As we know, both parents and teenagers can be abusive in their families. Last week I spoke about parent’s rights and responsibilities but it equally applies to teenagers. Many abusive teenagers I come across in my work see their families as places where they get their needs met, but have little sense of the responsibilities they also have to carry. In extreme cases a defiant teenager will want to live in their family on their terms. That is, they want the benefits and privileges of being a family member without assuming any of the responsibilities. They want their rights honoured but feel they have no responsibilities. This kind of environment is never good for children or parents.
Rights and benefits must always exist side by side with responsibilities assumed. The list of rights is presented below and it is worth considering how it applies to you in your domestic, work, or personal life.
YOUR BILL OF RIGHTS
- You have the right to be you.
- You have the right to be safe.
- You have the right to love and be loved
- You have the right to be treated with respect.
- You have the right to be human – to be imperfect.
- You have the right to protest if you are treated abusively by anyone.
- You have the right to basic privacy.
- You have the right to your own opinions.
- You have the right to express your point of view respectfully and to have it taken seriously.
- You have the right to ask questions about anything that affects your life.
- You have the right to make decisions that affect you.
- You have the right to grow and change.
- You have the right to say “No”.
- You have the right to make mistakes.
- You have the right not to be responsible for other adult’s problems.
- You have the right not to be liked by everyone.
- You have the right to put yourself first from time to time.
- You have the right to control your own life.
- You have the right to change your life if you are not happy with it.
YOUR BILL OF RIGHTS:
As a family member you have a responsibility to:
- To respect other family member’s differences.
- To ensure other family member’s emotional and physical safety.
- To show respect and love actively.
- To treat other family members with respect.
- To not be verbally disrespectful – e.g. through name-calling, put-downs, silences, sarcasm, etc.
- To accept that other’s are not perfect.
- To let other family member’s know what you are doing or where you will be.
- To take seriously anyone who feels you treat them badly.
- To respect other family member’s privacy.
- To respect other people’s opinions.
- To take other people seriously.
- To respond to other family members queries about your behaviour if it affects them.
- To appreciate that people change.
- To realise that other peoples needs often need to come before your own.
- To allow other people to make mistakes.
- To take care of yourself and not have to carry other people’s problems.
- To understand that it is ok for people to be occasionally angry or upset you.
- To let other people put themselves first from time to time.
- To allow other people to change their life if they are unhappy.
Think about your rights and responsibilities and how the climate of your everyday life has fuzzied your thinking about these things.