rebelling against low expectations

When can I start making my own decisions?


ANONYMOUS WRITES: I’m a senior in high school, starting to think about college. My parents want me to go to a certain Christian university. They both attended the school (along with many of my other family members), and my Dad actually teaches there.

I respect my parents, and I want to honor and obey them, but for several reasons I’m just not sure if their school is the place that God has for me.

I want to follow God’s will for my life, and make an objective college choice, but my parents are absolutely firm that the school they want for me is the place I’m going. It’s like I have no say in where I spend the next four years of my life.

When is ok for me to start making my own decisions?

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  • Hey, man, if it makes you feel any better, I’m in a similar boat. Very similar. My answer would have to be that we are commanded to follow Jesus and His leading above EVERY other authority. I’m not sure I can give you an objective age, but when you come to the point where you can find God’s leading for yourself and hear His voice, that might just be getting close to the point. Matt. 10:35-39 address this question. Our love (and thus our obedience) must be to the Holy Spirit’s leading above every other authority.

    Also, I would recommend talking to your parents about it. At least explain where you’re coming from. They may not agree, but hopefully they’ll understand better.

    • Ah Taylor I forgot to add that point to mine! I like it though! I mean we really are called to follow Jesus above every other authority. I mean people did it during WWII.

  • Oh that is hard. I guess I would say have you tried discussing with your parents that you don’t think God is calling you to go to that school? As for when you can start making your own decisions also a hard one. I just graduated last year and my parents told me they would help me figure out and support me in whatever I chose to do, but I couldn’t choose to stay at home and do nothing! (Not that I wanted to!) They are encouraging me more and more to make my own decisions. They want to make less decisions for me. They want me to learn the things you can only learn by making you own decisions! I have asked their advice on things, (a lot of things) but actually just a couple of nights ago my dad was asking me what my plan was now that this year is ending. (I didn’t go to college, I was in a “program” (for lack of a better word at the moment) that is kind of like a domestic peace corps) and it only runs for a year. I mean we are always called to honor and obey our parents (which you mentioned) but there is a time where we have to make our own decisions. (Also like you said.) I guess my advice would be to talk with your parents. That is what I have done. I have had many one-on-two (only one me and both of my parents) conversations about what I think I should be doing, advice from them, if I am debating between two things letting them know what I am thinking and ask for advice from them. And those conversations (although sometimes hard, especially when I just didn’t know what I wanted to do) have been amazing! I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world because my parents took the time to invest in me, my future, and just helping me make the best choices I can and have the best life I can. (And I know without them I would have bombed it already because I am not very wise!) So this turned into a long comment that I hope makes sense! 😀

  • Oh that’s tough. But my parents have always taught us that when the bible says “Raise your children in the way they should go…” it isn’t meaning “Raise your children in the way YOU want them to go.” it’s saying guide your children in the way that THEY need to go. If God is calling you to other places other than that specific college, or even if he is telling you not to go to college you need to listen to him. Just approach them and say that God is leading you else-where, ask them to join you in prayer about your future.

  • I would recommend you talk to them and explain your concerns. If they listen, awesome!

    If not, what you depends on a few things.

    If you’re still going to be living under their roof and/or you’re still a minor, you probably need to obey their rules. But if you’re not, then you are free to make your own choices about these things. I would recommend with respect, but not necessarily with compliance.

    Hope this helps!

  • I think this is a very important decision in your life in which you need to have the most voice in. Talk to your parent calmly and respectfully, explaining your reasons you think this school is not where you should go. Let them know what you are thinking of as an alternative.
    I would highly recommend taking this to a trusted adult, elder, pastor, teacher, etc. who can see your reason and possibly help you explain things to your parents (this as a second resort, of course).
    Obviously I don’t know all the details of the situation, so I’m not going to make assumptions, but based solely on what we’re told, their reaction seams a little unreasonable, so again, try to explain clearly. This is also a good chance to show maturity in how you handle this.

  • It’s a hard one but like everyone is saying, talk it out if you can. Make a case for what you are thinking and pray over it with them.
    My parents weren’t sure about my choice either. I got a conditional and an unconditional for the two top universities in the area I wanted to study but I decided that it would be more God-honouring and helpful to what I wanted to do to go to a back-water uni that most people don’t even realise is a proper academic institute. We talked it through and they were still a wee bit hesitant but it worked out fine.
    Sometimes our parents are just trying to protect us but if you show them that you’ve thought and prayed it through and made a reasonable decision based on all that, you are showing them that you are mature enough to make the decision (hopefully 😛 ) and maybe that will put their minds at ease a little. But yeah, talk it out. Pray it through.Be patient with your parents. It’s hard for them when their kids grow up and start trying to make their own way.

