Christian Parental Response to Teenagers or Adult Children in Rebellion

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What is the appropriate response for Christian parents when our teenagers or adult children rebel?  Do we intervene? Let them go? Do we shun?

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ADMIN NOTE:  I have scrubbed the original article of links to the original article, removed names, except for first initials.  H = mother/blogger   E = 17-yr old daughter  There is an update on this post here:  Blogger/Mother Who Posted Public Article about Her Daughter’s “Disobedience” Has Changed Her Mind and Removed Post

Parenting has got to be one of the most challenging and sometimes very painful jobs e.v.e.r.  It is especially difficult when our children make bad choices, go against what basic guidelines meant to protect them. How should we as Christian parents respond when our children go astray?

I read an article from a blogger today that I found tough to read.  It hit home for me a little bit because it reminded me of when my daughter, Hannah, abruptly left our home.  The circumstances are slightly different in this story. (You can read some of my heartache with that experience and my very bad actions/responses in this article:  In Honor of Hannah.)

The blogger publicly shared about the heartache of her daughter’s “disobedience.”

She identifies herself as a Christian and has “spent the last several years managing and writing for [name removed by JA: a very popular blogger on her homeschool area of the blog].

H shares that her article is

“the hardest one I may ever write because, for me, blogging is personal and personally, decisions made by my oldest child, “E’, have left a mixed bag of emotions ranging from disbelief to anger, on to fear and grief; none of which are conducive to writing.”

Here is a portion of the article:

A week ago, E left home to live with her 21-year-old boyfriend who she met in February. Yes, she’s 17. Yes, there were many red flags when this boy came on the scene. Yes, Jeff and I warned her repeatedly, but we had guidelines in place that we felt could protect her from herself; we were wrong.

It wasn’t that our guidelines couldn’t provide the protection E needed (they could) but that she has been unwilling to align with them, not just when it comes to this current boy, who is nothing short of a false prophet, but as is clear now, in several other relationships and critical life decisions.

E chose to leave home rather than obey, and more and more indiscretions, as well as outright acts of deception surface daily. Honestly, it’s as though our daughter has lived a dual life for a couple of years now; one for us, and one for herself.

In the rest of the article, we read expressions from a mom whose heart is broken, who asks for prayers, shares meaningful verses, describes the emotions of family members at home with her daughter’s absence.

This verse was quoted . . .

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10

. . . . along with the following sentence:

Naturally, I am praying safety over her, but at the same time, asking that she find no happiness or peace in her current path, which can only lead to despair.

OUCH!

Below is a comment from a reader and H’s response:

 

Commenter #1

June 9, 2014 – 14:10:18

You cannot separate condemnation of her actions and condemnation of her as a person. Your job is to be there. Your job is to try to figure out what caused her to rebel. Publishing what you did, if she reads it will come across as condemnation of HER.

Ok…you don’t agree with what she’s done…but realize, as the parent, YOU are the reason she is in rebellion. There is something in YOUR home, YOUR rules that goes against who God made her to be. You can’t force the square peg into the round hole. Your job is to accept that square peg and love her for who she was created to be. This is why I am SO against the whole homeschool/isolationist/uber-religious movement in this country. It leads to tragedy. Didn’t Jesus say “love one another”…he didn’t put conditions on it and neither should you.

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Blogger

June 9, 2014 – 14:29:04

We do not share the same world view or interpretation of God’s Word, which means we will not likely agree, in general, on parenting/life choices. I do want to clarify that we do not put any conditions on our love for E or our other children. She knows, and they know–and all three would tell you–that we love them unconditionally.

We cannot condone certain behaviors, and believe there are consequences for them, but we absolutely love our children unconditionally.

Another commenter:

 

June 9, 2014 – 16:05:14

If you love her as you say you do and I do not for a minute think you don’t, you would remove that whole blog entry, I am a parent, and if I wrote something about my child in a public blog like you did, along with showing her picture, I doubt she would ever come home as the rift is just getting wider, hate the act but don’t publicly ridicule her.

 

My heart breaks for this mother and daughter.  Why does this thing called Christianity sometimes look so mean and angry?  What is the right response when there is rebellion?  Is tough love the right way? Is shunning the right response (I can’t tell if that is what this family is doing or not, but at my former church, shunning would be expected for a case like this.)  This stuff is just plain messy.

 

Update:  I felt the need to remove the daughter’s first name which had a searchable unique spelling and have replaced it with her first initial “E.”  6/10/14 ~ja

 

UPDATE:  New developments on this story.  Blogger/Mother Who Responded about Her Daughter’s Disbedience Publicly Has Changed Her Mind and Removed Post

 

photo credit: jenny downing via photopin cc

88 comments on “Christian Parental Response to Teenagers or Adult Children in Rebellion

  1. Shunning is never the right response. I hope H won’t do that and I hope she tells E that she can always come home.

    It is interesting to me. I am a Christian grandmother living with my husband in the suburbs and driving a station wagon – hardly a rebel. So you would think I would identify with the mother. I don’t though. I identify with E. That was my immediate reaction.

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  2. Interesting to see the word she uses to describe what she expects of Emilie: align.

    from Dictonary.com:
    Align
    1. to arrange in a straight line; adjust according to a line.
    2. to bring into a line or alignment.
    3. to bring into cooperation or agreement with a particular group, party, cause, etc.: He aligned himself with the liberals.

    Did Heather want Emilie to cooperate or agree? Or is this just code for an older and harsher word: obey?

    (BTW, I’ve been fooling around with my Gravatar a bit; I’m still tiquatue.)

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  3. No! Never shun your child, even if they rebel.

    My daughter, when she was in her late teens, went through a period of rebellion too. She moved in with her “soul mate”. A couple of months later, she called me crying uncontrollably. She then dropped a bombshell on me. She had just found out she was pregnant and was terrified I would react toward her as my mom did toward me when I found out about my pregnancy with my daughter. In my case, my mom told me that if I didn’t get an abortion, she would quit her teaching job and commit suicide. I grew up with her psychological warfare. And emotional blackmail.

    I refused to become my mother. I told my daughter that everything would be ok, we would work through this together. I drove over to where she was staying and drove her back home. Inside the car, as we sat in our driveway, we had a long talk. She talked about how scared she became when her boyfriend became violent, abusive, and possessive of her. She no longer wanted anywhere near him. We both sat, cried, hugged and she prayed for God’s forgiveness for getting into this mess. This boy, his mother and other family members all got busted on a meth lab sting shortly after this time.

    My granddaughter will soon be 13. If I had treated my daughter as I had been treated, I would have lost a granddaughter and probably also my daughter, my firstborn.

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  4. Heather has replaced the post with pictures of Emilie and the statement that she loves her and it’s time to come home.

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  5. Most children need to question and challenge our belief system in order to decide whether what we believe is something they believe as well.

    This is a good thing.

    But if you cannot defend your beliefs, don’t expect them to embrace something forced upon them.

    Shunning, sheltering, isolation, etc. are signs of weakness while extending grace as God has given us both grace and free will are signs of confidence and strength.

    It isn’t a matter of loving our children. I assume we all love our children but do we believe what we say? Christian parents have been allowing themselves to become vulnerable to these self-appointed experts that spew fear and advocate fear-based parenting in which they paint the scenario of our children falling away and burning in hell if we don’t spank, shelter, shun, or feed on a strict three hour schedule.

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  6. Unfortunately she didn’t replace the post. The old post is still there if you scroll down.

    I find using the word “obey” creepy with adult children, and even at 17 it’s borderline. Actually, I just don’t like that word at all, come to think of it.

    I think what bothers me most is the mother’s lack of empathy. The blog wasn’t nearly as heinous as I imagined (having dated a guy with an isolating, abusive mother who used her blog to spew passive aggressive spiritual nonsense to the world) and it seemed like she genuinely loved her daughter, but COULD NOT comprehend how posting the blog was a bad idea. “I don’t see how it could be ridicule.” Okay, fine, but what about your daughter? Isn’t her perception also important here?

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  7. Yes, the post is still here: http://heathersanders.com/2014/05/28/beauty-for-ashes/

    Yes, Sarah, I felt like she put her blog readers before respect for her daughter and her daughter’s reputation. Sadly, her daughter will feel that disrespect. She knows her mother’s blog routine and will likely check the blog to see if her mother is talking about her. I suspect her mother knows this and that’s why Heather posted the blog with pictures of her daughter telling her to come home.

    Where is respect for daughter’s privacy? Did she ask her daughter’s permission to unload that dirty laundry?

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  8. Shunning, sheltering, isolation, etc. are signs of weakness while extending grace as God has given us both grace and free will are signs of confidence and strength.

