Teen Rebellion does not have to happen! Even though society says it is normal. I disagree because of my experience! My credentials?
As the mom of ten, 6 of whom are out of the teens years, 3 teenagers and 1 preteen, I see our children in all stages from youth to married with children. We are not perfect nor is our family perfect. But, so far, our children have not rebelled. We have a close, growing, deep relationship with our children and the with each other.
Besides teaching our children about God, I want them to be self-confident, responsible adults. This takes love, training and guiding.
That being said, children are NOT robots that we can program. Though they tend to be tape recorders when young, as they grow, they make their own decisions. And, this is good – that is being a responsible adult.
We have great influence over them and hopefully can lead them to make the right decisions.
Eventually, however, they will and should cut the apron strings and be their own individuals. So, make your influence count now, while you can.While it has the most impact. And, while they look to you for love, acceptance and approval.
Preventing Teen Rebellion Requires Investing
Do you expect your child to pilot the space shuttle without training? How about something more realistic. When your child reaches 16 yrs of age, you don’t just hand over the keys to your brand new Lexus, do you?
If so, chances are, you’ll have a wrecked Lexus!
Nor should you expect them as teenagers to act like anything but children, that is, if you haven’t spent time training and teaching. You reap today from what you sowed yesterday.
Or, like with a retirement fund, you do not reach 65 and it miraculously appears, you have to make investments. What other analogy can I call upon to make this point?
So, with your children you absolutely have to invest in them starting from the earliest years building a relationship of openness, trust, increasing responsibility, accountability and independence. It takes lots of time and real commitment.
Children Meet Expectations
With teen rebellion, as with the terrible two’s, you get what you expect. But now, it is not just a 25 lb child that you can discipline, it is a 100+ lb person who might equal or exceed your weight, size and vocabulary.
The myth of teen rebellion is propagated by parents who didn’t/don’t take time to train and discipline for various reasons (ie the up-bringing they experienced, ignorance or selfishness).
Maybe we could treat the first two a little less severely, but selfishness is really the main culprit and there is no excuse for it. Church activities, work, shopping and time with friends are necessary.
However, often they are used to excess, as a cover for just not wanting to be with your family.
Other obvious examples of selfishness to the exclusion of family time are hunting, fishing, the gym, mom’s morning out and girls night out.
Just about any valid activity can be used as an escape from the responsibilities that we undertook in our marriage vows and parenthood.
Here some may claim that they didn’t “want” to be parents, it was “_____’s fault”. This is just another example of selfishness, wanting the the pleasures of life without the concurrent responsibilities.
Children Are Mirrors
Children are mirrors of us as parents. I am not just speaking of teen rebellion here, but when our children are having attitude problems, I look at my own attitudes.
More times than not, their bad attitudes are a reflection of my own!
When my attitudes are straightened out, theirs seem to follow.
Our children see how we talk on the phone, the things we look at, the efforts we go to attain a “look” and what we value. Our priorities are demonstrated every day by how we keep our word and what displaces the so-called “important” things of family life.
Teen Rebellion is a Cry
Teen rebellion is just one example of the fact that children of all ages are crying out for attention, acceptance and praise. This cry unheeded often turns into a display of rebellion just to get some reaction out of their parents.
They desire the parent’s time and praise but when they consistently don’t receive any, they will look elsewhere.
Initially, this “elsewhere” is usually at an extreme (friends, activities, behavior), as an attempt to grab their parents attention. If ignored and unchecked, the extreme becomes their norm and they learn to substitute it for the lacking parental relationship.
Anything of Value Requires Sacrifice
This may seam scary to some of you, to others it is all too true. But it doesn’t have to be. We all can choose to do the right thing even though it cost us (time, money, effort and continued acceptance by our so-called friends).
My husband and I are not perfect nor are our children perfect children. We often have called our first son our “test child” because we didn’t have an exact path to follow.
There is no exact path, but there is a common goal: to raise up responsible adults. Many people have defaulted for a substitute goal (ie to get the child out of the house, to get them an education, to get them married). But the default answer (goal) is usually wrong or, at the least, not the best – because it is easy. Anything of value requires effort and sacrifice to achieve.
