Are you being Punk’d by Your Kid?
As a counselor, minister and gang prevention facilitator I’ve talked to many parents, and have heard many stories such as, “My teenage girl just walks away, slams the door and turns up the music”, “I can’t get my 8-year-old to clean up his room, he just ignores me and goes on playing his video game, “My 16-year old son is so disrespectful, does’t listen, threatens me at times, and just walks out the house at any hour with his iphone, blasting that “gangsta music.” The diagnosis is, that these parents are being “punked”.
Let me make a distinction before I go on, having disobedient kids, does not mean a parent is being “punked”. Being permissive to the inappropriate behavior by refusing to enforce house policies, due to fear of major confrontation is being “punked.”
A teenage girl who disrespectfully walks away from her parents, should not have a room to go to where there is music, nor an eight year old who refuses to clean his room have a video game console to play on, and a hostile and disrespectful 16-year old son, likewise should not have an iphone to walk out the house with.
Having disobedient and disrespectful kids as we know is not uncommon in today’s society. There are countless books and articles on the topic. Psychology has become a multi-billion dollar industry providing information and techniques on the issue.
According to parent surveys and youth crime,drug and high school drop out statistics, we see parental defiance is on the rise. In my own studies of the the psychology industry and interviews with parents and kids, along with featured celebrity status psychologists on t.v. shows, I have discovered there is a movement of tolerance for youth defiance.
There are psychologist who encourage children to violently express their frustrations in treatment sessions by hitting a bag, doll and even cursing. Informing parents to allow their child to yell and vent at them, conveying that this is healthy communication.
A common phrase I hear by parents excusing bad behavior in kids and their gangsta and seductive attire and music is, “ You remember, are parents use to think the same thing about us, they will eventually grow out of it.” Unfortunately statistics validate that this is often not the case. Though I acknowledge and can identify that some of the culture “back in the day” was without a doubt inappropriate. The culture was more mainstream about being “cool”, in today’s culture it has evolved into a more “gangsta” and anarchy movement, which brings with it a more enhanced aggressive, violent, promiscuous and rebellious culture and mindset. The consequences of the mindset has produced an increase of teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases,violence, substance abuse,gang involvement, bullying, high school drop outs,incarceration, suicides and deaths.
Getting back to my fundamentals, the first step in addressing the issue of a disrespectful and disobedient child, is find the core issue. Questions I encourage a parent to ask themselves is: (especially if you have seen sudden major changes)
Have I clearly set behavioral boundaries for my child?
Children have an innate nature to be anarchist, this is why God has given parents the responsibility to govern them. In any civilized government, the citizens have been made aware and educated on the laws since they were children. Can you imagine a country under a government which did not have written laws to educate the citizens? There would be confusion which would lead to frustration, anger and chaos. Parents must set clear written laws of the house in the home, so children understand the standard. Such as a written schedule;study time, bed time, chore list, allowance chart,grades, mannerisms, peer association, dress attire, etc.. After the parent have reviewed it with child, have them sign it, this way, there is a strong sense of accountability. It’s a lot easier to confront behavior, when it’s written down. This was a very effective method when I worked at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. When an inmate would come on the unit, they were given a policy sheet, which they reviewed with their counselor and signed. When policy was violated, often it was accepted without too much negative feedback. However if a counselor neglected the orientation process, that inmate would raise hell. In the academy we were taught to fair, firm and consistent, believe it or not, there is alot of wisdom in this concept, it assisted in giving me a rewarding 13 year career as a correctional counselor for the department.
What should be our moral standard? God has placed a moral conscience within all of us, which has been programmed by His Word, the Holy Bible. A parent can never go wrong, when they govern their home by example of the standard of the Holy Bible.
What are the character traits of my child’s peers?
A mentor once told me, that association brings along similarities. Another mentor told me, some of the experts say that we will be the average of who you hang around. Parents should monitor closely their children’s peer association.
Am I or my spouse role modeling the behavior I want my child to have?
In my counseling session I have ran across many parents who are appalled by their son or daughter hanging with thug crowd, which I clearly understand. However when I probe deeper about the atmosphere in the home, I often discover that the parents themselves are fans of the mainstream “gangsta” music and violent video games. I have to explain to them that you they have lost their leverage admonishing them for hanging and embracing the thug crowd, when they themselves are fans of thug entertainment. It sends a hypocritical and mixed message. Parents must not only talk the talk, but walk the talk. Anything less will inevitably lead the children to not respect the authority, due to the hypocrisy. The do what I say and not what I do theory, is a short lived and ineffective method.
What type of music, television, video games and reading material does my child engage with?
The entertainment industry sadly, has become the most powerful influencer for many youth in our society. Youth are looking to many of these entertainers who boast an egotistical, rebellious and violent nature as role models. This has become mainstream in our society. Parents must safeguard and educate our children on the dangers of these harmful influences.
(Please see article links below on this topic)
Has my child been through a significant or traumatic event?
Are there signs of substance abuse behavior?
Are there signs of physical or sexual abuse?
Is my child being bullied?
Children react to significant and traumatic events in different ways. This is why it so important that parents build first a caring and loving relationship with their children. Children must know that their parents love them unconditionally. This is key, because the closer the relationship, the more the child will confide in the parent. If you suspect abuse, I recommend you find a good Christian counselor and the authorities if needed. Remember it’s law to report childhood physical or sexual abuse, not doing so, is irresponsible, negligent and a crime.
Keeping the above points in mind will keep a parent on track. However the above will be rendered useless if the parent doesn’t’ remain fair, firm and consistent with the above. If the child see’s weakness in the parent and if they realize they can intimidate the parent, you can guarantee they will do it every time. Parents must be the parent, not the friend.
If your child is larger and stronger than you, and they are using physical violence or are threatening to, don’t hesitate to call the police. This can save and change their life. Don’t take my word for it, take Police Chief Daniel Hahn’s word on it. He tells the story how he went into a violent tantrum as a teenager breaking furniture, and his mom did not hesitate to call the police on him. It landed him in juvenile hall, which gave him a lot to think about. He said his mom’s willing to never stand down from her home policies, finally broke him and changed his life. Please feel free to watch Chief Hahn’s story below title “My Mother Never Gave Up.”
Rayford Johnson/Author of Thug Mentality Exposed