The Pros and Cons of Teen Rebellion
Parents overwhelmingly tack a minus sign onto rebellion. By definition, rebellion refers to resistance or rejection of authority or control. But think a moment. What would happen if your child never resisted or rejected your control? He would remain under your authority (and perhaps roof) forever.
During the teen years the emerging adult begins to extricate himself from his parents' values, ideas, and controls - and attempts to establish his own. So in this tense, it is a positive process - the process of establishing one's own individuality, code of ethics, values, ideas and beliefs. For some youngsters this process occurs early in the teen years; for some it occurs later. For some it will be a difficult transition; for others it will be easy. Parents of the latter group stand around scratching their heads in bewilderment as they listen to the wild stories of parents who feel that they have been to hell and back with their teenagers.
For all teenagers the process of establishing one's own identity is a very necessary procedure. If it does not transpire during the teen years when it is supposed to, it will probably occur at some future time. For instance, during mid-life. Many mid-life crisis situations might actually be termed latent periods of rebellion. How much healthier when the experience occurs during the time frame set aside for it.
Through rebellion the teenager cries out for recognition of his individuality. He no longer wants you to consider him your property, but nonetheless he remains your responsibility. He is attempting to find out who he is, what he believes, and what he stands for. Both his identity and self-respect are on the line. In his search to find these answers, he may react more strongly to your authority than he previously did. You must be wise enough at this time to recognize that his reaction is not something personal against you but something normal developing within him.
Normal rebellion will lead the adolescent to a mature life. This constructive time period will assist the teenager in shedding childish ways and developing independence. You may find it difficult to keep the lines of communication open at times, but even through periods of difficulty both parent and teenager should remain open to exploring persistent problems. Remember that the teenager remains a novice in coping with his own feelings as well as in coping with your feelings and reactions.
Your teenager's vast mood swings may frustrate you. Sometimes he behaves as though he is "king of the mountain," from where he obtains an eagle's view of life and all its dazzling splendor. Before you adjust to that mood, he may plummet into the abyss of despair and hopeless despondency. All facets of life seem to appear greatly magnified or exaggerated. Everything is either great or awful, the coldest or the hottest, the most wonderful or the most detestable. The maturity of your actions and reactions will help him recognize that life 10% what happens to a person and 90% how he reacts to it.
Although he scrutinizes everything, he does not pause long to took in any given direction. One day he may walk a mile out of his way to see Julie. In a few weeks he may walk two miles out of his way to avoid her. At one point he cannot get his fill of pizza. Later he cannot understand all the excitement over it.
During the normal phases of rebellion you may expect your teenager to challenge your authority in a number of areas: He may talk back to you, argue with you, test rules and curfews, question religion, and reject long-established family values. He will also clearly demonstrate the same challenge to authority through the clothes he wears and the music he listens to. Many teenagers will experiment with alcohol, drugs and sex.
Whether your teenager's period of rebellion will remain within the confines of "normal" or whether it becomes abnormal in its intensity and direction depends to a great extent on your reaction to it. If you redouble your efforts to dictate and control, the seeds of insurrection may take root deep inside your child. You may be able to control him for a time, but he will probably vow that some day, somehow, he will get even with you. However, if you can show patience while your child is finding himself, you will not work yourself out of a relationship. And that's of utmost importance, isn't it?