Disorder is a hall mark of this phase of life. A teenager’s room is often a den of all kinds of things where disorder reigns supreme and this exasperates the elders who cannot understand him. Books, clothes, play things, eatables, toiletry –all these will be mixed up with absolute abandon. Who cares? He knows that he has to learn to be orderly but he resents being told about it. He will put things in order as and when he feels like it and finds time for it after attending to his prime teen concerns like chatting with friends, attending parties, doing his hobby etc. It will need a hundred reminders from parents, pleadings ,threats, cajoling to have the room cleaned up. May be this is also an expression of newly found teenage freedom and independence but it irritates the elders no end. You can’t gain anything by annoying others.
Rebellion Against Authority
As long as persons are children parents and elders dominate and dictate their routine and lifestyle. Parents are towering figures for young children because they are absolutely dependent on them for everything—affection, security, food, clothes, money.. For the little child the father and mother are like giants far bigger than himself, powerful and all-knowing. Children run instinctively to the parents for everything and report all things to them—their troubles, fears, successes, happenings at school etc. And indulgent parents let their little ones prattle on. Little children are proud to recite before their parents all that they study in school and parents listen any number of times to their rattling off the alphabet and numerals.
Little children are tame, docile and easily managed unless they have a rebellious streak in their personality. They seek their parents’ approval in everything to win their love and acceptance because without parental support they are unable to face the outside world in their own and they feel worthless.
All this undergoes a sea change with the onset of teenage. The teenager has plenty of life and energy. He can feel his growing muscles and his increasing physical strength. His parents now shrink from their earlier giant size to more realistic human proportions and the young colt may now be able to challenge an ageing parent physically. As he grows in knowledge and is generally receiving a better education than the previous generation he becomes aware that his parents are no more all-knowing but are limited in their knowledge of things and matters.
The teenager is likely to be more up to date especially in technical and scientific fields as he is exposed to the latest in the field. He also knows that as a group teenagers are a force to be reckoned with in school or social settings and they cannot just be taken for granted. All this gives the teenager a sense of power and he begins to challenge authority and authority figures. He is no more the submissive and obedient child in school or home. He begins to question rules and regulations . He will not accept things on authority. He wants to know the reason for every rule. He may even get a thrill in breaking rules and social conventions as this can give him status among peers as a tough guy.
This is the age the teenager is likely to get into trouble with all kinds of authorities and the arm of the law. Reckless driving, drunken driving, other traffic rule violations are a declaration of his independence. This is particularly true when they join together in gangs. If you do not challenge authority your friends consider you still a kid or mamma’s boy. I remember a teenager , son of a police officer, who was studying in college, organizing a strike on the road against government buses. He would lead student gangs stoning government buses and compelled his father to arrest him for public disturbance. Imagine the emotional turbulence in the man in his dual roles as police officer and parent of a die-hard rebellious son.
Teenagers derive great thrill in ganging up together to flout rules. So it is considered great to cut classes together and go for a film show or to the beach during class hours and not get caught. If scolded severely they take revenge on the parents by running away from home to some distant place .The worried parents will atone for their discipline drive by having to search for them, rush to the police, search among relatives, classmates’ houses etc. If parents and teachers taught them a lesson when they were kids now they will teach the parents a lesson in turn at the expense of a lot of time, worry and trouble. This adds to the communication gap between parents and growing children and is a shocking experience for many parents. Sober reflection will tell you that this is not mature behaviour. One would do well to learn to grow out of it early.
There will be plenty of company for breaking the rules but when disciplinary action follows few friends will be around for support. Only the very loyal will be by your side. Parental strictures might restrain others who would like to stand by you.
This rebellion against authority extends also to the sphere of religion. The teenager is no longer ready to accept religious teachings merely on authority. He begins to question inherited religious beliefs and practices. He may absent himself from family prayers and rituals. He wants to be left free to practice religion or not. Parents can get worried about this and wonder what is happening to their darling child.
However this is a passing phase and has its benefits. The radical questioning of all things is a wonderful opportunity to know one’s faith better, assimilate it deeper and integrate it better into actual life. Soon he will come to realize the difference between the nature of science and of religion. In the process some of the childhood and childish practices and beliefs may be left behind like shrunk childhood clothes. Religion can thus become more personal and bring you to deep convictions to guide your life.
Let me ask myself
1. Can I respect my parents though they may be less educated than I ?
2.Do I enjoy breaking rules? Is life possible without rules?
3. Have I got into trouble with the police any time? What did I feel about it?