Defeating the Spirit of Rebellion in a Strong-Willed Child

Kathy and Amber DeGraw

No matter how tough it is, there is hope for your child.

NOTE: The following is a guest post from my good friend, Kathy DeGraw. I, too, have a strong-willed teenager. This advice from her is wonderful, powerful and best of all, biblically sound. Kathy is a great teacher.

By Kathy DeGraw

I never thought it would happen to our family. I’m sure many Christian parents say the same thing.

We were all passionately on fire for the Lord—all but one.

The verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6 MEV) took on new meaning after my experience. I learned crucial tenets in the process of dealing with a rebellious child and how not to push her further away from God but draw her back to God.

I never doubted my child would come back. I knew all along the Spirit would take hold of her and set her on fire to become a world changer.

There is hope for your child too. There is hope for any child! The key to deliverance is two-fold; not only for the child but also for the parents.

The parents need to rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and insight. Children need to bind flesh, submit their strong will and allow the Holy Spirit to convict them. We cannot change our children or force them to change, but by the grace of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit we can expect change when we follow the Spirit’s leading.

The foremost thing parents need to do is to pray this simple prayer over their child: “Holy Spirit, convict them and expose the truth to them.”

This prayer is simple, but it is also in its purest form as we are not praying in manipulation, control or self-made agendas of what we want to see changed in them. The Holy Spirit knows better than anyone what prayers our children require and how to reveal their shortcomings to them.

As pastors, it was difficult for my husband and I to discover our daughter wasn’t interested in the pursuit of Jesus as the rest of our family was. Even though our daughter was never into drugs, smoking, drinking or sex, her hyper-sensitive extreme teenage attitude and rebellion was a great strain and stress on our family.

The greatest adjustment for me was to learn to keep my mouth shut when I wanted to enforce my will or control certain situations. For example, there is the time when I discovered she was listening to country music when only Christian music was allowed in our home.

I believe the keys listed below are crucial in helping rebellious children come back to the Lord instead of driving them further away. It worked for me, and I hope and pray it will work for your child. Remember, there is always hope with God.

You have to learn to choose your battles. While my friend would force worship flags into her daughter’s hands to try and encourage her relationship with the Lord, I took a step back and asked the Holy Spirit, “What do you say about this situation and what should my response be?”  I believe we need to rely more on the Holy Spirit than our flesh and natural reaction if we want to win the war on rebellion. For me it has helped over the years to get to know who the Holy Spirit is and how He can help me. Charisma Media has a series called Life in the Spirit. It can help you draw close and learn more about the Holy Spirit too.

I believe the keys listed below are crucial in helping rebellious children come back to the Lord instead of driving them further away. It worked for me, and I hope and pray it will work for your child. Remember, there is always hope with God. Just look at how Saul converted to Paul.

Here are five keys in dealing with a rebellious child:

  1. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead. Seek the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead and guide your conversation and actions with your child, including when to speak, when to stay quiet and what direction to take next.
  2. Back off. Don’t push your child, force your opinions or attempt to control them. Give them the space they need. Pushing and forcing them will only lead them further away.
  3. Pray through declaring prayer. Speak out and declare out your prayers. Bind and restrict the enemy. Take authority in the spiritual realm and make sure the devil knows you mean business. (I declared over my child’s room four times and then I saw dramatic change. You can read about it in my Creation House-published book, Speak Out.
  4. Pray over their possessions. Anoint their bedroom, vehicle and possessions with anointing oil. Pray over their food while you prepare it and their clothes while you fold the laundry. Pray and speak out loud into the atmosphere of their bedroom or vehicle.  Anoint their clothes, bed, toothbrush, whatever you can get your hands on, and claim and call them back to the Lord.
  5. Prophesy it! Prophesy their destiny into the atmosphere. Speak and declare that they are a world changer and will impact nations. Speak into the spiritual realm that the devil will not have your child, but that they will be set on fire for the Lord. Speak and declare, and prophesy what you want to see happen—not in a controlling or manipulative way, but according to the word of the Lord.

Never give up hope that your child will change; keep believing like we did. The Lord told me three times upon dropping my daughter off at college, “This is my will for her life.” She went to a secular college and her faith began to bloom. She took a stand against partying, sexual activities, abortion and homosexuality. She made her faith and stances known in the first year.  She came home that summer and worked on her relationship with me, we are now best friends.

Every year she went back to college, God released more things through her life, she started to blog, and even wrote an article for Charisma Magazine online. She went on mission trips, got involved in a youth group, led Bible studies and, by the last year, was living in a church home in a leadership position. Every summer she came home and worked on another part of rebellion, rejection, or relationships. Instead of her parents, she needed the Holy Spirit, for a time, to lead, guide and convict her.

My girl, who once went to church out of obligation now can’t wait to get inside the church doors of an apostolic prophetic spirit-filled church. She recently approached me and is begging me to allow her to travel the nations and minister with me. Upon moving her back home recently, after her graduation, she requested a prayer corner to be set up in her room, which we gladly obliged.

Again, I want to reiterate the key elements: Don’t give up hope, give distance, pray and declare, and let them have the space they need. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you and them. I encourage you to learn how to lean and rely on the Holy Spirit through Charisma Media’s Life in the Spirit Series.

Learn more about the power of declaring prayer through my book Speak Out.

Kathy DeGraw is a prophetic healing and deliverance minister and the founder of DeGraw Ministries. She is passionate about releasing the love and power of God to empower and activate people. She is the author of several books including; Speak Out, Warfare Declarations, Who is Speaking? and Powerful Prophetic Proclamations. You can connect with Kathy on Facebook at or visit



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