Q&A – What Went Wrong With My Teen?

Question: I am one of the discouraged fathers you have talked about. My wife and I tried so hard to be good parents, but now our sixteen-year-old son is dour, disrespectful, and defiant. He's in serious trouble with the law and we have no idea where we went wrong.

Answer: Before you take the blame for everything that has happened, I urge you to stop and think about what has occurred. All of us who work with kids have observed that a teen's rebellious behavior sometimes results not from parental mistakes or failures but from bad choices made on his own initiative. Your child may be one of these teens.

Two things are clear from this understanding. First, parents have been quick to take the credit or blame for the way their children turn out. Moms and dads who are raising bright young superstars are inclined to stick out their chests and say, "Look at what we accomplished." Those with irresponsible kids wonder, "Where did we go wrong?" It is very possible that neither assessment is accurate. Even though parents are enormously influential in the lives of their children, they are only one component from which children are assembled.

Behavioral scientists have been far too simplistic in their explanation of human behavior. Despite their theories to the contrary, we are more than the quality of our nutrition. We are more than our genetic heritage. We are more than our biochemistry. And certainly, we are more than the aggregate of parental influences. God has created us as unique individuals, capable of independent and rational thought that is not attributable to any source. That is what makes child rearing so challenging and rewarding. Just when you think you have your kids figured out, you had better brace yourself! Something new is coming your way.

Book: Bringing Up Boys

By Dr. James Dobson

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