FAMILY LIFE/ HEALTH: Rebel, Rebel, Your Date Is a Mess; Teenage Rebellion Is a Natural Part of Growing Up, but, Says Nell Raven , Parents Should Learn to Bite Their Tongues and Let Their Offspring Make Their Own Mistakes

The Birmingham Post (England), December 13, 2003 | Go to article overview
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FAMILY LIFE/ HEALTH: Rebel, Rebel, Your Date Is a Mess; Teenage Rebellion Is a Natural Part of Growing Up, but, Says Nell Raven , Parents Should Learn to Bite Their Tongues and Let Their Offspring Make Their Own Mistakes


Rebelling is such a normal part of growing up that any teenager who actually listens to their mother or father's advice is often after something.

And unfortunately for parents, the only time they are ever proved right is when their child has already had their fingers burned. Singer Charlotte Church has split up with her boyfriend Steven Johnson, of whom her mother Maria always made it clear she disapproved. The teenager reportedly ditched him after she discovered he had cheated on her with a model.

But, at the moment, Mrs Church is probably more worried about her daughter than about saying 'I told you so'.

She has said: 'Charlotte is very upset and it hurts me that he has hurt her like this. I never liked him but she loved him so much.' But although Charlotte might be wondering why she didn't listen to her mother, for someone her age, her behaviour was perfectly forgivable.

Relationship counsellor and agony aunt Sue Quilliam says: 'What teenagers do when they are growing up is technically called 'individuating', which means making themselves their own person, separate from their parents.

'So, they might go vegetarian, or have relationships their parents disapprove of.

'And with 99 per cent of children, the more you tell them not to do something, the more likely they are to think, 'hey, a rebellion opportunity' and go for it.

'So what their parents like, they hate -and what their parents hate, they like.'

The relationship between Charlotte and her mother started to crumble when the 17-year-old began seeing part-time rap DJ Johnson nearly two years ago.

Mrs Church was angry that 19-year-old Johnson reportedly tried to sell secrets about his love life to a newspaper while her daughter was in Los Angeles.

Since then, she has refused to attend events alongside Johnson and has had so many arguments with her daughter over the relationship that in November last year, Charlotte fired her as manager.

Charlotte has always refused to be swayed about Johnson. She told a newspaper: 'He's really, really lovely. The stories that he's a bad boy, and he does this and does that, are just not true.'

Quilliam says it was reasonable of Mrs Church to disapprove. 'This guy didn't put Charlotte first, which is the worst sin a new boyfriend can commit. Any friend would have a great deal of difficulty accepting that. 'If Charlotte herself hadn't have been so in love with him, she would have had a problem with it.'

Gill Loughran, deputy chief executive of Parentline Plus, agrees. 'I think it's a bit much, and I would be very angry. It's an abuse of the relationship.'

However, it was not necessarily handled in the best way. Quilliam says: 'By separating the two worlds, Charlotte's mum not only turns it into a situation where Charlotte has to go with her boyfriend to separate herself from mum, she also lost any chance of keeping her feet on the ground.

'If she had been more inclusive, the relationship would probably have fizzled out in three months. What has driven Charlotte to commit to this guy is that she wants to be independent, and this is the only way of doing it.

'The only thing that kept her besotted was that her mum hated him.'

Loughran adds: 'A relationship has a natural course, and if a parent interrupts that, the young person may go back for longer.

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FAMILY LIFE/ HEALTH: Rebel, Rebel, Your Date Is a Mess; Teenage Rebellion Is a Natural Part of Growing Up, but, Says Nell Raven , Parents Should Learn to Bite Their Tongues and Let Their Offspring Make Their Own Mistakes
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