Adolescent Rebellion FAQs

Introduction

Adolescence can be a difficult time for both children and parents.  This is a time when children would often rather listen to their friends than to their parents.  The world around them starts to influence them even more than it did as pre-teens.  Very often, there is a conflict between what the world approves of, and the moral values of Christian parents.  This should not be surprising.

As Christian parents, we need to hold onto our values and not compromise for the sake of having our children "like us," or to prevent our children from being "unpopular" in the eyes of the secular world around them.  This is not always easy. We must set reasonable expectations for the actions and conduct of children--then "dig in."  To some extent, this is WAR.  We are fighting for our values and for our beliefs.  Importantly, we may be fighting for the very salvation of our children, which is worth any battle we must endure.  

Frequently Asked Questions:


1.  Why doesn't my adolescent listen to me any more?
2What should I do if I don't approve of my teenager's friends?
3.  What should I do if I suspect my teenager is using drugs?
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1.  Why doesn't my adolescent listen to me any more?

Many adolescents go through a period of rebellion as they reach the teenage years.  To some extent, this is a natural part of the process of growing up.  Psychologists have a term for this process.  It is called "individuation," or the process of breaking away from parental controls and becoming a "person" apart from your parents.  At this age, other adolescents become more important to your teen.  It can seem that only the opinion of their peers "counts."  Although the support of parents may be valued, what they think or don't think about the child is less important than what a friend thinks. 

Just set firm boundaries and demand respect from your teenagers.  Try to get used to the fact that they don't value your opinion very much at this point in their lives.  Just hang in there and try not to feel hurt.  I remember spending a year with one of my boys where I repeatedly had to tell him "I am not your enemy."  We laugh about this now, as he is a grown adult.  My own daughter told me that she did not like me very much in her teenage years, but she certainly loves me now that she is married and has her own children. 

For help with parenting teens, please consult my book entitled: "Godly Counsel," a chapter of which is included in this website: Adolescent Rebellion  Also see: Adolescent Guidance and Parenting.

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2.   What should I do if I don't approve of my teenager's friends?

Many Christian parents mistakenly believe that their adolescent has a right to choose his/her own friends.  I strongly disagree.  As the Bible says, "bad company corrupts good morals."  As a Christian parent, you have a moral obligation to restrict your teenager's friends to those of whom you approved.  That doesn't mean that you should never let your child be friends with a nonbeliever.  However, you should judge your teenager's maturity and level of faith and help him/her choose friends accordingly.  If your adolescent has a strong personality and is a leader, it may be ok for him/her to have friends who are in the secular world.  However, caution is certainly needed, and you must communicate regularly with your teen to determine if he/she is being drawn into the ways of the secular world, or whether he/she is effectively witnessing to the nonbeliever and/or being a moral role model.  Certainly, you should be very cautious if your teen is easily influenced and restrict his/her friendships as necessary. 

Generally speaking, no matter how morally strong your teen may be, the overwhelming majority of his/her friends should be fellow Christians.  Your teen will certainly need the support of other Christian teens in order to stand up to the pressures in today's society.  You, as a Christian parent, should help ensure that this occurs.  Certainly, you should actively restrict your child's friends if you feel that they may be leading him/her astray.  Don't be timid.  Be strong!  If they continue to associate with friends of whom you don't approve, then consider strong punishment, including restriction of privileges, grounding, etc.  Remember, your main role as a Christian parent is to train your child in the ways of the Lord.  As part of this role, you have every right to restrict him/her from unhealthy friendships.

In order to help your teen develop friends of whom you approve, you may want to use your judgment to identify other teens who may be healthy for your teen, and then facilitate, as much as possible, the development of this friendship.  For example, you may want to offer to take your teen and the chosen friend to a sporting event, to a theme park, to a youth group event, etc.  If you use discretion, and if you aren't too "pushy," you can help your teen develop healthy friendships that will help support your Christian values.


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3. What should I do if I suspect my teenager is using drugs?

If you have any suspicion that your teen is using drugs, then you need to confront him/her immediately.  Ask a lot of questions, and don't be afraid to be confrontative or fear that you are hurting his/her feelings by asking such questions.  The following is a watchlist for parents that can be found on the following website: 

Watch List for Parents (Quoted from website)

  • Changes in friends
  • Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades
  • Increased secrecy about possessions or activities
  • Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors
  • Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded” language
  • Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use
  • Increase in borrowing money
  • Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.
  • Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories
  • Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
  • New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol
  • Missing prescription drugs—especially narcotics and mood stabilizers
If you observe the above signs, you should consider taking your teen to the pediatrician and ask the doctor to check your child for drugs by doing a urine test.  Screening tests are also available from your pharmacy, so talk to your pharmacist about how you would test your child for drug use. 

Some parents mistakenly feel that drug tests are too invasive and will harm their child's self-esteem.  Believe me, if you have sufficient reason to believe that your child is using drugs, you have every reason to ask him/her to simply "pee in a cup" and give it to you. 

If your child has an established pattern of using drugs, then regular random drug checks is not optional, but mandatory.  Having your teen take an appropriate drug test is the only way to guarantee that he/she is not using.  Drug test help in two important ways:  1).  You, as a parent, can put your mind at rest and stop worrying about what your child may be doing when you are not with him/her. 2).  When your child knows that you are going to give a drug test, it gives him/her added "will power," and an "excuse" not to do drugs.  For example, your teen can tell the teen who is trying to entice him/her, "I can't do drugs.  My parents give me a drug test." 

Note: 
Some teens these days are very aware of ways to "get around" drug tests.  You may need to stand nearby to ensure that your teen is giving a sample of his/her urine and not just filling the test container with water.  Also, it is important to be aware of how long a particular drug lasts in the teen's system so you can properly judge the timing of the "random drug screen."  Finally, make sure that you don't announce when you are giving the test, as your child may have learned ways to "flush" his/her system of the drug in anticipation of when he/she is going to be tested.  If necessary, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about these considerations.
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