Tribune News Service
A caller to my radio show objected to advice I dispensed about a teen girl who was exhibiting narcissistic and even sociopathic behaviors, including lying and the abuse of animals.
The caller — a young lady in her 20s — pointed out that the girl’s behavior could be due to hormones and other biological factors. She accused me of not being sufficiently sensitive to the biological stresses that girls in their early teen years have to deal with. These stresses, she claimed, predispose tantrums, rebelliousness, disrespect and a lack of emotional control.
No, they do not. Teen girls may have difficulty adjusting to puberty, some more than others. Puberty is a difficult time for some girls, but there is nothing about it that entitles a girl to be rebellious, disrespectful and an emotional tyrant, much less devious and abusive to animals.
Furthermore, there is nothing about puberty that explains the drama that is today associated with female adolescence. The norm may involve occasional moodiness, anxiety and emotional outbursts — the operative qualifier being “occasional.” But believing and acting as if one is playing the lead role in a soap opera has nothing to do with puberty.
Until fairly recently, the young teen girl was not a drama queen. She did not act as if one’s life was only significant to the degree it was infused with crisis, plots, conspiracies and other melodramatic elements. Once upon a time, the typical teen girl was preparing for responsible adulthood. She regarded the lingering immaturity of boys with disapproval if not disdain.
Even today, plenty of girls in America fit that traditional description. Are they biologically abnormal? They may be in the minority in the U.S., but they are definitely not when judged against broader norms. According to reliable reports, girls in under-developed countries do not seem captive to emotion.
My theory is that in this regard America is reaping what was sown in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That is when mental health professionals, in chorus, announced that children had a right to express their feelings. Supposedly, this allowance was essential to the liberation of the child from the fetters of authoritarian control.
Before the 1970s, adults were training children for responsible citizenship and the responsible citizen does not express emotion without regard for context. Everything traditional yielded to parenting progressivism. There have been many victims of the children’s liberation movement, but the most aggrieved have been children themselves.
Visit John Rosemond’s website at www.johnrosemond.com.