Many families of defiant teens live in a home that has become a
battleground. In the beginning, the daily struggles can be expected.
After all, we knew that problems would occur because teens are
naturally rebellious, to a degree. Initially, stress can be so subtle that
we lose sight of a war, which others do not realize is occurring. We
honestly believe that we can work through the problems. Outbursts,
rages, and strife become a way of life (an emotionally unhealthy way
of life). We set aside our own needs and focus on the needs of our
teenager. But what does it cost us?
There is a significant difference between normal teenage rebellion
· Defiant teens are destructive and disagreeable by nature
· They like to push their parents' anger-buttons
· Every request results in a power struggle
· Lying is a daily habit, and stealing is a favorite hobby
· Getting others to react strongly pleases and amuses them
· They blame others for their mistakes and misbehavior
· And they have no remorse for the hurtful things they say and do
The majority of the population does not understand the dynamics of
parenting a defiant child. Family and friends may think that you -- the
parent -- are the one with the problem. Parents of defiant teens are
frequently turned in on false abuse allegations. Support is non-existent,
because outsiders can't even begin to imagine that children can be so
destructive. Where does that leave a parent?
Without strong support and understanding, the parent will become
isolated, demoralized, hurt, confused, and often held accountable for
the actions of her/his teenager.
Families are simply not prepared for the profound anger that lives in
the heart and soul of the defiant teen -- he/she sees YOU, the parent,
as the enemy. Small expectations on the parent's part can set the
defiant teen off in ways that are not only indescribable, but also often
Your home becomes a war-zone and you feel totally inadequate. You
begin to question your parenting abilities -- and your own sanity. Your
heart's desire is to provide your child with untold opportunities, a
future, and all the love in the world. You want to soothe your troubled
teen. You want him/her to have a fulfilling life and to grow up to be a
responsible adult. Yet, you are met with hatred and fierce anger.
In war, the battle lines are drawn; an antagonism exists between two
enemies. In our homes, we are not drawing battle lines; we are not
prepared for war. We are prepared for parenting. Consequently, the
ongoing stress can result in disastrous effects on our well-being, literally
causing our emotional and physical health to deteriorate.
In parenting a defiant teenager, you will not escape adverse effects.
It is essential to recognize that your feelings are typical under stressful
conditions. It is just as essential to accept the fact that extensive stress
is unhealthy. By recognizing the symptoms and seeking support, you
will strengthen your abilities to cope.
The strains a defiant teen puts on your family can be enormous.
Effects on the family:
• A defiant teen will play one parent off the other, which could result in
a rift between parents.
• Dreams of the perfect, loving, caring family are squashed. There is
no such thing as perfect family, but a family with a defiant child can
become quite dysfunctional.
• Due to the child’s disruptive behavior, parents often withdraw from
• Family events, like Christmas, can be filled with anger and frustration.
• Parents appear to be unfair, strict and sometimes hostile, as parenting
skills used with healthy children do not work with defiant children.
• Siblings and pets can often be targeted and threatened.
• Siblings often feel ignored or overlooked as the defiant child takes up
so much of the parent’s time.
Defiant teens are not bad -- but they are very intense. And they
seek intensity from others as well -- especially their parents!
Unfortunately, they have discovered that their parents are the most
intense and exciting when things are going wrong. What parents
may have viewed as punishment for their defiant child was actually a
reward (i.e., he/she received a bigger payoff for misbehavior).