    Isolation, shelter, and shunning all have fear at its core. What a horrible way to live. I hated it. It kills your soul.

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  9. when I read this I hear a family that knows how to parrot Scripture, but doesn’t really know how to communicate. All I really hear is we brought her up in the way she should go, but she fell short on her end of the bargin. Now God let her feel despair like we are feeling.

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  10. I recommend the ministry Praying for Prodigals for parents who need encouragement but want privacy for their children and themselves. Very encouraging and Biblical.

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  11. The process of physical, emotional and spiritual separation and individuation begin at birth. Every child rebels. It begins in infancy. It becomes increasingly difficult from a parent’s point of view as the child works his/her way through puberty and the early adult years. The parent’s job in the early years is to love the child through necessary correction. If a Parent does not combine love with correction, the child will come to believe that love must be earned–which will lead to all kinds of emotional and spiritual pathologies. As the child approaches adulthood, the parent must increasingly replace correction with guidance, combined always with love, until the day comes that the child is permitted to be their own free moral agent. God, the perfect Father, permitted Adam to fail.

    We dare not attempt to exercise the kind of control over our children that God renounced in relation to Adam. I can think of two examples where a child was not permitted to become their own free moral agents, their own persons. One child’s marriage failed horribly. As he approaches his 60’s he lives with his widowed mother and has, from all appearances, taken on the role of a husband substitute. His mother appears to see this as a virtue.

    The other child that was not permitted to separate from his parents had entered his 50’s when he committed suicide.

    A couple of final thoughts: Except in pathological cases, every child will rebel. If they do not do so while still young enough to benefit from parental guidance, they will do so later in life, maybe much later in life, when there is nobody present to soften the natural consequences of their folly. Finally, we must ultimately entrust our adult children to God. Our attempts to play the role of God to them must ultimately and utterly backfire.

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  12. I just can’t fathom writing a blog post like Heather has done. To me it displays an underlying belief that Heather and her husband have. They believe they own their daughter. Heather believes that she has the right to take a very private matter public. Her daughter has not broken any laws, nor has she publicly spoken against her mother. I believe Heather has retaliated against her daughter in the most egregious way by trying to shame her publicly. What’s worse is that she is attaching ‘God’ and her ‘love’ to these actions.

    JA, I have to disagree with you on one point. I don’t think Heather is doing this for her blog readers. She is doing this for herself. She can’t quietly love and simply pray for her daughter and seek to interact with her as a fellow human being. She has some inner need/desire to tell ‘her world’ what her daughter chose. Heather needs to ask herself if this is how Jesus would interact with her daughter? Is this how Heather would want to be treated if she were walking away from her husband? I don’t see any respect or love being shown to E with these actions.

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  13. JA, I have to disagree with you on one point. I don’t think Heather is doing this for her blog readers. She is doing this for herself.

    Thank you, Bridget – – I agree with you and didn’t complete my thought. In the blog, she says she felt the need to be transparent with her readers:

    And yet, a large portion of my living is made writing; so, pushing this to the side while trying to write around it is both impossible and illogical, not to mention a lie to those of you who have followed our family for years and have come to expect a level of transparency and honesty.

    If you look beyond that, you see a bunch of “I” pronouns all reflecting back to Heather.

    An alternate way to be honest, yet still give privacy and respect would be to say something like: Our eldest daughter moved out of our home last week. Although the circumstances weren’t what we had hoped for, we know that she is in God’s hands. Please pray for our precious daughter and family as we adjust to this new transition.

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  14. It has to be hard for homeschooling parents. You pour all of your time and energy into raising your kids with the expectation that they’ll fall in line with your worldview, but then they don’t. You tell yourself, “Well, it’s just a phase. They’ll come around.” But often times, that doesn’t happen either.

    As a 35-year-old agnostic and son of parents who homeschooled and did everything “right,” I have to say that my heart goes out to them. They’re in their 60’s now and none of us kids even attend church. When I talk to them, they often bring up heaven and how they can’t wait to get there, since their hopes for this world (that their children would follow the Lord) have all collapsed.

    I can’t imagine any of my sister or I returning — the damage was too great the first time around, and frankly, we’re all doing just fine without it. Two of my sisters are happily married to other non-believers. One has been living with a much older man for almost 10 years, and they seem happy. And I’m happily divorced and very pleased with the bachelor life. I’d love it if they could just be happy that they raised 4 ethical, hard-working, decent people. But that’s on them, not me.

    I have news for Heather Sanders… there is a good chance that “E” will not be the last of her children to walk away from Christianity. She’d do herself some good by accepting that her kids are individuals who will make their own decisions, and that if she wants to have relationships with them, she’d help herself by accepting them no matter where they’re at in life.

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  15. Guys, I hope this does not come across judgemental toward the mother but something popped out at me in the exchange (I agree that blogging about his w/out daughter approval is devaluing to her) from the mother:

    “We do not share the same world view or interpretation of God’s Word, which means we will not likely agree, in general, on parenting/life choices. I do want to clarify that we do not put any conditions on our love for E or our other children. She knows, and they know–and all three would tell you–that we love them unconditionally.”

    I just CRINGE when I see this “worldview” stuff. For crying out loud. She cannot even see that right there means she does NOT love unconditionally. The world view stuff makes NO SENSE to me. What? She views the world through an ancient pagan backdrop? A first century context? People are not thinking this world view stuff through. It is a cliche used to make people need some guru to interpret scripture for them so they know how to look at the world. It is maddening to me! It takes the whole idea of value of self, Image bearers and puts it on some pagan altar of worldview.

    Perhaps the problem is she was so busy seeing out of her worldview filter she was taught she did not bother to see her daughter had a different “worldview”.

    And I don’t konw the details of the situation but I am becoming more and more convinced that our daughters (especially who are in church) need to know of their personal value outside any “worldview” or the ridiculous way scripture is interpreted to put women in some box. (The more I go deep with the historical context, more I see Mary M as a serious iconoclast/rebel of her time. That woman had serious nerve. And who would not want a daughter like that? I would be so proud)

    We are not raising mini me’s. Cindy shared some Love and Logic parenting stuff with me and I have to tell you the premise they use is unbeleveable. It is about teaching your children to THINK. And by living out the consequences of their choices and thinking (hopefully starting young) they learn how to think and make wiser decisions/choices. But it is harder to do than shoving a worldview down their throats and focusing on compliance through manipulation or reward system. Wemust be about raising responsible citizens no matter their “worldview”.

    Years ago I asked my mom what she would have done if one of us came home one day and announced we were gay. She thought for a time and finally said, I think I would have loved you more. You would need it.

    I so miss her wisdom.

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  16. Matt,

    I see you are a first-time poster. Welcome! Thanks for sharing your experience. I think one of the biggest lies perpetuated by the homeschool community is that if you raise children the right way, they will be warriors for Christ. Most Christian parents want their children to follow their lead spiritually. Parents want to see their kids in heaven. That all makes sense. But scripture tells us that not everyone will be Believers. So much of the homeschooling culture is about parents controlling their kids: keeping them from evil, from government schools, controlling what they watch on tv, what they listen to, even what they wear. The one thing they cannot control is their children’s heart as far as spiritual matters go. I think a lot of homeschooling parents are in for a rude awakening.

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  17. JA –

    The entire situation is heartbreaking. I have empathy for what Heather is feeling and can relate to the difficulty and wrenching in her family. I know these feelings all too well. But something really is wrong, relationally between parent and child, when a woman appears to feel more loyalty to her readers than to her daughter. She is treating her readers more intimately than she is treating her own daughter. There is something driving these actions. I harp on this simply because I see it over and over again in Christian parents. I saw it in myself until I stopped thinking in a hierarchical way. Parents do not own their children. We cannot demand Christianity from our children. God offers a gift to humanity – to claim or not to claim. What good is it if children only honor their parents out of fear and intimidation, instead of mutual love and respect?

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  18. The Bible says ‘LEAVE…and cleave.” A grown child, a grown daughter has the right to move out of her parents home period. Biblically she does remain under her father’s ‘protection’ i.e. if something happened, her parents are responsible to help her out. (This is a grey area, but my understanding is if she loses her job they should support her until she finds another, or becomes ill, they should care for her until she is well.) Basically until a husband enters the picture. Unless born again this behaviour should never come as a surprise or a sign of failure of Christian parents. We sin because we are sinners, not sinners because we sin.

