Did your parents set you up for a harmless rebellion?

I ran across a blog postby Janet D. Stemwedel on the Scientific American website. She was writing about her vegetarianism and its effect on her children. Among other things, she said:

That reminded me of my parents, well, my father, specifically. He had an obsession with germs. This led to the pronouncement that, no matter what the label claimed, eating uncooked hot dogs was playing russian roulette. All I ever have to do to feel a thrill of rebellion is eat an uncooked (by me - I check the label . . . usually) hot dog.

Or roll down the car window and let any part of my arm rest outside of it, while the car is in motion.

Do you have any harmless rebellions, bequeathed to you in childhood?

As a vegetarian, I love that blog post so hard.

My mom was very old school about the Internet and the dangers of talking to people online. Yet here I am. :slight_smile:

I’ve always had a theory that a big part of why so many parents act outraged when their kid dyes their hair blue or gets a mohawk or whatever is because of this need for harmless rebellion.
It’s not like having weird hair actually hurts anything, after all.

I have absolutely set up my kids for harmless rebellion. If my parents did it, I wasn’t aware, which is kind of the point. IMO, it’s critical to draw a few lines in the sand for the kids to step over otherwise they have to go further and further afield to get their rebellion on.

Hair was a great one when I was young, when eveyone was growing it long, so I tried to pass that on to my kids. Unfortunately, when I said “get a haircut” they usually did it. So I had to set their curfew to 12:00. That allowed them the thrill of staying up past midnight and showing the old man who’s boss. Wish I’d thought of vegetarianism.

My parents were extraordinarily devious. Their entire approach to the teenage rebellion thing was basically to tell me that they didn’t give a shit whether I grew out a giant purple afro, or had long Metallica-style hair.

They just wanted a picture so they could show my wife and children in the future. Having seen how amusing old pictures of my father from about 18-30 were, I didn’t want to add any fuel to the fire. Plus, I didn’t want to give them any ammunition to laugh at me about when I was older, so in a sense it was a rebellion to NOT do anything goofy and/or extreme.

Beyond that, they were pretty lenient on most things, except stuff like lawbreaking, drugs and impregnating girls- they were about the only “crash landings” that I had to worry about. Everything else was negotiable, or the consequences were known and it was my choice to suffer them or not.

I wish I had done a bit of it with my son.

He once told me, ‘mom, its hard to be a rebellious teen when you never tell me no’.
I said, ‘it’s hard to tell you no when you never do anything you shouldn’t be doing’.

No, my mom set me up for harmful rebellion.

I don’t know that I agree with this method at all though. I’d rather be straight with my kid and have her know that when I say don’t do something, I mean it and it is actually important. Sure, she knows I don’t like certain other things too much (I’m also a vegetarian, and I’d like her to be but she isn’t, among other things) but I don’t forbid them.

I was so unrebellious, my dad had to imagine ways I’d rebelled to make himself feel better.

Oh, Dad was being completely straight. Jaw-clenchingly straight. He was serious as a heart attack about a lot of things.

Clothes. My mom has a thing for frumpy, too big clothes. Although I don’t know if she was setting me up for a harmless rebellion - she’s the same way when we go clothes shopping to this day.

My parents were more about letting us do extreme things but putting a limit on it we could live with. Wanted a tattoo? Okay, but we gotta find a reputable place and it’s gotta be somewhere you can easily cover it up with clothing. Crazy hair colour? Okay, but go to the hairdresser so you don’t get a completely fried, bleached, hideous mess. Want to drink? Okay, we’ll pull for you, but you and your friends need to drink here. Here, being our farm in the middle of nowhere so we couldn’t just leave the house and get into crazy shit at a house party down the street or whatever. Good ol’ parents, made me stop bugging my older brother’s friend who got wasted and passed out under our kitchen table.

Grew up in a kosher household. I can appreciate bacon on levels non-Jews simply will never understand. :smiley:

Now that I’m an adult, I buy cereal with sugar as the first ingredient ALL THE TIME*!

