Teen Rebellion: Natural, Normal or Naughty?

My brother and I secretly bought uncensored Dr. Dre albums in high school and played them whenever my parents were not home. We also had an elaborate system to hide, but keep readily accessible, our Eminem CDs (we liked rap). While thinking about this minor form of rebellion, I couldn’t help but wonder:

…if I rebelled by listening to Eminem, how will Eminem’s daughter rebel by listening to Christian music?

This line of thought made me realize a few things about teen rebellion:

1) It’s Never Relative

You often hear:

My friends do soooo much worse!

You should see most other kids my age!

Your sister never did this!

Honestly, rebellion is never relative. And often times, people are hypocritical about it. Sometimes I hear parents who tell their kids, “You need to act like your sister,” but then also demand that “just because your friends do it, does not mean you should do it, too. Whether you are going through your own child’s rebellion, looking back or looking ahead, it is important to understand that comparing your child to “the average kid,” a sibling or a friend almost never helps, and will probably just cause everyone more frustration.

2) Its No Big Deal

Many kids don’t actually consider their rebellion a rebellion—in other words, your teen isn’t trying to drive you crazy. But if his or her behavior is upsetting you, then you need to address it right away. A few days ago I was working a family through an argument they were having. The 14-year-old daughter wanted to buy an uncensored rap album. The parents did not want her to.

The daughter began to throw a fit:

I do not understand what the big deal is, they practically play this on the radio! Everyone has this music, you are completely overreacting, the lyrics are not even that bad, I barely listen to them anyway, you are horrible and overreacting!

I pulled the parents aside and said, “I think you should make a deal with her.How about telling her this? If she can read you the lyrics and explain what each line means without getting embarrassed, she can buy the album.”

The album has a lot of nasty gestures, words and references in it and there was no way that the girl would feel comfortable explaining all the words to her parents. Yet, what was great about this solution was that it made the daughter realize that she would be embarrassed. Once her parents told her this option, you could see her face flush as she mentally went through some of the lyrics in her head. The argument ended right there:

Oh, she said, I guess I could see how that would be inappropriate.

3) Rebel for Choice

Another reason that this tactic ended the argument was because it gave the teenager a choice. The argument was no longer No and why, but your choice. Often times I see that the underlying cause of rebellion is a youths desire for choice of some kind. Simply providing your teen a choice can help stop the desire to rebel.

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