The Teen Code: A Wake Up Call for Parents
- Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Here we have a sixteen-year-old girl whose experiments in drinking and smoking marijuana have gotten her in trouble, though the consequences of that trouble, if any, are not provided. The main function of Jessica's story, however, is to warn parents against snooping.
Rhett asked Jessica if her mother was able to regain Jessica's trust. She responded: "My mom and I are actually better than we were before now. She made large efforts to show me that she respects my space. Like before she used to clean my room (probably just for the reason of finding something she could use against me), and now she does not even set foot in my room. Seeing the pictures was a shock to her because before that she thought I was this innocent little girl, but now she knows what I do when she is not around. When we talk now about that kind of stuff, it's not like parent-child, it's more real."
Rhett offered an extended commentary on the whole episode. "Jessica's mom gave a bogus story that Jessica did not believe and lost her daughter's trust. But she was able to gain it back by showing her daughter that she respects her and her privacy. This actually helped their relationship in many ways."
This little episode is a profound illustration of the complete inversion of values and subversion of authority that marks our modern times. Jessica's mom had every reason to be outraged, concerned, and indignant about her daughter's use of alcohol and marijuana, but the whole point of this story in Rhett's book is to show that it was the mom whose behavior needed correction, not the daughter.
When Jessica explains that her mother, having been thoroughly disciplined for snooping in her room, now respects her space and "does not even set foot in my room," we see the absolute victory of adolescent rebellion over parental oversight, authority, and discipline. When Jessica says that, after she successfully clarified the power structure in their relationship, "it's not like parent-child, it's more real," she is telling us more than she could possibly intend to relate.
The Teen Code offers many interesting insights, but the most fascinating aspects of this book are those the author certainly did not intend to communicate. Even as he offers patronizing advice to parents about how we should speak to our teenage children, he demonstrates with almost poetic perfection the absolute victory of the child over the parent, and the almost complete subversion of parental authority.
The underlying message of the book is that parents can indeed parent their teenagers, so long as we parent them as they will allow themselves to be parented. Now, armed with advice from an adolescent expert, parents are told that we must just accept the fact that vast areas of our children's lives are off limits, and that we should treat our teenagers as autonomous individuals who happen to live in our homes and are doing their best to negotiate around our discipline and moralizing. America's parents owe a debt of gratitude to young Rhett Godfrey for his new book. The Teen Code serves as a prophetic warning and an all-too-accurate description of the teenage mind at work.
This very gifted young man has given America's parents a gift--and an unintended wake-up call. In all too many homes, the inmates are running the asylum.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to www.albertmohler.com. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to www.sbts.edu. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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