William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Pity the Poor Children

We’re listening to Bach, not BTO like our grandparents.

Pity the poor children of today. When they enter their teenage years, how will they stake their claim at rebellion?

Skipping class and smoking with the other burnouts behind the portable (sanctioned by the administration, of course) is already passé. Having a lazy Sunday morning watching Shirley Temple movies and eating dry cereal while the rest family troops off to church is a form of rebellion from a gentler time.

Engaging in risky sexual behavior used to be a near-guarantee to upsetting the parental unit, but hey, it’s healthy and good for the self-esteem, and help yourself to the bowl on condoms on the way out.

How can the teens of tomorrow stick it to the man, when the man will likely be right by their side, ensuring not only that pot is legal but also that it meets purity standards? How can attention-getting gambits, such as flirtation with homosexuality (does anyone remember LUGs?) or transgenderness, be successful when the man is right there with a marriage license or a health policy to make it all possible?

How can they even think that getting a tattoo will get a rise out of mother, when a passing glance at any carnival midway in the Midwest reveals more ink than ever sailed the Seven Seas? These fair-goers are Middle America. They are the new Archie and Edith Bunker, with tats up to here, and piercings down to there.

What on earth will shock these parents? Live in what is quaintly called “sin”? Have a baby without marrying said baby’s father? Father a baby without having the intention of marrying said baby’s mother? Engage in petty crime (or even terrible, horrible crime) only be let go by an understanding judge? Parties (with alcohol) are held with full parental sponsorship… and not just when ma and pa are out of town. Even screwing up in school isn’t what it used to be, now that colleges are bound to offer remedial classes.

What avenues of rebellion will be left open? Leave your suggestions below. Pity the teens of tomorrow.

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Note that this article is not from your usual source.

28 Comments

  1. Perhaps this?

    My wife and I are atheists, but our daughter wants to be baptised Catholic. I’m proud of my daughter, but I can’t deny that she stopped us in our religiously disinterested, bleeding-heart liberal tracks

  2. They won’t rebel. This is the Age of Aquarius. The need to rebel is in itself outdated and will may be mentioned in history books as the remnant of dark times. The children of tomorrow will be too engaged in all the king’s games.

  3. Igor: They may not rebel, but I doubt this is the Age of Aquarius (I thought that was the 60’s). I do think that the lack of rebellion is what causes the Dark Ages, so I don’t think rebellion can be part of the dark ages. (Dark Ages being a time of virtually no intellectual or other achievement, a period which, by the way, is now reported as not being dark at all–there goes another goalpost…..)

    How will they rebel? By knocking over old women and men, by shooting up schools, by bombing marathons, by joining new religions that view America as evil, build and sell meth, leave their babies to raise themselves, toss the babies in garbage cans, join gangs, burn churches. When the mark for rebellion is moved, you just kept moving past it to whatever else remains. Until there is total anarchy, there are laws you can break.

  4. But if there’s total anarchy would establishing rules be a rebellion?

    Oh, wait! That’s what we do now.

  5. They can always become Neo-Nazis.

  6. With the coming acceptance of polyamory you can expect rebellious teens, in the spirit of self knowledge, to participate in orgies. In fact, schools will encourage such behavior by sponsoring seminars explaining do’s and don’ts and giving suggestions for maximizing the pleasure of the experience.

  7. They can always become Religious Traditionalists or Neoreactionaries. More than a few are. Casey Ann bemoans the fact upon her turning 20 that she missed her life goal of becoming a teen mom. This kid is under 20.

  8. This is my philosophy as a parent. Give them strict boundaries and rules. Give them restricting and chaffing expectations. I would rather have my sons rebel against my strict rules than to rebel against the almost total lack of rules that I see some living with.

    As a teen (only 20-14 years ago) I had a strict curfew. I rebeled by not coming home at 2100 but at 2200. If I had no curfew but a simple “just be home for breakfast” rule (I know a few people who lived with that one), how would I as a teen rebel? I wouldn’t show up for a day, maybe. The rebelious act is proportional to the strictness of the rules.

  9. Perhaps the males will start wearing proper hats, suits, ties and well-polished shoes?

  10. Actually blogged about this back in Aug. </shameless self promotion>

  11. When your parents are liberal/progressive wing nuts, you rebel by becoming a conservative wing nut

  12. Briggs: “In an age of relativism, orthodoxy is the only possible rebellion left” – Peter Kreeft

  13. “… the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

    – G.K. Chesterton

  14. Briggs at 8:32 is the right way.

    A couple of other ideas.
    Study the declaration and constitution.
    Vote against the administrative/welfare state and for freedom.
    Exercise your 2nd amendment rights.

  15. Interesting article, but for reasons different from any noted thus far — it indicates a very “ego-centric” attitude that one’s kids are there to be submissive to their parents and compliant with their parents values. Little slaves perhaps. Implicit is a presumption something like that because maturing kids can engage in adult behavior they have adult self-control, understanding, etc. Of course, there’s nothing further from the truth.

    It completely ignores (is ignorant of?) the parent’s role & responsibility of “raising” their kids–even thru the trials of adolescence when a whole host of hormonal & other changes are underway at, biologically, warp speed, but they still take time…several years. Fundamental to that maturation process is the child’s developing self-awareness and striving for independence, all while still completely dependent on their parents (usually) for food, clothing & shelter. Instinctive development of independence & self-sufficiency are all good, but that’s in direct conflict with the dependence on the parents–that’s a tough place for a maturing kid to be. Tougher if the parent thinks the kid is there to meet the parent’s needs & desires than when the parent acknowledges & accepts their responsibility to provide the support & guidance that are part & parcel of “raising” a child.

