In Defense of a Teenager’s Right to Question

Teenagers are known for their bizarre mood swings, questioning minds, and incessant energy. These traits mixed in with a parent’s habit of denying a teen’s request without a justification are common causes for many of the conflict between parents and teenagers.

This occurs because in childhood “no” is accepted without question—a child is not mature enough, in many cases, to question, but that is not in a teen’s nature. They are no longer children and should not be treated as such. It is wrong for parents to say “no” without any reason. In doing this they are inciting a teen’s anger and encouraging rebellion, therefore causing conflicts that disrupt the peace in a household. For example, a classic fight between parents and their teens can be about permission to go to a party. A parent might know that at that party, their teenager might be offered drugs. If a parent states this concern as a reason why he or she is not letting the teen go, then there is a better chances that this teen will understand and that together they will come to an agreement. Perhaps the teen, out of his or her own free will, eventually will decide not to go.

The situation mentioned previously shows that behind such an empty word as “no” there always is a reason. Adults are given explanations, even if they are not quite obvious—why should it be different with teenagers? Although they may not be as mature as adults, teenagers are perfectly capable of analyzing and understanding the reasons why certain ways of conduct, dressing and actions are prohibited. In fact, most are likely to accept and even agree with a parent provided he or she actually sits down and discusses the matter in a mature and civilized way.

In any case, contemporary and classical education teaches us to question. This is a method through which people learn to think for themselves. The right to question is, in fact, human nature, as well as essential. All people have this right and it would be discriminatory as well as an act of tyranny to deny to the right to teenagers simply because of their youth. If anything, a teen’s right to question should be encouraged. How are teens expected to grow and learn if no one teaches them—merely gives them vacant answers such as “no”?

Knowing this, however, many parents still hold on to the detrimental habit of assuming that teens don’t have the right to know why they are being denied a request. It is foolish to think that the curious mind of a teenager will be satisfied with just a simple “no.” Parents have the option of helping their teens grow, teaching them as well as keeping the peace. By justifying their reasons why something is right or wrong they send a positive message: they want their teens to learn, and they care enough to take the time and teach them. After all, if teens always accept “no” and never question, how will they be able to stand up for themselves?

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