    Parents should never force, suggest or bring her back home, for that will undo the independence previously nurtured, and cause regression mentally. 🙂

    How do we expect maturity to form and individuals to find themselves as their own person separate from their parents/siblings unless they venture out on their own? I was accused of rebellion many times just because I had a different idea of life and the way to live it than my parents. (Still do.) I carry many scars to this day from the accusations of my mother especially, and our relationship is not where I would desire it to be. I am STILL viewed as a rebellious child, and I am 34, married 10 years with 5 children of my own! I was home schooled, but I wanted more than to remain on my parents property as I grew. I wanted to be out enjoying life and the adventures it offered. This terrified my parents because the world is ‘bad’ and they thought they needed to protect me from the danger out there. God in His infinite wisdom carried me through, and although I rejected what I was taught for years, He caused me to be reborn, and now my life is lived for Christ alone.

    This writer, Heather, needs to let go and let God. She needs to pray, be silent, and love and support her daughter. More pain is coming if she doesn’t learn. They will either learn this, or tighten their chains on other kids which will result in far worse.

    Let’s pray for wisdom for all parents.

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  19. She is treating her readers more intimately than she is treating her own daughter.

    Yes!! this!!! And the ownership. That is exactly what we were doing to Hannah. When she left home at (cough, cough) the age of 21, she was ruining MY plans for her. I thought Hannah was on board with those plans. She never said otherwise, but how could she? That’s right, because it wouldn’t have mattered. It took something drastic like her moving out to wake me up. Parents, learn from my mistake! Please. This system is messed up. We were taught that we own our kids. We don’t.

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  20. I am gaining a teenage “bonus” son this week through my marriage. I cannot fathom the pain that any parent goes through when a much loved child rebels. All I can do is share my own experiences, however limited they are. My bonus son went through a challenging period this year with his authority figures. His dad and I were hurt by his actions and his choices. We took a week to work through our emotions and pray and seek counsel before responding to bonus son. We came to the conclusion that bonus son needed even more love than he has ever experienced in his life, not less. Choosing this path is not easy either – we have to put aside our pain for what is best for bonus son and meet his needs first. And it works. Bonus son came to us recently and told us that he couldn’t hold out against our love and apologized. The other thing is that we would never publicly shame him. He is an incredible kid and I love him with all of my heart. That love means that I give him the respect he deserves, especially in all public forums. One of the rules among all of the adults in his life is that no embarrassing stories, pictures or anecdotes may be shared about him in any public medium. We love bonus son simply because he exists.

    Our wedding is on Thursday and bonus son has shocked his dad and me with a very special wedding gift. I can’t believe that God has gifted me with the chance to participate in this incredible young man’s life. I am blessed. If you think about it, please keep my family in your prayers in the coming days. I am in the middle of a vicious arthritis attack that makes it a little harder to participate in these special days.

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  21. “And yet, a large portion of my living is made writing; so, pushing this to the side while trying to write around it is both impossible and illogical, not to mention a lie to those of you who have followed our family for years and have come to expect a level of transparency and honesty.” Heather

    Writing is the most important thing to Heather. This is how she makes a living.

    The black/white thinking is all too apparent.

    There were other options. She just doesn’t or won’t see them.

    She has to do it because of her readers expectations . . .

    Quite a list of supposedly good and justifiable reasons to not show love to your daughter.

    It’s only logical to do this because the starting point wasn’t love for her daughter. The starting point for Heather’s logic was a need to write and to meet her readers’ expectations (her words). The lying comment is a straw man. She had no obligation to share everything about her family life. That is a choice! It would not be lying to make a comment as JA suggested earlier.

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  22. Such a tangled situation. On the one hand, I can tell from her writing that the mother is heartbroken, distraught and confused. I think that on some level, she is genuinely terrified about what might happen to her little girl “out there”. And, while her daughter’s boyfriend might not be as bad as he’s painted in the blog posting, I think there’s plenty of risk to worry about. A 17-year-old girl with a 21-year-old man? Hmm… not certain disaster, but still cause for concern.

    At the same time, throughout her post, Heather never seems to consider that something might be wrong with the situation at home. Any problems are all on her daughter’s side — but the parents have sought to do everything by “biblical” guidelines, so they can’t be at fault. Combined with some of the language in her post (“protect her from herself”, “unwilling to align”), I suspect that there’s a highly controlling environment in that home. I don’t know enough of the Sanders’ household to say for sure, of course, but I do wonder.

    I hope that they come back together, the way you and Hannah did, Julie Anne. I hope that E doesn’t get hurt by this older guy. And I hope her mother starts to re-examine how she’s treating their children — and whether she might be pushing them away.

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  23. Thanks for keeping us all posted, Mandy! I’m so glad that things are working out with your “bonus son”, and that he surprised you so wonderfully. I will keep you in my prayers. Have an awesome wedding!

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  24. Rae –

    Great comment! Only thing I would say is it’s not a father’s ‘responsibility’ to help their child in need, it is what a mother or father does as an act of love, if they are able and if the child isn’t taking advantage (because it does happen). Every circumstance is unique.

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  25. Hi Julie Anne,

    Thanks for the welcome! I’ve appreciated your blog for quite a while but never felt compelled to post until I read this.

    Something that became clear to me over the past few years is that us Second Generation Adults (SGAs) have an entirely different perspective on Christianity than our parents did. My parents came of age during the 60’s and 70’s in non-religious households. I know that both of them had alcoholic fathers and craved stability and love. They found that in Jesus through Campus Crusade for Christ in the early 70’s and never looked back. They learned to associate Christianity with love, support, and assurance of eternal life… how could their kids not want the same thing?

    By the time I came around, they knew for sure that they were going to do things differently than their parents… they were going to “Train us up in the way we should go” (Prov. 22:6). So whenever I didn’t measure up to the standards of their faith, I was “corrected” (i.e. – spanked). After enough years of being chastised and corrected, I began to view Christianity as a 2×4 to the back of the head (or backside) rather than as a source of peace and assurance.

    I held onto my faith until I was 32 — I was the last holdout. My sisters all left in their late teens. It was more something that I felt obligated to do since the Bible and Christ’s ressurection was so obviously true. It was always a source of guilt, anxiety, and unnease for me, but I thought it was the right thing to do.

    After a divorce and bankruptcy, I started to question why prayers were never answered and nothing in my life was working out. So I started reading books by non-Christian authors. Among other things, I read how Mark was the first gospel, written about 35 years after Christ was crucified, and how the last 11 verses were forged in at a later date; I read about how there was zero archaelological evidence that the Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years; I read how evolution was more than just a theory; and I read about how what most of what I believed to be true came together through a guy named “Eusebius.” The propaganda and outright lies I’d been told in church and by religious leaders became crystal clear.

    Since I didn’t get any peace or joy from my faith, and since the evidence wasn’t credible, it was really easy to let it all go. Today, I understand true peace.

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  26. I am the Charlie that asked her to remove the blog about her daughter, of course she has no intentions of removing it, in the fundie world , her daughter moving out has to be earth shattering, throwing their whole belief system into chaos, well I hope it did. Now maybe they will realize their kids have thoughts and dreams also, and I look at her daughter and wonder if theres some anorexia going on.

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  27. I maintain a personal blog for any family or friends who live far away to keep up with what we’re doing. If one of my kids left home for a reason that we were not happy with, I would not divulge too much information. I might put it in a more tactful way, or I might not even mention it at all. It might have been better for the information to stay in the family and just mention that there is a difficult family issue happening. And that’s just to my family and friends, I can’t even imagine giving out such personal information about one of my kids to all of the readers on The Pioneer Woman’s blog.

    We recently had an issue with our son that resulted in a long grounding. I was telling a friend that he had done something that surprised us because it was out of his character. When she asked what he had done, I told her that I did not want to break his confidence in us because he had asked us to not even share with his sister that he was grounded.

    I think for someone who makes their living at writing about what affects their family (in this case faith and homeschooling), it can be difficult to know where to draw the line about sharing too much information. I believe that this writer went too far over the line. The result will be that she has done more damage to the already fragile relationship with her daughter and restoration will be even tougher.

    And now I’m rambling, but I have lots of thoughts in my head, so I’ll end with this – – when my kids were young, the greatest fear that I had was that they would leave the faith. By the time my oldest hit middle school, we on our way out of church (but not God). It was then that I was able to let go of that fear and realize that their faith is not something I can control. Their faith is between them and God alone. So now I remind them, and I pray, that they will remember the two most important things: 1) love God, and 2) love people. Where they will be down the road of life, I do not know and have no control over. What I can control is the fact that I will love them and care for them through life.

