Why do Teenagers Rebel against Parental Expectations
Teenagers go through a phase in life where they tend to rebel and act out. It is considered relatively normal due to the fact that many parents experience this course of behavior with one or more of their children. When it comes to a child rebelling, they can do so in many forms.
Childhood rebellion is a poster characteristic of the adolescent years. Common types of rebellion are from society or fitting in and from adult authority. A young adult will proudly change how they act or feel and it happens often. Teens go through a hormonal change to help their maturity in the future. Yet, before this happens, they act out, fight, involve themselves in drugs, or simply seclude themselves from others. A very common form of rebellion is seclusion. A child will seclude themselves on the basis that they “don’t fit societal norms.” Yet, even though this may be true, there is a place for everyone in society. These children just act this way for attention. They want to be unique and they want to be their own individual. This common rebellion technique often leads to other forms of rebellion.
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When a child rebels, they want everyone to observe how they are acting. Though it seems they want to be independent, they actually form a dependency on self-definition and focus solely on that instead of being themselves. The more authoritative rebellion comes in later years. Many teens want to feel like they have control of their lives and no one can decide for them. This form of rebellion allows teens to act out and deceive others all while seeking individuality and attention. That is the entirety to rebellion. These young adults are seeking ways to find themselves, but use destructive mannerisms and the pull of peer pressures to prove themselves. Many cases of rebellion can be derived from the stress of rejecting peer pressure. As one wants to fit into the adolescent norm, they are pressured to perform like all other young adults; they participate in not just the commending acts, but the inappropriate as well. This is what leads to drug use and alcohol abuse.
Serious rebellion typically begins at the onset of adolescence, ages 9-13. Parents normally believe that this power-like rebellion spawns from their actions, which is a mislead belief. It is simply acted against them. The rebellious phase of a child’s life is their inner struggle to ascertain a newer perception of themselves. Rebellion at this age expresses itself through seeking adulthood and refusing to be “treated as a child.”
Rebellion in middle adolescence, ages 13-15, is expressed differently. These children are growing into young adults and choose to experiment with themselves and others. It is in this phase of rebellion that many teens turn to sex inquiries and drug use. These show up as rebellious to the parent, yet these young adults simply want to fit in. When it comes to sex experimentation, many parents worry. During this stage, adolescents fall for inappropriate significant others. For example, age differences. Many young teens attract themselves to older men and women seeking adulthood and companionship. They strive to have an adult relationship to help achieve maturity, and later find out this is not the way. This leads to parental disobedience and depression due to being forced out of a relationship the young adult believes could be forever. This is also how many young men and women regret losing their virginities. This stage shows the effects of peer pressure on a young adult who is trying to find their self. This drug use can also be shown as a rebellion against authority. Children are taught what is right and wrong, legal and illegal at a young age. Using drugs and abusing alcohol is a way to show authorities that this young adult has no apprehension to the law and simply wants to have fun and be whoever they would like to be.
Rebellion in late adolescence, ages 15-17, is usually a long awaited rebellion. These children are often labeled as the “good child” or “prudes.” This form of rebellion is commonly caused by some form of bullying. The teen grows tired of being called these unappealing names and finally decides to jump on the bandwagon of sex and drug use and disobedience. These children have the most dramatic reaction to the peer pressure they are faced with and eventually buckle under the weight of it. Rebellions like these are in search for independence as well. As these adolescents are strongly attached to their parents and guardians, they slowly drift from that bond in high school as graduation and the looming independence draws near. They slowly pull away from their parents and perform a late stage rebellion to gain the separation and autonomy they seek.
In the last stage of rebellion, ages 18-23, adults find defiance in battling oneself. For example, they know they must be on time to work and school, yet they don’t get themselves up; when they know that their work must get done, yet cannot seem to motivate themselves to do it. This stage shows the battle of responsibility. It becomes less like a rebellion and more like a struggle for control of their own behaviors.
In his fascinating book, “Born to Rebel” (1997), Frank Sulloway posits that later born children tend to rebel more than first born. He proves this by explaining how they identify less with parents, do not want to be clones of the older child or children who have come before, and give themselves more latitude to grow in unique ways. So, parents may find later born children to be more rebellious. These children tend to show rebellious signs early in life, in the onset of adolescence, and grow more and more defiant as they age. It’s been studied that these forms of rebellion are the more severe cases. Children who participate in rebellion at young ages, and who are never corrected, become absorbed in the need to rebel and focus solely on the dependent relationship they have created with their defiance.
A lot of children who rebel also base themselves off of others. Children who do not have encouraging and supportive role models at home tend to rebel against societies views of how a child their age should act. This isn’t based off of a need to defy authority or isolate them from the world; this is simply a need to control how they are perceived. So, without strong role models to control healthy and benevolent rebellion, these adolescents are inclined to behave however they want and have no regards for any consequences.
Almost all children have some sort of rebellion. It may not be always be a dangerous form of rebellion like drug or alcohol abuse, but it can show itself in many forms. Even so, teenage rebellion is a vital part of childhood. It helps children and young adults find themselves and their individuality. They search for their own success and use these “rebellions” as their outlets to find them. Rebellion is not just because your child does not want to obey or doesn’t want to participate, it is simply because they want to find themselves and have control, which is usually why they rebel and turn to drugs. These children want to make their own decisions and they strive for adulthood. This is proven by the first form of rebellion which is expressed in forms of seeking adulthood, or not wanting to be treated as a child any longer.
- Blvd Treatment Centers. “Teenage Drug Addiction: How Rebellion Can Make Your Child Drug Free.” Blvd Treatment Centers, 22 Dec. 2016, www.blvdcenters.org/blog/teenage-drug-addiction.
- “Rebel with a Cause: Rebellion in Adolescence.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/200912/rebel-cause-rebellion-in-adolescence.
- “Teenage Rebellion.” Culture and Youth Studies, 31 Mar. 2014, cultureandyouth.org/troubled-youth/articles-troubled-youth/teenage-rebellion/.
- “Top Reasons Why Teenagers Use Drugs and Alcohol.” The Edge, 9 Oct. 2018, www.theedgerehab.com/blog/why-teenagers-use-drugs-what-every-parent-needs-to-know/.