  • That certainly must be pretty tough! I think communication is key when you have a differing opinion. Sometimes it helps for everyone if they can get an idea of what is in each other’s minds, if that makes any sense!

  • Pray + communicate. If they don’t understand anymore, talk to another person you would consider a sort of ‘third parent’ (a pastor or yg leader), pray, and come to a decision. Ultimately, God chooses your college, not you or your parents.

    I feel like a lot of the time, in our world, we live in kind of a bubble. I’ve been at my church since I was five years old, and I was homeschooled from second to eighth grade. My dad went to a secular college, and my mom went to a Christian college. I’d always assumed that I was going to go to either one of them, because it was a sort of ‘tradition.’ And I feel like our general Christian culture does emphasize a lot of traditional options that they know are going to be “safe.”

    But it’s okay to jump out of your comfort zone, and your family’s as well. Just as long as it’s where God’s leading you. And remember, ultimately He has sovereignty over all things.

    Plus, college is really only four years of your life 🙂 Regardless of whether you go to the college you want or not, I’m sure you’ll form friendships and grow in your faith and learn a lot. Hope this helps!

  • Try praying about it, find where God in leading you. Talk again to your parents, talk with other people too see what they say. Your parents want to do want right for you, wanting you to go to a christian college is a good thing.

  • Just wanted to add a thought to consider – is it possible your parents are choosing that school due to finances. If you Dad works there, there might be a financial break. As other have mentioned – if you talk with them about it, maybe there is a way to compromise. Such as going there for 2 years to get your general education requirements and then transferring to a different school in a few years.

  • That is a really important question. I am not sure what to say as advice but here is something that my mom told me about that directly speaks to your issue. My mom knows someone who’s dad wasn’t saved the mother was saved . This Girl really wanted to go to China for a short term mission trip with her youth group . The girl really wanted to go but her dad thought that it was a bad idea. So the girl decided to hold to the Biblical principle that says you need to honor your parents. The year was 1989. The youth group went to Tianamen Square to hand out tracks. The youth group was there during the Massacre and barely escaped with their lives. This girl’s father was saved after he realized how God had used him! So in closing I think that you should try to obey your parents. The decision will be hard but you will probably realize how right your parents were.

    • While I like your thoughts, I am not sure they apply as children are to obey their parents, adults are only to honor.

      • Hey Joe! Check out this blog — it’s one that I follow, and I think you’d like it. If you have time, I mean… It was recently upgraded, so there aren’t many comments over there yet. There’s a lot of the same folks over there as there are here. Check it out!

      • So the question is, are you an adult or a child? 🙂 @disqus_oMHOgFTIn3:disqus wanna join this convo?

        • I shared some of my thoughts further below. I would say the Bible never gives a particular age (that I’ve ever found!) when you are an official adult, but Jesus is very clear about following Him and His leading above EVERY other calling and authority, specifically naming parents in Matt. 10 and family in Lk. 9.

          • Righto! I agree… but when is someone an adult? What do you think? I know you’ve talked about changing churches, and other stuff, so I wonder what you think.
            I’ll look at what you said down below 🙂

          • I would say when you begin hearing God’s voice on your own, and being able to see His leading is when you become accountable to Him for following Him above other relationships. Again, I don’t there is a particular age (although if you’re 30, I promise you’re passed it! 🙂

            My case is slightly different, since my parents have told me that if I feel God leading me in one direction, even if it’s against what they want me to do, they want me to follow God’s leading. So, my case is kind of an exception. My own parents have placed me directly under God’s authority, even above their own.

          • You know I’m not 30, right? 😛
            Anyhoo… So if I hear God telling me to go to Africa, I should go, even if my parents directly forbid me to? Or if my parents say that I should never, ever talk to so-and-so but then I feel that God wants me to be so-and-so’s friend. What would you do?
            (Back to fire-breathing dads we are, I think 🙂

          • Of course, all of this is hypothetical. 🙂 And I’m just processing this and asking your opinion. As usual, come to think of it!

