Teen Rebellion and Why It's Good - Island of Sanity

Island of Sanity


Teen Rebellion and Why It's Good

There seems to be a natural tendency of teenagers to rebel against their parents and other older authority figures. While small children tend to believe whatever their parents or teachers tell them, when they hit their teens suddenly they start to question and challenge everything. My parents comlained about it. Their parents complained about it. Aristotle even complained about the younger generation of his time.

I'm a 40-something-year-old man with two teenage children. Most people in my position find teen rebellion to be somewhere between annoying and a threat to civilization. I think it's a great and wonderful thing.

Some teen rebellion is about growing up and independence. Young people reach a point where they don't want to be treated as children anymore. Other rebellion is about customs and style. Young people want different music and clothing than their parents. This is just symbolic. The important rebellion is when teenagers challenge their parents' most fundamental beliefs, their religion, politics, morals, and social conventions. This is where teen rebellion performs a valuable social function.

Suppose that every generation tended to accept whatever their parents told them without question. Then any stupid or evil idea would be passed down from generation to generation for eons. It is often very difficult for people to change their minds, to admit that they were wrong about something. At least the next generation should get a fresh start.

When I was in college in the late 1970s, even as a kid I was amused to see how my professors couldn't deal with teen rebellion. Or rather, they couldn't deal with the sort of teen rebellion they actually encountered. When they were young in the 1960s, their parents were very conservative in their politics and morals, so they rebelled against that by becoming very liberal. Because they were more liberal than their parents, they assumed that the next generation would be more liberal still. When I mentioned in class once that I was more conservative than my parents, the teacher expressed absolute disbelief. Another teacher made statements in class indicating that he expected our generation to carry the liberal ideas of his yet further, and he wondered if he would think we were going to far in the same way that his parents thought his generation went too far to the left. Apparently these highly educated men took one example -- their generation was more liberal than their parents -- and immediately leaped to the conclusion that every generation to come would be more liberal than the one before.

They couldn't deal with the fact that we were rebelling against them, when they expected us to join them in rebelling against their parents.

You may think the liberal generation was right. You may think the conservative generation was right. Either way, it's natural to think that when people who agree with you are the ones in control, that the next generation should accept what they say and carry on; but when people who disagree with you are in control, you hope that the next generation will rebel.

Of course not all teen rebellion can be described in terms of conservative versus liberal. And of course teen rebellion doesn't always result in each generation going to the opposite extreme from where their parents were. The generation of the 90's and 00's is moving further to the right than mine did. Whether the next generation will move yet further right, swing back to the left, or stay in pretty much the same place, I don't know. That's because teen rebellion is not a simplistic, reflexive adoption of the opposite of whatever their parents say. (Much as it may seem like that to their parents.) Rather, teens question what their parents believe. They demand explanations and reasons and justifications. During this questioning phase, they are extremely distressing to their parents. But as they reach the end of their teen years, most young people come to conclusions. Most end up concluding that what their parents taught them is pretty much true after all. Others conclude they were more or less wrong and adopt different ideas, in one direction or another.

Sometimes the children are right, and society is better for the rejection of their parents' bad ideas. Sometimes the children are wrong, and society is the worse for it. Most of the time, whether they are right or wrong remains a subject of debate for generations. People often describe their ideas as "modern" and their parents' ideas as "out-dated". This is ironic, as these issues go back and forth constantly. Like, when I was young, people considered themselves very "modern" because they defended free love. Yet this was an idea that was popular in the 1920s, rejected in the 1950s, and which they then revived in the 1970s. As I write this, the "modern" idea is to support gay rights. Yet this was an idea popular in ancient Greece and rejected in the Middle Ages.

Each generation thinks that they are right and that their conclusions are the last word on the subject. Then their kids come along and say no, those old folks had it all wrong, we now have the right answers. And so it goes.