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  28. “I am the Charlie that asked her to remove the blog about her daughter, of course she has no intentions of removing it, in the fundie world , her daughter moving out has to be earth shattering, throwing their whole belief system into chaos, well I hope it did. Now maybe they will realize their kids have thoughts and dreams also, and I look at her daughter and wonder if theres some anorexia going on.”

    Or possibly food was withheld as punishment…

    (Julie Anne, can you delete my previous comment? Thanks.)

    JA note: Sure, got it!

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  29. When my mother complained about my independent spirit, I told her: “You got the daughter you raised. Deal with it!”

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  30. This comment could be the worst advice ever:

    “Thinking about this all day…fight for her, she is not 18 yet. Her brain isn’t even fully formed yet. Call the cops and have them haul her back home. Years from now, she will see that you did whatever it took to get her away from this mistake.

    The reason I know it’s a mistake is because if this guy had any principles, it never would have gotten this far. He would have respected E enough to tell her that moving in together at 17 and 21 isn’t in her best interest. She will be furious if you call the cops-and Mr. Prophet will run for the hills at least until she’s legal. Life in your house is going to be hell on earth, let her hate you for a while.

    Accepting this on any level isn’t doing her any good.”

    Because in 6 or 8 months or however long, “E” will definitely “come around” after being dragged home by the cops! I’m not convinced that this young lady isn’t better off with her boyfriend than with her dramatic, overbearing mom.

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  31. Matt – Thanks for sharing more of your story. My husband and I came from abusive backgrounds and we thought that the homeschool environment sounded more safe and healthy. We both wanted what we didn’t have and it looks like other parents similar to us did the same thing. Notice we went to an ideology for safety/security, rather than God. Our intentions were right, but it backfired.

    I completely understand why you would not want to have anything to do with God. I understand why my daughter doesn’t. What’s interesting with my daughter is that she had lots of friends when she was “walking with the Lord.” As soon as she abandoned her faith, most of her “Christian” friends abandoned her.

    I don’t want to have anything to do with that kind of Christianity.

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  32. Julie Anne — What you describe is why I am not too hard on my parents. I appreciate their sacrifices and that they did what they thought was right. No parent who started homeschooling back in the 80’s or early-90’s could have predicted the kind of backlash and animosity they’re getting from their kids today.

    It’s sad all around.

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  33. “This terrified my parents because the world is ‘bad’ and they thought they needed to protect me from the danger out there. ”

    We have discovered the church has many dangers behind the stage. Nothing worse than evil done in the Name of Jesus.

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  34. I feel heartbroken after reading this post. My heart cries out to God “When will we learn how to love one another?”

    I was uber conservative and an isolationist for many years as a homeschooler. My 18 year old son and I talk often of the damage it caused him.
    We were in a spiritually abusive church for years. We talk often of how that damaged him.
    But the worst wolf we had in our life was his Dad- an covert abuser ( see Dr. George Simon for a definition) a sociopath, a narcissist, a con-man pretend believer. I have only just come to see who he is in the last 2 years. I have been divorced for 1.5. My son and I talk a lot about how being raised by his Dad damaged him.

    I have been humbled the hard way. I made every mistake in the book as a mom. But I finally came to see that I had no idea how to parent my son through these tragedies.

    So I shut up and I listened to him. Shutting up was really hard because I really wanted to fix him so he’d turn out “right.” “Right” meant he’d not have to suffer. And he’d follow God. Then I looked at my life and realized I did everything “right” to protect him and he has suffered more than almost every friend he has. There was something really really wrong with my perceptions.

    What strikes me about this post is that I don’t comprehend a parent putting a 17 year old under the pressure of “obedience” and guidelines.” That shows no respect for that 17 year old. A 7year old, yes, but at 17????? I have no obedience or guidelines with my 18 year old son.
    I have a relationship.
    We stay up until 1 am taking often. I listen as he talks about how can he trust a God who will allow so much suffering to a 18 year old? And I listen when he opens John 11 and reads about Jesus and Mary to me and says “Look how much Jesus loves us- He wept with Mary even when He knew He was about to raise Lazarus- He didn’t give her Christian platitudes, He just was with her in her pain and listened to her.” I listen to him say that and I hear the cry of his heart- JUST LISTEN TO ME, and trust God to work in my life.

    We are trying to put our lives back together again. We have had to get rid of the fakey God, and one who resembles wax fruit, and find the REAL God, the God of grace who pull up His sleeves and actually changes things. The One who listens. I have had to rely on Him for my strength every morning noon and night. My son has watched and seen His faithfulness and is counting on that same God to bring him through all his pain too…on the days he doesn’t hate Him. And on those days I say what I once never thought I would say or believe, “It’s okay to hate God, He understands.”

    It’s really messy and it’s really real and we have had to get rid of all our boxes and formulas and roles and guidelines and just live with each other as we are. God did a miracle in my heart and I stopped judging my son and being scared of him rebelling, and I just started to listen to him and stop giving advice. And stopped trying to control him. And stopped being disappointed that he was different than me.

    I had my son read this post. He caught the same thing I did- why rules for a 17 year old. Rules won’t protect someone from a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but a safe relationship with parents might- a safe place where they can talk about anything and not be judged or punished. A safe place where red flags can be discussed, where a parent doesn’t think that a child must be protected from THEMSELVES—what kind of thinking is that?
    To make them their own enemy?
    This alone can set up a girl to be vulnerable to a guy just coming along and conning them-
    I volunteer with a ministry to sex-trafficked girls and they say 100% that what drew them in was flattery, being listened to, and acceptance. He charms her and tells her everything she longed to hear from her parents. But were the parents too rule oriented to hear the cry of her heart- LISTEN AND ACCEPT ME as I try to figure out my life and who I am and please please please really TRUST GOD WITH ME.

    “E chose to leave home rather than obey.” My heart breaks for this mom (who I used to be) and her worldview that sees things from this perspective, it breaks especially for the daughter who knows that she can never be heard for who she is with this type of parenting.

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  35. Naturally, I am praying safety over her, but at the same time, asking that she find no happiness or peace in her current path, which can only lead to despair.

    I also have a problem with this above statement from Heather. What Heather is really saying is that she hopes that she goes through whatever it takes to bring her back to Christ. But it seems manipulative to me.

    Some parents take this to an extreme and shun. So, how does this work? The kid misses his parents and puts on like they are Christian so they can meet their parents’ approval? Or they give up and say “no way” and write their parents and family off because they know they will never be accepted as they are. This stuff is messed up. I’ve communicated with Second Generation Adults who are currently living in both of these scenarios. I do not call this Christian love. It seems more like manipulation and coercion.

    Oh, and I would never, ever wish unhappiness on my child whether they were rebellious or not.

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  36. I’m sorry this is a bit off topic for this particular thread, but about a week ago, on another thread, the conversation veered into how, even if you have attended and participated in the same church for years, people still do not make a real effort to include you, get to know you, or to check up on you if you skip several services in a row.

    This reminded me of that. The lady who wrote it starts out repeatedly saying that despite the fact she was very involved at the church, she felt ignored or left out. She also talks about other people there who had the same experience.

    We Love Mars Hill Blog – Joanna Roddy

    This same young woman [a friend of Joanna’s at Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill church] served faithfully in the children’s ministry and was a professional photographer who took the Driscoll’s family photos for free.

    When her father died tragically and unexpectedly, she suddenly stopped attending church. No one noticed. She was on the children’s ministry schedule, but no one called her. Later that year she was diagnosed with a serious condition.

    She came back to church once, and worked up the courage to speak with Mark about her disappointment that no one had cared for her in her need, which felt very personal considering her generosities toward Mark and his family.

    He apologized and promised to come to the hospital to pray for her when she was going into surgery.

    When the day came, a pastor she had never met came to the hospital and said he had been sent by Mark to pray for her.

    The procedure was extremely private and personal for her, and the incident felt like salt in a wound. Mark never contacted her again. It took 10 years before she attended another church.

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  37. Julie Anne said,

    Oh, and I would never, ever wish unhappiness on my child whether they were rebellious or not.

    I’ve listened to preacher Charles Stanley a lot over the years. He is a Baptist preacher who has a weekly TV series.

    It always sits a little wrong with me that his philosophy for people who write to him for advice, folks who are having issues with a difficult family member (eg, an adult child who is in a gang or on drugs), is that the letter writer should pray and ask God to afflict that person so horribly that his or her life gets so terrible that he/she will turn to God.

    I do understand that a lot of 12 step programs for drug addicts and the like will tell you that sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom before a person chooses to get better.

    I also know there is a Bible passage where Paul tells Christians to toss out the constantly sinning dude so that Satan may have his way with him, yada yada, so maybe there is a time or a place for this type of thinking, but sometimes when I hear this advice from preachers, it sounds a little cold or malicious.

