Is Your Child A Rebel Or A Conformer?


A mother called me one day, to seek my advise concerning his son.

Troubled Mom: Hi! You don’t know me but so-and-so gave me your number and said that you might be able to help me.



Me: okay …..(trying to sound confident here!) How can I help you?

Troubled Mom: It’s my son.

Me: (Yes. It’s always the kids’ problem).

Troubled mom: His school teacher is complaining to me that he is very naughty in school. He disturbs other kids. He sometimes beats them up. He doesn’t do his work. And he argues with his teacher!

Me: (yes, so what is his problem?) I mean, what seems to be bothering him?

Troubled mom: what? Bothering him? This is bothering me! At home, he is a good boy. Doesn’t give trouble, or else he will get it from his dad! I just don’t understand why he is so naughty in school!

Me: You mean his dad would punish him?

Troubled mom: Yes, he would beat him up if he finds out he’s been naughty!

Me: (That figures). You will have to call for a family meeting to find out what seems to be bothering your son. First, LISTEN to what he has to say. Do NOT judge, scold or nag! Second, try to UNDERSTAND what he is feeling – perhaps he is struggling with school work. Perhaps he has other issues. Ask questions. Thirdly, try to give him the environment that he needs to be happy learning. This is not easy, but if the whole family does this together, you can change the environment for him.

Troubled mom: I will try to talk to him. I just don’t know what else to do!

Me: If you wish to seek professional help in family counseling, I can recommend a good doctor.

Troubled mom: ok. Thank you. Thank you of your time!

The above conversation shows a typical reaction of parents when their kids show signs of rebellion. But rebellion is not necessarily a bad thing. Why do we rebel? We rebel because a system or an action is deemed unfair, unnecessary or unkind. It is our way of seeking something better. But when our kids rebel about something, we often see that as a negative trait. That they need to change to be more accommodative or more compliant, so that they don’t give us problems. It takes a lot of guts to rebel. And often, one comes to a point of desperation, and to rebel is the only way to survive a difficult situation.

Now consider this true example of an obedient son:

Sunny (not his real name) was the best son any parent could wish for. He was a good boy – always abides by what his parents say, always ready to please them, and he never gave them trouble. His school results were good – bringing home strings of A’s in his school exams. At work, he moved up the ranks quickly because of his hardworking and accommodating nature. His parents were extremely proud of him!

But one day, his mother called up crying:

“I am so depressed I could not sleep for months! It’s my son – he is no longer my son! Ever since he got married, he has been staying away from us. He doesn’t call. He doesn’t answer our calls. He doesn’t visit. And we are not allowed to visit him! His wife controls him now. He listens only to her. And she wants to cut him off from his family. Now I have lost my good son! Why does this have to happen to me?” (crying uncontrollably).

This is a sad story. But the truth is, the parents could have helped him be more assertive when he was younger. A child who is too accommodating can easily be taken advantage of by others. As parents, we need to help our children find their own voice, learn to weigh their options and make their own decisions. We must teach them the good values – values that we ourselves hold true to our hearts. If all we value is materialism, we will stray far away from realism.

So, if you have a rebel at home, do not despair. Rebels are survivors!

But if you have a good boy or a good girl at home, you might want to start teaching them to be a little bit more naughty!

That could be their survival skill for life!



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