Disrespect for Authority


In a day when society promotes individuality and independence on a different level than ever before, we are faced with an increasing problem of blatant disrespect for authority figures.  This disrespect is directed at parents, teachers, law officials, the common business man, and even grandparents.  No adult is exempt from the attitude exuding from today’s teens who struggle with authority figures.

There tends to be an ongoing power struggle in many teenagers who feel that they must “win” the battle when being confronted on most levels by an adult.  This disrespect comes in all forms from verbal abuse, condescending remarks, blatant refusal to carry out simple requests, chores, or tasks, and even to physical abuse in many cases.

Once the disrespect has begun to be noticed by others outside of the home, it has reached a level that must be addressed in counseling and, possibly, through other measures as well.  A comprehensive evaluation should be given at the earliest detection in order to prevent teens from self-destruction or other means of destruction as well.

We must look deeper into the heart of the teenager to find out where the anger/disrespect originates.  The disrespect is a form of aggression or anger that has, possibly, been suppressed for some time and is now being exemplified in the form of verbal abuse or other means of disrespect.  It may manifest in the classroom with a lovely teacher or in the teller line at the bank.  It is hard to say what prompted the attitude of disrespect toward the particular individual.

Today’s teens are very complex and are struggling with much anxiety about who they are and who they want to be.  In many circles, it is thought to be “cool” to show dominance or act as though one is invincible and untouched by human emotion.  Therefore, many will fall into the trap of feeling that it is an acceptable behavior to be rude or disrespectful to adults or even destroy their property with little to no thought of how it may be replaced.  Broken furniture, holes in the walls and doors, damage to parents’ cars, are all trophies showing the signs of disrespect.  These teenagers are among those who have inner turmoil about how to gain their independence and present themselves as “cool” to their peers while feeling good about themselves.  It is an internal battle, and someone is going to lose!

How do we tame this inner hostility that has crept outward in the form of blatant disrespect?  First, we have to find the origination or the core belief in order to understand where they are coming from.  Through much counsel, your child may be able to come to terms with his/her foundational belief system of who they are and what they want from life—and how to get there.  The road is not an easy one, and it may take quite some time to get to the core.  This is not a common disorder that may be diagnosed and a pill given to calm them down, help them remain focused, or even to reduce their anxiety.  They just have a lack of respect for the adult world, and there is, most likely, a good reason for their feelings once we are able to get to the bottom of it all.  It is worth looking into, getting cursed out, being verbally battered, or even threatened if we help the child find their way through the jungle of emotions, broken trusts, and a desire to be “on top”.

As the Executive Director of Wolf Creek Academy, and the primary admissions agent for the school, I am normally the one who will meet with families upon enrollment.  It does not take but a moment to recognize the attitude and disrespect coming from the adolescent once they are in my office for the express purpose of enrollment into the boarding school.  It is quite challenging for the parents to remain calm through the process when, in many cases, their child is throwing a tantrum, being very disrespectful, and in some instances even being a bully to the parents.  I am not enraged at his/her behavior or disrespect, but I am always interested to find out, as quickly as possible, what is causing this type of attitude and disrespect.  What is at the core of this child who is driven to be independent and in control?  The process begins with the therapist, and the parents will await some positive reports to come in a few weeks—-and they always do!  The time-frame is different for each one, as each teenager has many layers that must be peeled away just as an onion, but we eventually find their core.  They are scared, lonely, and in many cases, have been masking their true belief about who they really are for so long, that they have lost sight of themselves.  In all of their attitude and disrespect for others, they have lost the most important thing in their own life as well——common respect for themselves!   Their love for themselves, their family, and God has, seemingly, become something of the past.

If your child is acting out by being disrespectful to you, their teachers, or other family members, don’t wait until they cross the line and break a law, seek help for your child now.  See a therapist or psychiatrist who may make further recommendations for evaluations or possible residential therapy for the future of your child and restoration to the family!