Although this chapter doesn’t really relate to me now, it was still a very interesting read. It is also good preparation for me when my boys eventually become teenagers – although I often wish that they never grow up. What can I say? I’m enjoying them too much at this cute and adorable age.
All my life, my biggest fear of being a parent was the part when I’d have to deal with a teenager. I’ve seen kids go wrong and doing all the things every parent has nightmares about and I wonder what any parent can do to keep a teenager on the straight and narrow. Although I’ve never caused my parents any grief while I was a teenager, I do realise it is because I was lucky to have friends who were generally pretty well behaved. What if I had met the wrong crowd? Things might not have gone so well.
Now that I am a parent, what can I do to help my children stay out of trouble? That was what I hoped to find out from reading Chapter 7 from Nurture Shock – The Science of Teenage Rebellion. I’m afraid the scientific findings were none too comforting…
One of the general beliefs is that if you keep a teenager busy enough, they won’t have time to get into trouble. It is often thought that adolescents turn to sex and drinking because they are bored. A study on teenagers revealed that:
- teenagers lie a lot more than parents would like to think.
- teenagers mostly lie about drinking, drug use and their sex lives.
- teenagers don’t like emotional intrusiveness, e.g. “How serious is this relationship?”
- teenagers concoct outright lies 1/4 of the time to cover up the worst stuff.
- teenagers half the time they withhold information they know would upset their parents.
- the remaining 1/4 of the time they avoid the topic and hope their parents won’t bring them up.
- 96% of the teenagers surveyed reported lying to their parents.
- even honours students and busy, overscheduled teenagers lie – no teenager is too busy to lie about something.
- the most common reason for lying was to protect their relationship with their parents – many teenagers wanted to avoid disappointing their parents.
A study on parents found that:
- many parents believed that the best way to remain informed is to be more permissive.
- parents feared being too strict might lead to outright rebellion.
The reality was:
- parents who were more permissive and failed to set rules did not learn more about their children’s lives.
- teenagers who go wild are the ones who have permissive parents who don’t set rules.
- lack of rules communicates to the teenagers that their parents don’t really care about them.
- pushing a teenager into outright rebellion by having too many rules is a myth.
- teenagers dislike seeking help from parents because it is an admission that they are not mature enough to handle things on their own.
- teenagers need to have certain things in their lives that are “none of your business”.
- the objection to parental authority peaks at 14-15, not at 18 as is most commonly thought, and resistance is stronger at 11 than it is at 18.
- oppressive parents with lots of psychological intrusion had the most obedient teenagers, however, those teenagers were also depressed.