A 15 year old
I’m sure many of you who are reading this did things that were destructive when you were growing up. A few people might look back and think it was fun or a rite of passage. Many others just went along with the crowd either out of fear or just to fit in. Still others can’t explain it. Of course, these things happen today.
I’m not talking about being mischievous or inquisitive. All kids learn about life, rules, and limits by doing things, not always in the smartest of ways. But anti-social behavior, experimenting with drugs, drinking, making fun of others (outside of your friends), being destructive, mean, or uncouth are not activities that can be easily overlooked.
Some reasons young people exhibit anti-social behavior.
- A social disorder like ADHD
- A lack of self-esteem
- Family environment
- Peer pressure
Parents are a factor in all of these reasons with the possible exception of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). I’m not qualified to determine if parents are a factor in ADHD and some experts may disagree. Certainly parents can be a factor in their child’s self-esteem. Self-esteem can be nurtured with positive talk, support, and demonstrated love. On the other hand, kids can be depressed or filled with frustration when they are ignored, belittled, or never praised by their parents. Lacking self-esteem, young people look for ways to create it themselves. Their immaturity will often do so in the wrong ways, with bravado and/or looking for affection in the wrong places.
Family environment is very important! Parents of troubled children often show a high level of antisocial behavior themselves. In one study, the parents of delinquent boys were more often alcoholic or criminal, and their homes were frequently disrupted by divorce, separation or the absence of a parent.
My brothers, sisters and I really had no rules beyond “don’t kill each other”. My dad didn’t have rules for himself or us when around, nor did he leave any words of wisdom behind when he left. My mom didn’t have the time nor the energy to enforce any rules. Subsequently, there were a lot of issues among my siblings when we were growing up.
While boys are most likely to cause physical damage when getting into mischief, girls are not immune to their own brand of rebellion. Besides less disruptive acts like smoking and drinking, girls can rebel or look for approval through sexual activity. You’ve got to have control and the respect of your daughters. Mistakes in sex usually punish the females more than their male partners.
Continuing with daughters, I state in The Power of Dadhood, “Many times the father will be “hated” by his daughter for doing what is right for her. Do what you must anyway—she doesn’t really hate you. She’s really tricking herself, and you, to see if you really care enough to be engaged in her life. Her ego may actually be angry, but her real being will feel love and protection. The ego’s anger will fade, and your daughter’s love will grow. This is difficult to believe sometimes, but if you are not unreasonable in your demands and really show concern for her, no amount of proper interference will ever harm your relationship.”
Lastly is peer pressure. A kid can fight peer pressure in several ways. Again, the parents are key! Here’s how:
- Strong values: Kids who have been taught strong values seldom find themselves in sticky situations. They have friends who they are more comfortable with--which means they likely have similar values and are not tempted to do something they should not.
- Restrictions: Good parents have restrictions, keeping their children out of potentially bad situations.
- Respect: Good parents are respected and their children do not want to let them down. Their true friends will understand this and won’t even suggest destructive or bullying-type behavior to them.
- Alibi: Following up on respect, when tempted or harassed into doing something like knocking mailboxes down for a cheap thrill, a kid with good parents will admit to those ‘friends’, or acquaintances, of not being willing to disappoint, or letting down their parents.
There are few reasons, when your children get into trouble, which do not have something to do with how they were raised. Learn the ropes of being a parent. It’s not always instinctive. Have rules. Be consistent. Take time to know what is going on in the lives of your children.