Most of the time, what my Mom wanted me to do was for my benefit. She did want me to get a perm. Not sure why, but for years she kept telling me to get one. I never did give in on that one, and I am glad that on that point I held my ground. There are embarrassing pictures of my youthful rebellion floating around, but no perms.
My hair is naturally curly. I hated it. The cool hair in junior high was the Shawn Cassidy hair, parted in the middle, straight, and feathered back. That was never going to happen with my hair. Fortunately, times changed, and later in the ’80’s I could do all kinds of things with my hair. The curl was good, and as much as I could never feather it, I sure could get a pretty good pompadour.
It would be nice if hair was all there was to teenage rebellion. I would be fine with whatever hairstyle or clothing. Unfortunately it doesn’t always express itself that way.
My oldest son is 16. He has managed to find his way into all sorts of trouble. He does not go to regular high school. He has done drugs, stealing, and hanging out with the wrong crowd. He has even been arrested for possession.
I use to believe that kids go that way because of bad things that happened in their lives. I’m sure that is a cause for some, but I no longer believe that is always the case. I’m not a psychologist. As much as I am vesting in my child and trying to figure out his motives, I cannot do so. If there is something I don’t know of, he isn’t sharing it. Boredom and companionship seem as much a driving force as escaping pain.
As a parent that it is easy to blame yourself. We have made mistakes, as no parent is perfect, but this isn’t how we raised him. I want so much more for him. I can reason through the pain, as I do not control him. He is an individual who makes his own choices right or wrong. That does not erase the pain. I think too many parents beat themselves up over their child’s choices. It is easy to do, but it doesn’t make it right.
I can share my values, and talk to him about why they are important. I can love him deeply, and I do. I can and do impose rules and force compliance. What I can’t do is force him to embrace truth. That must come from him.
I believed strongly that if we could move him to a different place it would change the direction he was heading. I am not sure of that anymore. There is that element everywhere, and as he has made his home among a certain group, he will likely seek out that group no matter where we are. It has become his comfort zone. It is up to him to change that.
I have seen kids I grew up with go that same direction. Some turn out fine, but many handicap themselves for years. Some never make it out at all. I wish he had chosen better.
I wish his rebellion was saying no to a perm.