Teens getting out of control - do you think there are situations it's inevitable? Can you prevent it?(17 Posts)
Sorry, I know this sounds a bit journo-ey, it's not, just based on discussion with DH tonight really after musing. DS is only 8 and while I'm in no way worrying or even really thinking about this right now, it might come up so may be worth thinking about, however briefly.
(To try to explain a bit better). DH reckons that most teens will go through a phase where they want to rebel/feel generally like nobody understands them and their parents are so awful, sometimes due to crap stuff at home but also sometimes just in response to normal boundaries. And that if this happens to coincide with them finding someone/something which validates that - whether it's dodgy friends, drugs, unhealthy relationships, or a disneyfied dad or whatever, they will tend to go in that direction inevitably, rather than the phase being a normal teenage phase.
I think I agree with the first premise (that most teens will go through a phase like that) but I'm not sure about the second (that if they have an opportunity to run with it, they will). He's seen it happen in his family, which is where he's coming from, whereas I'm going on instinct more than anything.
I suppose I'm interested to see what others think and whether you think there's anything that can help prevent a situation like this occurring.
(Have just realised how late it is so will be back in the morning)
I think it's a bit of a myth that all teenagers want/need to rebel. I have two lovely teenagers and they have plenty of lovely friends who have good relationships with their parents. The children I know that have gone off the rails were mostly troubled before they were teenagers, often because of issues at home. Some have become challenging due to developing mental health problems or where per-existing conditions combined badly with anxiety and identity issues that seem to hit a lot of teenagers. Also being a teenager can be a difficult time with pressure from school, changes to friendships, first romantic relationships, worries about finding out who you are, planning for the future etc. It's a hard time for a lot of them.
I think that we've simply been quite lucky (ds was very challenging when he was younger and dd was a demanding baby so it's probably all swings and roundabouts). Things that help are I think letting your children become more independent over time, not imposing arbitrary rules, appreciating who they are, working on developing common interests, making them take increasing responsibility (chores, homework etc), sympathizing with their issues and concerns (so they are used to sharing with you rather than turning exclusively to friends for support).
My DS is nearly 18 has never smoked or touched a drink and sat cuddled up to me last night. He's really into bodybuilding and he used to volunteer taking old ladies shopping his mates are lovely too. My DD is 16 and the most beautiful girl you've ever seen. She doesn't bother with boys and loves spending time with me. She's got a Saturday job and she's very popular with the staff and customers there. Not all teenagers are full of strife
I have a 17 year old DS who has never been a scrap of trouble. He's very like me and a real home bird although since going into 6th form he's starting to go out a little more but this is usually just round a friends house or to the cinema. He has never smoked and hates the taste of alcohol. He admires girls from afar but seems too unsure at the moment to ask anyone out so have had no relationship issues - yet! Don't get me wrong, he can be a stroppy so and so sometimes but no more than me when I have PMT!
We have always had quite firm boundaries as DH and I both come from police backgrounds so have seen all too often what can happen with teenagers who are left to their own devices with little input from parents.
I have teens that aren't lovely but nor have they gone off the rails. Their friends seem similar (or maybe mostly lovely).
I slightly agree with OP's DH about biology + opportunity in 2 stages... but like Nooka I think the big main factor is something else that is wrong in their lives... that undermines their self-esteem & means low aspiration so they take terrible risks.
(Does that explain Brexit & Trump, too, epiphany moment... a load of voters who really think life is already screwed & they don't deserve any better? Eeek).
A friend of mine with adult children, thinks that sports help to calm teenagers down. They need an outlet for all those pent up emotions and hormones.
I don't know how true that is but I'm definitely encouraging my kids to keep up their sporty activities.
Two adult sons. No trouble as teenagers, unlike me.
Lots of teens are no trouble at all! Don't forget, Bertie, that the threads on MN are often people asking for help, so seem doom and gloom.
So many teens have great relationships with their parents and their peers, work hard at their studies/hobbies/jobs etc (though school being what it is now, fewer have time for jobs).
Daily dialogue with your child as a norm (which I know you do!) is the key to keeping channels of communication open. Don't pry, unpressured conversation about anything and everything, the more you talk now, the more practised they'll be.
I know many, many lovely polite kind teenagers... just got to work on my pre-teens now!
I think it's very tricky if your teen has a desire to appear "cool", or if they have had lots of issues to deal with.
It's not just about the misuse of drugs and alcohol, it's the self harm, the eating disorders and the anxiety disorders etc that can result in some very difficult years.
Def not inevitable, more to do with a teens personality IME
Well I think most teens do some things that would be considered rebellious behaviour, but whether the parents are aware is another story! My parents had no clue that at 15 I was going clubbing fairly regularly and smoking weed etc. They were fairly strict, I once got grounded for being 10 minutes late for a pick up from a totally innocent meeting with friends on a local common, but as long as I was home when expected they believed whatever I told them I was doing. My mum got all excited for me the 'first' time I went to the local nightclub with some friends aged 18, no clue that I'd been hundreds of times before. To the outside I was a very well behaved teen, very good grades and plenty of extracurriculars to keep me out of trouble. Teens can be a lot more sly than people realise and I think often parents want to think the best of them and turn a blind eye. Most people thought I was a bit of a swot, in reality I didn't have to do much work to get good grades and because the perception of me was that I was hard working I could get away with murder at 'study sessions' with equally swotty seeming friends.
3 Adult sons. I never had any problems, we've never even had an argument. Communication is key I think.
And older siblings can have a massive influence. If the oldest sibling goes off the rails, I think they make it much easier for younger siblings to follow suit!
Teenagers are people. Individuals. With some kind of agency, despite the hormones, and an ability to make choices. They won't all make the same choices because they aren't all the same people.
I've had two teens. One school refusing/suicide attempts etc, but always very appreciative of us as parents (bless her). The other rather more critical of us, but more cautious in his general behaviour. Neither of them even been in trouble with wider society, always considered very polite and pleasant by other adults, and generally got on well with their peers.
The only person who had hormonal outbursts around our house when I was a teen was my mother, who was going through the menopause. That was pretty spectacular. But somehow you are never allowed to mention that, whereas everybody likes to talk about impossible teens.
Sorry I didn't get back to this until now. Like I said, it's not something I've particularly worried about myself, but DH is the kind of person who likes to look at every possible outcome of a situation and know what his battle plan would be if that makes sense.
I suppose I've been mulling it over a bit and I think that quite a lot of teens have the opportunity to go off the rails/would be able to figure it out if that's what they'd really wanted to do, or felt was necessary to do, so I don't know that it does come from "just" normal rebellion against boundaries.
I'm also a firm believer that modern parenting methods - no arbitrary rules as someone said, discipline based on respect and communication rather than fear and control, and genuinely having a good and open relationship with the DC really helps with this rebellion thing in the first place because I think if they feel understood and listened to it's probably less likely to happen, but I don't know if that's just me being naive. It would suggest that I think that "out of control" teens only happen to "bad" parents which I'm not sure is really true let alone fair, but I could see that it might only happen with children who are genuinely unhappy, whether that is from poor parenting/family relationships or other issues for which nothing can really provide a magic fix.
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