Ah yes, I remember thinking that as a teenager. Has anyone ever figured out where this mindset originates? Is it in the genes? Are we born with it? Is it a curse from our grandmothers? Is it a learned attitude? Is it rooted in our environment?
I have no idea where I got that attitude, but it was ingrained into my personality deeply by the age of 10. While this is thought to be (by the thinker) a very independent, grown-up attitude, I believe it to be a sign of immaturity. Of course, I didn’t at the time I was living it; but looking back as a survivor of an “attitude problem,” as my father used to put it, I can see I was too immature to see my elders’ wisdom. I hadn’t lived enough to appreciate those who came before me.
I was growing up when the “Question Authority” slogan was popular, and boy did I! The life of a rebellious teen is a hard road to travel. I did not listen to anything anyone said. I had to learn everything the hard way, by living through it. I took some hard knocks and even knocked down a few times. As a divorced single mom, working full-time and attending college full-time, it was very humbling (yet, I felt, necessary) to go to my parents with the words every rebellious teen hates to express: “You were right.” Doggone it, they were; and if I had just listened to them, my road to adulthood would have been much easier. If you had told me that as a teen, I never would have believed you.
My hope is that teens and adults will read this article. It speaks to all of us but has a very different message for each.
For the teen: If you have the “attitude problem” I had, you think you know everything and nobody can give you advice. You probably aren’t going to listen to me either, but I’m going to say it anyway because some of you may be tired of learning things the hard way.
Life isn’t easy. The problems and issues you are going through are not new. There are people who have been through what you have been through. If you are willing to listen to them, they can guide you on the path to success with relatively few scars. For most of you, these people will be your parents; but I know not all parents relate well to their children, especially teenagers. If that is the case, find another adult you trust. That person could be a teacher, counselor, pastor or another relative. Listen to him or her! It may seem that the “has-it-all-together” adult wouldn’t have a clue about what you’re dealing with, but it’s very possible he or she has “been there, done that” and can guide your around the potholes of life.
For the adult: If you are the parent of a rebellious teen, my prayers are with you. I am the parent of two boys. My husband and I gave our boys instructions and guidelines throughout their adolescent years, but that did not prevent them from challenging our instruction and having to learn lessons the hard way.
I blame my mother for this. Yes, she put the Mother’s Curse on me…”I hope you have children just like you!” she repeated; and I did.
No, I suppose it’s not her fault, but I do have two “can’t-tell-them-anything” boys. The older one, 26, now has two young children of his own (no I did not put the Mother’s Curse on him), and I have heard him advising his younger brother, 19, even telling him to listen to his parents. Wow!
So, there is hope. This too shall pass. In most cases, the rebellious teen, after doing things the hard way and taking their knocks, comes around to being a well-rounded adult who understands things could have been done the easy way if they had just listened to the adults around them.
If you are an adult who cares for rebellious teens who refuse to listen to anybody, please be open to opportunity! In a moment of perceived (by them) weakness, these teens will seek advice. Be available! Listen; don’t talk. Sometimes they just need to work through some things, and they may actually come to a good conclusion on their own; but they need someone to hash it through with them. Give guidance if asked, but mostly just be a good listener!
In closing, I must say that being the survivor of an attitude problem is an accomplishment. Yes, I did some stupid things. There even are times I look back and think, “Wow, how did I live through that?” Believe it or not, I would not change a thing, because I truly believe I would not be the person I am today if I had not lived through the experiences I did. I have become a “been there, done that” adult; and I am a very good listener. Young people know I will listen — and guide if asked. I have become a wise adult — wise enough to know I do not know it all and it is OK to seek the wisdom of others.