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  38. “My son has watched and seen His faithfulness and is counting on that same God to bring him through all his pain too…on the days he doesn’t hate Him. And on those days I say what I once never thought I would say or believe, “It’s okay to hate God, He understands.”

    Hisbeloved,
    There is a book called May I hate God. I read it years ago, but it helped me recapture some of my faith. You sound like a wonderful mom, will say a prayer for your son today.

    May I Hate God? Paperback
    by Pierre Wolff (Author)

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  39. I once had a letter to the editor published which had a reference, a neutral one, to my daughter. She was infuriated. She was in high school and was afraid her peers would tease her about it. I’m with those who say: take down the blog post.

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  40. Hi! I’m “mom of a few” who started the exchange with Heather about how her actions were just widening the rift between her and her daughter. I know a little about rebellious kids…I birthed three rebels who would contradict anything and everything “just because”. If I had done what Heather has done, i would never, ever have the relationship with my kids that I have now. One left home at 17, did her thing, got into some serious legal trouble and then in her late 20’s decided to get her act straight. The other two…one was going down a road that was going to lead to trouble and chose to enlist in the Army. 5 years later, he was medically discharged, found a fabulous job and is finishing college. The last one…in and out of juvenile detention, ended up in foster care because he was “beyond parental control” and a real handful besides. He is now married, learned a trade and is the proud daddy of a gorgeous little boy. If I had acted like Heather, my children would have rightfully turned away from me.

    I was insulted at her lack of humility and her arrogance in assuming that she knew what she was doing when myself and other commenters tried to tell her that SHE was in the wrong and her child’s rebellion had a lot to do with her (as my children’s rebellion had a lot to do with me). I was attempting, in the spirit of Titus 2, to teach her a different way…she refused. Oh well…I hope E has a wonderful life and finds what she is looking for.

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  41. I also know there is a Bible passage where Paul tells Christians to toss out the constantly sinning dude so that Satan may have his way with him, yada yada, so maybe there is a time or a place for this type of thinking, but sometimes when I hear this advice from preachers, it sounds a little cold or malicious.

    Some parents assume that when they throw their “rebellious” kid out of the home, that life will get really bad… so bad that they’ll repent and come home like a true prodigal.

    The trouble is, life doesn’t always play out this way. Many kids flourish once they get away from their rigid, oppressive upbringings. I know that once I hit 18, come hell or high water, there was no way I’d live with my parents again.

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  42. Welcome, Experienced Mom. Your comments to her were spot on. I was sad to see the exchange, especially when she shut you down ungraciously. It’s very likely that she is getting hits on her blog from the link posted here. There is a lot of wisdom reflected in the comments. I hope (and pray) that Heather will read these comments and take them to heart from moms who have been there and truly do care.

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  43. missdaisyflower,

    I hate this suffering stuff, too. I ended up all caught up in submission teaching — partly because it seemed to offer some kind of workable explanation for pain and difficulty. I was in a complementarian church, and women were kept under wraps by this stuff and were asked to submit to sin. I am reminded by your name of what I heard quite often when I there: “Bloom where you’re planted.” I hung on to this phrase like it was gospel for a long time until it struck me: Some plants cannot live under certain conditions. What happens when you plant an impatiens in the sun or an acid loving plant in alkaline soil? If they survive, they don’t bloom.

    Gothard puts that extra spin on things that you get spiritual power from suffering, so that idea doesn’t help these parents who are into these teachings and messed up subcultures.

    Instead of the idea that “God will get ya” for leaving the safety of the “umbrella of protection,” God will get you because of sin in this example.

    Paul talked about the Gentlies “provoking [the Jews] to jealousy.” If your enemy is hungry, you’re supposed to feed him to “heap burning coals on his head.” Why not pray that those who have wandered away (if they even have) would not “see good works and glorify God” instead of willing their demise.

    Is a family called to turn a child away like the church is called to confront a sinner?

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  44. I think Heather would be shocked to see how commenters here have responded to her situation. But, I hope in time she will see the wisdom in their words. First, publishing her daughter’s situation, name, and picture is shaming and selfish. Heather abuses her privilege as a blogger, because her daughter does not have any venue to respond or express her point of view. Shaming your child only alienates them more. If Heather’s wish comes true (that E is miserable or broke and comes home), then E will only remain home long enough to get the resources to leave again. Heather shows no insight into her own blind spots and takes no responsibility for poor choices she and her husband may have made to contribute to E’s situation. It’s like E has ruined things for everyone, mom, dad, siblings, but Heather is oblivious to E’s pain.

    In Heather’s family (like many homeschoolers), daughters have limited roles and independent thought is not valued. They aren’t given many opportunities to make personal choices that don’t conform to mom and dad. They are expected to be a role model for their siblings. I believe Heather sounds like she is more embarrassed about her own reputation being compromised, rather than any compassion for her child. I hurt for E and her apparent poor choices. However, if a 17 year has not been given the opportunity to make smaller decisions (with the successes and failures that come with decision making) throughout childhood, she is open to make very serious mistakes as she gets older. I know I sound harsh, but until Heather is able to “die to self” and listen to her daughter, their relationship will be difficult.

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  45. One of the things I have picked up is just trying to accept my kids for who they are. Sometimes that is really hard… Especially when I see a huge character flaw (like laziness, but maybe some would say that’s not “huge.”). So, I’ve changed my approach. Just love on them. BIte my tongue. Try not to show frustration in my voice or looks (still working on that!). Pray that if it is a real problem and not just my perception, that God would reveal it to the child in a way that they can overcome the problem. I try to listen to them when they express their feelings without judging them or saying their feelings are wrong. (And yes, it is okay to be mad at Mom & Dad & God and anyone else. I figure God can handle it when we’re mad at Him.)

    I also don’t try to impose what *I* want for my kids on them. I ask them what they want to be, what they want to do. Hubby does have expectations for them to go to college, but I have talked to him about this and said, “Maybe that’s not their path. We need to be open to the fact that they may pursue other things.” He has backed off that pressure some. (My kids are 14 and 10 year old twins.)

    I think of the prodigal son. The father didn’t say anything to the son. He just gave the son his share of the inheritance. When the son came back, he loved him. I also see (in myself) the son who stayed behind. I see his jealousy and pride. And that’s what I see in this mom’s blog article. She is being prideful.

    That verse in Proverbs (Train a child up in the way he should go…) is not a promise. It is not a guarantee. There are no guarantees. All we can do is pray and trust God for the outcome.

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  46. Our wedding is on Thursday and bonus son has shocked his dad and me with a very special wedding gift. I can’t believe that God has gifted me with the chance to participate in this incredible young man’s life. I am blessed. If you think about it, please keep my family in your prayers in the coming days.

    Mandy, I am so excited for you. You feel like SSB family to me. We’ve seen as you shared the challenges of being a single Christian, the health challenges you’ve faced and now you have found a man who loves you and wants you to be his wife. Woo-hoo! 🙂

    Best wishes on a wonderful wedding and future together!

    many hugs!
    ja

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  47. “I have no obedience or guidelines with my 18 year old son.
    I have a relationship.”

    hisbeloved, That says it all.

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  48. My other thought is, I’ve noticed a huge shift in my oldest between being 13 and 14. She went from being a girl who wanted to stay and home and do college online, to a young lady researching how much apartment rent costs, how much college costs, what her options are for college, what kind of car she wants, where she wants to live, what she wants to do for a living, etc.

    Look, one of my 10 year olds ran away a couple of weeks ago – scariest.thing.ever. We found him, brought him home, did NOT punish him (mostly just trying to get him to talk to us and love him), and are getting counseling for him and with him. But, he’s 10. He can’t be out on his own – can’t get a job, drive, or any of that.

    But by 13 and 14, they are getting ideas and dreams and figuring things out for themselves. If you don’t let them pursue their dreams, you crush their spirit. And that is probably why “E” ran away. She was tired of being crushed.

    My oldest has asked to continue to be homeschooled. If she changes her mind, we will let her go to public school (or maybe a private school). The same with my boys when they reach 9th grade. If they want to go to public school, we will let them and support them in that decision and help them how ever they need help.

    You can’t control everything. Letting that go is very hard. But, it is good.

