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What to do When a teenager decides they don't want to follow their parents instruction any longer,

Updated on September 23, 2011

Teens Growing, Testing Ready to Leave the Nest

Have No Doubt as to Your Role as a Parent

My first responsibility as a parent was to keep my children safe, guide them, teach them -- help them grow into responsible adults; nurture, and to love them unconditionally. There were no ifs or doubts about it in my mind.

Mostly, I knew that my sons were not mine. I understood that they were entrusted in my care for a short yet critical time for me to raise them to be self sufficient adults.

I never lost sight of these goals.

Love Your Children Enough to be Strong Parents

Say what you expect from your child(ren) and then follow through on what you say to be certain they are doing it.

Supervise. Supervise. Supervise and than follow through and check on them to see that it is done.

Protect them.

Teach them.

Love them unconditionally.

You the Adult; You the Parent

A teenager is not supposed to want to do what his/her parents want him/her to do.

This is the time in their growth where they are to try to be independent. Separate who they are from their mother and father's identity. Find out who they are and what they believe.

Plain and simple.

Over the years I have experienced such a confusion within parents as to what their role is to be with their children. What it means to be a parent.

When I was a child there was no such confusion. Mostly,both parents and children knew what parents were. There were clear values, respect, and obedience. The neighbors were involved with the children's upbringing as well. Were they to see an adverse behavior in a child they reported it to their parents for action.

Teachers worked together with parents in harmony and with the same goal in mind.

"It takes a village to raise a child;" was a common belief then.

There were exceptions, of course.

Somehow, my parents knew how to impart a strong sense of family along with solid values for family and society. Honesty, integrity, kindness and a sense of responsibility to family and the community as a whole.

I simply don't see that often at today's malls or in the neighborhoods. How very sad.

To grow a healthy, productive, capable, human being into adult hood, these elements are critical

This is their time to "test" themselves in a safe and loving environment with loving and solid parents who have a good sense of their purpose and self.

A time when they must know that no matter what, they will not lose the love of their parents for testing the water. Yet, that their parents will be strong enough and clear enough about their responsibilities to their child(ren) to know that they are to guide them and remain strong in what they expect from their child(ren),

When my sons were babies I knew without doubt what to expect from them and what was expected of me. It is part of the cycle of life.

My first responsibility was to keep them safe, guide them, teach them, help them grow into responsible adults, nurture, and to love them unconditionally. There were no ifs or doubts about it.

Mostly, I knew that my sons were not mine. I understood that they were entrusted in my care for a short yet critical time for me to raise them to be self sufficient adults.

I never lost sight of these goals.

I also understood the mental and physical growth that they would go through and the affects of each stage of this growth. It isn't fun for anyone, especially when puberty arrives. They would say and do things that they did not mean yet weren't able to sometimes control. It was my responsibility to help them grow through this time.

I knew that they would try to learn my weaknesses, as soon as possible so that in later years or when they found it convenient, they could use it against me.

For instance, I hated snakes, spiders and most of the slimy, gooey, squirming things that little boys dearly loved. There was, however, no way that I would let them know this.

When my youngest was three, he came into the house carrying a huge snake bigger than was he. My neighbor was visiting. A very pregnant neighbor. When she saw him and his prize she let out a scream and flew onto the back of the sofa.

My son, just stood there looking at her in wonderment not knowing why she reacted in this manner. He turned and looked at me. I too wanted to fly to the top of the sofa, but ... I smiled and asked him where he found his treasure. He proudly told me with his eyes shining bright and a huge smile on his face.

When he told me he was going to keep him in his bedroom, we talked about the fact that snakes really, really, need to be outside in the sun light and how they love the earth and rocks. That to love his snake he must let it go and be free as it was intended to live.

With that, he took his prize outside and released it, happy that he was doing the right thing for the snake.

I have no doubt, that at one point, had I shown my fear, one of my sons would have thought it a pretty funny, a fun prank to play on mother, by putting a snake or some other critter in her bed for her to find when she crawled in at the end of the day.

Kids love to play pranks on people they love.

I knew that there would be times when they would dislike, hate and even detest me for some of my rules, regulations and decisions on their behalf. Especially when they thought themselves old enough to make decisions for themselves.

Conversely, I knew that I could dislike, hate or even detest some of their behaviors and actions.

I knew that I had to teach them how to make decisions and let them make those decisions at the appropriate age/maturity time.

Thus, they began making decisions at an early age. What they would wear, what book they wanted to read and choose if they wanted corn, broccoli or green beans with their dinner. Not did they want a vegetable, rather which vegetable did they want. Each year the decision making was stepped up to meet their growth and ability.

I knew that at some point they may want to run away from home.

I prepared myself for them to hate me, want to leave home and for talking back to me. I would not let it affect me, my judgement or cause me to falter from my job.

Instead, I taught them respect and the right way in which to express angry thoughts. How to handle their tempers. Kindness. How to resolve conflict and how to argue their point.

Yes, they were allowed to argue with me. But, they knew there was a way in which to present their arguments to me. If they had their facts, had thought it through and presented their point politely and respectfully, often I would reverse my decision.

At 13, my elder son announced that he and his friend were going to a party at a 30 year old man's house. I told him he would not.

