Participants: Alanzo Smith, June Smith
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000068
00:30 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:33 I'm Alanzo Smith. And my wife, June.
00:37 We're both licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
00:40 and Mental Health Counselors.
00:43 And we want to talk today about defiance.
00:47 It seems as if when historians come to document our age,
00:53 they're going to be forced to call it an age of defiance.
00:58 Unfortunately, it begins real early.
01:01 We don't just end of with defiant adults.
01:04 If we have children who are disrespectful
01:07 and who refuse to obey rules and/or follow instruction,
01:12 they're likely to grow up to be adults who will defy authority,
01:16 even God's authority.
01:18 The level of defiance these days is appalling.
01:22 We see it in the home, we see it in the school,
01:26 and we see it in society.
01:28 And the fact is, no one wins.
01:32 Let's talk about the home; defiance in the home and the
01:36 level of parental involvement.
01:40 Many times, we find that children are growing up
01:45 in homes where there's very little supervision.
01:48 Where parents leave parenting, pretty much, up to the child.
01:52 It's not unusual in some places, especially in large cities,
01:56 that parents work, and sometimes not just one but two jobs.
02:00 And believe it or not, children are left to either be raised
02:04 by the television or by a neighbor checking in
02:06 once in a while, etc.
02:08 So you have children, a large number of children,
02:11 who are growing up without adequate supervision.
02:14 And these kids just don't know how to respect rules,
02:18 to live within guidelines and limits.
02:21 And so they defy any authority that they perceive
02:25 to be an imposition.
02:27 I was flying on a flight across the Atlantic
02:31 and I was sitting in the window seat.
02:35 And to the aisle was a father, and the middle seat
02:39 was for his daughter.
02:40 She was somewhere between 4 to 5 years of age.
02:45 Anyway, the plane started taxiing out and the stewardess
02:48 came and said to the gentleman, "Could you please buckle your
02:51 daughter up in her seat because we're about to take off. "
02:54 So he lifted up his daughter and put her in the seat
02:58 and she yelled out and screamed, "I don't want to
03:00 sit in the seat. "
03:02 So he put her back in his lap.
03:05 Well the stewardess passed and said, "Sir, we are moving now.
03:09 You have to put the child in her seat. "
03:12 He attempted a second time. And believe me, it was worse.
03:16 The child was kicking and screaming.
03:18 So he again put her right back in his lap.
03:22 Well the stewardess passed and saw what was happening and said,
03:25 "Sir, you have to do that now. "
03:27 And the father looked at the stewardess and he said
03:30 something like this, "Would you please talk to her for me
03:35 because she won't listen to me?"
03:36 And the stewardess said to the girl, "Get out of your dad's lap
03:40 and sit in that seat now. "
03:42 And the little girl got up and sat right in the seat
03:45 without any question.
03:47 So obviously, she was not responding to
03:50 her father's authority.
03:52 And her father relinquished his power when he asked
03:55 the flight attendant to intervene.
03:58 Because what is going on in that child's mind now?
04:01 "Well I don't really have to listen to my father. "
04:04 She's saying, "My father is afraid of me. "
04:06 "My father is intimidated by me. "
04:08 We have to be careful of the subtle messages
04:12 we send to our children when they are very small.
04:15 Because later on in life it plays out when you really
04:17 want to talk to them and they're not listening.
04:19 You know, Alanzo, I think children are sometimes blamed.
04:22 But if a child was never taught what is appropriate,
04:25 the child won't know.
04:27 It seems to me that when children are socialized
04:30 around individuals who are poor role models,
04:33 they adopt certain behaviors.
04:35 And then the child sometimes even then gets celebrated.
04:37 You know, they do something real precocious and the adults
04:40 around them will celebrate it and will act as if,
04:43 "Wow, did you hear what my 2 year old said?
04:45 She's acting like a 20 year old. "
04:47 So now at two, they celebrate her.
04:49 She's reinforced that it's something that the
04:51 adults think is funny.
04:52 But then when the same child performs that behavior
04:56 at 15 or 20, the child gets punished.
05:00 It's no longer funny.