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  49. Raise them to make decisions. When they are 3, 4, and 5, and do something they shouldn’t, ask them what choices they made and what other choices they could have made, and let them spend some time in time out, until they can at least speak about why they chose what they did. It will equip them to make better decisions. And at 8, 9 and 10, involve them in planning things for the family to do, weighing various choices within the limits you have established. And by 13-15, if you work it well, they will be asking for your input and help in deciding things like which elective to take at school, what instrument to learn to play, or sport to go out for. The earlier you present them choices to make and the more often, the better they will become at making choices. We gave a choice between baseball and soccer, between karate and judo, etc. very early. Visited the places early, let them see what that was like, and then let them choose. And if they decided after a while to change the choice, sometimes one of the consequences was using some of their allowance money for some of the fees, since we had already paid the other one. It works!!

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  50. You know, my mom would consider her blog post “airing dirty laundry” which is private family business and just “not on”.

    When I was in high school, I started dating the life guard at the pool who was in college and was quite the long haired dope smoking hippie. So what does my mom do? Warn me? Nope. She invites him over and to bring his guitar. They had this great jam session and he adored her. Dating him did not look so rebellious after that, let me tell you. :o)

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  51. We have been in the homeschooling community for 22+ years. We have 4 adults that have ventured out into the world and are making lives of their own and four that are still at home. About 5 years ago the four oldest came to us to have a pow-wow about our parenting and the homeschooling community. This, brave, raw conversation was messy and painful for all of us and lasted most of the summer as we worked to understand how our parenting choices had affected our children. At times I was defensive and angry but the Lord broke through and gave my husband and I grace to listen and to listen with out shifting blame back to them. Our kids wanted to be heard. They wanted the dignity of personhood; to be valued as important in their perspective; to be able to say “you may have meant the best for us but in reality,this is what it did to us” They wanted us to understand life from their side. Up to that time they had been “compliant” and generally looked like things were going well for them but there was internal conflict that had been eating them up from the external standards that had been heaved upon them, by us and by others. They were dying on the inside. Some of the things we learned were; 1) Our parenting was fear based. Fear of their sin. Fear of what others thought. This caused us to micro-manage to try to control every action and every thought. So sad 😦 2)Acceptance in our community was mostly performance based, not motivated by love. There are some that have truly loved us BUT the general message is that the people that lived by and held up the standards were “in”, (although this was such and elusive acceptance because different folks had differing standards according to which teachings from the Botkins, Phillips, Swanson, Baucham… they had heard). There was no rest for our children, they had to be always performing . The elitist, superiority crowd looked down on the the ones who were not acting right. The importance of high moral standards was so loud, and the gospel was only ever barely heard. The message that they were continually letting down God and others when they didn’t make grade was a smothering burden 3) Isolation had made them afraid of the outside world in an abnormal way. There is normal respect for life like don’t touch a hot stove, then there is paranoia. Paranoia of feminists, homosexuals, movies, music… our narrow perspective had told them that we were doing life “right” and everyone else was doing it wrong, so be afraid of everyone that is different. (makes me cry as I write knowing that we hurt beautiful people just because we were afraid of them) God’s love is so much bigger than any of these petty religious judgements. 4) This last one is big for us and our children and has brought the most healing. THey ARE THEIR OWN PERSON. This may seem so obvious to many but really, it is a huge problem in the homeschooling community.
    They have the right, responsibility, freedom to think and process all information coming at them from parents and teachers and media…..the way they see fit. Even if it is different. Even if you think it is wrong. Even if it IS wrong. Parents are only here to help them get started on life’s journey like training wheels on a bike, then
    we are to lovingly, let them ride! Sure we can tell them what to look out for but ultimately it is their life, given to them by God. Let them live. Let them breathe. Let them grow. Walk beside them in humility. If they trust you, they will return to converse about life with you. If they do not trust you, they will find some one else to process life with. Respect their process of growth just like you would like to be respected. Here is my short answer to the original question. Don’t shun, intervene if there is real danger, or life is on the line or if you know that is what they are craving, show them the utmost respect as a human. Jesus said he would never leave us or forsake us. Draw on that. He also said that NOTHING could separate us from his LOVE. Draw on that too.
    Thanks for listening. I hope I didn’t write too much.

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  52. Laurel,

    Anytime you want to share something here, you’ve got the floor. That was a very helpful personal comment coming from a place of humility by a parent with experience who cares.

    What a gift your oldest four kids gave you …….and now us. Wow!! Thank you!

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  53. “We were taught that we own our kids. We don’t.”

    I remember the fear of being newly pregnant and understanding the risk of losing a baby in the first trimester; so we didn’t tell anyone we were pregnant until I was 13wks. Since I have a medical background, I tempered my joy of passing this milestone. I knew there was no “sure thing” as some moms leave the hospital empty-handed. I didn’t celebrate until our 8lb bundle was home.

    Then, when my son was 3mos old, I read a story on CaringBridge of another baby boy – same age as my son. Cancer. Baby Grant was his name. He died less than a year old. I wept as I read the father’s diary entries. I stood at the foot of my son’s bed that night and sobbed. I told God I understood: “Jonah is not mine; He is Yours. You can take him according to Your plan, in Your timing – whatever that looks like. Oh, but please, PLEASE…not like that.”

    Fast forward to October 2013. Jonah is 4yrs old. A bright, affectionate, imaginative child. We get the news: your son has kidney cancer. My mind instantly springs back to that summer night years ago, reading about that other baby boy the same age as Jonah…oh. no. Our children are not our own.

    Abraham comes to mind. Letting go of things that mean the most to us is part of the hard work of grieving. We cannot control other people – their choices and emotions; we can barely control ourselves or what happens to us. Navigating life with our eyes wide open to the Truth of our reality…this calls for maturity and wisdom. May God grant each of us grace and peace along the journey.

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  54. Laurel, thank you for what you shared. If you don’t mind, could you share more about your current relationship with your children and if they have been able to overcome the problems created by homeschooling/ fear based parenting?

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  55. Charis, I’m so sad for you. Six years ago our only son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. By God’s grace he is still here with us, and is doing well. My biggest lesson has been that our children belong to Him, and it is foolish for me to think that I can control what only God can control. Praying right now for you and your son.

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  56. Laurel, if you would like to share more of your story, I’d love to incorporate it into a post using your other comment. It is just too good and your story is exactly what so many parents may find helpful. I’d be honored to share it. Feel free to e-mail me: spiritualsb@gmail.com ~Julie Anne

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  57. The mother needs counseling. The family needs counseling. The daughter needs to be heard and understood and given counseling from that point. She wont return as long as she feels not heard, not understood or embraced. The parent that can hear their childs separate feelings about anything, that parent is preparing room and space for their child to come to them for love, counsel and mentoring through hard times.
    Blessed indeed is the child, whose parents took time daily from their infancy to teens up, to stop and notice them, to experience them or to realize them. Realizing our children is a gift we bestow on them. It happens when we stop, look, listen and realize: “My child is having their own experience about this here” and so the parent can tune in and hear the child and love that child where ever that child is at.

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  58. My heart breaks for parents who lose children, however it happens, and the ongoing threat of illness is particularly heartbreaking. My prayers are with you. And we need to treat those precious gifts from God as an entrustment of His children to us and manage them with love.

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  59. Charis, how is Jonah doing currently? I am aching for you all for the burdens you are bearing.
    Wakingup, I am going to ask my family if this is something they would like me to share in more detail. In general there has been much healing, and yes they are overcoming but there are wounds and triggers and small steps forward and fears to overcome. Relational healing began early on toward the end of that summer, developmental changes are continuing. I must say that two books that shed a lot of light for me were Safe People by Henry Cloud and The Mom Factor by Cloud and Townsend.

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  60. Thank you, Laurel, for checking. If any of them would like to share their personal stories, that would be great, too. I realize this is very personal and can feel very vulnerable. Pseudonyms work great here. I think your story resonates with many and can give hope. Your initial comment did just that. ~ja

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  61. WakingUp & Laurel~
    Thank you for your kindness. Jonah is doing well. We finished chemo about 6wks ago and are in the process of watching his body rebuild and recover. He is working hard to regain losses sustained from peripheral neuropathy: balance and mobility. Already, his gait is much improved as is his stamina. Although he has since lost most of his hair, it is starting now to grow back…all soft baby fuzz.

    Other emotional pieces are dealt with as they come. For someone so young, it can be difficult to understand what is related to chemo/cancer and what is standard 5yr old behavior. In the end it doesn’t really matter where the emotions come from – what matters is that he feels loved, heard, and supported and we try to do that as best we can on his level. He has processed so much so beautifully. Jesus has walked with him faithfully these past 8mos.

    “This, brave, raw conversation was messy and painful for all of us and lasted most of the summer as we worked to understand how our parenting choices had affected our children. At times I was defensive and angry but the Lord broke through and gave my husband and I grace to listen and to listen with out shifting blame back to them. Our kids wanted to be heard. They wanted the dignity of personhood; to be valued as important in their perspective; to be able to say “you may have meant the best for us but in reality,this is what it did to us” They wanted us to understand life from their side.”

