Rebellion: My daughter was a rebellious teenager, my stepson was 12, and my wife was 39. Rebellion can happen at any age. I worked with hundreds of adults at my clinic who were acting out rebellious behavior. Many of them were just angry and ended up getting into trouble or addicted to something. There is no limit to the amount of damage a rebellious person can cause. No limit of heartache they can cause for people around them. What do most of these people in my life have in common? No. It wasn't me they had me in common. That’s one of the symptoms of rebellion; it seems they all have someone else or something else to blame. Then it sort of justifies their destructive behavior. What am I supposed to do or not do when we see rebellion played out? How do we communicate with a rebellious person? What can I do to bring that person back? Is all rebellion bad? All I can do is offer my life experience to give you an idea. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t. In this article I want to suggest the root cause of rebellion what I found to be true in most cases.
My daughter was 15 years old and addicted to drugs. But the chances of someone falling into drugs were high after what my kids went through. Her drug of choice was Meth. But it could have been anything. My daughter had friends that did it, and a mother on it. Meth is a very addictive and deadly drug. She was living with me full time along with her other 3 siblings. My daughter’s life could be at stake here. Everyone is at risk while living with a Meth addict. Plus a person can get permanent brain damage, go to jail and rehab for many years. I had to learn fast about that drug and what to do. Every day on that crap causes more damage and dependency.
Did the drugs cause the rebellion or did the rebellion cause the addiction. Addictions, or dangerous behaviors can be symptoms of rebellion. It is not the cause of rebellion. Go ahead and take away the friends, and the pipes and we will still have a rebellious person on our hands. Take the door off the hinge after your son slams it in your face. It will still not change his attitude. The pipes, the friends, and the doors are not the problem. Just symptoms. The problem goes beyond addiction, screaming, leaving in the middle of the night, unfaithfulness, crime, and disrespect. Punishing a person for the bad behavior is important but it can also lead to even more rebellion. We can move out of the neighborhood or send the kid to a Catholic boarding school, and we will just have a confined rebellious person. It can seem like we are constantly trying to put out a fire. We can finally put one out and a couple of days later the person is back in the same fire and even worse. What is causing this behavior then? What keeps sparking this up over and over again?
Before we cast too much judgment on the rebellious person, keep in mind we all have symptoms of rebellion. Breaking the rules at work, speeding, flirting, lying. We know the rules, but we still break them. Well, that’s rebellion. We all do it to a degree. It doesn’t mean that we hate the people making the rules. Sometimes we just want to break rules. A person may not even break a rule. They may just want to be a little different than everyone else. Rebellion shows up in a hundred different ways. How a person dresses, wears their hair or talks. It used to be an act of rebellion to have a tattoo. Now you're rebellious if you don't have one. A person can rebel against authority figures like teachers, parents, police, or society. They can rebel against God and morality. They can rebel against their own moral code. They can rebel against any standard, just because it’s a standard. The acts of rebellion are all around us. There are no limits. Whether it’s self-murder, mass murder or just going faster than the posted speed limit; these are just symptoms of rebellion.
Most people who are rebellious know what the rules are. But it doesn’t matter. They will break them anyway; even if it could cause great harm to themselves and the people around them. My stepson was constantly getting into trouble for stealing stuff. Cars, money, credit cards, someone else’s identity, whatever. If there was a standard, he would break it. It a was path of self-destruction and he finally arrived. It led him into drug addiction, prison, and permanent psychological problems. His lack of money or upbringing did not cause his acts of rebellion. My daughter rebelled by taking drugs, and hanging out with dangerous people. She would leave in the middle of the night when everyone was sleeping to party with her buds. She knew what the rules were. It didn’t matter.
There was one time her party buddy dropped her off. I decided to go after this jerk with a baseball bat. I was going to smash up anything that had glass in his car. Good thing for him my car stalled after a few miles of hot pursuit. But regardless, I could have smashed his car into the ground and my daughter would still have rebellion issues.
My wife conformed to the most respectful rules and standards for 10 years while we were together. Then, suddenly that all changed. If there was a rule, she would break it. Rebellion destroyed her life. It took away her family, business, self-respect, and 5 husbands. She has spent years in prison and rehab because of it. What is going on with these people? Is it the bad drugs, bad friends, bad family, bad husbands, bad morals? Unlikely.
