Discerning Mom Vs. Rebellious Child - Wanda Watson

I'd like you to meet another friend of mine, Wanda Watson.  We met about 25 years ago through a mutual fun friend here in Tulsa. Wanda was the wise woman at the time and we were floundering youth!

Wanda has raised four amazing children, 3 daughters and a son, most of the time as a single mom. She lives in Texas now, but spent all of these childrearing years in Tulsa. Her kids are all grown, happily married and have given her 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren that she adores!!

We lost touch for years, but found each other again through Facebook! (One of the benefits of Facebook...)

One fun fact  about Wanda (that she won't tell you)  is how back then she would move wherever she felt like God led her to, for whatever period of time He said, and it was always to affect the life of someone nearby. This was when her empty nest years had started. She was extremely involved at Victory Christian Center while she was also a social worker at D.H.S. She might live in an apartment for a year because God said to move there, and there was always someone who needed her influence at that time. She loved every move and all the people along the way. She loves people, is humble, fun and silly too. But when it comes to spiritual things, she is strong and bold and seems to have a direct line to God (though she won't like that I just wrote that!) :)

There's something very beneficial about kids knowing that they can't lie, because their mom hears from God. That's the kind of mom she was. She was a very loving and supportive mom, who worked full time, volunteered many hours at church, made sure she spent time with all her kids, but also had to be extra strong, raising kids as a single mom.

I could come at her story from many angles, but what I want to focus on today is something very specific, hoping it will help those in similar situations.  That is, how to deal with a rebellious child, especially if you have the personality type Wanda has, which is very discerning.

There are too many good nuggets, so I'm breaking my 5 things rule and giving her more. She gets 8! :)

1.  You can use your discernment in two ways - to judge or for information. Some discerning people pounce on their kids because they feel like they "know" what's going on with them already. Don't pounce. Use your discernment for information, but follow up with questions. Try your best not to judge your kids. They know by your attitude when you have already judged them and they will close up. If you have a hard time not judging them, tell them "I don't want to judge you, I just need to understand, so that I won't." Never open your mouth to let the enemy of our souls use your words against them. (God watches over His Word to perform it and the enemy seems to watch over ours to make it happen as well.)

2. Even though I often knew what was going on, I didn't assume I knew for sure. I asked questions. I often said,  "You know when I was young, this is what was happening...what's it like now?" to start conversations. She seemed surprised that I was human and had any kind of problems, after all I was her mom. :)

3.  Whether your kids are rebellious or quiet, the same principles apply to each, just with a different approach. Since I never wanted to pounce or condemn her with my mouth, I prayed first and asked God how to deal with her rebellion. I asked "How do I lead her?" I always tried to give unconditional love, without judging her. God allows us to see their goodness and focus on that, rather than totally on the deed done, so we can teach them how to turn it around to their good. There were a few times when God put my discipline on hold until He had better opportunity to get my hearing in tune with His way of doing things; rather then me going off on a tangent at the moment of occurence.

4. I explained to her, sometimes drawing pictures so it made more sense, that she was  in this parameter of safety that God had for her (under me as the parent).  I drew a box to represent that. This parameter will expand as she got older, with more freedoms and trustworthiness.  If she messed up, the parameter decreased, with fewer freedoms, but it didn't mean she was a bad person.  It just meant she wasn't emotionally ready to have the parameter expanded. My answer wasn't "You can't do it again", but yes, when you are ready. Or we will try this again after you have had time to show you can handle more of your own decisions in other areas. I'm supporting you until you are ready. I'm on your team. My job is to protect you and I love doing it!

5.  I reasoned with my kids.  Taught them the right thing, let them know of choices that were ahead, what would happen, how to make better choices...We expounded not just on the consenquece of the bad decisions but the benefits of the good ones. I let them know that growing up is a process and they will make mistakes but I am always there to support them when it goes well and help when it does not.  This allowed me to be proactive instead of reactive. Roleplay with your kids.

6.  God gives you ability and insight with your kids. Listen to it and follow through with it. When I said my youngest couldn't date until 16, I didn't  relent on rules. I had to follow through.  Curfew was midnight, not 5 minutes after midnight. If they were after midnight at all, they had to skip the next date.  Even if the excuse was legitimate. I let her boyfriend and her know that being responsible in dating is planning ahead for delays. When she did start dating, I said "these are the days you can date, you won't go out more than these certain days a week." When she hit her limit that week, I didn't relent even if special circumstances came up. The mom of one of her dates was upset with me, saying "I don't want to have a Romeo and Juliet situation, since they aren't allowed to be together".  I said, "If you're son is that unstable, I'd rather they not keep dating."

I wouldn't let her go to the Caravan, the teen dance club in Tulsa. I told her and her date, "I'll know you are there and I'll come inside, embarrass you and get you out."  She actually smiled and shook her head in a "yes she will" kind of way that was not at all sarcastic. It told me that in her heart she really did know that my restrictions were because of my love for her and I would take care of her even if she couldn't. They never did go to the Caravan.I had to be strict because of her rebelliousness and stubbornness. She needed to know that I loved her. At times I knew her obedience was because  she knew there were consequences and not because it was in her heart, but God reminded me that obedience in action will lead to obedience in heart.

7.  Pray for wisdom. One of my daughters and her now husband, when they dated and would sit in the vehicle too long in the driveway, I would send younger siblings out to see them in the driveway so it wouldn't cause embarrassment, but would let them know it was time to come in.  Had that not worked I would have not had a problem embarrassing them by coming out myself. Later they told me they're glad I did that. God knew.

8. Pray scriptures for your kids, pray that the Word will be true in their lives. My kids know and say that I prayed Isaiah 61 over them, and have told me the many ways that Isaiah 61 has come true in their lives.

Other people  have commented to me what a blessing my children are to them and how their ministry to them has changed their lives. Now I have grandchildren who are following Christ and are now blessing others. The Word of God prayed over your chldren will not return to the Father without producing what that Word is sent out to do. He is faithful.

This daughter who was rebellious back then, is now a surgical care R.N. and working towards a degree to become a Nurse Practitioner.
Some kids are easy, some are difficult. Pray for wisdom and insight. Never assume you know what's going on. Never judge your kids. Love them unconditionally. Be the parent.

I know that God taught me so much while raising my children and it was a case by case or child by child lesson, but when we are willing to trust Him and listen to HIs Spirit He will never fail to lead us to right thinking and decisions for each one. He promises to give wisdom.


  1. This is so practical and exactly what I needed to read today. I have been praying for wisdom and direction and this post has helped to confirm what I need to do and convict me of being judgmental. Thank you for sharing your wise words of advice.

  2. That makes me so happy! Thanks for taking time to share. So glad her experience can help others. Holly

  3. I can totally attest to these insights from some of my own experiences and there were a few things listed here that I need to practice more. Thanks for the great advice. As my older kids are moving into the adult world more and more now, I look forward to seeing good fruit from their beautiful lives as a return.

  4. And my kids do know that we hear from God and their attempts to deceive never go well. LOL.


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