    Laurel, like so many others here, your post touched me personally. My parents were pioneers in homeschooling in the mid 80’s when homeschooling was “illegal” in Ohio. It has been a recent journey of mine, similar to what you describe with your children, to understand how choices and parenting from my family have impacted who I am today.

    I applaud your children, their bravery and courage to speak the truth in love. I have only just begun to explore such conversation with my mother even as recently as this past weekend. It did not go well. I didn’t expect it to. I am also in the beginning stages of leaving an abusive/manipulative marriage so she is having trouble processing that; hurt, disappointment, confusion. In all likelihood, now is probably not the best time to broach “family of origin” issues of a confusing/confrontational nature – like how the undercurrents of the Christian pioneering homeschooling movement possibly contributed to my own mental fog and confusion of abuse & manipulation within my marriage.

    I also applaud your willingness to work through the conversation and issues. That took humility…and true love. I realize this is a personal journey for each of us. Some will take the journey and end up in a different place: denial and stagnation; stubbornness. Others will allow the Spirit of Truth to gently speak to them and lead in a direction that allows for healing/mending of relationships: growth, light and life.

    There is a therapeutic phrase that says, “We did the best we could with what we knew (available information) at the time.” This is true of all of us in most areas of life. We become active learners when we are able to look at our life authentically and allow for course corrections as needed. This is not condemnation. This is growth. Thank you for choosing growth; choosing life.

    Thank you for honoring your children as the adults they are. I pray I have the courage to follow their example…when the time is right and I pray my parents have ears to hear and hearts to receive in love, like yours.

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  62. Reading a mother’s “smear piece” on her own daughter where she disregards a young ladie’s privacy and reputation, brings me great sadness for this family. You wonder if the “rebellion” that caused this daughter to flee her parents household before reaching the age of majority was because of the very “guidelines that were in place to protector her from herself”. That phrase really struck me as incrediably arrogant and belittling of this young woman. Reminds me of all the courtship crap where we are repeatly told of young ladies not being capable of ” protecting their hearts” or finding their own husbands ( one each that is) , and thus the justification for what boils down to arranged marriages. Worse there is the effort to label this system as scriptural. No wonder a woman would want to flee before her parents make choices for her that will effect her entire life.

    I was incarcerated in a christian school for 4 very long years where these types of ideals where expoused and forcibly encouraged. I remember getting sent home from a youth retreat for “mixed bathing”. We basically snuck out and went swimming (with bathing suits not in our birthday suits) and you would have thought we had a orgy or something. Even though we had only 2 days left on this really lame retreat they shipped us back home early by way of a trailways bus. We violated the “guildlines” that were in place to protect us guys from being attacked by LUST . That still strikes me as incredibly stupid, they were upset we were in a pool with real live girls where we might see the shape of a breast or something , so they sent us home alone by way of 8 hours on a bus, unsupervised with breasts all around us.

    RULES without relationship leads to REBELLION.

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  63. I haven’t read all of the comments, and perhaps someone has already suggestions this: Perhaps the daughter should create a blog where she exposes all of the excesses, foibles, and faults of her parents.

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  64. Anonymous2,

    I admit that I thought the same thing. I hope she doesn’t because it would be so ugly.

    One thing that also shocked me was most of the commenters at H’s blog seemed to support her. Only a few suggested that what she was doing was wrong and to rethink this. If H has a bad relationship with her daughter now, when her daughter puts it together how disrespectful and degrading her mother’s actions were to her, she will be lucky to ever have a relationship with her. But what’s with all of those moms who are essentially backing H? There’s something very wrong here.

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  65. I believe it is the fixed, firm delusion that snippets of verses out of context causes. Every thought seems to be underlined by a Bible verse, and often, not even in the context in which it was written. Such a black/white way of thinking is what propels a parent to publicly shame her child. I hope that H does more loving, less preaching, and reconciliation can be obtained. I was very much like her when my own son left us for about four years. I am lucky that I figured out it was better to shut my mouth and open my heart. Today we are close.

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  66. Reminds me of all the courtship crap where we are repeatly told of young ladies not being capable of ” protecting their hearts” or finding their own husbands ( one each that is) , and thus the justification for what boils down to arranged marriages. . . . .

    No wonder a woman would want to flee before her parents make choices for her that will effect her entire life.

    I’m thinking back to my daughter, Hannah. I had been sold into the courtship stuff. It was everywhere, taught by speakers at homeschool conventions, whole websites addressing the topic, lots of books, etc. I bought some books with personal stories and Hannah read them. She would read courtship stories on websites. She seemed to enjoy the idea of it – or at least liked reading the stories.

    I’ve seen quite a few relationships labeled as “courtships,” and the way it plays out is different in every situation. One set of parents may have their ideas, but it may not be exactly what another thinks. Ie, some dads initiate all of the meeting process. Other times, the young adults do and then run it by their parents.

    I think after all that happened at BGBC with her, she wanted to make sure that our control “over” her didn’t get so bad that her father was going to be the one to decide who she marries. (BTW, what’s up with that idea to let dad decide? what about mom?)

    It completely makes sense why she was feeling like she was being controlled. She was. Some of it was coming from home and what we had been taught in homeschool circles, but now it was really getting hammered home by our pastor who even spanked his adult son for bad behavior.

    If Hannah hadn’t left home like she did, I don’t know if I would be where I am today in re-evaluating what we’ve been taught and instilling in our home.

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  67. “That still strikes me as incredibly stupid, they were upset we were in a pool with real live girls where we might see the shape of a breast or something , so they sent us home alone by way of 8 hours on a bus, unsupervised with breasts all around us. ”

    Scott, you owe me a monitor! That is hilarious: unsupervised with breasts all around us.

    Liked by 1 person

  68. I was very much like her when my own son left us for about four years. I am lucky that I figured out it was better to shut my mouth and open my heart. Today we are close.

    So glad to hear it, Sheila. And I think it’s also important to tell parents that it is never too late. I’ll never forget the apology my dad gave me the year he died. What an unexpected gift that was.

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  69. Charis
    Wow just thinking of everything on your plate. Grace, comfort, wisdom, strength,understanding and peace to you in Christ as you navigate the relationships in your life. You are worthy being treated with respect and honor, void of manipulation, or intimidation. The Lord is the Lifter of our heads. I can imagine his hand under your chin, lifting your head to where your eyes meet His.

    One sentence that is painfully telling in H’s comments, and maybe some one has brought this out already but it hit me and I have been thinking about it…

    “Honestly, it’s as though our daughter has lived a dual life for a couple of years now; one for us, and one for herself.”

    As a momma, I would want to go back and find where this split began. Where is the fork in the road? Why did this daughter need/want a dual life? What was broken that caused the split? Is a child to live for her parents? Or are parents to live for their children? Is our vision that our children live for us or our vision? Goodness, I hope not.
    I am not talking about raising self centered children I am talking about raising our children in a way that respectfully nurtures their hearts, bodies, and thoughts, and strengthens them in a way that they have a good foundation to work from and rest in. I am also not saying that moms/dads must be some kind of martyrs either. Healthy ( emotionally, relationally, spiritually, physically) parents will work to help each of their family members be healthy as well.

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  70. The responses here are insightful and helpful. I wondered why I had such a strong, negative response not just to the mother posting about her daughter but to the mother herself. I now realize that it was because of her prayer that E be made miserable so that she could come home since the mother believed that she was on a sinful path.

    Like the rest of you, I cannot imagine myself ever praying for my daughter to be made miserable. But there’s something else wrong here. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that E was doing something sinful. When we sin, nobody needs to pray for negative consequences; they come with the territory, right here on earth. That’s why God defined sin in the commandments, so we would avoid making ourselves and other people miserable. The mother here has it exactly backwards!

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  71. Amazing Grace – I’m not going to be approving your comment because this mom has taken her post down and is trying to reach out to her daughter in a more positive way. She understands where she was wrong. We don’t need to heap burning coals on her head. Thanks!

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  72. Should we in turn shun the mother? I think not. Parenting is difficult and at the time she may have felt she was doing the right thing. Who are we to turn and condemn her when she is obviously in pain.