© 2007 by Jay Johansen


Hilda Jul 23, 2014

Thanks for helping me to see things in a dienrefft light.

nike air jordan Sep 21, 2017

My wife and i felt joyous Edward could deal with his reports by way of the precious recommendations he had in your weblog. It is now and again perplexing just to choose to be releasing secrets and techniques the others could have been trying to sell. So we acknowledge we now have the blog owner to be grateful to for this. These illustrations you have made, the straightforward site navigation, the friendships you make it easier to instill - it is everything great, and it's letting our son and the family understand the article is pleasurable, and that is highly important. Thank you for all the pieces!

jordan shoes Sep 29, 2017

I simply wanted to say thanks yet again. I am not sure what I could possibly have sorted out without the type of hints provided by you concerning that topic. It previously was a real intimidating scenario in my opinion, however , being able to see the expert form you processed the issue forced me to leap for joy. Now i'm happier for this work and in addition trust you recognize what a powerful job that you are carrying out teaching the rest with the aid of a blog. I'm certain you haven't come across all of us.

true religion outlet Sep 30, 2017

I want to point out my gratitude for your kindness in support of all those that should have help on the question. Your personal dedication to passing the solution across came to be remarkably good and have continually allowed somebody like me to realize their goals. Your entire interesting guide entails a whole lot a person like me and substantially more to my office colleagues. Thanks a lot; from everyone of us.

steelers jerseys Sep 30, 2017

I really wanted to write a small message to thank you for the pleasant tips and hints you are showing on this website. My particularly long internet search has at the end been rewarded with excellent concept to talk about with my good friends. I would assert that we visitors are truly lucky to be in a magnificent website with many special people with valuable tips. I feel extremely blessed to have used the web page and look forward to plenty of more awesome minutes reading here. Thank you once more for a lot of things.

oakley sunglasses Oct 1, 2017

I as well as my friends were actually viewing the great secrets and techniques located on your site and all of the sudden got a horrible feeling I never expressed respect to the web site owner for those strategies. All the guys appeared to be for that reason glad to learn them and have in fact been using them. I appreciate you for actually being simply helpful and then for pick out varieties of tremendous subjects most people are really desperate to understand about. My personal honest regret for not saying thanks to earlier.

ray ban sunglasses Oct 2, 2017

I want to express my love for your kind-heartedness supporting people that require assistance with this particular issue. Your personal commitment to getting the solution throughout became exceptionally important and has consistently helped men and women like me to attain their endeavors. Your personal valuable guide can mean a whole lot to me and even more to my office colleagues. Regards; from all of us.

yeezy boost 350 Oct 2, 2017

My husband and i were very thrilled when Raymond managed to complete his research through your ideas he had out of your web site. It is now and again perplexing just to be handing out tips and tricks which usually men and women have been making money from. And we discover we have got you to be grateful to for that. The entire illustrations you made, the straightforward web site menu, the relationships your site assist to create - it is all extraordinary, and it's really aiding our son and our family imagine that that concept is entertaining, which is certainly truly serious. Thanks for the whole lot!

new orleans saints jerseys Oct 3, 2017

A lot of thanks for all your valuable work on this site. My mother enjoys working on internet research and it's really easy to see why. A lot of people notice all of the dynamic manner you create both useful and interesting thoughts through your web site and as well attract response from other ones on this topic while my child is undoubtedly studying so much. Have fun with the remaining portion of the new year. You're conducting a stunning job.

kansas city chiefs jerseys Oct 4, 2017

I would like to show my admiration for your generosity supporting men and women that absolutely need guidance on in this subject matter. Your very own dedication to getting the solution along appeared to be incredibly practical and has truly made girls like me to get to their pursuits. This insightful useful information indicates a whole lot to me and substantially more to my peers. Many thanks; from all of us.

chicago bulls jersey Oct 5, 2017

I enjoy you because of each of your efforts on this website. My mum delights in engaging in research and it is simple to grasp why. A number of us hear all relating to the dynamic mode you convey advantageous things through this web site and recommend contribution from visitors about this article so our own simple princess is really studying a lot. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the new year. You are carrying out a dazzling job.

fitflops sale clearance Oct 5, 2017

Thanks for all your hard work on this blog. My niece take interest in engaging in research and it's really simple to grasp why. We all notice all concerning the compelling manner you make very helpful tips and hints on the website and attract participation from other ones about this idea and our princess has been starting to learn a great deal. Enjoy the remaining portion of the new year. You are always performing a good job.

Add Comment