12 Steps to Dealing With Teen Rebellion
- Have a unified front – parentS. If you are divided – be reconciled (from what is allowable for your child to the entire aspect of your marriage). Your children will see the lack of consistency as lack of authority.
- Start today and be consistent with your children – no matter the age.
- Set boundaries/rules and stick to them. Decide beforehand the consequences of breaking the rules and enforce them.
- Find something to praise and praise good behavior and character. They do have some good qualities. Look for them!
- Don’t ignore their undesirable behavior. Nor let your correction of it be the definition of your interaction.
- Actively pursue communication. Trivial stuff at least. But, this will allow a you an in for the more important matters as they arise.
- Be honest with them. Let them know (confess) that you are not perfect. If they are teenagers, they already know. When you share your own mistakes and what you now know would have been the better choice, you make yourself real. And you give them the possibility of learning from your mistakes rather than having to attend the school of hard knocks.
- Spend time with them – quantity, quality and make use of the teachable moment.
- Make your family your priority. Choose between what is “good” to spend time on and what is the “best” to spend time on.
- Say “no” to activities that take you away from your family. Activities must be balanced. What you spend your time on shows what is important to you. Your children will know what you value!
- Pick your battles. To be honest, many things that we as parents find to be so important now, in the long run, really are not that important. With your spouse, decide what is and is not important.
- Act – do no react. When faced with a disrespectful child/teen, it is important to stay calm and act in manner that shows respect for them as a person. Do not lose control and react in anger.
Love is a Commitment
The biggest step in all this is your commitment to your children. Our English speaking society uses “love” too loosely. All normal parents “love” their children – just as they “love” ice-cream and vacations and their pets. But the difference should be the measure of commitment to our children.
Again, our level of commitment is reflected in the priority each activity takes. And the priority level is demonstrated by what can bump it from our plans.
Surely, critical, unexpected emergencies do come up in our lives which turn everything upside down. My husband’s favorite phrase comes to mind also; “you do what you want to do“.
I know there are some special cases where this may not apply 100%, but these special cases should be the exception not the rule. So, take time with them.
Choose to be with your children, choose to be a family doing things together (not just in the same house doing individual things).
Our Family Life
My husband and I made the choice to drastically change our lives by moving out here to west Texas and start a vineyard. My husband had a professional job making over $90K/yr by working for a chemical company that required him to be gone at least 10 hr. each day.
With our vineyard, we are now able to live comfortably while working together as a family. Just being together (read as working: digging, hoeing, training grapevines, pruning, etc.) gives them opportunity for all sorts of deep conversations – real intimacy.
Home education (which we have done all along ) has always provided me with teachable moments. No duh! But, home educating mothers have the privilege to teach far more than letters and numbers.
By the time your child is five, they are past the time consuming phase and are able to start contributing back to the family. By changing their dirty diapers you deserve the privilege to teach them to read, to do math and to be excited about learning.
Why give it up to someone else after you’ve already done all the hard work?
This also is applicable to religious education. There is nothing like the joy of leading your own children to Christ and hearing them express their own heart-felt repentance and new faith!
Family Time Examples
Other examples of our family time include:
- reading books
- playing games
- eating together around the dinner table
- sitting on the patio at the end of a hard day’s vineyard work
Three times a day we all sit together to eat and discuss whatever affects the family. Rarely (never) does a meal last less than 30 min.
Everyone is encouraged to participate and join in the discussions. But, this has to be taught. 3-7 year olds often find toys more attractive; they must learn to be adults.
Parenting is an unbelievable privilege – Be Responsible!
So , start now laying the foundation to avoid teenage rebellion. Spend time equipping your children so they have the ability to choose wisely.
If you are past the early years with them, STOP and choose this day to do what is right. Don’t offer up excuses and say, “it’s hard!” It may be more difficult than sitting on the couch watching the Superbowl, but the pay-back far exceeds any inconvenience.
Commit and spend time.
You are the #1 influence in your child’s life. Is it the best? It is said that the iniquities of father’s are past on to the 3rd and 4th generation. I believe that these are not sins, but rather the tendency to sin. They are learned by experience, watching and listening.
Guess who your child is watching!
What are your thoughts on teenage rebellion? Leave a comment – I would love to know!
Other parenting posts include: Are the Terrible Twos Really Terrible?