Why Do So Many Teenage Boys Rebel Against Their Mothers?

Teenage unruliness is certainly nothing new, and oftentimes the surly attitudes and foul remarks that may come out of the mouths of adolescent boys are explained in terms of all the hormonal changes that young people go through during this period of their lives. This is definitely a factor to consider. But the rebellious behavior of many teens can also be seen as an attempt – however crude it may seem to us – to communicate the real need that they have to separate themselves from their parents in order to gain a sense of their own identities. Oftentimes mothers can receive the brunt of this rebellion from their sons.

When a teen-aged boy vents a lot of anger towards his mother, or uses abusive language with her, it can be seen as a desperate attempt on his part to create some space for himself. He simply needs more room to breathe. This isn’t meant to suggest that parents should condone that sort of behavior. But we can better understand why our kids are acting out if we’re able to see how it fulfills an inner need. An adolescent boy often wants to create a rift between himself and his mother because deep inside he knows that he’s in the process of becoming a man and that this is a quest that she can’t help him with.

This kind of inner knowing is instinctive with boys. In the past, many tribal cultures understood this fact. Drastic measures were taken to separate boys from their mothers and then reintegrate them into the community with a new identity as men of the tribe. A boy in our culture can expect no such form of intervention to save him. Oftentimes all he can think to do is force his mother to keep her distance through whatever hostile means he has at his disposal.

When a teen-aged boy vents a lot of anger towards his mother, or uses abusive language with her, it can be seen as a desperate attempt on his part to create some space for himself.

This is a delicate time in a boy’s life, and the presence of a father or strong father figure could help him immeasurably. By the same token, boys tend to act more rebellious towards their mothers when they live in households where no such male figure is present. Lacking the steadying influence of a role model, a teen will most likely try to navigate his way into manhood in his own haphazard way.

Within the psyche of many an adolescent boy there lurks the fear that his mother may somehow overwhelm or smother his budding sense of identity. Lacking male mentors to help him to weather the transition into adulthood, what can he do besides put up walls and try to buttress his fragile ego as best he can? Unfortunately, this often means that he’ll be hostile towards his mother, not knowing why he’s doing it, only understanding that something inside says that he must put some distance between himself and her at any cost.

About Seth Mullins

Seth Mullins is a modern medicine man who strives to put his innate knowledge of ancient healing arts into terms that Western minds might understand. His other interests include music and writing – the enduring practice that has always served to tie diverse elements together. He has produced two novels of metaphysical fantasy (“Song of an Untamed Land” and “Song of the Twice Born”) and written extensively about such topics as spirituality, family, parenting, nature and the arts – always stressing our ability as spiritual beings to create our own reality and overcome all the various forms of darkness in our lives.

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