          • Gonna nail me on the examples, huh?! 🙂
            I would say you’re looking at probably the exact scenario Jesus is describing in Matt. 10:35-40. Obviously I don’t recommend doing it secretly, but doing what Jesus leads you to do is a part of following Jesus. If you can hear His voice and detect His leading, but ignore them in favor of a human authority, which one have you placed more trust and confidence in? Which one is the real authority in your life?
            In direct answer to your question, I would either wait until I was 18 and able to remove myself from their household and reliance on their finances and so on before I disobeyed. I’m not sure I have a Biblical reason behind that, but I think that would be the right thing to do. But yes, ultimately, I would disobey them in order to do what I feel God leading me to do. My ultimate authority, and the one I will answer to on judgment day for my actions, is my heavenly Father, not my physical father.

            What’s your opinion? (Gotcha!)

          • I was just throwing out examples…
            I think I agree, when you’re on your parents’ finances you need to do what they say. When you’re supporting yourself, you’re more of an adult. So, if you’re in Mr. Anonymous’s position, what do you do? He’d need his parents to go to any college…
            And I’ve got to go! It’s 10:20 over here… (You Texans are so lucky! You get three extra hours in your day!)

          • We actually only get one… I just stay up a couple hours after that!
            Umm, I can’t say for sure what I’d do until I’m in that situation, but I like to think I’d talk to my parents and they would support me in my decision. If they would not, I would have to spend a lot of time out in the woods praying before I made a major decision like that. So I can’t tell you for sure.

          • Hahahaha!
            The woods are a great place, just saying 🙂 Now you see what I meant when we were talking about fire-breathing dads on the other thread. You just said what I was ineffectually trying to state 🙂 But anyway, yeah. It’s all different.

          • Yes, I guess so.

            Thank you! It’s actually Tuesday — one more day of packing first!
            And in case I’m not on tomorrow (I probably won’t be, actually…) Goodbye, my friend!

      • young children are always to obey their parents without question. This is something my parents installed in me at a young age. They had the rule “stop, look, and listen.” i did that once on a bike, except the stop part. It wasn’t good, but that’s sort of beside the point.

        Obviously adults and sometimes teens aren’t given to the rule of “obey” but they definitely should honor and even in some situations obedience should be observed. I know that my parents have never been unreasonable or overbearing, which is definitely a blessing. So, to cut this way short, I like your thoughts! 🙂

  • The Bible clearly states that we should honor our father and mother. This actually is a very similar situation that my dad went through.

    He wanted to go to Bible school and be a missionary, everyone supported him even his mother and siblings and thought it was awesome that a young man wanted him to do this. But his father asked him to go get a four year degree at a university and then if he wanted after that, he could go on to Bible school.

    So my dad had a choice to make, he could either go ahead and go to Missionary school or he could honor his father and go to a secular university. He chose to honor his father. He went to James Madison University and majored in political science.

    To this day, my dad is so thankful that his father had him do that.
    At the time it seemed unreasonable and weird that his father would want him to go to a secular university rather than a Bible school, but now he can see the wisdom and is so glad that he had obeyed his father.

    Now, you may be able to talk to your parents and you could work it out. But even as I talked to my parents about this, they strongly suggest that you honor your parents even if its difficult. Someday you’ll be glad you did.

          • Ah yes! 🙂
            What would we do without you to ask questions? Really, you start great convos!

          • Why, thank you! I learn a lot from them, and that’s the majority of the reason I’m on here. I start conversations about things I even know the answer to just to get a new perspective sometimes too. Anyhow, I learn! I’m glad they benefit other people too!

          • Nyet… Although I haven’t exactly looked for it much yet, either. I did most of that yesterday. I was shopping and packing this afternoon instead. Who’d have thought it’d be so time-consuming to prepare for a month-long trip in three days?!

          • Ha, I know from experience it’s tough to pack for them! I’ve never been gone a month, but the longer trips I’ve taken out of the country are time consuming to prep for!

          • Yeah… it’s crazy. You wouldn’t think you use all that much, right? At least I’m going to a real house, so I don’t have to pack stuff like blankets…

          • Yeah, I talked to her tonight; it’ll be great! Nieces and nephews are the best 🙂
            I just realized, you’re someone near my age who has nieces and nephews! Finally, someone who understands me!

          • That’s cool! I’ve got a niece and two nephews, ages 1 to… I think… 4. AND I”LL SEE THEM SOON!!!!!! So exciting — I haven’t seen them for a little over six months.

