For Parents Only: Rebel with a Cause - Part 2
- Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Dr. Carbery (who, trust us, is no pushover!) assured us that many times such teens aren't being deliberately deceptive. Their train of thought truly leads in this direction, and they need help understanding why something shouldn't have been rationalized.
The hiding game.
Of course, sometimes the deception is intentional. In order to protect their freedoms, 83 percent of the kids we surveyed admitted hiding things from their parents.
Do you ever hide negative information from your parents because you're worried about how they will react? Choose one answer.
31% Yes, I often don't tell them those things because of that.
52% Yes, I sometimes don't tell them those things because of that.
17% I rarely or never hide those things from them.
We found very little difference between kids who attended church weekly and those who held no particular religious beliefs. But there was, again, a distinct difference among the small subset of kids attending private Protestant Christian schools. It turns out that "only" half of those kids said they would hide things. Ah, well.
Obviously, one type of hiding is simply failing to mention an infraction, so the parent never hears about it. But this comment from a teen girl reflects the more "active" examples we heard from many of her peers. "If my mom won't let me wear a spaghetti-strap shirt, I'll just put it on under a loose, dumpy shirt and wave goodbye to my mom. Then, as soon as I get to school, the big shirt comes off."
The most insidious tactic, of course, is outright deception. And when we asked the teens why they lie, they basically all said the same thing as this boy: "Because parents will freak out about the truth."
We found that some forms of teenage lying are fiendishly clever. One boy we'll call Ken told us about being at his girlfriend's house, which was a violation of his parents' rules. When his mother called his cell phone to check up on him, he fibbed, "Hi, Mom. Yes, I'm at Jonathan's … You want to talk to him? Well, you can't right now. He's in the other room … with a girl. You understand. …" The next day Ken's mom had the proverbial sex talk with Jonathan, much to the guy's amusement.
The kids also described common untruths that most parents will buy, such as, "We're at the movies, and there's an hour left. When it's over, I'll be right home." After all, what kind of unmerciful parent would yank their child out of a movie that's only halfway over?
Fact #5: Ironically, too much freedom can be scary, and our kids want to involve us in their quest.
After this fairly brutal reality check, the good news is that even freedom-intoxicated teens realize that unlimited freedom isn't a good idea.
One girl eloquently captured the perspective so many teens shared with us—and which we'll cover in more depth alter: ‘My parents are really strict, and I wish they'd lighten up a bit. But if they didn't give me rules, I'd know they didn't love me. We expect some boundaries."
We were also thankful to hear that kids didn't always want to hide things or lie to their parents. In fact, they'd much prefer to talk to their parents about the choices and challenges they face, if they could do so "safely."
What's a Parent to Do?
As I (Shaunti) read about the freedom-seeking teenagers that my sweet little kids will soon grow into, I felt a strong desire to climb into bed and pull the covers over my head! But since that's hardly a viable reaction, what can we do?
First off, it may help to realize that the desperate pursuit of independence is nothing new. In its selfish form, it's been causing problems since the human race first arrived on the planet. And as our kids seek a positive, necessary form of freedom, we can look for ways to help them understand the deeper spiritual need revealed by that craving and point them toward healthy ways to satisfy it.
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