Thursday, 18 June 2009
My teen years
Whenever I see a client for the first time, I will most often ask lots of questions about them and their life. Things like how many siblings were there, where they come in the line, who lived in their home, what schools they went to, were they bullied and so forth.
One other question I ask is what were they like as a teenager. Were they rebellious or conforming and so forth. The personality research shows that 75% of teenagers do go through a stage of “Storm and stress” as they call it and 25% do not. So 75% do have a significant period of rebellion. If they are in the 25% then it is quite possible that you will have someone who is primarily conformist in their life. They will tend to live too much in the Conforming Child and not enough in the Rebellious Child and some can then have very little idea of their own Free Child. 75% of teenagers spend a good deal of time in the RC and use that as the main means to communicate with others, particularly those perceived as authority figures.
However when I ask this question and listen to the answer I often wonder how would I respond if a therapist asked me such a question. I was never one of those kids who hated school and wanted to burn it down. I think I was reasonably rebellious but I would not say that I was overly so. In fact there may have even been more FC rather than RC.
I was raised with a permissive parenting style. Both my parents tended to do this type of parenting. There was not much that I was not allowed to do. By the time I was 16 or 17 I could basically do what ever I wanted and go where I wanted. However I was not a child who always wanted more and more stuff like bikes, surfboards, clothes, money, etc. So they did not have to say ‘no’ to me in such ways. I was the apple of my mother’s eye and as far as she was concerned I could do no wrong. She was not into telling me off much at all instead she spent much more of her time telling me what I could do and the potential that I did have.
I did not go out of my way to fight the system. I did it a bit but I knew what I wanted. If that did not cause trouble for the ‘system’ then I merrily went about my way and did it. There were times when I wanted to do stuff that the ’system’ had a problem with and then at these times I would be seen as highly stubborn and rebellious. I would be called by my mother - “bloody minded” - I can even here her saying those words now as I write.
For the latter part of my high school I went to one of those free schools that they had in the 1970s. You only went to the classes you wanted to and only did the projects that you wanted when you wanted. The theory being that if you place a child in a open and free learning environment then they will naturally learn and teach themselves. Hey! It sounded pretty good to me at the time!
Me on a camel with my mother
At one point I wanted to arrange a field trip to Rottnest Island (A local holiday resort). The school did not like the idea and my mother was also against it and there was a big ruckus over that one between me and authority. That went on for some time and there was a prolonged battle. I eventually got there but only in a modified form. So that is the kind of thing when I would be rebellious and fight the system. I never went out of my way to fight the system but if I wanted something that the system did not want me to have then I would fight it long and hard. So is that FC or RC?
Now I know what to say if a therapist ever asks me that question.