          • Funnnn! Oh yeah, and you get to be mistaken for their dad 🙂 I’ve been asked if my niece and nephews are mine, too…

          • Yeah… Oh, @disqus_QCcjULzpuq:disqus is the brother where we’ve been mistaken for a couple before. While we’re talkign about familial relationships being confused..

      • I think I saw the answer to this up top, but since you want my personal opinion 😛 No, I wouldn’t say its the same thing. I can “honor” my parents, but not necessarily “obey” them. Honor is respecting and taking our parents thoughts and suggestions seriously and maybe politely and respectfully disagreeing with them. Meaning we don’t just blow them off. Obeying is doing exactly what my parents say without any negotiation or thought about it.

        I might obey my parents if they say that I absolutely cannot go to this dance. But if they told me that they would rather I not go to this dance, but its up to me and I take their advice and think about it seriously thats honoring them even if I do go to this dance.
        This make sense?

  • I think the question is one of stewardship/responsibility. Are you responsible for yourself yet before God or do your parents still hold responsibility for you. I would contend, that a high school student is in fact an adult. Why? In the gospels when Jesus called His disciples He in some cases forbade them from checking with their parents first. We know they were under 18 because when the tax was due and peter fished out a fish that had swallowed a coin we know that 1. the tax was only collectable on those 18 and older, 2. the coin was only worth enough to pay for two people. Therefore, all but one of the disciples was under 18. Don’t stop reading yet, however, as this argument is incomplete.
    As an adult yes, you are responsible for yourself, but only for yourself and that which God has entrusted to you. Your parents are responsible for themselves, and that which God has entrusted to them which would include their financial assets. What I am getting at is this, if your parents are paying the bill, then they kinda hold the trump card. You mentioned that your dad is teaching at this college; at every college my dad has worked at he has been granted tuition remission. That is a major factor and I would not expect your parents to, nor see any reason why your parents should finance you going somewhere else when they can get you through inexpensively at home. If they are the ones paying, then, while you are not directly under their authority per se you are relying on what God has entrusted to them and you’ve kinda got to go with what they give you. In regard to paying for it on your own, I can tell you, since I am going to a university other than the one my dad works at, that it is in my experience impossible to pay for college yourself and, in case you were thinking of loans, practically all loans require an adult co-signer and the most likely co-signer would, once again, be your parents.
    Since I admitted that I am going somewhere other than where my dad works, I figure I had better explain myself. Quite simply, the college my dad works at currently is very poor academically. The average SAT scores of their students are below the national average. As a young man, my dad and I agreed that I need to be able to get an education worth something which can actually get me somewhere. Additionally, they didn’t offer my intended major, engineering. In this respect, I wish I knew which college your dad teaches at since some of them, such as Pensacola, are unaccredited and therefore useless for many purposes. My understanding is that BJU, as well, isn’t regionally accredited which can be an issue depending on where you want to get a job. Generally, unfortunately, the inexpensive colleges are that way for a reason, their lacking something even if they have a great Christian atmosphere.
    What is really interesting about your question, however, is that I was in a similar position last summer leading up to college only the roles were reversed. I was feeling called to stay home as I had built ministry contacts (i.e. unsaved co-workers) which I couldn’t rebuild quickly. Also, the college my dad works at is very liberal and has no mentionable Christian presence. My dad was pointing out that such a decision would be most unwise long term. I ended up going with my dad’s advice even though I often thought I might be playing Jonah. In regard to that, I still don’t know and may never know. I don’t know where in the Bible we get the idea that we use our feelings to discover God’s will and so intellectually I can say I made the right choice but I still feel somewhat convicted and therefore remain unsure. For more on finding God’s will for you life, search that phrase on the Boundless website. I tend to appreciate their viewpoint.
    So in answer to your question, yes, you may certainly make a decision about where you will spend the next four years of your life but unless you have someone who is willing to fund your way or you yourself can, then you probably should go with what your parents provide.

  • In my personal opinion, I suggest that you obey your parents, most especially if you’re still under 18, legally speaking. One out of several reasons is that you may be spending your parents’ money and resources for college, kinda like my experience.

    Keep in mind, as well, that communication is SUPER important. Put your thoughts into words and don’t be afraid to express them to your parents. Show them that you really put a great effort in attaining what God puts in your heart. And the result? Up to the Lord.

    Hope this helps and God bless you!