*But not really all the time. Hardly at all. One because it’s expensive, two because it’s not very filling and three because it makes me fall asleep by lunch. But dammit I buy it at LEAST once every two years…

Yeah… that was me too. My biggest form of rebellion was not going to parties and not playing football. (Of course, my dad was such a hypocrite, that I got lectured for not wanting to go to parties, but I’d have gotten in trouble for going to parties. I got lectured for not playing football, but I’d never have been good enough at it if I tried.)

I do like the OP’s general idea. I’m not a parent myself, but I think so many parents these days need to give kids some places in which they can screw up safely. Usually, I think of this as things like having them set budgets or prepare meals where they’re learning life skills through both successes and failures.

Oh, yes. My mom claims the only reason they brought us up as Catholics was so that we’d have something to rebel against :slight_smile: It totally didn’t work, by the way; we rebelled against the thing they actually cared about, which was school, and I went on a bit of a religious kick at the same time, which my parents found harmless but utterly baffling.

And then I grew up to be an atheist with a PhD, so maybe it did work after all…

When she was 13 and looking to rebel, I told my niece “Do anything you want with your hair - dye it purple, shave it off, whatever. Same thing with clothes, wear anything you want, create your own style. Because hair will grow out and the clothes will wind up at Goodwill. Just no tattoos, because that is something that you can’t get rid of.” She just turned 25, and is tattoo free.

Not in that way, but my usual ‘rebellion’ was to sneak out to gaze at the stars in the backyard in the middle of the night.

Sometimes I think my parents set me up for agnoticism by being so devout. They weren’t as scary as, say, Carrie’s mother or the Phelps’s. But they did take us to craziest Pentacostal church they could possibly find and subjected us to their crazy ways.

Sometimes I think I’d still be calling myself a Christian if we’d be raised as quiet Quakers or Unitarians. Or at the very least, I wouldn’t be so comfortable about my current lack of belief.

This thread remind me of an interview with Dweezil Zappa, probably 20-25 years ago, I don’t remember where it was published. When asked what it was like being the son of Frank and Gail Zappa, DZ said the following rule was in force when he and sister Moon where teens:
they were free to experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex, as long as they did so at home.
Dweez said it made “rebellion” kind of pointless. Last I heard he’s still a vegetarian non-smoker.

I thought the idea was interesting. Good idea? Beats me. Never had kids.

My parents had really strict rules surrounding TV, internet, and music. I was sensitive and unrebellious by nature, but this allowed me to feel “badass” by committing such sins as listening to baseball playoffs on my Discman radio at night while pretending to be asleep, and googling gasp current events or watching TV when they left the house. I also liked to sneak more dramatic gasp cans of Pepsi.

Seriously, I was massively lame as a teenager. Still am, really. My lack of rebellion was nothing my parents set me up for, though, because my brother, 2 years younger, had the same upbringing and had tried every drink and drug imaginable by the time he left for college. I used to think he was really stupid because he was always getting caught lying about something, but they never busted him for the really bad stuff or even particularly suspected it. So maybe it was by design.

Did we have the same mom?

I swear to god my mom could see around corners and closed doors. I could be reading under the covers with a goddamned flashlight, and my mother could see it in the next room, around my closed bedroom door. The height of my preteen rebellion was listening to the oldies program on headphones until 1 a.m. on sunday nights - it was the mid-1980s, and I knew more about 1960s music than someone born in 1975 had a right to.

When I was in junior high, my mom had a strict no afternoon TV rule. And she came home at unpredictable times - and sometimes even phoned me to make sure I came to the phone quickly enough. I got real quick with the volume controls. My forbidden afternoon pleasure? Re-runs of That Girl and The Monkees.

When I got to high school, she had convinced herself that stranger rapists were hiding behind every corner and never let me out alone after dark. I always looked forward to her evening shifts so I could … walk alone to the library and the mall.

You had to sneak soda? My mom to this day has a bee in her bonnet about anything carbonated. I’m 38 and absolutely obsessed with soda. I get antsy if there are fewer than 6 bottles in the pantry. I can’t remember the last time I drank something uncarbonated by choice. In restaurants, I politely refuse the ice water - I don’t even let them drop it off at the table if I can help it.

Drugs? Alcohol? Smoking? Property destruction? Never. I was totally lame.

My dad once came into my room and told me that I was listening to Dark Side of the Moon at too low a volume to appreciate it.