Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Did YOU ever put yourself in harm's way to spite your parents?

Was talking with D about the idea of taboo and rebellion, particularly in teenagers. Also about parenting styles and choices, and the idea of not being too stricts or making things taboo so your kids won't rebel too badly...

Dave never put himself in harms way to spite his parents, neither did I, and yet we both had very strict parents.

I did get pregnant at 16 years of age, not to spite my parents, rather in the search of love and affection. I started smoking at 12, not to spite my parents, but because I thought the other kids looked cool smoking. I binge drank at 19, at which time I was legally an adult. And I smoked pot for a month when I was 22, because I lived in share accommodation with other pot smokers and I want to do the social thing. In the end, I moved out after 4 weeks because smoking pot all day seemed like a really stupid thing to do...

Dave's teenhood and young adulthood was even tamer than mine.

And yet, I keep hearing, "If you make it taboo, they'll be more likely to rebel". I just don't know if that holds water.

My friends who grew up in households where they were allowed to drink alcohol with dinner from childhood ended up binge drinking more and much younger than I did, so how did introducing them early and casually at home work as a preventative there?

My friends who were allowed to hang out at the mall, or go to parties on the weekend (which I wasn't allowed to do), did more drugs and from a much younger age than I did.

Maybe rebellion is genetic?

Maybe that means because I wasn't particularly rebellious and Dave wasn't particularly rebellious, then our kids aren't likely to be particularly rebellious?

I don't know.

Maybe, it's got to do with consistently. A rule was a rule was a rule in our house, and same with Dave's. There wasn't any negotiation, but the very firm boundary. Our parents were the parents and we were the kids. There was no pretense of peer oriented friendship. My parents didn't care if we thought it was unfair, and neither did Dave's parents.

That said, when we were adults, we truly were adults. We provided for ourselves, we moved out of home. We became autonomous. Both Dave's parents (who always lived in one house from when he was 11 and who were happily married for 57 years) and my parents (who moved house with use dozens of times and were accrimoniously divorced after 13 years), were there for us as adults when we needed a place to live while getting back on our feet after a difficult patch, but we were also expected to GET BACK ON OUR FEET and become self-sufficient again.

I guess I'm thinking, when we were children, we KNEW we were the children, and then when we grew up we KNEW we'd grown up... So, maybe we never needed to show prove to our parents that they weren't the boss of us???

And we never put ourselves in harm's way to spite them, because we understood that when they made rules or choices we didn't like, not only were they non-negotiable, but they were to keep us safe.


Rachael said...

I think there are so many factors...not just parents, but personality, your childrens peers etc.

I was a latchkey kid of a single parent. My mum doesn't know the half of what I got up to when she wasn't around! BUT, at the same time there were certain things I just didn't do because I didn't want to get in trouble. I guess I knew the limits.

I think when you rebel you want your parents to know and to put your wrongdoing in their face, whereas I would be mortified if my mother knew the stuff I got up to.

I'm pretty sure I will be a reasonably strict parent to my future adolescents ...and I just hope my kids respect that and don't feel the need to rebel too much!

Sif Dal said...

Did you see the abc program tonight about teenagers and risk taking?

Maybe uncool kids are less likely to engage in risky behaviour because they don't have mates to impress?

Juniper said...

Shame I missed the show you mentioned - I hope I can find it online soon?

I took many many risks as a teenager, but I don't think I did them with the *conscious* intention to spite my parents. Maybe *unconsciously* though?? I remember feeling very angry and misunderstood as a teen, just not "heard" yk?

I wish being or "feeling" uncool could some how inoculate kids from risk taking. I think though, that sometimes "uncool" kids can take different kinds of risks IMO, like hanging out all day in their bedroom online, cause they have no IRL friends, or drinking or drugs to dull the pain of feeling "uncool", or the depression and anxiety and low self esteem that can sometimes (not always!) accompany *feeling* (not necessarily *being*) "uncool" yk?

I don't know, I wish I knew all the answers since teenagedom is approaching our household fast and furiously LOL! Really interesting to think about though! Wish I was feeling more articulate too!

Sif Dal said...

Yeah, but if those uncool kids don't have computers in their room and if their parents take the time to talk to them and give them independance in line with their exhibited ability to act responsibly, doesn't that go a ways to mitigating stuff like drinking or drug taking.

It's very hard to hide drinking if your parents are tuned in. It's hard to surf the net for hours in your room if you don't have net access in your room. Drugs can be scored in most school environments, so that's hard to combat, but even still staying emotionally connected to your kids must go some way to mitigating those risk behaviours...

It seems to me a lot of parents just go, "There nothing I can do, s/he is GOING to drink/do drug/be sexually promiscious, and if I try to prevent it, I'm only going to make the situation worse" - I don't buy it, I just don't. I've seen many, many teens NOT rebel in ways that would put them in harms way...

I wonder if that "hands off lest we make it worse" mindset isn't just a defense against any kind of blame if the child does lose their way between childhood and adulthood.

Good Job!