Today two articles caught my eye. Ed Stetzer’s post on the myth of teen rebellion, and GQ’s painfully sad interview with Billy Ray Cyrus (regret-filled father of Myley Cyrus/Hannah Montana). Both emphasize the importance of parents and what they allow their children to be involved in.
Ed Stetzer’s article articulates the point that adolescent rebellion is primarily a problem in developed countries far more than in developing countries. Today many parents, psychologists, and doctors blame rebellion on an incompletely developed brain, therefore making rebellion a genetic defect that all parents must struggle with. However, research data indicates there are plenty of cultures where teen rebellion is unheard of. Stetzer cites an article by Dr. Robert Epstein foud here http://drrobertepstein.com/pdf/Epstein-THE_MYTH_OF_THE_TEEN_BRAIN-Scientific_American_Mind-4-07.pdf
But are such problems truly inevitable? If the turmoil-generating “teen brain” were a universal developmental phenomenon, we would presumably find turmoil of this kind around the world. Do we? In 1991 anthropologist Alice Schlegel of the University of Arizona and psychologist Herbert Barry III of the University of Pittsburgh reviewed research on teens in 186 preindustrial societies. Among the important conclusions they drew about these societies: about 60 percent had no word for “adolescence,” teens spent almost all their time with adults, teens showed almost no signs of psychopathology, and antisocial behavior in young males was completely absent in more than half these cultures and extremely mild in cultures in which it did occur.
Even more significant, a series of long-term studies set in motion in the 1980s by anthropologists Beatrice Whiting and John Whiting of Harvard University suggests that teen trouble begins to appear in other cultures soon after the introduction of certain Western influences, especially Western-style schooling, television programs and movies. Delinquency was not an issue among the Inuit people of Victoria Island, Canada, for example, until TV arrived in 1980. By 1988 the Inuit had created their first permanent police station to try to cope with the new problem.
Consistent with these modern observations, many historians note that through most of recorded human history the teen years were a relatively peaceful time of transition to adulthood. Teens were not trying to break away from adults; rather they were learning to become adults. Some historians, such as Hugh Cunningham of the University of Kent in England and Marc Kleijwegt of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of Ancient Youth: The Ambiguity of Youth and the Absence of Adolescence in Greco-Roman Society (J. C. Gieben, 1991), suggest that the tumultuous period we call adolescence is a very recent phenomenon–not much more than a century old.
Basically, our culture influences how teens behave, then explains it away as a brain development challenge. I believe we all know how important it is to protect your kids from certain influences in media, pop culture, etc. On the same not, in a GQ article (in no way an endorsement of GQ) Billy Ray Cyrus explains how upside down his life is right now. He sits alone in his dark Tennessee mansion, reminiscing about the past. He is in the middle of a divorce, his record company is delaying his next album, and he watches along with everyone else on the internet as his daughter posts videos of herself using drugs. In the article he claims to have many regrets, but the sad truth is when you allow young kids, preteens and teens access to what Miley was surrounded by, you can expect similar results. In the article Billy Ray prefers to stay indoors with the lights out. Sadly, depression is just the beginning of what looks to be a long story for the Cyrus family.
So the stats, data, and stories all indicate that parents have a real, powerful role in their children’s lives. However, excuses are more often found than determination to raise Godly kids. Just some articles I found interseting today.