Thursday, May 24, 2007



The Path to Identity?

A gentleman I know who lived abroad for many years remarked at the difference he saw in our culture and in many other cultures around the world. He noted that our culture assumes that sometime during a child's development, he or she will go through a "rebellious" stage. In fact, we consider this an essential part of adolescence. We believe that children must rebel in order to separate themselves from their parents' identity in order to find their own.

This man noted that there are many cultures that do not look at childhood and adolescent development in this way. In many countries, people assume that a child derives much of his identity from being a member of the family. In nations like these, people assume that a child will naturally want to honor his parents throughout his or her lifetime. In such cultures, rebellion is not viewed as a normal stage of development. Instead, it is seen as an indication that something is wrong.

Now, no culture is perfect. Among any people, there will be children who defiantly disobey their parents and reject their parents' values. The sinful nature is universal, and no one country has a claim on it.

However, I thought this observation was an interesting one.


5 comments:

Lisa in Texas = ) said...

I think you have a good point. Alot of times when you expect the bad - you get the bad. I think we need to gradually give our teens more freedom and choices and lots and lots of love!!
I have really enjoyed your blog!
Lisa = )

Mrs. Brigham said...

I think you make a most interesting point. My mother-in-law is from Korea and she frequently talks about the differences in how children behave at all ages, how families act & handle things, and many other differences between her home country and the USA. Even in the community she lives in now, which is home to many recent immigrants from her former country, a noticeable difference can be observed between the children there versus the typical American children. It is very fascinating to witness.

knit or knot said...

I am curious...do you happen to have any examples of which cultures do not see rebellion as the norm? I would like to look into this a bit further. If I mentioned this little tidbit to my family their response would be which cultures? so I always like to have specific info before presenting an idea to them.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Lisa, I agree with you about giving teens choices as they grow up, while they are still under your guidance, as well as giving them lots and lots of love. Thanks for your encouraging comments.

Hi Mrs. Brigham,

Thanks for sharing that with us about Korean culture. It is interesting, isn't it?

Hi Knit or Knot,

It's a good idea to research this . I will ask more specific questions from the man who made this remark and report back to you.

In the meantime, I'll say this. The man I'm referring to has lived in many South American countries, including Argentina. Many Hispanic families are particularly close.

He made this comment when another man told of an African man, who was a prince in his country, and who talked about how he always tried to live his life in a way that honored his father. However,the life children experience in African countries varies from country to country. In some African countires where there is a lot of war and poverty, children often suffer terribly and are taken from their parents by gangs in order to become soldiers. So, I wouldn't make a blanket statement about all African cultures. I'll have to find out which nation this young man was from.

Also, many Asian countries do not except adolescent rebellion as we do. See Mrs. Brigham's comment for a little extra tidbit about that.

Sherry said...

I have seen too many American parents use this supposedly normal teenage rebellion as an excuse for abdication of their parental duties. The rebellion, or sowing of wild oats, becomes a sort of self(teen)-fulfilling prophesy. We never assumed rebellion would be normal with our children. In fact, it appears to me to be very much like the behavior of two year olds (and don't you just love it when you witness this behavior in adults?). If you deal with the misbehavior early on, you'll have less of it later. If you are in close, regular communication with your children, you can deal with issues as they appear, rather than letting them build up to a full-blown rebellion. Parenting takes plenty of effort all along the way, regardless of age. Parents who assume teenage rebellion is normal wind up taking the lazy way out (by just allowing the behavior), for a while anyway. Parents must stay engaged throughout the whole process. We've certainly seen plenty of examples of how not to do it!