  • The most important thing in this situation is to talk to God and to your parents. Just take the time to talk through why or why not. If you do this in a respectful way, your parents will listen. Then be ready and willing to hear their side as well. I will pray for you and your parents to have wisdom in this decision. Also, have a heart to be God’s light and witness no matter where you go; this is the reason we are on this earth in the first place. You are an ambassador for Christ.
    Philippians 4:6
    Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
    And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
    Your friend and sister in Christ,

  • Here’s where I have the issue. How far does honoring your parents go? Does that mean I have to go to collage cause they told me to cause I’m under 10? Or just go along with it then when I turn 18 tell them I’m actualy not going to collage, instad I’m going to do (till I’m the blank) my parents and I have very differing opinions on what I should do out id high school. At the same time I want to seek out God’s will. I also don’t want it to look like I’m not honoring my parents because I going a different direction then they say I should go. Help.

    • I thought there is a common mistake going on down this thread. Honoring your parents is not the same as obeying your parents. Honor is the showing of respect, not necessarily perfect obedience. So while Eph. 6:1 commands us to obey our parents as children, v. 2-3 command us to honor them our whole lives.

      In direct answer to your question, Joy, spend time searching for what God wants you to do. Once you know, that is what you need to do. Jesus commands us to follow Him and His leading above all else, including parents. It can be hard, and don’t forget that even our reluctant disobedience to our parents can be done respectfully.

  • I’m not exactly sure of your situation and it’s not clear to me when the age comes when the Bible considers someone an adult, but with that said, here’s my thoughts:
    1. Keep perspective. Where you go to college is very important, but your relationship with your parents is also very, very important. Don’t sacrifice either.
    2. Talk to your parents. Communication is key. Don’t keep secrets. Don’t be afraid that they won’t listen. Sure, they might not be perfect and perhaps wrongly disagree with you, but do you think the chances of them agreeing with you if you will not be open with them?

    3. Honor your parents. For some reason it seems (from some internet sites I’ve read) that there’s a big distinction made between obeying and honoring parents. There certainly is a difference, but watch your motives. And remember that honoring actually means something.
    4. You might be wrong. Check your motives. Listen to your parents. Listen to God. Are you completely obeying God? No one–not you, not your parents–is fully objective, but test your reasons. Try to find reasons why you’re wrong. If you cannot, great. Then you’ll have thought it through and should be able to explain yourself better. I usually strongly dislike thinking about if I’m wrong from an objective standpoint, but God commands us to be humble.
    5. You have to follow God above all else. Seek His leading. Pray a lot. Fast. Don’t burn any bridges until you’re sure it’s God’s will. But be willing to be relentless if you’re following His will (one way to know if something is God’s will is if you can follow His commands while doing it).

    I suppose I’m somewhat biased because I’ve closely seen some the damage that results when people take the “I don’t have to obey my parents” principle to an extreme. It causes a lot of harm that’s very hard to undo. Be careful. Seek God. Explain things to your parents even when it feels completely useless. Don’t hide things from them. I’ll pray God guides you and your parents and helps you both to see His path clearly. God bless!

  • Since this question keeps coming up, I figured I would explain it. What’s the difference between honoring parents and obeying them?

    From the online Oxford Dictionary.

    Comply with the command, direction, or request of (a person or a law); submit to the authority of.

    High respect; esteem.

    The critical difference is authority. I might have held the late Elizabeth Elliot in high honor, but, had we met while she still lived and she issued a command to me, I would have been under no obligation to obey. Obedience implies authority whereas honor does not.

    • Yes, I ‘m with Taylor! Thanks for defining those two words. I wasn’t interested in getting into the discussion, but I was also noticing the trend of blending those words together and it causing some confusion. 😉

    • Yep & as @disqus_oMHOgFTIn3:disqus has said, it is important to understand the difference between Honour & Obey.

      We can Honour our parents by obeying them, But our ultimate Obedience should be to Christ. This will still show honour to our parents through 3 John 1:4 “ greater joy than my children walk in truth..”, we are to be disciples of Christ 1st, not of our parents, they are to be good stewards of us to show us Christ, but we are to choose to be on our own walk with our Creator. @disqus_4aLd26vJM2:disqus also has a great reminder of this that at some stage our parents will have to let go of their children in order to entrust them to God. That’s not to say ignore their wisdom, but do seek God 1st

    • Though I don’t always agree with Oxford Dictionary definitions… I find this to be accurate.

      Good response.

  • Have you discussed you potential disagreement with them? If you have valid reasons, I think it would be a great thing to discuss.

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