“Teen Rebellion is Just Individuality”

I read your article on teen rebellion When Your Teen Rejects Your Values. What you call “rebellion” is actually called individuality, not wishing to conform to society’s opinions. Don’t get me wrong, some people just like to go with the flow, nothing wrong with that. It’s just that I don’t think parents should inadvertently squish their son/daughter’s individuality by believing that there is something wrong with them and therefore punishing them for simply being who thay want to be and believing what they want to believe. My name is _____ and I’m a High School Student.

Dear ______,

You’re right that some parents define any individuality as rebellion, and that is incredibly sad. The teenage years are a time for you to find out who you are and who you want to be, and it requires people to pull away from their parents in order to do that healthily.

However, the point of our article isn’t to have parents squash individuality, but to deal with truly harmful rebellion. Taking drugs is something more than simply finding out who one is. It causes harm to body, mind and soul. If a girl whose parents have taught her to respect her body and wait for marriage sleeps around with boys, or even “services” them with oral sex in junior high (something which has become an epidemic), that’s not expressing her individuality, that’s being rebellious. (However, it may also be an expression of her need for her daddy’s affection and approval that she didn’t get when she was younger.) And if a teen raised in a Christian home declares herself a Wiccan, that’s way more than individuality, that is rebellion.

Expressing individuality is saying “I want to wear my hair long and green,” which is something our son did when he was in high school. It may be uncomfortable for parents, but there’s no harmful after-effects. Rebellion can be (and usually is) harmful, either to body or soul or both. Rebellion also tends to be disrespectful toward parents and other authority figures, and that is very painful and destructive to the relationship(s).

I just want you to know I DO hear your request that parents honor their teens’ desire to be different from them, but please don’t dismiss the heartbreak of true rebellion as something innocent and necessary for emotional growth.

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries