When I was in the 11th grade Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb asked this question as they sang one of their popular duets. It’s a good question to ask.
The book of Proverbs has more to say about fools/foolishness than any other book of the Bible. There we find abundant counsel to help us discern foolishness in our own hearts and in our children.
In their very helpful parenting booklet, HELP! My Teen Is Rebellious, Dave & Judi Coats counsel parents to discern rebellion in their children by using the 5 levels of foolishness found in Proverbs in order to ask and answer the question, “What kind of fool?” They explain:
In Proverbs, we encounter the definition of a fool or rebel; such a person is the exact opposite of a wise man or woman. Proverbs says that a fool does not listen to instruction: he or she is rebellious. A fool rejects the instruction and direction given to him or her by someone in authority—a parent, a guardian, or a pastor.
Not all fools are at the same stage: some are further down the path and more deeply entrenched in their foolishness than others. As a parent or guardian, it is important that you determine what level of rebellion in your home you presently face. In the following pages, we explain the various levels of foolishness that are described in the book of Proverbs. This identification of foolishness will help you to know what practical and biblical direction you should follow. As all roads of rebellion ultimately lead away from God, your hope lies in turning your son or daughter to God through the cross of Christ. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:6, ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way and the lord has laid on him [Jesus Christ] the iniquity [sin] of us all.’
Pray that your teen will see the foolishness of his or her choices. Until your teen has a new heart and life in God that comes from the presence of Christ within, any change will be merely external and will not last.
- The Simple Fool (Prov 7:7) is open and receptive to good or bad influences, but is immature.
- The Slow Fool (Prov 10:23; 13:19) is someone who as a tendency to make wrong choices.
- The Settled Fool (Prov 10:14, 21) has decided in his or her heart to live a life of rebellion against what is right.
- The Shameful Fool (Prov 17:21) has closed his or her mind to the voice of reason.
- The Scorner (Prov 22:10) is the fool who acts out in extreme ways, often indignant and showing contempt and utter disdain for someone or something.
Dave & Judi Coats provide complete descriptions of each level of foolishness and sound, biblical counsel as to how to deal with each.
Purchase HELP! My Teen Is Rebellious here.