rebelling against low expectations

Stop Living Like An Orphan in Your Own Home


We see their pictures in the appeals for help on television and in the magazines. Starving children and sullen, miserable teenagers, living without families in slums and refugee camps around the world. Their suffering breaks our hearts and opens our wallets to offer help. They are the orphans of the world. They have no parents. It’s so very sad.

They have no one to provide food and shelter for them. No one to buy them clothes, or tuck them into bed at night. No one to stay up late and listen to their hopes and fears. No one to laugh at their jokes. No one to admire and encourage their first faltering artistic or musical efforts. No one to smile into their faces and give them hugs and kisses on the cheeks and foreheads. No one to pick them up when they fall, or lift their spirits when they have fallen into discouragement.

But think about what else it means in practice. They have no one who dotes about who they are becoming or where they are going in life. No one to ask what their plans are for the future. No one to make sure they have finished their homework. No one to offer correction when they are mistaken about something. No one to insist that they pick up their clothes, or feed their pet, or make their bed. No one to make them finish any of their chores.

No one to tell them that their skirt is too short, or their pants are too tight, or their hair is too long, or too short or too weird. No one to ask them where they have been when they come home later than expected. No one to tell them to turn off the TV, or put away the video game and get back to their school assignments.

No one to insist that they eat more of what’s good for them and less of what is not. No one to snoop around looking for drugs or porn or other signs of danger. No one to make the unwelcome observation that the particular boy or girl they are so excited about may be shallow, or selfish, or vain or violent. No one to look at them with tears in their eyes and plead for them to stop and think about what they are about to do. No one to hold back from saying “I told you so,” even though they did.

That’s the funny thing about having parents who love you. Most of the most important things they do for you, the things that probably save you from a life marked with regret, are so annoying. So annoying, in fact, that you are tempted to ignore them, to not listen to what they have to say, to avoid them as much as possible, to live, if the truth be told, like an orphan in your own home.

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About the author

Gregg Harris

is the father of Alex and Brett Harris (authors of Do Hard Things) and instructor for the online parenting course, Raising Kids to Do Hard Things. His dear wife, Sono, passed away in 2010 and he and his youngest son now run a popular terrarium shop in Portland, Oregon, called Roosevelt's Terrariums.


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  • Wow, this really struck me hard: its so true! Thanks so much for sharing this, and very well written, Mr.Harris! This sort of message needs to get out to more teens today!!

  • Kinda ironic for us to pray for the orphans overseas but ignore God’s awesome blessing of parents in our own lives, huh? Eventually we’ll be those parents… would we want to be treated the same way we treat them? Thanks for the reminder of this point.

  • While everything you state is true – there is another side to this.

    What about the parents who treat their children like orphans? he parents who are so busy w/their mindless video games, TV shows, or building their careers or “finding themselves”,etc.

    Either way – it’s so very sad and takes real effort from both the parents and the children to NOT become orphaned!

  • Yes, very true. It is so important to be thankful for the blessings God has given us… and recognize them as blessings 🙂 so true what you commented also, Nathan, that we often pray for orphans overseas but aren’t thankful for what God has given us. Well said, Mr. Harris.

  • Wow, great timing! My family’s gotten to know three brothers who are in their twenties. When they were 8, 6, and 1 year old, their parents and sisters were killed in their village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last night, we were talking, and the oldest brother told me that I should remember to ask my parents for everything, and that he wished he could do that. This article’s a great reminder!

  • So true. I have never heard it put that way before but this is the best way of explaing situations like orphans like these…great post!

  • hi mr harris this an amazing way to look at this i don’t live with my mum but when i did i did feel on my own in a way this is so touching and by the way i loved the book do hard things it was truly inspireing and touching to read i feel that i am not on my own in this and that god is with me in this.

  • Honoring, respecting, and sumbitting to one’s parents is something that every teen must master as it prepares him/her for submission to other authority in the real world. If you don’t set the habit now of obeying your parents, how will you ever become accustomed to obeying your boss when you’re older, or even the law? We must learn how to obey authority no matter the circumstances because God GAVE thatthe authority to those over us. Therefore, there is a reason we must obey.

  • I’m glad I’m not an orphan in my parents home…
    (Let me rephrase that)
    Thank God I’m not an orphan in my parents home.

  • Wow! I never really thought about it like that. Thanks for that. Makes me really grateful for my parents. I’ll be sure to tell my friends about it!

  • Wow! So convicting. I say all the time that I’m grateful for my parents, but often I say it so flippantly. It makes you think just how much you love them.

  • Ill try to remember this the next time my parents tell me something that they say will benifit me and I don’t think so!

  • wow thank you for this Mr. Harris. Its so true and so often we forget and just take it for granted we have parents and people who care though so often we ignore what they say..thanks again this is something i will definitely always try to keep in the foremost of my thoughts when told by parents what to do, or what not to do for that matte,r v,en when i might not agree…thanks again!!

  • Thank you so much! I was disappointed that my parents said I couldn’t go to this party after a talent show I’m doing tonight. But God gave me to them for a reason and maybe they know something I don’t. God’s plans are better than mine, and God is using my mom and dad for my benefit. Thank you again!

  • …wow that hit home…I often just want to be free to make my own choices… thank you thank you so much!

By Gregg Harris
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →