My Secret Weapon Against Teenage Rebellion

Photo by Melanie Brown on Unsplash

“Mother Nature is providential. She gives us twelve years to develop a love for our children before turning them into teenagers.”

~William Galvin

When my son turned 14 he suddenly decided he was going to be emo. The…ummm…interesting music, the black clothes, and the heavy eyeliner. Was that ever a fun ride.

It was clear he was ready for some kind of rebellion. My niece was still living with us at the time and after having dealt with her rebellious period, I was in no mood for more of the same from my son. My own rebellion had started later than his since my spirit had been crushed by an abusive parent, but once it did come, I’m surprised I survived the crap I pulled

I needed a plan and one was soon to take shape. It turns out that his favorite band had a lead singer that was, to put it mildly, a dirtbag. Under normal circumstances, I would have just ignored it since my son runs on a pop culture schedule where he gets deeply into something for a year or two and then lets it go and moves on to something else. He has been doing this since he was old enough to have his own opinions about what he liked. I know the drill.

This time, I decided to use that mini-obsessive period that he goes through with all new favorites to my advantage. I started to subtly make it known that I did not approve of that singer. While I never outright forbid him to listen to the music, I would make sure he knew I was not happy about it.

As I had hoped, that just intensified his liking for that band and especially that singer, who he developed a serious crush on. His walls were covered with posters of that man and he played the music constantly.

After a while, I didn’t even have to say anything at all. When I saw the posters or heard the music, I would just frown in a vaguely disappointed way and leave it at that. I let him butt up against my disapproval almost daily and gave the impression that he was upsetting me far more than he actually was.

This went on for over a year before I slowly started to notice changes. First, he gave up the eyeliner. Then the music choices started to change. He is now fully immersed in K-pop and I rarely hear emo music coming from his headphones or played out loud. He does still wear black a lot, but not exclusively anymore. Best of all, he decided that the singer was a “jerk,” and has moved on to crushing on other people.

I am thrilled that his rebellion came so early and was so easy to handle. He is not out of his teenage years yet, but his need to rebel seems to have quieted down.

I’m aware that I may be jinxing it and he may suddenly bust out with some huge rebellion that I didn’t see coming. But for now, I’m feeling pretty good about my secret plan.

Writer. Single mother to transgender son. Still grieving the death of my partner. Lifelong fighter of depression and anxiety. M.A. in Human Behavior.

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