My stepdaughter has issues with authority. I’m not referring to the normal, disrespectful quality that most American preteens possess. This is a deep seeded and intense disrespect for authority that has grown out of a pure lack of consistent and valuable authority in her early life. I appreciate a healthy level of rebellion, I really do. In the case of my stepdaughter, I could tell her to take her hand OUT of the Alligator’s mouth and despite common sense, she would shove it down further into the alligator’s mouth just to spite me.
It has been a struggle. She’s a really good kid: super smart, funny, talented and very likable. She just doesn’t trust authority. I can’t say I blame her because with the decline in the economy and public opinion of the president down, it seems that everybody’s confidence in authority has been shaken.
I have worked very hard to build some trust in authority with her. I have done the one thing that parents hate to do…I explain myself to her. I tell her why I am saying no and explain why I have instituted the rules I have. I don’t want to crush her rebellious spirit because I think it’s healthy to question authority from time to time. I simply want her to have enough respect and trust in authority that she can succeed in a capitalistic society.
Then, we moved and she started a Middle School that requires school uniforms. School uniforms aren’t that bad. I can easily explain to her that the purpose of school uniforms is to promote a sense of “sameness” among students. I can explain how school uniforms help focus the student on learning, as opposed to the clothes they are going to wear each day. I can explain how school uniforms are supposed to even the class structure within the school. I can even explain to her why our religious symbols are banned but other religions are tolerated.
What I cannot explain is why her belt has to be free of stitching; why her socks must be below her ankle (even with pants); why she is not allowed to wear sandals. I can’t explain to her why it is okay to wear shorts and pants but not capris. Most of all (the rule that bothers her the most), I cannot explain to her why there is a strict hair length rule for guys.
For a lot of parents in this area, the school uniform code is an annoyance. For me, it’s a real problem. I know my stepdaughter will not have faith in the authority at her school if she feels they are instituting unfair rules. She is a good student and is great at following school rules (usually). However, I’ve seen what happens when her rebellious spirit takes over. I have seen the method that she uses to question authority that she thinks is not strong, and it is not pretty!
I have this mental image of my stepdaughter in school doing something crazy like shaving her head in protest of the hair rule or drawing fake tattoos all over herself to annoy the teachers. I want her to respect the authority of the school but I also see her point here. When an institution creates a rule structure that does not make sense in the mind of the individual, it should spark a sense of rebellion. If it wasn’t for this spirit, the American Revolution would have never occurred, we would not have labor unions, African Americans and women would not be able to vote and the list goes on and on.
I suppose what I am saying is that I admire her spirit. I don’t blame her for feeling the way that she feels about the dress code. In fact, a large part of me blames the school for not considering the rights of the student when planning the dress code. I suppose that I, too, am tired of power hungry institutions imposing ridiculous rules upon the whole of society, simply because “they can”.