Why Teenagers Rebel - a Teen Perspective

By Emily Greene, age 15.8 years old

Why do teenagers rebel? I had to repeat that several times to myself because it’s a difficult question that can’t be answered the same for everyone. Some teenagers may feel lonely and not loved, so they feel that if they rebel, maybe they will get the attention they need. 

This is not the case for me.  I know my family loves me.  Too much. They show it in many ways, but in a sense, I still feel lonely, like something is missing and I want to seek it.  Some people dream to have a family that’ll care and love them as much as my family does for me, but at times I can’t stand it. I feel trapped in a box that I’ll never be able to escape.  I know my parents have rules for a reason and they only make them because they care, not because they want to make me mad all the time.  But I feel as if those lines I’m forbidden to cross are preventing me from filling the empty hole in my heart. 

Another part of me hates being told what to do or what not to do. I like to feel as if all my options are open and I can choose to walk through any door I want without the worry of a door being locked. If a door is locked, I want to know what is behind it.  That’s the door I want.

I want to learn from my own mistakes. I want that sense of freedom, which I feel when I rebel. The feeling of power over myself is a feeling I can’t have when I’m trapped. That’s why I rebel – the hole in my heart and wanting to finding out what fills it.


My daughter wrote this on the airplane on our vacation while she was 'bored'.  We have been struggling lately - the limits my husband and I place in her life at age 15 when she wants to be 21.  She says our rules make her want to rebel. Yet, some rules we just have to keep in place in order to live obediently to God as parents.

My heart breaks – not for me but for all the pain that she is willing to invite into her life by choosing her own way as the ultimate way. 

 I wonder how long it will take and what she will experience before she finally realizes that only Jesus can fill that hole. Only Jesus will satisfy. 

As a mother, what can I do? All I know is to keep on loving her as Jesus does and to be her biggest prayer warrior.

Linking up with: Working Kansas Homemaker, Soli Deo Gloria,and A Pause on the Path.


  1. Wow Paula, this is a tough one. I have not been blessed with children yet, but my husband works with the youth group at our church so we (mostly him!) are around teens a lot. That's some good insight into Emily's heart. As we know, Jesus is the only One that can fill that "hole" she's trying to fill. But it took me until my senior year of college to find my Lord and Savior and I went through a lot of pain until I did. I definitely understand the rebelling and wanting to do my own thing. I think "obedience" didn't become a respectable and "good" thing to me until I knew the Lord. Good job Paula, just keep persevering I would say and praying for her and yourself for strength! And thank you for linking up again, a blessing as always! :)
    - Nicole @ Working Kansas Homemaker

    1. go with Dr Cline Faye in Colorado. www.loveandlogic.com

    2. Yes, very familiar with it -I love the love and logic parenting philosophy!

  2. I have no answers -- my kids aren't teens yet. But, I have been struggling with other kinds of battles with my kids that involve limits and good choices. When I took it to God, He gave me 2 verses, both which revolved around how He has created them, not me. It just enables me to give up my fear and the controlling nature of mine that comes out because of that fear. Somehow, there is a balance between rules and letting go -- I so agree with you. But ultimately, I suppose we can only equip them and then release them into His hands. Such a hard thing.

  3. I was not the rebel growing up, but watched my sister fight against the arms that only wanted the best for her. She now knows why they had rules in place and is saddened about her life choices at that time. She says if only.....Praying that your daughter would see that you only want the best for her and that there is a time for everything and that time doesn't start right now.

    1. Wow, this was an introspective post in a lot of ways... and it also gives me a bit of insight into what it will be like to have three future teenagers (my 7 year old thinks she is ready to be one NOW). I think in many cases the emotional maturity to find what actually fills the "God shaped vacuum" just doesn't come until more life experience is had. I wasn't a rebellious teenager at all (which is surprising because I kind of had a lot to rebel against). I became rebellious in my 20s and when I look back on "why" it was not only to attempt to fill the empty void in my soul, but also because I was angry with God for not getting what I thought I wanted at that time. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers during this time. ((hugs))

  4. Oh wow.. Mrs. Greene, this post is from April 4th. I found it while looking at your forgiveness post for a friend. Your daughter sounds EXACTLY like I did not even a year ago!
    I'm from the Isle of Lewis, and am 17 years old. And up until a few months ago, this is exactly how I felt. I just couldn't put it into words! I was homeschooled, and as such felt a love from my parents that few could boast off...yet that's what made me so annoyed, what made me want to break free! It's like they were suffocating me.. but God soon brought me round to see that E.V.E.R.Y. single rule they made.. was right! Made me what I am! And most of all, it all turned out that they were right. In every thing that they said. Not only because they were adults, and parents. But because they took everything that I said and did to the Lord in prayer.
    Thank you for this Emily.

    1. CathPetra -- thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story and your words. You inspire me to keep on praying and working at this and not give up hope! Things have smoothed out a bit since that time, thankfully. God bless you!!