The truth is out there…REALLY???


By Kenneth Justice

I was sitting at coffee the other day with a forty-something parent of two teenagers who began griping to me about their children’s behavior,

My daughters are SO rebellious!” she said

Although I can’t go into all the details of the conversation, suffice to say that to this exhausted mother, being “rebellious” constituted listening to music that the parents didn’t approve of, wanting to date boys (gasp! the horror! imagine teenage girls wanting to date boys!) and talking back at the parents in a disrespectful attitude.

The mother was convinced that it was a fact that her teenagers were being rebellious. Yet as is often the case when it comes to family drama, the truth is much murkier than appears on the surface,

—-) I happen to know that this particular family loves watching movies and many of the favorite films of this mother are romance comedies which often involve girls dating boys

—-) I happen to know that this particular woman loves quite a few rock bands and her husband is into old 80’s hair bands

—-) I happen to know that this particular woman does not have a perfect attitude and tone; she often speaks in a less than cheerful attitude toward others

So suddenly, when we look at the context in which these teenage daughters are living; to suggest that they are being rebellious, when really they are nothing more than normal teenagers living in Western society, under the roof of imperfect parents who themselves listen to rock music, watch movies that involve dating and sex, and talk with imperfect attitudes also……the voracity with which the parents believe their children are being ‘rebellious’ seems a bit overreaching.

Some parents want to exert a lot of control over their teenage children and demand total compliance from them even if that compliance is often contradictory to the way in which the parents live their own life. Thus, to suggest that adult children are being rebellious, when in reality they are doing nothing more than imitating the lifestyle of their parent brings into question what the word ‘rebellious’ even means!

The truth is out there but often it is shaded in grey rather than being quite so black or white. There are things that we believe about life, people, government, and society which we cling to as bottom-line facts, but more often than not when we begin looking at these people and situations in different contexts and from alternative perspectives, the truth becomes a lot less stark.

Does this mean we can’t ever know what ‘truth’ really is; not at all. What it does indicate is that we would all be better off being a little less emphatic that we know the truth ‘beyond the shadow of a doubt’ and learn to demonstrate a little bit more grace towards others.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,








Categories: Culture & Society

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22 replies

  1. A similar conversation happened between me and TK Thought it was not the same topic.
    We need to understand that facts stated are drawn from studies that only computed THE or AN AVERAGE.
    So unless you are an average human being most facts or studies are to be taken as a possibility and never taken for granted or truth let alone fact.
    This is where opinions come in as the are drawn from personal experience and may divert from the average case study.

    In the end it is using some common sense and being prepared to be wrong while we try to do our best.

  2. All true, but it’s hard to exhibit grace towards teenagers sometimes. They could rile a cup of water.

  3. I have found that I am at my healthiest emotionally when I can confess to another person that my thinking may be off. I tell them that the voice in my head is blaming others because I am not getting my way. Then I am ready to look at what I have to change. My 22 year old visited from Or recently. She called her father Square because he rags on her for not doing a full college program. Funny word. I thought that wasn’t used anymore. If you think of it as a box you are stuck in. Seeing another person only from your perspective. I want to be rounded.

  4. I agree, it is so important to extend grace toward those that are hard for us to understand or do not stand for what we stand for. And as hard as it is, that applies to friends and family too!

    There is always an understory…reasons for behavior and beliefs. I find it much easier to be empathetic with people when I know their story. That way, I can look past their actions and see the Goodness in them. And hopefully, others will do the same for me:-)

  5. Horrors. Their daughters are becoming their own people – the shame of it! /sarcasm/

    It is difficult as a parent to realize that the beautiful baby you dreamed a life for is choosing their own life, which often looks nothing like the one you imagined. It’s often even painful. But in the end, children are people, not robots, and they choose for themselves. A parent can only hope the moral and ethical lessons took root and that their child will choose well, and be happy.

    My children have ended up NOTHING like I imagined for them, or even in lives they imagined for themselves when they were young. Nonetheless, they are strong, kind, ethical and moral adults doing ‘good work’ – fields that benefit humanity and bring them satisfaction, if not a lot of money. They have good lives and they are happy. What more could I ask?

  6. There are beautiful and terrible things out there, and that’s the Truth. 🙂

  7. Truth is a personal thing. It only exists for the person who believes it. Even if we agree that something is true, what we are agreeing upon is different in the mind of each person who is agreeing and everyone is “assuming” that they are talking about the same thing…when they aren’t. That’s my truth.

  8. Fact: I have really enjoyed your series on facts vs. opinions. I wish more people could have some skepticism of their own beliefs.

