A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Thursday, 6 February 2014

What's Wrong With Teen Rebellion?

In the 1980s when I was a student at a mixed comprehensive, it was generally accepted that pupils were going to get into mischief. I like to think that the teachers saw this as character building and chose to turn a blind eye. In sixth form, this was the type of activity that we enjoyed regularly...
  • During P.E. lessons we'd jog as far as the local shop, buy sweets and disappear to a friend’s house – naturally we'd reappear at the end of the lesson looking completely shattered.
  • We had an impressive collection of road signs in the common room. As the teachers never set foot in there, our collection stayed until the end of the year.
  • On a school trip to the science museum, the entire group stayed for approximately thirty minutes before escaping to see what we considered to be far more interesting sights of London instead.
  • A friend once left his bag in the common room and not wanting to leave it overnight – he let himself in through an unlatched window to retrieve it.
  • On Friday lunchtimes, we'd occasionally sneak off to the pub - sometimes we'd even spot the teachers in there.

Now that Health and Safety has gone completely bonkers, I can’t help thinking that our children are missing out on developing some valuable life skills. My daughters never once bunked off school and wouldn’t have dreamt of doing any of the above. Maybe that's why their behaviour was sometimes challenging at home? I like to think that they were taking the opportunity to rebel a little. Instead, my daughters were actively encouraged (by me) to be mischievous in ways that wouldn’t land them in trouble.

Sadly, they both worked out from an early age that schools were merely exam factories and the opportunity to think for themselves was actively discouraged. Olivia couldn’t wait for university and the chance for independent study. Before my daughters left home for uni, they were instructed to go, grab life by the horns and sample everything on offer (that's legal). I'm hopeful that this will prepare them for life in the real world after they leave.

My daughters may have worked far harder than I ever did at school, but I still managed to pursue a professional career for 26 years. I guess that our generation were the lucky ones as jobs at that time were plentiful. I remain optimistic that my daughters will find worthwhile careers after uni, I have to - it’s the only thing that makes eighteen thousand pounds of tuition fees for the two of them each year seem slightly more bearable.

My philosophy remains to this day that you’re a long time grown-up and should be allowed to make mistakes and live a little while learning how to become an adult. Are we raising a resilient generation that will be able to cope with whatever life flings in their direction? I have my doubts. And if you can’t have fun and rebel as a teenager, when will you find the time exactly? Are we raising children that will burn out much younger from the stresses of having to conform at such a young age?

For those of you who've never seen the film 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off,' this has to be the ultimate teen movie. To this day Ferris Bueller is my hero - OK so he may have taken teen mischief to a whole new level, but I'm guessing that he'd have gotten away with almost nothing in today's vigilant society. I like to think that if Ferris Bueller was for real, he'd have grown up, had a fabulous life and looked back on his childhood filled with admiration.

Copyright ©2014 Izzie Anderton


  1. What a great post, and how true! Although I cringe when I think back to what I got up to, I also think that kids and teenagers will let loose whatever rules are in place, which means that they might as well be able to break the small ones without too much effort, or they'll be driven to try something much more outlandish, if that makes sense!

  2. It does worry me too a little. Not so much the bunking off - there was precious little opportunity for that at our school which was run by nuns, but there seems to be less opportunity to do things on their own.

  3. Great post. Sometimes my son asks me why kids/ teens are doing certain things that seem a bit naughty and I say 'for fun!'. He doesn't really get it. Mischief is definitely the way forward!
    On the other hand I worry about binge drinking, drugs, eating disorders, self-harming and even stuff like tattoos, which all seem so much more prevalent than when we were young. We were able to get up to mischief, so didn't have to binge drink! (Well, I didn't at any rate.)

  4. Fantastic post. I totally agree with you, the children don't get to be mischievous like we were and I do wonder what that means for their future. All we can do is encourage our children to enjoy being young while they can!

  5. I think you make a valid point, but I also think that the strictness in schools nowadays is probably to blame for the awful things that unruly teenagers get up to out of school, maybe if they could rebel in the ways we did when younger then they wouldn't be so bad? #PoColo

  6. What a great post and so very true!!

  7. Oh I love "Ferris Buellers Day Off" - can't even count the times I watched it in the past. I also agree with your post that some rebellion is needed. I went to a British boarding school but we were always finding ways of sneaking off to the pub, meeting up with the boys at another boarding school in same town, and various escapades. Luckily we rarely were caught - or teachers then turned a blind eye. Later as a journalist often covering war zones I think this aspect of risk and rebellion was needed in order to properly cover such stories.

  8. I really loved this post and I have to totally agree with you about Health and Safety gone mad. I loved Ferris Bueller - it was one of my favourite films growing up and I always felt my teen years were tinged with a bit of mischief. It's a shame Grace won't experience this. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

  9. Happy to hear that so many of you are thinking exactly the same thing. Here's to letting our teens rebel a little and growing up as responsible adults that can manage whatever life throws at them!


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