from.

Bonus: No reason.

It’s not always our fault that our children decide to reject our values. Sometimes, despite your love, they rebel. They might just be mad about life, have lost perspective, or have caved to influences outside the family. But it’s always wise to look at yourself first before coming to this conclusion.

Sound off: What are some other reasons a kid rejects our beliefs?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Who is someone trustworthy in your life? Why do you trust that person?”