Where can I find help as a parent confronting teen rebellion?

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Answered by: Cindy, An Expert in the Parenting Questions Category
Confronting teen rebellion is a large subject, and not all answers are going to be good for all situations. That being said, sometimes we as parents need to take a step back and evaluate the need for confrontation from a wider perspective. What we refer to as teen rebellion is often an attempt on our teenager's part to cross over in some way to independence and maturity. We spend years of parenting telling our children what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and how to clean up afterward. Then they hit the teen years, and we the parents seemingly don't know anything about anything! We're ruining their lives!



Somewhere in between their perspective and ours is the truth. We can be too controlling with our teens, especially if we are thinking about our own teenage blunders and regrets. If we have done a fair job raising our kids, by the time we have teenagers, those teens should know on their own both what is expected of them and also what a good choice looks like. We represent the gatekeepers, and they are trying so hard to be independent. So call them on it. When they need advice, don’t talk at them: ask them what they think they should do. Let them assert independence by making a decision (reserving the parental right to override, of course--). It’s surprising how often you’ll hear your own advice come out of their mouth, but because its their idea, they are more willing to follow the advice.

In fairness, sometimes teenage rebellion is just that, rebellion. Their resistance has nothing to do with independence and everything to do with trying to have as many first experiences as possible, pushing away rules, guidelines, and laws to do, say, feel, and brag about those experiences.



So here's a simple test. Take a step back. How's your teen's relationship with the other adults in their life? Are they getting along with their teacher, their coach, their friend's mom, their employer? If so, it may not be so much teen rebellion as an attempt at independence. What about their grades? Is your rebellious teen performing academically on a level consistent with their "pre-rebellion" performance? If so, then they are demonstrating responsibility at school, and that is a good test of what's really going on. If these relationships are suffering, then the problem may not be a search for independence in and of itself.

Wisdom comes from experience. Our teens do not have a lot of experience, relative to what we have at our age as parents. So they are more likely to try new things simply for the sake of trying them. This is no excuse, but it is perspective. What were we doing at their age? And yet, here we are, as caring parents, doing online research about confronting teen rebellion, so to be better parents. So there’s hope.

There are larger issues that our teens face. Peer pressure is not so simple any more. Teen rebellion is sometimes a reflection of the associations our kids have at school and in the neighborhood. Our teen is still responsible for their individual actions, but the group of teens they run with has great influence. Sometimes the rebellion is drug use, or drinking, and the interaction that seems so rebellious is a defense against discovery, or moodiness based on what level of drug influence they are currently under or needing. It may be gang related, or classroom related.

These problems are not going to be solved, and the incidents of rebellious attitude are not going away, just by reading a few Internet articles. When the issues are greater than a teen’s assertion of independence, we as parents need a community of support, a source outside ourselves to assist us in confronting teen rebellion.

Support can be found in many places, and the impact on your outlook as a parent is immediate. You’ll hear statements like, “You are not alone,” and “Of course a parent feels like you do.” Support is available through community organizations such as churches, youth centers, and even the guidance teacher where your rebellious teen attends school. Other parents with similar situations will encourage you, and you can find educational advice for the issues that are contributing to your child’s teen rebellion. Educated professionals will advise and offer materials to guide you in the process of confronting teen rebellion from the perspective of your teen’s issue(s).

Parenting is not a solo sport. Don’t be rebellious and try to do this your way. Get some help when confronting teenage rebellion. It’s not a sign of weakness or failure. It’s a sign of a good parent.

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