Fostering Rebellion?


I realized the other day that I am quite happy with the way my daughter, Elizabeth, is turning out.

She has a great sense of humor and a wonderfully contagious laugh.

She is goofy as all get out.

And she has this little tiny, blatantly rebellious streak. Like, she might throw her milk cup on the ground exactly because I told her not to.It seems most parents would balk at the idea that rebellion is a good trait. Wouldn’t it be easier if our kids would listen to us. . . and not throw their milk cups on the ground!

But I guess I’m a little different. I feel like her instinct to question authority is something to foster.

For me it’s easier to take a step back and ask myself “Why am I rebelling?” Then I can decide if I need to stand up for what I think is right or if I need to reign myself in because I am rebelling just to be rebellious.

I think its easier to step back and check myself simply because of the way society functions. If you’re doing something counter-culture or different than society says you should, most likely, you are going to be questioned and potentially told to stop. At which point you, or a person who has rebellious tendencies, can stop and re-evaluate his or her actions.

In the opposite situation, where a person is the type to naturally obey and do as their told, that person may lack the innate ability to question their actions and motivations.

Now, I know encouraging this kind of behavior does NOT make my job any easier. As a parent this means a couple of things:

One, I will be spending A LOT of time explaining the “whys” behind the rules.

Two, I will have to be much, much, much, much more patient. Much.

But if I can manage to put this theory into practice, I think the time and energy will be well-spent. This idea will hopefully foster a relationship of trust between myself and my children, rather than one of control and blind obedience. Instead of my kids doing what they’re told “because I said so,” I hope my kids will learn to trust me. Eventually, they will be able to trust me because they know I am asking for behavior that has their best intentions in mind.

They will also learn how to make good decisions based on the values they’ve been taught, as opposed to them not knowing what to do in a scenario because they never encountered it while I was around to instruct them or tell them what to do.

My theory comes down to the principle that teaching children the values behind rules, instead of just the rules, will help them become more competent adults, while reinforcing the fact that a parent’s guidance is out of love, not control.

Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do.


Let me know what you think about this.


2 responses »

  1. Wow, this is very smart. I never thought about it before, but I was raised to follow orders without question and still to this day, I have a terrible problem questioning authority, even when I REALLY SHOULD. I don’t even mean rebelling, I can’t even ask why I’m required to do something that makes no sense to me. So I think it’s wonderful that you’re planning to raise your children not to have this problem–I think it’s important. (P.S. E is so cute with her tp mess! Reminds me of a puppy or kitty.)

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