Every parent hopes that their child makes it through the tumultuous teen years unscathed. By most standards my parents were lucky. I was the easiest teenager any parent could hope for. My biggest flaw was my love of sarcasm, something that was surely difficult but far from fatal.
But I’ve come to realize that this stage is an important one. It is during these years that teenagers practice skills that they can use as adults. They learn to fight against injustice. They learn their self-worth. They learn who they are. They learn to make their own choices, and they learn to live with the consequences of these choices.
Because I failed to rebel as a teenager, I allowed myself to be controlled for years. When I met the man I would marry the foundation was set. I had no demands, no expectations. I lived by his rules because I knew no other way. When we disagreed I eventually gave in, learning over time that it wasn’t worth the effort to fight with him in the first place. When things got tough I reverted to the childish tactic of doing what he expected when he was around and doing what I wanted when he wasn’t. He was a pilot and gone half the time so this was easy.
It wasn’t his fault. He is the way he is. I am the one who should have wanted more for myself. I didn’t rebel against this situation for many years. I didn’t know it was wrong, and once I had the realization I didn’t know how to change it. I was stuck. How can a 37 year old mother of 2 learn to rebel? I suppose the same way a teenager does. I had a tantrum and stubbornly refused to change my perspective.
Now I am entering the teenage years with my daughters and it scares me. I want them to rebel. I know they need to. I don’t want them to blindly follow the rules the way I did, but I hope every day they choose to follow the important ones. I feel my daughter already pulling away and I’m fighting the urge to pull her closer. I don’t have a model to follow. I’m just now learning to rebel in a constructive way. I need to teach her to do the same.
I don’t know how yet, but every day I’m learning. I will figure it out.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Rebel