Why Teenagers Rebel against Parents and Authority

By | June 25, 2017

Why teenagers rebel essay sample

Teenager rebellion against parents and authority is a common problem that challenges parents’ patience and appreciation worldwide. Rebellious teenagers ignore requests and instructions, talk back, have troubles at school, experience a reduction in academic achievements, spend time with the wrong crowd, and the like. The situation causes much stress to parents who are unable or reluctant to ponder in the reasons of that rebellion. Psychologists and scholars recall the search for love as the key explanation of teenager opposition towards parents, authority, and society as a whole (Zaidi, 2013). This reason does not only concern those teenagers who have younger siblings or whose parents have restricted them with portions of love and care provided daily along with their growing-up process. Even teenagers exposed to adequate expressions of parental love and care make diminish their value or do not simply recognize them. In this search for love, teenagers typically select people who spend much with around with, although the latter seldom care for them.

This explanation of teenage rebellion provides sound reasoning to another feature of adolescence – preference given to peers over parents or caregivers. The period of adolescence is characterized by a radical shift from parental influence and the obedience to norms and rules established by parents and adult authority to peer community, which practices its attitudes and behavior. Peer communities usually oppose rules and norms promoted and expected by parents from their children to create and maintain a common ethos of the group. As such, peer communities provide teenagers with a sense of independence from adult authority along with a sense of membership with those sharing the same concerns and ideas (Curtis, 2015). Peer groups as well as online networks create a solid backing to each teenager who seeks independence by violating family, school, or society norms, thus, provoking parental disapproval.

Teenager rebellion is a serious challenge to parents and their effort to grow up good and responsive individuals. Being accustomed to a child’s obedience for ages, a parent in not ready to the change, which created a severe confrontation with the child. Hence, teenager rebellion prevents such parents from retaining once established structure, supervision, and guidance. Mutinous behavior deprives parents from authority and power. However, the most serious concern risen when it comes to teenage rebellion refers to self-harm produced by children in their opposition to parents, authority, and society. The collision between morality and norms embedded since early years and the desire to explore the world, be free and adventurous, drives rebellious and self-defeating behaviors. Rejecting authority and will of parents and other adults, teenagers may even rebel against their interests, which they have been engaged with since childhood. By opposing and losing childhood-originated activities, interests, and relations, teenagers destroy their self-esteem.

Apart from emotional and mental health harm caused by teenagers themselves, their rebellion give rise to self-destructive behavior that produces physical harm. Again, a greater closeness with peers rather than with parents contributes to teenager willingness and likelihood of involving in improper activities or practicing harmful behavior. While some scholars and practitioners suggest parents to be patient and support their children in the growing-up process to help them cope with a desire for struggle and independence, others point out to parental failures in the past. Thus, attachment theory claims that close and healthy relationships established and maintained through childhood is the key guarantor to non-rebellious behavior in adolescence (Holmes, 2006). Obviously, secure relations built by parents with their children in infant years should be further developed and retained to ensure an adequate level of closeness and understanding with teenagers. Authoritative parenting that entails a certain level of control combined by warmth and responsiveness to child’s needs and interests allows retaining the value of norms and rules established in the childhood, while providing teenagers with a fair degree of freedom and independence.


Curtis, E. (2015). Every day I pray for my teenager. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma Media.

Holmes, J. (2006). John Bowlby and attachment theory. New York, NY: Routledge.

Zaidi, S. (2013). Stress management for teenagers, parents, and teachers: A breakthrough approach to get rid of stress at its roots. Camarillo, CA: iComet Press.

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