  9. Indeed 😦 I wish to have my own life but I let my parents to overwrite my decision

  10. And here I thought I was rebellious by not dating.

  11. And it happens a lot in my country, Boys tease and stalk girls and forget they also have sisters at home. we get involve in lots of unnatural thing that we suggest other people not to do, and when they do such things , we say they are being odd or rebellious. Nicely written with such a nice msg.

  12. There have been plenty of times Mr. T has done something and I can’t get upset – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – I know exactly where he got the trait/attitude/behavior! 🙂

  13. Ahh…. teenagers. The youngest of our four children is a seventeen year old young lady. Independence. Dreams. Individuality. And parents are not just very smart, yet. I’m giving her which I wish I had when I was a a teenager — the freedom to be me and be what I want to be.

  14. I though all teenagers were ‘rebellious’ and ‘difficult’ as their behaviour is influenced by puberty and emerging hormonal changes, but maybe parents forget to allow for those normal changes when they don’t like their children’s behaviour.

    And I might suggest that many parents have forgotten they were ‘rebellious’ teenagers with fluctuating hormonal changes once too.

    If parents made more effort to bring their children up in a loving and secure home life so that their emerging teens always feel comfortable sharing their problems and difficulties with their parents at this age, then there would be less friction. There is always peer pressure these days too. Emerging adults want to feel part of their group, so may well do things or offer opinions that aren’t necessarily indicative of their true mind.

    Apart from peer pressure, I always think that a family who always eats their evening meal together with an open conversation of daily activities and thoughts is a family that produces strong confident young adults with good self esteem and values.

    Even sitting down for a Sunday dinner together can be a place to share and explore ideas (if families can’t eat together during the working week). Listening and respecting opinions is the best way to get on with anyone. You don’t have to agree with your children, but at least you can respect their opinion (and vice versa).

  15. I flunked the teenage years…but it turns out you can still end up with a happy family after all. 🙂

  16. The truth has always been a moveable feast.

  17. This is a particular subject I am an expert on. My own teen behavior should have killed my mother (via stress) The list is extremely long, so suffice it to say that, one day she looked deep into my angry, selfish and rebellious eyes and said, ” Honey, someday, I hope you have a daughter who is just like you!”

    What a curse! Guess what!…..She was a mother Merlin. Bad Karma will chase you down, and when it strikes one must be prepared! lol lol lol lol lol I would have loved to have a daughter who just listened to punk music, talked back, and dated boys. Tell your friend to send me her daughter….I’ll send her lol lol lol lol

  18. P.S. and to Vicki…… I have seen parents of multiple children who raised their kids with love and affection, support and encouragement, in two parent homes. Every one of their children came out differently. One angry and sullen, one happy go lucky too-laid-back, another academic and successful. All received the identical upbringing but they chose their own path as teens and adults. Parenting is not an easy job and there are many many children who come out of horrible homes who are level headed and successful. It is heartless to judge a parent by their teen and young adult children’s behavior…. Vicki we have to accept that each and every person in this world is unique. A home is not a quality control system for its teenagers. Most if not all parents do their level best to raise their kids using the “tools” they possess, Parents want their kids to have more and to have better lives. Not all parents have high quality” tool boxes” but they do the best they can with what they have..

  19. Great thoughts Kenneth! I have seen my own teenagers mirror my own actions both good and bad. Thankfully, it did prompt a few changes 🙂

  20. Well your truth is not necessarily my truth or the mother’s truth either right? The ‘fact’ that you look at the situation in a different context and see things differently does not necessarily change the mother’s truth about the situation does it?

    Thanks for another post to get me thinking (this time I had tea, not coffee while I read though!).

  21. Well, I think you just gave me an amazing compliment. If teenagers are a reflection of their parents attitudes and lives then I must be amazing myself. LOL Though I believe it far more likely that my three teen sons (who regularly get compliments from strangers for being well mannered, helpful, intelligent and generous) are just being true to themselves. It is because of who they are and not a result of hanging around with their crotchety, garrulous old 51-year-old mom. Sometimes it is just who they are, though I can agree with you that what this woman was stating as bad behavior sounds a lot like mirroring their parent’s behavior, Since when does dating and music listening qualify as rebellion? I DID rebellion and it was nothing so tame as what she is calling rebellion!

  22. Excellent post. And I like your distinction at the end that it does not mean that truth cannot be known just because we often mistakenly profess it. Truth is indeed often murky and covered by emotions, intentions, biases, etc., but through hard work it can be found and should be pursued.

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