How to Raise Responsible Rebels to Transform the Next Generation

Raising Rebels Next Generation

How do you rebel in a family of rebels? ~ Nicolas Cage

I've been reckless, but I have not been a rebel without a cause. ~ Angelina Jolie

Pioneering physicians, psychiatrists, and prominent social scientists and speakers, like Gabor Mate, Bessel van der Kolk, and Brene Brown, have long touted that the most harmful way to trump authentic expression is by severing attachment. Guess what we do? We withhold affection, appreciation, and affiliation when our children show us parts of themselves that we can’t tolerate or don’t like, and we embrace and praise them when they do as we please.

While we are busy rolemodeling, reinforcing, and rewarding good behavior, and punishing, shaming, reprimanding, and disciplining them for bad behavior, we are in essence trying to turn an entire generation into mini-versions of ourselves.

True, it is our role as parents to teach our children positive qualities and values, but we often overdo this and stifle their creativity, wholeness, and potential to see beyond our horizons. Instead of encouraging their healthy testing and rebelliousness, we react defensively from an unresolved place and unnecessarily burden them with our confusion and inner turmoil when they don’t agree with our program.

We begin this well-intended socialization process the moment our children are born and screeching our ears off, and within a few years, their village of loving grown-ups looks like an army of extended relatives, teachers, counselors, coaches, and pastors who corner and contain them from every angle. By the time they are young adults, they have adopted all the bruised batons of the generations ahead of them.

How can we change this pattern? How do we raise responsible rebels who can detect and safely expose our blindspots and lack of integrity, mend our weakest links, and tackle and defeat our modern-day demons without the risk of retaliation?

The antidote to our self-destruction as human beings requires that we recognize our lack of wholeness, and refrain from imposing our disconnected patterns onto the next generation. By reconnecting to our body, heart, mind, and soul and by learning to fully accept ourselves with love and compassion, we can clear limited notions of ourselves that were passed down from generation to generation and break the chain.

We get better at mirroring and validating our children's feelings and experiences with daily practice—which is the best and easiest way to teach them to do the same. Once we know their baseline state, we can tell when negative social pressures are encroaching on their inner wisdom and voice. Because many lose clarity and trust in themselves when their peer groups gain importance, it becomes even more beneficial if we let them know when they seem upset, sad, afraid, and/or unhappy to us.

They are often harboring unpopular reactions or marginalized perspectives about social situations, and blame themselves for feeling bad, abnormal, ugly, unpopular, sad, angry, naïve, different, not good enough, unlovable, and the like. Here's when conceptual understanding—even something as simple as, yes, kids your age say mean and insensitive things; teachers can be wrong; some adults get stressed, put too much pressure on kids, and yell instead of calmly communicate their needs; what society portrays as normal is culture-bound, subjective, and debatable—can be very validating and show them that authenticity and attachment can coexist.

Even if this full acceptance just exists in your home, you still have a lot of influence and are laying an important foundation. Later, you will be validating the reality of social and cultural inequities—privilege, -isms, cliques, popularity rankings, and exclusion rules—almost daily in junior high and high school, and offering support and practice how to address these. If the relational grooves you chiseled out long before this challenging period are deep enough, your words have a greater chance of sinking in.

Most importantly, by developing healthy energetic boundaries—the precursors to emotional intelligence and effective communication skills—in our own lives, we are much better equipped to guide and show the next generation how to trust their emotional barometers and bravely protect their authenticity and that of others, even when shunned as rebels.


Loraine Van Tuyl, PhD, CHT, holistic psychologist, depth hypnosis practitioner, and shamanic healer, is devoted to helping wisdom keepers, healers, and seekers, including her tween girl and teen boy, dive deep into their self-healing potential and carve out their sacred dream paths in service of their dynamic whole self and the greater good.

Her memoir-in-progress, Amazon Wisdom Keeper (book trailer), is an eye-opening account of her spontaneous spiritual emergence and shamanistic initiation triggered by indoctrinating double-binds in the mental health field. What gives her story an added twist is her ability to anchor into her rich cultural background and mystical upbringing near the edge of the Amazon rainforest when standing her ground, challenging her field, and placing all bets on her spiritual integrity, intuitive resilience, and clarity—each one severely tested after escaping the chaotic aftermath of a military coup in her native Suriname and losing almost everything that she knew and loved at the age of 13.

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