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 kids who rebel:
1) It is 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 say, 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 to ‘the average kid,’ a sibling or a friend almost never helps.
2) “It’s No Big Deal”
Many kids don’t actually consider their rebellion a rebellion, and maybe it is not, but if it 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 (started line of thinking from above). The parents did not want 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 over reacting, the lyrics are not even that bad, I barely listen to them anyway, you are horrible and overreacting!”
I pulled the parents aside and I said, I think you should make a deal with her. How about, if she can read you the lyrics and explain what each line means without getting embarrassed, she can buy the album.(See my article on Teen Negotiators)
The album has a lot of nasty gestures, words and references in it and there is no way that she would feel comfortable explaining this to her parents. Yet, what was great about it was that it made her realize that she would be embarrassed. Once they 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 her a choice. The argument was no longer “No and why,” but “your choice.” Often times I see the underlying cause of rebellion is a youth’s desire for choice of some kind. Providing a choice, can help stop the desire to rebel.
4) Wait for Hormone Cycles
Especially for women, rebellion can be worse at certain times of the month, irrational thinking can become more rational when hormones are not clouding judgment. If a brash act of rebellion occurs, it is important to act immediately, but also allow the explanation and process to blow over a bit before setting anything into stone.
In answer to the title above, I think rebellion is all of those things. It is a natural and normal part of growing up and can often by a naughty problem to get rid of. While I am sure my parents hated my rebellious stage, looking back we both learned a lot about each other and it is a great bonding discussion now.
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