The Way Kids Choose to Show Independence

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This last weekend I went camping with my family and a neighbor family. We both have camp trailers, so we decided to reserve side-by-side spots at a campground and make a weekend out of it. We all had a great time and the weekend was great. Camping trips take a fair amount of effort on the preparation side of things, but they are typically well worth it.

I have always said that if you really want to get to know someone, travel with them. This is particularly true if you go camping with someone – their true personality comes through. When you see someone first thing in the morning prior to their routine that makes them at their normal self, you get to observe who they really are. Plus, when you spend more than passing time with some, now seeing them for most of the day and night, you see people both during their highs and lows during the day.


Fortunately, the friends we were with are pretty even-keeled; but they do have a teenage daughter that has given them troubles in recent years. When I say troubles, a little more than the typical rebelliousness that all teenagers seem to try out at some point. For the most part, the most difficult times seem to be behind them, but who knows. She still has to make it a point to do the opposite of what her parents say or want, just to show she is in control.

The parents let her bring a friend along on this trip, likely hoping it would make the event a bit more fun for everyone if she was in a better mood. For the most part, this worked, so good planning on their part. On the second day, all the kids were having fun playing in the lake that was all of 100 feet from our camping site. This is in southern Utah, so the weather was hot and the sun was beating down on us. We had all the kids lather up with the sunblock lotion, but the two teenage girls decided not to put any on.

This was a conscious and vocal decision on their part. In their minds, they didn’t need it and their parents were treating them like kids by telling them they needed to do it. Both parents kept reminding the two girls throughout the day that they were getting burnt, and they really needed to put on lotion or get out of the sun. The responses always ranged from “whatever” to “leave us alone” in their ongoing act of defiance.

By nightfall, the tune had changed. Now feeling the effects of the heavy duty first-degree burns, the girls were continuously moaning about their pain. Not only did they feel the need to remind us of how much they were hurting, but they were also blaming her parents for being so irresponsible for not having brought aloe vera lotion to treat their burns. No amount of reminding them of the day filled with warnings of the consequences of not wearing lotion could break through these thick teenage skulls. This was clearly the parent’s fault, and they would hear nothing different.

I have two very young little girls, and this weekend scares me at what I future I have to look forward to! I have an 8-year-old boy going through a very defiant stage right now, and I see my 5-year-old girl taking mental notes and at times trying to imitate him. I try everything I can to not feed the defiance and hopefully shape a rapid passing through this phase in hopes it doesn’t stick.

Yet, I still wonder, no matter what I do is there no hope? Am I headed for the senseless teenage acts of defiance regardless of my efforts? Please, tell me it isn’t so!