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Rebellion rewired

By Mirra Ghosh

Jaspreet is an 18-year-old high school senior in New York City. She is tall, with thick wavy hair, and conventionally attractive. She is president of the student council, volunteers at a shelter for the homeless, and maintains a 3.8 GPA. Jaspreet’s parents are extremely proud, most of all because she hopes to become a dentist one day.

But there is a side to Jaspreet her parents don’t know about. And if they did, they might not ever speak to her again.

Jaspreet has been secretly dating a married man for two years. She sneaks out of her house at night, crawling through her bedroom window, and spends the night with him in a cheap motel room. When she isn’t seeing him, she goes on blind dates with men she meets on the Internet, and sometimes has sex with them.

Because Jaspreet is not allowed to have boyfriends, she hides these facts from her parents. Her lying has exacerbated to such an extent that Jaspreet now finds herself lying about the simplest of things. “I lie about something every day. I’ll lie about when my tests are, about how much homework I do, about what music I listen to, even about what clothes I go out and buy. I don’t know how not to anymore.”

Jaspreet’s story is not uncommon. Teenagers, and South Asian teenagers particularly, are known to lie to their parents. But a series of studies have shown that teenage lying patterns are much more complex than we thought.

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s new book, NurtureShock, features a chapter on ‘the science of teen rebellion’ that sheds light on the reasons why, and the ways in which, teenagers lie.

They cite a study by Darling and Caldwell at Penn State University that revealed out of 36 topics presented to a large sample of high school students, the average teenager lied to her parents about 12 of them.

The numbers didn’t change much whether the teenager was an honours student, or if she was actively involved in school activities. It clearly showed that lying was a natural phenomenon of the teenage years.

But contrary to the belief that teenagers lie to stay out of trouble, the main reasons the teens cited for their dishonesty were: “I’m trying to protect the relationship with my parents; I don’t want them to be disappointed in me.”¹

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12 Responses to Rebellion rewired

  1. Jason April 11, 2010 at 4:55 am #

    The issue boils down to COMMUNICATION COMMUNICATION and COMMUNICATION..and trying to put barriers such as parental authority requiring child obedience does not help..Communicationg as a friend on equal ground may pave the way to better mutual understanding and respect..and parents should know that they dont need to know everything about their child !!!!

  2. sexinthecityfan1 April 20, 2010 at 5:39 am #

    The topic was very interesting i really liked it. It is very true and i think that a lot of people can relate to it. I really enjoyed it and was great to find out all about these statistics and so on. Over all very well done… but remember the art of writing is rewriting so do it again, a lot of things can be improved such as the ending it didnt really sum uo the article and it wasnt what ypu would call “power”

    hope for your success.

  3. korean in riyadh April 20, 2010 at 5:51 am #

    Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” This quote, in this article, would be for both parents and teenagers, but for parents mostly. As the article states, teenagers lie as they grow, and we have the natural phenomena to do it. This fact shows that we don’t go lying on purpose, but the conditions around us can change the number of times we lie.

    There are good examples in the article that actually prove that our number of lying changes due to our family. Darling’s studies show that if the parents are too restrictive, such as in Chile, lying number can increase. It’s also the same for opposite- if the parents are barely restrictive, teenagers tend to lie more. I assume that this is due to mistrust. The kids won’t trust their parent so they would lie to them just to make them think that they are good kids and aren’t lying.

    Then what should the parents do to get along with their teenagers? Darling’s study show that parents who have few but strict rules are lied the least. They also tend to change the rule according to their children if they have a good argument against the parents’ rule. This shows that parents need to communicate and understand their children to become closer to them. Enforcing the rules makes the children lie more because they start to not like their parents. Having too few makes them lie more because this leads to teenagers believing that their parents have barely any interest in them.

    From this article, we can easily tell that communication and understanding is important between parents and teenagers for us to speak the truth to them and get along with them. Although parents should care about their children, especially since they are teenagers, they shouldn’t try to know every aspect of their life, as they have their own life.

