In my experience I have observed 8 root causes of Adolescent Rebellion.


  1. RIGIDITY, witnessed in lectures, ultimates, absolutes, threats.
  2. CONTRADICTIONS, for example, parents can’t swear if the teen is forbade from swearing.  It’s just about respect, thus if the teen is expected to be respectful it is the parents obligation to show what respect looks like.
  3. UNPRODUCTIVE VOICE, for example, if the teen ever feels invalidated; their voice, their concerns are not heard and are left unheeded. Validation is NOT about agreeing with the teen, it’s about “understanding their line of logic” even if it differs from parents, even if it’s just wrong.  
  4. GAPS IN ATTACHMENT, for example, if the teen does not experience validation and accountability the teen will not feel safe and that will inhibit emotional maturity.  This is NOT about Perfection, it’s about Effort!  Try to be accountable, try to be validating.  And when you are not, validate the disappointment and be accountable to your mistakes (own them and try to fix them).  
  5. UNMET EXPECTATIONS, for example, the teen expects validation and accountability from significant people in their life and from the world.  This does not always happen so the teen gets angry and rebels against those same significant people and the world.  They kind-of walk around with a slight sense of entitlement.  But I validate that (I don’t verbally agree, I just understand their line of logic). I tell them they do deserve validation and accountability from their parents (or other significant loved ones) and from the world and explain how I understand the disappointment, frustration and pain they must experience with that unmet need; that unmet expectation.  
  6. NOT wanting to be a BURDEN.  Rebellion can look differently to different people.  This phenomenon shapes so many people and their behaviors.  They can rebel against themselves and it tends to manifest in self-destructive manners and or people-pleasing behaviors.  
  7. PROJECTING anger and distrust of the world onto the safest people in their lives.  Rebellious teens don’t always have abusive or neglectful upbringings; sometimes their parents are really great, or articulate their insights and are efficient with their emotional management and boundaries.  But because life has thrown too many traumas at the family as a whole, like natural disasters, economic depressions, military demands to move frequently, etc., the teen projects their anger at life onto the safest people, typically his or her parents who have proven to always be there during all transitions.  
  8. MARITAL DISCORD.  Children and Teens sometimes rebel to distract the couple from their discord, to align the couple for the sake of the teen, or to emotionally absorb the discord and internalize it.  


Examine if any of the above applies to your teen and family; ASK your teen and family if any of the above applies.  If you need more elaboration or support, hit up my calendar and we’ll begin there.