Why Teens Reject Parental Authority (Part 2)
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Why Teens Reject Parental Authority (Part 2)

Kids don't have much respect for parents who are "never wrong." And if you are never wrong, never apologize, or never seek forgiveness, you seem unapproachable to them. In their eyes, it's an imposibble, no-win situation. You choke off dialogue and any kind of respect.
                            teen rejects parental authority

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The concept of parental authority has changed in our society. Many parents can remember when the end of any argument used to be, "Because I'm your father (or mother)." Today that view of authority has changed. Our position as parents does not automatically invest us with authority, from the teen's point of view. Today authority has to be earned, not just demanded. Read the first part - Why Teens Reject Parental Authority (Part 1).

3. "I think parents are inflexible." Kids don't have much respect for parents who are "never wrong." And if you are never wrong, never apologize, or never seek forgiveness, you seem unapproachable to them. In their eyes, it's an imposibble, no-win situation. You choke off dialogue and any kind of respect. While you may be able to force them to do what you want them to do, you really don't have positive authority in their lives. So don't expect them to do all of the changing. Since you can be and will be wrong now and then, simply admit it, rather than try to overpower them. Be approachable. Otherwise teens will just shrug their shoulders and say, "What's the use of trying to talk to them? I already know the outcome."

4. "I don't feel trusted." One of the most common complaints from teens is that they don't feel that their parents trust them. When talking to teenagers, stress the importance of being trustworthy. The parents' side of this is to look for ways to show trust in teens - let them handle some money; let them use the car under appropriate circumstances; give them some freedom, within limits, to manage their time; and allow them to have input into policies that affect them. Show them how they can get even more freedom from you. Say yes to them as often as you can. All of these things communicate a sense of trust to your teenagers.

One of the things that happens in the trust business is that we parents tend to react, not on the basis of what is happening, but on the basis of what might happen. We know what can happen so we react with fear and suspicion. We bombard our kids with questions. We accuse them of sins that they haven't committed. So they feel untrusted and pushed. Our panic has a way of convincing our teens that we don't trust them. A better approach is to ask some thought provoking questions. Trust in the Lord to protect the teens you've prayed for all their lives. Authority ought to be based on mutual trust between you and your children.

5. "I don't know what the boundaries are." Another reason why kids reject parents' authority is that parents sometimes aren't clear about establishing definite boundaries and penalties. Take football as an example: You know where the yard markers are and where out of bounds is. The players go into the game knowing clearly what the rules are and what the penalties are for breaking the rules. That's how it needs to be in a family. When the boundaries keep changing and the penalties aren't consistent, kids become confused. As much as possible, decide on the boundaries and penalties early in the game and enforce them fairly and consistently. When kids feel unsure about boundaries, they will test them constantly and will take advantage of any inconsistency or confusion. This ultimately breeds rebellion.

Something else that makes kids unsure of the boundaries is if Mom and Dad are divided on discipline. It's better for parents to be united on a disciplinary decision than to be totally right about it. Greater damage is done by parental disagreement in front of teens than by letting the other parent follow through on discipline, even if it is flawed in some way. Parents should talk about the flaw later when the children aren't present. Kids are quick to exploit the "divide and conquer" opportunities that come their way. And divided authority makes them disrespect the authority of both parents.

6. "My parents are poor examples." Another reason why teens reject parental authority is that they don't think their parents set a good example for them. They feel that parents expect one thing of them, but do not practice what they preach. They want their parents to be good models for them - to show them by their own lives how they as children should live and respond to various situations.

Ask yourself: "Is my attitude, my example, such that I really want my kids to do what I do, to follow and obey me? Do I tell them to hang up their clothes, but not do it myself? Am I asking them to respect me, but show them little or no respect?"

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Comments (2)

I remember when I was a sophomore in high school – I felt like rebelling against everything. Teenage brains must be wired differently.

I am really worried about my 12 years old son because I am already experiencing his arguments about most of the matters. I hope that your series of articles are helpful in this connection. Good work!