    The question that responsible parents ought to ask is, “Given the many changes kids go thru during adolescence, many hormonal, how can I provide a suitably supportive & stable environment to help ensure my kids mature well and responsibly?”

    The maturation process thru adolescence takes time and without responsible parental support the kids are left to fend for themselves in a trial & error process influenced by equally ignorant peers. Any parent identifying their child’s actions as willful rebellion–against the parent, as opposed to clumsy tentative steps at gaining independence, is probably neglectful in some way. It is very uncommon for a child to become overly “rebellious” as an overall pattern in response to peer pressure when there’s appropriate parental support; more commonly, the truly “rebellious” child hails from a dysfunctional family dynamic — just the sort of parents that would simplemindedly reclassify a complex & trying [for the child] maturation process where parental support & coaching are needed as much as at any other time…as merely rebellion directed against a parent.

  16. When they enter their teenage years, how will they stake their claim at rebellion?

    Easy, they’ll be racist. Or sexist. Or gun owners. While pot may be ok, tobacco will still be rebellious. They might also try driving something completely not ok for the environment.

    And don’t forget praying out loud. They’ll probably send them to camps for that.

  17. Okay, Ken, let’s rename this “learning how to be an adult and to test boundaries”. Or “spreading one’s wings and hopefully not crashing out of the nest”. Yes, rebellion implies parental control, in some sense. No, parents don’t own their children and trying to get the child to be what the parent always wanted them to be is usually a waste of time and annoying to both parties, unless the parent wanted the child to be a responsible adult. Any way you word it, remove the boundaries and bad things happen. Be a pal instead of a parent and bad things happen. Maybe rebellion is different from testing boundaries–I don’t know. I always considered them the same, and had no problem with teenagers “rebelling” against becoming a beauty queen because Mommy could not do it herself. It helped the child develop their own personality and to disconnect from the parent. Seemed an important thing. It all seems pretty much the same to me–learning limits, defining one’s self, etc.

  18. Remember Sheri that the age of Aquarius is supposed to last for a couple thousand years. As to “I do think that the lack of rebellion is what causes the Dark Ages”. This is a new one on me. Where do you get this stuff or are you missing another smiley face? According to Edward Gibbon it was all those young men hiding from the legion recruiting officers in the newly formed christian monasteries.

    Sorry Ken but you have exceeded my daily tolerance for pomposity. I have to go lie down or something, maybe give a lecture.

  19. Scotian: Really–we have to endure another couple of centuries of this age of Aquarius? Any chance we will get srtuck by a meteor and end the mess? (No smiley face on purpose)

    As for the Dark Ages, unless I misunderstand the Dark Ages, and since there are about 100 different interpretations thereof that is possible, it seems that things were pretty quite and not very revolutionary. New ideas did arise, but slowly. I was not aware of Gibbon’s theory of young men hiding from recruiting officers of the newly formed Christian monasteries, but hiding would definately qualify as “lack of rebellion”, would it not?

  20. Many people have written about the changing face of rebellion. It’s all myth. How did your children rebel against you?

    No one needs our pity.

  21. I don’t know if you indulge in reading science fiction, but this very question was addressed by the late James P. Hogan, in his delightful story “Generation Gap.” I’ve found a copy on-line at http://vintage.failed-dam.org/gap.htm . Enjoy.

  22. This whole rebellion garbage was a fantasy invented by an upper middle class Viennese tribal and scooped up by a gaggle of old dragons drooling over James Dean et al. The kids since , rather than rebelling, have been going along with the crowd, throughout their lives, with predictable results. Unless and until circumstances compel it , this will not change. Entropy does not engender order. Societal collapse might go either way.

  23. Sheri, quiet? You have forgotten about all those Goths, Vandals, and Huns running around and creating havoc. The recruiting officers weren’t monks. The young men were hiding as monks to escape induction into the Roman Legion. That was the act of rebellion against their responsibility as Roman citizens. Some may have even joined up with the Goths, sort of the bike gang of their day.

  24. Scotian: Okay, some rebellion. The Dark Ages really shown for torture methods, which I guess I figured kept the rebellion to a minimum. It’s probably all relative to other times and depends on your definition of rebellion and quiet. It’s just the way I have come to see the period. As noted, there are many different views on this period and mine is just based on my readings and studies. Maybe I’ll change my mind with further study.

  25. Sheri, you might be confusing the dark ages with the middle ages.

  26. The Dark Ages is the name given to the period in history between the years 400 A.D. and 1000 A.D. This period was characterized by a drastic deterioration in the economy and the culture of European countries. It is often called the Early Middle Ages and refers to the time between the demise of the Roam Empire and the Renaissance. (vspages.com)

    Currently, it appears the term applies only to the early middle ages (5th through the 10th century according to wiki). Since the terms have changed and appear to be overlapping, it seems highly likely I am confused. 🙂

  27. Between those pesky Normans, Mongol hoards, the hundred year war, the Black Death, and revolting peasants even the later Middle Ages was hardly quiet. Best to stick with the Pax Romana but stay away from the Middle East, Dacia, and Pompeii. Come to think of it you might be hard pressed to find a period of time to live out a full peaceful lifespan. I’m beginning to see the appeal of the monastic life if you can find a sufficiently out of the way place.

  28. “Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith…”

    -Rudyard Kipling

    I predict that legally changing your name, based on teen culture, might be the new way of rebelling against your parents/society. Instead of a skull tatoo, just rename yourself ‘Skull’ Smith. But then, I’ve always wanted a daughter named Skull. Or, just rename yourself after a famous murderer.

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