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  73. This mom is where my husband and I are at wth our child. Reaching out for Godly advice and giving out the bible truths that help get us make it through our day. There are so many others in this same circumstance. With all the mean/bad and the good advice, please pray for us and our children and not judge lest you experience the same issues.
    You can’t negotiate God’s laws. What’s right must prevail but always leave the door open with forgiveness, grace and love. Definitely, all parents have made bad choices and bad responces and we need to ask forgiveness from our child and God for those as we expect our child to do the same.
    We must realize the enemy here, the devil. Who wants children to rebel, break up the parents, distroy the christian family, and make christians hate and tear apart other christians. Pray without ceasing…

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  74. I know it has been a couple of years now,but I am currently 17. I have made numerous mistakes and made my mother cry endless times. I have strict parents. I have no friends. And have done several things that I am greatly ashamed of. But,I sometes think that if they would’ve let me out more and trusted me I would’ve done the things I did. I wasn’t a bad child but I got so frustrated with all these rules and regulations. They treated me as if I had done the world wrong. So I thought, if they expect me to end up doing these things might as well. Yes I am still going and know nothing on parenting but one thing I do tell all strict parents is keep in mind your child has feelings and thoughts of their own. God gave us feelings,thoughts and hearts. Never forget we are still your children.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. Hey erandy.

    Thanks for sharing where you’re at.

    I’ve been where you are. I did some crazy stuff in my teens – twenties and surprisingly came out OK. I don’t know your parents but I can speak now as a parent of 3 kids.

    The thought of letting them go out into the world terrifies me.

    I get scared they will hurt themselves or be hurt.

    Often parents made strict choices to protect their kids.

    It’s hard to see this when you don’t have kids of your own.

    I appreciate your words. I will try to be mindful as my kids grow.

    “What is the appropriate response for Christian parents when our teenagers or adult children rebel? Do we intervene? Let them go? Do we shun?”

    wow.

    The only answer is to love. Be there. Let them know the wrong and the right. They will make their own decisions. Let them “own” the consequences.

    My better half lived with a girlfriend for two yrs in his twenties. His Christian family ‘tolerated’ it but let them know they thought it wasn’t right.

    They loved him through it.

    When that relationship ended he went home to live again. He loves his parents. They didn’t judge him.

    They treated the other siblings the same. Just being there as ‘gentle guides’ but without that ugly self righteous attitude.

    People need to make their own mistakes.

    It’s how God teaches us.

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  76. Hi erandy,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry that your parents haven’t treated you as an individual with unique thoughts, ideas, feelings. I, too, was on that track of trying to own my children, but it didn’t work well. I hope your parents will learn to respect you for the unique individual you are!

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  77. I don’t know if my comment to this post comes a little late here! I certainly haven’t read all the posts here that have responded! But, the ones I have …my response is really? Blaming the parents for kids rebelling? Is so cliche? And that their Christian becomes even more cause!
    I grew up in a non Christian home with parents who loved me. Not really all that strict, really…probably more permissive. I rebelled! I wanted to do what I wanted to do and really wasn’t think of anything. or anyone else. I did this to my own detriment. Later to realize that if I’d listened to my parents I would of been the better for it. They wanted what was best for me, they loved me, and believe it, or not actually knew what they were talking about. I was stubborn and didn’t want to listen, I ran away, lived on the streets, all sorts of horrible choices. It really was very selfish! Did I like the rules of my parents home? Of course not! That’s not really what it was about though. Anyone who makes it about that is really missing the mark. Anyone who sides against parents who genuinely love their kids and is heartbroken over what their kids are doing isn’t helping. Parents need support during this time, kids are pretty good at manipulating, placing blame that do this kind of thing. They generally want their way and blame their parents for not giving it to them. Don’t add to this by emotionalizing and vindicating a child whose hurting themselves and everyone around them. There is nothing good in this. And I don’t think there is some formula for what to do as a parent either. Though loving them anyway and keeping in their lives as best as they’ll let you is a good thing. Their hearts need to be open to hear and it may take some hard lessons before they’ll see things. Hopefully they get there and come to a place of culpability. This grows them and matures them. To come to a place where they own their choices and stop blaming their parents and everyone else. To appreciate that you have parents who loved you and did the best they could. Honestly there is no such thing as the perfect parent, what our kids ultimately need to be happy. well adjusted people in life is much bigger than any parent can give. The only good that came from my rebellion, which was against the highest authority, was that it brought me to a place where I looked up. It freed me from my selfish heart and helped me to see my actions rightly. Helped me to truly love, appreciate, and repect my parents. My dad and I truly feel our relationship is a gift. It gives me much jpy to know that I am honoring the parents God gave me. Life’s short and I cherish the time I have with them. They mean the world to me now. I truly feel sad that my selfish choices in my youth brought such heartbreak to my parents. So thankful God helped me turn that around, Not, everyone arrives at that place, Some carry the entitlement thing with them their whole lives and really miss out on the joy of putting others first.

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  78. This is for all who are looking to find a cause for rebellion in a child. The question-is the parent at fault? I say maybe, maybe not. Ultimately, it is the choice (free will) of the child-a human being which grows up in to an adult, to rebell. God too has rebellious children. Is this Gods fault? I think not!

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  79. A note of caution. Don’t confuse young people rejecting religious faith for rebellion. Many Christian parents are quick to label their kid’s as “rebellious” simply because they don’t buy into the claims of Christianity even if they are otherwise easy to get along with. Remember most of the world is not Christian and some folks don’t believe in God at all and that doesn’t make them deviants or rebels. To such parents I say learn to peacefully co-exist with those who don’t share your faith without being overly judgemental. You’ll notice an marked improvement in all human relationships.

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  80. Erandy: wow, no friends and your 17. Grew up in a very shame based christian home, crazy insane rules and CONTROL; the control which is rooted in fear and one day going to publish the book on insane behavior that sets one up for rebellion and thought God had these sadistic rules like could NEVER DO IT RIGHT AND OR BE GOOD ENOUGH. I’ve had professional counselors tell me to stay away from my one parent; who thinks they’re christian, but the behavior set up everyone for rebellion due to their FEAR issues and what we did reflected on her, which was really sad; not to bring out the best or gifts, talents and prepare us for the future; great foundations; WORSE not to reflect the Father Heart of God, his Son Jesus and or the Holy Spirit. Someone sent me a book: Families where Grace was In Place by Jeff Vonderan, just the title definitely NOT in my family. God’s LOVE, GRACE AND MERCY NOT MODELED AT ALL so what learning in all these false churches; religious rules with NO love, grace mercy NOT to mention such guilt, condemnation, criticism and belittling. Sad item, to drive your kids away to where never see them or the grandkids, amazing to me, because the churches this parent sat in Foursquare, Assemblies of God and now Calvary Chapel hasn’t learned a thing and yet are the leaders going to help when grows old, be there. Learned free will to go to heaven and or hell and this parent as many violate that; HATE TO TELL YOU; went through a period that did not like God thought he was sadistic person up in heaven beating everybody up with a bat (if it wasn’t for Leonard Ravenhill, Art Katz and Derek Prince I would be going to hell over my parent/former evil pastor=how sad=GOD IS OF LIFE AND LIFE MORE ABUNDATELY). The religious rules with no love goes contrary to the Bible=Word and the completed redemptive work of the Cross. Some great counselors out there and authors like Dr. Laura, Susan Forward, Victoria Secunda, David Elkind, Dan Neuarth, “Will I Ever Be Good Enough”; Townsend/Cloud, Minirith Meier Group (David Stoop, Gary Smalley, Bruce Narramore) see if library has. Google that article by Meredith Maran posted on Joshua Coleman’s Site AARP (to the tune of when your kids divorce you=great advice in their maybe help Joshua Coleman with his endeavors. Erandy: Gather true stories of people and publish a book (books) much like Merry Bloch Jones did in “Birth Mother’s giving away their children” or StepMother Stories, I personally really like “If, she wasn’t my friend I’d kill her”=too funny. I was going into psychology because of what went through and then decided to become a Lawyer to defend abused children=didn’t like the corrupt system. Had lot’s of Prophetic Words on my life (not that I liked it) but do something 2 Corinthians 1:3-end (help others get through it). It’s also having a life plan that brings out your gifts, talents and what God birthed you for the here and now!
    Joe: Excellent comment. Grew up in a church where the pastor had hitler/napoleon complex really bad and all the youth were trying to tell their parents SOMETHING was wrong with this guy and the parents didn’t listen and all the families would reap horrific consequences, lot of kids on drugs, death to the youth/young adults just over the top. Worse, parents were making kids life hell if they weren’t attending this control freak legalistic church such guilt, condemnation, criticism and belittling and to think people came back every week to get beat up and give their time and money to this evil (Einstein’s definition of evil “void and without God”). Freedom, to be free (so many churches/pastors/parents/people=sheep violate that)!

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