When Teens Reject Their Parent’s Values

During the teen years, patient a person makes the transition out of childhood and into adulthood. It is a journey from dependence to independence – one that involves are many changes in every area: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and socially. During these years, teens question their identity, what they believe in, and their purpose in life. In short, they are people on a path of discovery who are trying to make sense of themselves and how they fit into the world.

During this process, it is common for teens and parents to experience some degree of conflict. Teens begin to recognize that their parents are not perfect and they make mistakes. Indeed, adolescents begin to focus their attention on the flaws in their parents. Many times teens will argue with a parent and say, “well if you do it then why can’t I?” They are constantly scrutinizing their parents’ actions; their friends’ opinions and acceptance are now more important than what their parents say or think. When teens are growing and learning more about who they are they often go through a period of rejecting their parents values – including those concerning religion and society. This is actually a very normal phenomenon. Teens are at a point where they are challenging what they have been taught so far.

Why Do Teens Not Always Believe What Their Parents Believe?

  • It is a normal part of the teen years to question parents especially kids with a strong personality
  • Sometimes a teen may have an undiagnosed problem such as a learning disability which may cause him to feel inadequate and not live up to expectation of elders – whether that refers to parents or teachers
  • Many times teens succumb to peer pressure, going with what their friends believe (even though their parents are right) in order to gain social acceptance
  • If a death or other tragedy occurs, or there is serious illness or financial burden within the family a teen may question the understanding they had of God when they were younger and more naive
  •  Many times teens will view their parents as hypocritical

Tips for Parents
Here are some tips parents should know:

  • Parents should always stay strong in what they believe. Teens tend to appreciate what their parents stand for later on in life when they mature and in the end they will thank you for being consistent
  • Practice what you preach. Teens resent when they see parents who have double standards
  • Love you teen unconditionally – even when they seem to be rebelling they desperately need your love
  • Guide them without telling them what to do
  • Be sure to keep your communication positive – limit criticism, punishment and other bad-feeling interventions

When teens rebel and act out against their parents’ ideals it is quite common for parents to think that their parenting skills are inadequate and that they have somehow failed as parents. Questions such as “why is this happening?” or “where did we go wrong?” can disturb their peace of mind. Parent need to know that raising teenagers is a tough job for everyone. If their teens are uncooperative, it’s more likely to be a developmental issue rather than a personal assault; it’s the child’s stage of life that is to blame. Parents can help themselves by building a support system – talking to other parents of teens, attending parenting classes for this age group and staying in close touch with their children’s teachers. Keeping lines of communication with their children open will make it easier for parents to understand what their teens are going through. Remaining calm and non-reactive will encourage open communication. In this way, parents can help to minimize their teenager’s  rebellious tendencies and maximize their own ability to help their youngster negotiate the challenges of adolescence.

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