Recently some things have come up that made me realize I need to write this article. There is a great difference between “reason” and being “reasonable”. Now when I say reasonable I am not talking about being logical. That is in fact one definition of the word. However, there is another definition and this is the one I am going to be addressing today.
Reasonableness is: when rather than observing things as they are or investigating to see how things are, a person takes what they see and dubs-in (fills in with their own imagination) what they think is happening in order to make the confusing and illogical scene make sense. You see, reasonableness is inserted as an explanation for the thing that does not make sense.
A person sees something they can’t think with or understand and rather than go observe and investigate, they assume things that may or may not be true in order to reconcile the things that don’t make sense.
This is actually much more widespread than you would imagine. Once you know about this, you can observe it for yourself and you will be surprised how often it occurs. This is because a person feels uncomfortable when experiencing something illogical. To ease their discomfort, they distort what they are observing by ignoring what they are actually seeing and concluding they’re seeing something different than what is really happening and so alters the scene in their mind.
Someone trying to make sense out of a chicken in a bedroom is a good example of this. Everyone knows a chicken belongs in the yard or in the hen house but you try to make this fit. “Well, it is a family pet.” It is once again the source of comedy unless you are operating this way in life and you are the source of that comedy and the source of the trouble that is vexing you.
So what does this have to do with parents and teens? Well, this is actually very important. I will give you some very real examples of how this comes into play and why it can be so dangerous to you and to the people around you.
Let’s start simply:
A mom knows that her seven-year-old daughter needs ten and a half hours of sleep to be well rested. She knows that on a school night her daughter must go to bed by 8:30 PM in order to get up at 7:00 AM. She also knows that at 8:30 PM her daughter will be mid her favorite TV show. Then the coming attractions comes up mid that one for the next show and oh how she wants to see that. Bedtime comes—daughter argues and whines. All her friends go to bed at 10:00 PM. Mom does not in fact know how much sleep a seven-year-old needs to be well rested so starts to wear down. Maybe getting nine hours of sleep is fine. Oh, what is one more show just this once…? “Reasonableness”.
It is bedtime and a son is at the computer playing a game. He’s mid the most exciting part of the game. Mom says its time for bed. He’s already been on the computer for two hours. He argues, “But mom this game is really good. It puts me into communication with people all over the world. I’m making friends and learning about the cultures of others.” And instead of being firm and getting him to march off to bed, she buys into the sales pitch and gives in to let him finish the game which takes another hour and a half. …. Reasonableness.
Mom and Dad have read and researched and learned how too much TV is not good for children and teens. They become inactive, over-eat and receive false viewpoints and information from the script of television shows. They are exposed at a very young age to promiscuous behavior passed off as “normal”. Yet Mom has to get things done and Dad is busy. Better to have the child quiet in front of the TV set than running around wild getting into who knows what. Better to know your teen is sitting in front of the TV set at home even maybe with his or her friends than running around town getting involved in inappropriate activities because after all, “you can’t be everywhere at once”. “I just have to finish this one project. What does it really hurt?” And “click” on the TV goes. …Reasonableness.
Am I guilty of it? I am, sorry to say, but I’m getting better and better. My sister who runs 3 and 4 year olds all day long reminds me constantly that it is consistency that makes the difference. When you waver, the children get confused. They don’t know the line. They are too young to know how to determine what is good for their minds and bodies and what is not. It is up to adults to teach them, and sometimes we teach them by example.
So let’s see how this can translate to teens being reasonable with themselves and their friends:
A group of girls are hanging out. One of the friends that usually hang out with them isn’t there. One girl turns to another and starts talking about this absent girl. Maybe she is a little irritated with her for one reason or another. “Did you see how she was flirting with your boyfriend the other day?” “Yammer, yammer, yammer.” Now she knows that she would not want to be talked about that way by a friend and so does every other girl sitting there, but instead of standing up and saying, “you know we are all friends and we shouldn’t be talking bad about each other behind each other backs,” the other girls, not wanting to seem different, either sit quietly or worse yet start jumping in on the gossip. In truth, the girl was tutoring the boyfriend in math, not flirting at all. …. Reasonableness.
Your teenage son goes to a party with a friend. Mom and Dad ask who will be there, assumes they all come from good families; there won’t be any inappropriate goings on. At the party there is beer; later when it is time to drive home, your son knowing it is not safe to drink and drive gets in the car with his friend anyway. I mean, he doesn’t seem that drunk and he’s seen other adults do it in the past. His friend seems coordinated enough…. not so bad… just this once or how will he get home? He certainly can’t call his parents and tell them why he needs them to pick him up. He’d never be allowed to hang with his friends again. …. Reasonableness
I can give you a million other examples but instead I will let you observe this for yourself and send me in some of your own examples.
So what can we do about all this? The first thing to do about it is to get all the exact data and technology about this. Mace-Kingsley Family Center can direct you exactly to it and where you can find it.
The next thing is to be able to recognize it in ourselves and in others and then to just knock it off! Get the correct data on how things are supposed to be so you can recognize what you are feeling uncomfortable about. Be willing to observe and be brave enough to say when something is not right. And be willing to teach your children this as well, so that when they become teens they can apply it even when you are not around.
Wishing you miracles,
Diane DiGregorio Norgard
Mace-Kingsley Family Center