I'm teaching a class this Shabbos on "The Rebel", third in a six-part series on Parenting from the Torah.
My main philosophy on this is that Rebellion is not something to be addressed and solved head-on; once in swing, the only one who can stop it is the rebel himself. The parents' efforts should be toward avoiding rebellion in the first place. If that doesn't work, then it's time to make sure other approaches are more attractive for the child.
I've decided to go with a vignette format, presenting cases and asking how parents should approach them, presenting certain ideas from the Torah. Here the vignettes; I'd love feedback on them:
Vignette 1: Is it really rebellion?
Mrs. Schwartz, who teaches Jonathan in Grade 7, phones Jonathan's parents to let them know that their son has not handed in his last three homework assignments. When Jonathan's parents ask him why he hasn't been doing his homework, he replies, "I don't know." What should Jonathan's parents take into consideration before reacting?
Vignette 2: Providing options beyond rebellion
Lately, it seems that the parents of Sarah, Grade 10, can't do anything right. She refuses to help out around the house, she does schoolwork only under duress, and she has become demanding and insulting to her parents and siblings. The temperature in the house is always overheated. How can Sarah's parents calm things down?
Vignette 3: If it is rebellion, what can I do?
David, Grade 5, used to enjoy berachos and davening, but lately he cuts corners when he can get away with it, and he is sulky and resistant about issues like waiting between meat and milk. David's parents are nervous that this may be a harbinger of things to come. What can they do?