Rebellious teens...or not?
edited: Tuesday, September 16, 2003
By Carol Kluz
Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2003
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Teenage...what is it; why is it so often misunderstood? A few observations by a senior citizen who raised five of them.
Yep, I'm a bonefied senior citizen. In spite of what some may believe, getting 'old' doesn't mean we have a memory lapse about our teenage years. I would like to point out that my generation jumped into the new 'rock n roll' music of the fifties like piranhas on a feeding frenzy. Many parents were aghast; some radio stations refused to play it. We, of course, refused to accept that because we liked the new beat and dance steps it introduced. That didn't mean we tossed all of the values our parents taught us out the window. Fortunately for me, my folks took it in stride, because they remembered the times when the same reactions went out to the 'flapper' frenzy of the twenties.
Teenagers are the 'tweeners'. They are sandwiched between childhood and adulthood. They are naturally eager to separate completely from childhood, and while they want to embrace adulthood, they want to do it on their terms. This is where the misunderstandings come into play. Legally, they are still children, They have yet to test the waters of real life; rent, food, car upkeep, work, and self-sufficiency. It is natural for them to want to get on with that life...to gain independence. After all, freedom is what everyone strives for. So, by dressing differently or listening to music that grates on the ears of their elders, they are seeking that element of independence and freedom. This is natural. Parents should try to take it in stride. This is not being rebellious.
The best way for parents to instill their values into their teens is by communication. Nothing should be 'out-of-bounds' for a teenager when it comes to discussing moral issues. Issues that should be discussed often and openly are; drugs, alcohol abuse, and sex. If you disagree with your teen on something, try not to go into a tirade or become defensive. Talk it out calmly and listen to his/her views while doing it. At the time, you may not think you got through, but you could end up pleasantly surprised.
This isn't to imply that teenagers should be allowed to do whatever they please. If they break a rule, they need to face the consequences of that choice. Respect goes both ways. If you take the time to listen, your teen will reciprocte. Sometimes a parent may give the appearance of listening while thinking: This kid has the brains of a gnat! Actually, the kid has a bigger brain; he just hasn't had the experience or attained the wisdom that is sure to come. Remember, you and I were gnat-brained teens ourselves at one time.
Teens can be a lot of fun. There were times, my teens had me in stitches. And, there were times I strongly desired to trade them in for new models. They were not perfect and many of my premature gray hairs came into existence during their teen years. Each one knew they could talk to me about anything. And to this day, well into their adulthood, they still come to me for encouragement or advice.
'Rebellious teens' is a label that has been around for many generations. This is a misnomer. To me, rebellion implies a complete turning against everything they have been taught. This just isn't the case in most instances. They are trying to find ways to reach the independence that comes with adulthood.