He was livid. Ted was a nice man, he told me. He tried to think through and convey all the reasons he felt that it was safe to go to this man's home for the party. He had no concept of a pedophile, nor did I in those days. I simply knew that it was appropriate.

I had to forbid him from going for safety reasons. I not only did not know this man, I questioned why he wanted 2 thirteen year old boys at his party.

He didn't go but he sure hated me for a long time. He didn't go because he knew the consequences were he to have gone. He feared me more than he did his supposed embarrassment in front of his friend.

Yes, feared me. I could and would ground him. Take away privileges. That prospect gave him pause to think and decide not to go.

That he hated me didn't bother me. I expected it. It was my job to stand firm and strong on such matters and to keep him safe. Teenage emotions are nothing compared to a harmed child, a hurtful experience or a parent who cannot be strong enough to protect them against themselves.

At this time in their lives, they have not lived enough life to make certain decisions for themselves. You, on the other hand, have. They often do not yet have the maturity to stay with something until it is learned. Hormones running amok cause them to be short of attention, sometimes obsessive and in enough emotional turmoil -- not good decision making fodder, in my opinion. What they think that they want, must have, need, is stemming from hormones and immaturity.

The biggest challenge I found in raising my sons was to recognize when they grew and were able to handle something they were not able to handle the year before. Letting go soon enough to let them grow.

When my sons grew into young adults and into men, I cannot tell you how many times they thanked me for being strong for them. For loving them enough to get us all through tough times.

One son told me how had it not been for me and my reputation among their friends for being tough, he would have gotten into trouble. One of our house rules was that come dark, my sons were to be home. Period.

If they weren't home, I went and found them and brought them home to their embarrassment in front of their friends.

So it was that at dark, the kids thought it fun to play pranks and to sneak into someones home to see what they could get away with. When they asked my son to join them all he had to say was: "Oh, hey, its getting dark." They sent him home quickly knowing that were I to come looking for him I would find them up to their mischief and than they would be in trouble.

We have some pretty fun laughs now when we look back on their lives as children. We made some mistakes, none of us are perfect; but, we got the essential and critical part of their growing up right. They are happy, well adjusted men.

All and all we did pretty good, my sons and I. They grew into responsible, strong, capable, good men. Now their children are almost grown and one son is a grandfather. They too are seeing the results of their parenting and can smile at the responsible, strong and good adults they grew into adulthood and life.

Say what you expect from your child(ren) and then follow through on what you say to be certain they are doing it. Supervise. Supervise. Supervise.

Protect them.Teach them. Love them.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      So happy to hear this is your winning fmialy. Beau has just grown up sooooo much. Beautiful photos & so glad to see all the smiles.Miss.Sarah

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Silfa; While other than raising my two sons and helping with my 3 grand kids, I certainly am no expert. I studied human behavior and animal behavior for over 30 years and learned what seemed "normal behavior." In both worlds and found them similar. Because of this I expected my sons to resist my authority and, in fact, welcomed it by giving them the opportunity to disagree with me. However, to disagree with me they had to have a solid, rational and calm reason plus a solution. This helped them grow and gain confidence in themselves.

      I think, we as parents, often forget that our roll in our child's life is to prepare them for adulthood and independence from us. By allowing my children to disagree with me this seemed to keep me in check.

      I'd encourage you to talk with them and ask them what the rule they break means to them and would they have an idea how to make it better. Listen to them. One way a child talks to us is to break the rules; that seems to say a lot.

      We just sent our 21 year old grand son to Americorp for 6 months to help him grow to the next level. It puts him on his own but in a safe way and the best, he is far from home so he has to learn about who he is. That's one approach. It's been a year now and is working for our now 22 year old.

      Lots of luck. Do remember it is the job of our children to challenge us and to separate themselves from us in order for them to find themselves. When that is done, they come back to us as an adult. It's wonderful.


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      my sons are 21 and 17 years old. it's normally good atmosphere at home when they obey house rules. recently, we talked about rules clearly. when they disobey I'd give them consequences and that's the start of the problem- they'd rebel more when given punishment. they'd brand me as overacting, unfair....etc.

    • romneykat profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Near San Francisco, CA

      Hi Sue. Has your son been evaluated for any disorders that may be the root of his behavior, especially destructive acts, violant acts or anger?

      Perhaps the detention center has. You might contact them to find out; as well as learn what approaches they have found works best for your son. Does he need medication?

      At this stage, I think it good to work with a professional to find what is going on with your son and how best to handle it.

      I wish you good luck and positve results.


    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 

      9 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      What very good advice. Please will you come and stay at my house. I messed up with my son although I followed pretty much the same principles as you did. He's lived with friends, lived rough, lived in a homeless hostel and finally in a detention centre during the last 12 months because of the fact that he didn't want to follow my instruction any longer and rebelled against all my attempts at supervision. Was I too firm in saying that I wouldn't put up with his bad and violent behaviour? I don't know; all I know is that I felt compelled to follow through with my threat to ask him to leave. This week he is due to return home to me and I'm not sure how it will go. Quite frankly I'm scared. If you have any further tips I'd appreciate it if you could send me a message please.


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