Acts of rebellion are fueled by a very powerful human desire: Validation. We all want it. We all want to be noticed. The most creative minds and successful athletes have a strong desire to be validated. They gain the respect they are looking for when recognized as a winner. Some people go to extremes to be noticed, to be heard, and to be respected. Sometimes those extremes can lead to great human contribution. It depends. People who went against the standard gave us some of the greatest contributions to society. Their act of rebellion led to great works of art, groundbreaking discoveries, music, and business. People who did not accept the standard started some of the greatest world religions and movements in history. They rebelled against the accepted code of ethics of that religion. Many times, it cost them their life. There were some people in the 1700s that rebelled against Great Britain and forged the Declaration of Independence. How rude! Why can’t we all just get along and go with the flow? Why break the rules? Sometimes rebellion is necessary. Then there was this guy who just couldn’t get along with the leaders and their dumb rules. They had him executed for it, but 3 days later he came back to life. Many times these acts of rebellion lead to something great. Whether good or bad, they all have something in common: They all want validation for their cause.
When people feel disrespected, ignored, or cast out, they turn to rebellion. Perhaps they want to get back at someone, or to make a point. They can be extremely passionate about their cause or they may want to just screw the world. If they don’t get validated there can be hell to pay. The more passionate a person is about something, the more they will be led to acts of rebellion. It can turn out either good or bad.
1. What can I do to keep rebellion from starting in the first place? Of coarse, the better situation is to prevent it before it starts. It doesn’t matter if we are a parent, a teacher, a wife, a husband, a business manager or an entire nation. People under us need to feel validated. We all want to feel appreciation from those people we look up to or we love. How do we do that? Failure or success can depend on that one factor alone. If there is a lack of respect and appreciation that bond will break. It will turn to rebellion. Validation is one of the most important building blocks to relationships. It doesn’t even cost much. Just say thanks or give a little hug or a card can go a long way. Hell, you can just text message someone these days. How about, “How was your day?” Then listen. Do it and don’t stop. It is worth it.
2. What should I do if it happens to someone I care about? Rebellion can be destructive and negative. That person may feel cast out, and rejected by his family or society. Now they are just pissed off and this is the way to get back at them. Some of these people cannot be reached. But there are others who just need to be touched by someone they look up to. Someone who can make them feel validated. That may be a challenge if that’s the same person who messed them up to begin with. That information is valuable to have if we can get it. Who was it that brought this anger on? What was said? What happened? Then try to fix it. Give that person enough respect to listen to them-especially if it’s our own son or daughter. Listen to them and bite your tongue if you are going to go into lecture #39-C. Forget it. Maybe all it takes is a little of our attention and a sincere apology. Validate them. It will cost nothing and it could save us from permanent isolation away from them.
3. What do I do with someone who is not respecting me or my home? Rebellion can take on a dangerous element. Whatever the reason is for being upset or angry, rebellion is not to be tolerated if it becomes disrespectful to others. Name calling, illegal activity, drugs all need to come to a stop. If that person is living under your roof, they need to respect that. Provide unconditional love and validation for the person but not the acts. Let that person know you care about them, but you will throw their little tattooed butt and their stuff in the snow if they are not respecting you. Let them know you will make their life miserable if they continue to harm themselves.
Something that worked for me: When my daughter was determined to leave and get high with her friends, I did not just sit around waiting for her to get back. Police were called and notified of my missing daughter. I called every phone number in her not-so-little black book. I told whoever answered that my daughter was missing and the police are looking for her. "Be sure to let me know if you hear anything," I said politely. I left messages if I didn’t get someone. By that afternoon, my daughter wanted me to pick her up. Apparently none of her friends wanted her at their house anymore. Hmm, wonder why? Soon after that she checked into a rehab and was delivered from that terrible addiction. I could not be more proud of her. She has grown into one of the most dedicated mothers I have ever met.
4. Is it really that bad? Most times, not. It may be awkward to come home from work and your kid’s eyebrows are missing. Maybe it’s embarrassing at the airport when their face keeps setting off the metal detector. But some of this is just curiosity. It will fade, scar up, or grow out. It’s just a phase. Don’t give them what they want; shock and reaction. Just be cool, like yeah you’re the 5th person I saw today with that same piercing. (You can pull your hair out later). As long as their act is not harmful, then let them turn their hair pink, wear their damn pants around their knees, or listen to rap music (with head phones). This little act may be the only thing that is giving them a feeling of validation. They may think, ‘at least now people think I am cool.’ Maybe the only compliment the person gets are from the other little rebels with tongue piercings. It is important to them. If you make them remove their piercing you may be removing their feeling of identity. It is really not that big of a deal. But if we mess around with a person’s feeling of worth, than there can be a high price to pay. More than we can possibly afford.Share |
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