  4. Avant-garde student April 20, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    We’ve all been there, done that and hopefully learned from our experiences. We learn from our mistakes. Admit it. You’ve lied to your parent at least once in your life and you might or might not regret it. But I’ve learned through experience that lying just causes double trouble. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to not disappoint your mother or father. They might or might not find out sooner or later. So you might as well spill the beans.
    In the South Asian Parents article, “Rebellion rewired”, Jaspreet , like many other teenagers, is fighting the battle of trying to please her parents along with pleasing herself. She, as well as many other teenagers, thinks that by lying, she will be able to hide her secret life. By being the president of the student council, maintaining a 3.8 GPA and volunteering at a shelter for the homeless, she has already pleased her parent. But when a parent finds out that she has done all this to hide her secret life, all this doesn’t matter anymore.
    Teenagers have a tendency to lie to their parents because they are worried that their parents won’t be pleased and soon, it becomes a bad habit. As Mirra Ghosh stated in her article, parents that are too strict and rigid cause their children to rebel more. So it’s a problem that both sides must resolve. The teenager must learn how to think through the parent’s point of view and always speak the truth because somehow, as my mother used to say, a little birdie comes by and confesses what you’ve done. They’ll find out sooner or later, so you might as well confess. But on the other hand, parents shouldn’t be so harsh on their teenagers especially in their adolescent years when they are going through many emotional phases. Parents shouldn’t be so conservative and paranoid. They should allow their children to think by themselves and hopefully learn from their mistakes.

  5. Student in Composition class April 20, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    Did you ever lie to your parents? If your answer is “no” then you’re lying. Everyone lies especially teens during their adolescence. And it’s not anyone’s fault since lying is a natural phenomenon of the teen years.
    Jaspreet’s example can prove this. As stated in the article, Jaspreet can be seen as an honor student who is good at her studies and other extracurricular activities. And her parents are aware of this. But no one’s perfect. Jaspreet’s lifestyle can be seen as not appropriate. She’s dating a married man. And if her parents know about this, they will be extremely upset. I believe lying can be beneficial at some times but it’s good not to overdue yourself like Jaspreet. Her lying has become a habit.
    As a teenager in high school, I know the feeling when teens lie. And most of the time they don’t lie because they want to. Like Darling’s study, they lie to maintain a good relationship with their parents and to not disappoint them. And parents should somewhat respect these lies since teens are becoming adults and they need privacy. This doesn’t mean that every lie is for a positive reason. So it’s the parent’s job to make the right choice for their child’s better future.

  6. student in riyadh April 20, 2010 at 7:30 am #

    If you’re looking for a solution to stop lying then consider this quote. “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss. This means that you should confront people with the truth, especially your parents. They will accept it because they matter.
    Many teens lie to their parents. Some say it’s because they don’t want to disappoint their parent while others say their parents won’t get it. Well, according to the Rebellion Rewired article, that is not the case. Parents do care about their children. They just handle situations differently. Some are too permissive. Others are too strict and rigid. But both are incorrect. Being too permissive does not make teenagers lie less. And being too strict and rigid makes teenagers rebel. The correct way is to have few rules and enforce them consistently. It is also “to be flexible and change rules if teenagers made a good argument for why a rule should be changed.”
    Reading this article made me appreciate my parents more. They don’t have many rules, but the ones they do have are enforced consistently. One rule is no staying outside the house after 10 PM. I’ve always hated that rule because parties stay longer. So one day, I gave a good argument and it failed. I ended up not going to that party and was depressed. But the next day I found out that drugs were at that party. And I was glad my parents forbade me from going. They really do know what’s good for the child. Sometimes it’s better not to argue because if it’s a beneficial event then they’ll say yes.

  7. Pakistani Bic Boi April 20, 2010 at 7:32 am #

    “Rebellion Rewired”
    As a South Asian son I can relate to this article. Teenagers tend to lie a lot about many things and I can say this first hand because I am a teenager. I see around me that many teenagers lie to their parents. It all comes down to the way you see your parents or how your parents see you. It all comes down to communication, the child shouldn’t tell the truth all the time.
    A teen shouldn’t keep big things a secret, if the teen failed his chemistry test, he shouldn’t keep it a secret, because later on his parents will find out and the teen will get in more trouble than he would’ve gotten when he told his parents. As I see it, children should not keep things a secret from their parents. Communicating as a parent might help the parent and child to get involved in each other lives. Parents should talk to their children as friends. Especially teens, teens feel like they are respected when their parent does this. But it can’t only be the parents who step to the parenting game. The teen has to respect the parent and the parent’s right. So the main thing that is required is good communication.
    Lying teens will go about their lives, but if they lie too much, they won’t have a good relationship with their parents. Communication plays a key role. The child and the parent should have mutual feelings. One cannot lie to the other while the other tells the truth.

