Book Review: Why I Didn’t Rebel

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Why I Didn’t Rebel from its publisher, Nelson Books.

Several weeks ago, a guest post I wrote was published on the blog To Love, Honor, And Vacuum, created by Sheila Gregoire. Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach is Sheila’s daughter. One extra reason I’m especially excited for Rebecca’s book is that it’s incredibly parallel to what I wrote in my guest post. My point was that teaching kids to follow Jesus from the heart is the true foundation of teaching them to build godly love lives. In Why I Didn’t Rebel, Rebecca hits on the similar theme of how teaching kids to pursue Christ is the true  foundation of producing lasting, godly character within them. While the book doesn’t directly address romantic relationships, I still believe it’s a must-read for any Christian parent desiring to raise their kids from childhood in a way that inclines them to pursue godly romance and, more importantly, pursue Christ. Read why in my full review below.

 

I don’t know how frequently I’ve heard laments of the large number of Christian kids who discard the Christian faith and morals of their parents once they reach adulthood. Less frequently have I heard remedies for the problem offered that sound likely to be effective. However, in her first published book, Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach moves us a huge step toward how Christian parents can incline their kids to retain their faith and morals in her new book Why I Didn’t Rebel: A Twenty-Two-Year-Old Explains Why She Stayed On The Straight And Narrow – And How Your Kids Can Too. Rebecca is a psychology graduate pursuing her doctorate and the creator of the blog lifeasadare.com. She and her younger sister were raised in Canada by Christian parents. Why I Didn’t Rebel is two hundred pages long.

Content Overview

In Why I Didn’t Rebel, Rebecca discusses several aspects of Christian parenting that parents can handle badly. She discusses how raising kids with good parenting in these areas can make a huge difference in whether the kids ultimately choose to continue pursuing godliness or disregard the faith of their parents. The overall thrust of the book is that, when Christian parents raise their kids in a manner that reveals and teaches the Christian life genuinely lived out, their kids are likely to choose the genuine Christian life to be their own. Rebecca is honest in admitting there’s no way to guarantee kids won’t rebel, while demonstrating why the principles of good parenting she discusses encourage kids not to rebel. I believe Rebecca is on point with her message, and I highly recommend the book.

Rebecca opens the book by explaining in chapter one what she means by ‘rebellion.’ She explains that true rebellion isn’t necessarily rebellion against human authorities but against God. This foundation is important because it recognizes the distinction between that which is true godliness and that which is only superficial religiosity. This distinction lays the foundation for later discussing what it means to raise kids to pursue from the heart that which is truly godly rather than go through the motions of adhering to that which is outwardly expected. Christian parents will need to be able to distinguish between these two ways of living.

Rebecca goes on to discuss topics such as why it’s important for parents to teach their kids the wisdom and goodness that underlies parental rules rather than merely demanding their kids adhere to the rules. Rebecca explains why parents must be careful not to plant seeds of low expectation in their kids that later become a harvest of poor behavior. She discusses how parents can encourage their kids to communicate relationally with them and how privacy plays an important role in promoting communication. Rebecca also describes the importance of parents creating a family culture that gives kids a place to belong that is genuine and welcoming. This type of culture gives kids a more attractive alternative to looking for belonging and relationship in lesser places. She explains how discipline must go beyond exacting compliance and instead build character within the child. Rebecca also explains why parents need to be honest and realistic with their kids, since giving kids an overly-optimistic outlook can set them up for a fall once reality hits.

In perhaps my favorite chapter, Rebecca explains why it’s critical for Christian parents to teach their kids to pursue God, not the church. Many young people have abandoned the Christian faith entirely upon discovering serious flaws in the church. Understanding that we should pursue the perfect God from the outset rather than the church allows kids not to encounter crisis upon discovering just how deep the flaws of churches and Christians can run. Rebecca goes on to explain how parents can instill character in their kids by teaching their kids to be team members living in pursuit of something greater than themselves. Lastly, Rebecca closes the book by offering encouragement when, in spite of best efforts, kids rebel anyway.

Style & Appeal

Rebecca shares a casual, conversational tone in her writing that is friendly and inviting. She engages challenging subjects with an honesty that sheds light on problem areas without sounding condemning. She weaves stories from her own family life into the book that are both funny and transparent. Each chapter is also riddled with stories and examples from people she interviewed in the course of researching for the book. These narratives effectively illustrate the principles she discusses throughout the book and keep the discussion engaging.

Why I Didn’t Rebel will be most appreciated by Christian parents who want to raise their kids in a way that makes the life lived in pursuit of Christ attractive. I recommend parents read Why I Didn’t Rebel when their kids are young or even before they’re born since the principles Rebecca discusses are principles that need to be practiced from childhood onward. Parents will want to practice good parenting and family habits from the beginning of their children’s lives in order to sow the seeds of positive influence that will produce a harvest once those children come of age. Clergy responsible for giving spiritual and parental guidance to Christian parents will also benefit from considering the principles Rebecca discusses.

One Criticism

The only thing in Why I Didn’t Rebel with which I took issue was Rebecca’s conclusion about spanking in the chapter on discipline. Rebecca condemns spanking as harmful based on a meta-analysis conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff. This claim intrigued me since my mother, the main disciplinarian in my home, raised me and my siblings on the wooden spoon. I was skeptical of the wholesale condemnation of spanking since the discussion of it in Why I Didn’t Rebel doesn’t address spanking technique. My mother practiced good spanking technique (taking the child to a quiet room, explaining what he/she did wrong, performing the spanking, reaffirming continued love and desire for proper behavior, and requiring apology to anyone wronged) as opposed to the bad technique I’ve seen performed by other parents (smacking their children whenever an infraction is committed without corrective discussion). My curiosity about Gershoff’s analysis also led me to an article on Scientific American that criticizes the empirical soundness of Gershoff’s study.

All this to say that the condemnation of spanking in Why I Didn’t Rebel shouldn’t be taken at face value. There are many more questions that need to be asked in order to come to sound conclusions about spanking’s effectiveness. A parent desiring to choose whether to spank should do additional research. Fortunately, the question of spanking doesn’t set aside the sound conclusion Rebecca offers concerning discipline. Namely, discipline needs to be conducted to produce positive character in children rather than immediate compliance. Regardless of what form of discipline a parent uses, it needs to be implemented in such a way as to teach the child to be a better person rather than merely comply with what’s commanded.

Bottom Line

Overall, Why I Didn’t Rebel is a fantastic book. It tackles challenging dimensions of Christian parenting in an encouraging and engaging way, and it points parents toward the critical aspect of teaching their kids to pursue God genuinely and from the heart rather than from a hollow religiosity. I hope this book marks the beginning of greater attention to a Christian parenting focus on shaping the child’s heart rather than the child’s behavior. For Christian parents, Christians hoping to be parents, and those who influence Christian parents, Why I Didn’t Rebel is a must-read. I can happily give it a five out of five.

To get a copy of Why I Didn’t Rebel, click here.

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