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The Transitional Parent - Cultivating Creative Rebellion
We all know they're going to go through it sometime in their lives but when a divorce pushes them to the edge, can we as parents hold on - and let go?
"It's a paroxysm of an oxymoron," claims Michele McGrier, a 39 year old newly divorced photographer with three teen age sons. Then in an admission of defeat: "I know better than to try to completely control them but if they're out of my control then they're out of their own control! Who has the last word?"
Better yet is who has the first word. As divorce rates continue to skyrocket at an astonishing rate of 62% a year, families are far from intact. In fact, statistics alone indicate that more than half of marriages end as a result of children from a previous relationship. "Nobody wants to see these relationship end, but if they're so tenuous in the first place, there has to be a defining moment where one partner will throw in the towel. It's just a question of time at that point," says Arthur G. Ramos, M.S., MFT, a marriage and family therapist in Paso Robles, California, and an expert in behavioral therapy.
But has rebellion become a misunderstood marker of creative growth? And have many a psychological mind pathologized a rebellious child? According to research conducted by Amy Bobrow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Child Study Center at New York University School of Medicine in Manhattan, it is a myth that teens are huge risk takers. While many parents are afraid of the obvious menaces: drugs, unprotected sex, wild parties, Bobrow's research indicates:
Further, according to Bobrow, parents who are concerned that their children will continue to utilize these drugs should not be concerned: further research concludes that they will not.
Moreover, there's evidence of a decline in teenage sexual experimentation, according to research by David Elkind, PhD, the author of All Grown Up and No Place to Go, and professor of child development at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. The United Kingdom now leads the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the industrialized world, with the United States pregnancy rate diminishing. Whether or not it's the threat of AIDS or an emphasis on sex education doesn't really matter. Additionally, laws in many states require parental consent for an abortion, which may be a contribution to a lower teen pregnancy rate.
The Generation Ungapped
Body piercing, tattoos, and music are today's markers of adolescence. In earlier generations, teens weren't expected to be sexually active -- or experiment with alcohol or drugs -- until they turned 17 or 18, when they were better able to resist peer pressure, according to Elkind. Now they're getting pressure at 13 and 14, when they're too young to resist. It's not that child development has changed, it's that the demands are coming at earlier ages. However, more interesting research suggests that 20% of adolescents suffer behavioral difficulties sufficient to impair their overall psychosocial functioning, and some of these youths eventually become labeled by society as rebellious. As a result, parents often become very distressed and seek counseling from their primary care physicians when their adolescents are persistently hostile, argumentative, offensive, aggressive, or hateful toward authority figures and siblings. One study reported that nearly one third to one half of all adolescent clinic referrals are for evaluation of adolescents with a variety of socially disruptive and inhospitable behaviors.
Healthy vs Unhealthy Rebellion?
There is such a thing as healthy rebellion as opposed to unhealthy rebellion. Some examples of issues leading to unhealthy rebellion include:
Characteristics of healthy rebellion
Characteristics of unhealthy rebellion
Some Healthy Rebellion Tips?
Joint or sole custody may be awarded based on the best interests of the child and other factors that include 1) the preference of the child, 2) the desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving relationship between the child and the other parent, 3) the child's health, safety and welfare, the nature and contact with both parents and 4) the history of alcohol and drug use. Marital misconduct may be considered.
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