  8. icecream April 21, 2010 at 3:42 am #

    The article rebellion Rewired by Mira Gosh is very eye-opening, I wasn’t aware of how much pressure teenagers around the world were under. I’m used to living under strict conservative rules, but I had the chance to be around different cultures and societies which opened the minds of my family.
    But in Jaspreet’s case she lived abroad but yet her family’s expectations and strict rules did not change. That’s why I think she lied the way she did. What people don’t realize is that pressure leads to a lot of problems and lies. For example Jaspreet can’t stop lying, it’s sad but it is the result of her parents’ strict pressure and demands.
    A good friend of mine is Saudi and she comes from a very liberal family but she herself has very strict thinking and she’s just very close minded. So sometimes it’s not the society or pressure that leads to close-mindedness but it’s just the way a person thinks.

  9. HighSchool student April 21, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    Arturo Binewski once said, “The truth is always an insult or a joke, lies are generally tastier. We love them. The nature of lies is to please. Truth has no concern for anyone’s comfort.” This is the excuse some of the people in the article “Rebellion Rewired” by Mira Ghosh gave. I disagree with this because even though lies may seem ‘tastier’ they will not do you any good in the long run.
    The article provided shocking statistics about parents and their daughters and how each viewed their fights. According to the article, 43% of mothers think that the fights they have with their daughters destroy the relationship. Meanwhile only 23% of their daughters agree. The remaining 20% of daughters feel that those same arguments strengthen the relationship and help them see things from their mothers’ points of view.

    “Darling’s study found the type of parent who was lied to the least was the one who had a few rules, enforced them consistently [. . .], but found a way to be flexible and change rules if teenagers made a good argument for why a rule should be changed.” This is the best way one can handle any situation- no matter what the size of it is. Both the parents and the children can work out a compromise without feeling disrespected. This will strengthen the relationship far more than arguments that leave one of the sides feeling bad.
    I enjoyed reading this article because coming from a Muslim family, I can relate to it. It has also give me some insight on what I how I should handle my children in the future.

  10. empty April 21, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    A teenager lying to their parents has become normal. Now days it seems very normal to lie to parents. Why is it that? I personally believe that if parents were more open-minded, then kids would not have to lie. But then again parents always want the best for their kids, and that’s all they want.

    As a teenager I somtimes feel bad for parents because they are only trying to help, so why lie to them?

    Ofcourse none of us would like to hurt are parents. And somtimes the reason we dont tell them things is because we think that if they know then they become more careful or more paranoid. And that may bother us.

    The main thing is that we should always remember that our parents want to help us.

  11. Student at AIS-R April 21, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    Being a teenager is overwhelming. It’s bad enough trying to acquire respectable grades while maintaining your status on top of the social hierarchy. Adding home life just makes it worse. Being a teen, I can relate. Parents might not realize it but they inflict pressure on us to be perfect. And a lot of the times, we don’t meet their standards. Some try harder the next time and rise above the occasion. Others fall through the cracks and turn an extreme direction: Rebelling.

    Author Mirra Ghosh wrote an excellent article about a high school student named Jaspreet who turned to rebelling. She’s a good student and hopes to become a dentist. But she is deprived of dating. Her parents are against her having boyfriends and she hates it. Defying them, Jaspreet secretly dates a married man, sneaks out of her house at night and goes on blind dates with men she meets on the Internet. But she’s afraid of disappointing them. That’s why Jaspreet doesn’t confess because it may lead to her parents not talking to her again. In fact, their relationship may demolish. In an effort to keep their relationship intact, Jaspreet lies. “I lie about something every day. I’ll lie about when my tests are, about how much homework I do, about what music I listen to, even about what clothes I go out and buy. I don’t know how not to anymore.”

    All teenagers can relate to Jaspreet. We have probably lied to them. In fact, a study by Darling and Caldwell at Penn State University revealed out of 36 topics presented to a large sample of high school students, the average teenager lied to her parents about 12 times. But it’s not necessary to lie to your parents. Prove to your parents that you are an adult now. That way, they will be able to confide and trust you. This may decrease the lying. Just know that rebelling is a stage many teens turn to, but it’s not the best policy. It may break the relationship you have with your parents and it’s not worth it. It will never be.

  12. Kavita - M.S.ed Counseling student August 17, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    I have to agree with a lot of these comments. Speaking from past experiences, I feel there is a lot of pressure to please and meet expectations of our parents, while at the same time being happy with those choices and expectations.

    I think there is a need for parents to be more open minded about today’s culture, including social factors, surroundings and obstacles. I know a lot of things that are so common to teens would shock parents. But you also have to think that when teens themselves become parents, they’ll go through the same thing. Generations are always changing. If teens felt comfortable in sharing their opinions and thoughts, then they would not be so inclined to lie to their parents. What it all boils down to is effective communication and effective parenting which is a balance of giving your adolescence freedom to make their own choices, but at the same time setting reasonable limits in accordance to their maturity and their ability to handle those responsibilities.

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