05:01 We have to go back to the Bible.
05:03 It says, "Train up a child in the way he should grow.
05:06 And when he's old, he will not depart from it. "
05:09 Parents, you have to understand.
05:11 You cannot love your child so much that you are afraid
05:15 to do the training.
05:16 The training that is not done during those golden tender years
05:20 will later on have negative effects and
05:24 negative repercussions.
05:25 So we're encouraging you, we're admonishing you.
05:28 Love has boundaries and love has structure
05:33 and love has limits.
05:35 And to quote one author, "Love must be tough. "
05:38 So you have to administer love with toughness in it.
05:43 The Bible also talks about honoring your parents;
05:46 honoring your mother and your father.
05:49 It is not cool to disrespect your parents.
05:52 In fact, it is unacceptable that a child would disrespect
05:56 their parent.
05:57 So I appeal to all children and young people
06:01 who might be watching this discussion,
06:04 that you know it is your God given obligation
06:07 to respect your parents in the Lord.
06:09 Because that's what He expects of you.
06:11 And have you noticed that the age is getting lower and lower
06:18 that parents are bringing them into counseling for help now.
06:22 We're not talking about 10 and 11 and 12 year olds now.
06:26 We're talking about 6, 5, or 4.
06:29 Parents are just throwing your hands up in the air and saying,
06:33 "I give up, I just cannot manage.
06:36 I just cannot handle it. "
06:37 And we're saying you have to start at an early age.
06:43 Not at 3 or 4.
06:44 If not, you're going to miss it.
06:46 It is necessary that we all take responsibility
06:51 for raising children.
06:52 But we must do it appropriately.
06:55 You know in some cultures, we use the term "spoiling a child,"
07:00 simply meaning very little supervision,
07:02 we give into every demand, and the child seems
07:05 to have their way.
07:06 In counseling, we say the child is "parentified".
07:09 The child literally becomes the parent.
07:13 We're talking about defiance.
07:14 And we look at defiance in the home.
07:17 But it's not just the children who are defiant in the home.
07:22 Husbands are defiant, wives are defiant.
07:26 So how might a husband display defiance in the family?
07:33 And you wonder why is it that children get defiant when they
07:36 live around adults who behave inappropriately.
07:39 Now a husband could be defiant if he totally disregards
07:43 the rules of the home and acts as if he's a law unto himself;
07:47 he isn't accountable to his family
07:49 or especially to his wife.
07:51 And the child, obviously, will observe that.
07:54 "I am a man, I do what I want.
07:57 I don't need anyone to tell me what to do.
08:00 I go when I feel like, I come in when I please.
08:03 I don't have to explain to anyone because I'm the man. "
08:08 That's a defiant attitude and it has negative consequences
08:12 and negative repercussions.
08:15 And if someone has to be telling themselves that
08:17 they're the man, isn't there a problem there?
08:19 Well I've had several incidents where women call and they
08:23 would say, "Dr. Smith, I really have a problem in my marriage.
08:26 I know we need help.
08:28 I have asked my husband time and time again to come in
08:31 for counseling and he refuses because he says,
08:35 'What can they tell me that I don't know?'
08:37 Or, 'You have the problem, you go for help. '"
08:39 Or, "I don't need anybody to tell me what
08:41 to do about my problem, how to run my problem. "
08:44 That would be defiant.
08:47 But we also have it on the part of the wife.
08:49 She can be defiant too.
08:51 You know, it's like she could be disrespectful to her husband.
08:56 She could be the type of wife who feels that she earns her
08:59 own money and no one should tell her what to do,
09:03 she wants to do her own thing.
09:04 Defiance is manifested in that way as well.
09:09 Now what are some of the consequences?
09:11 What happens when all this rumbling and jumbling
09:14 is going on in the home?
09:16 Well you know, it's going to spill out in a very
09:18 negative way to the family.
09:20 What's going to happen is that you're going to find
09:23 a lot of conflict erupting, developing, in the family.
09:29 Because if the father is defiant or the wife is defiant or
09:34 if the children are defiant, may God help that home.
09:37 So there will be a lot of disrespect that is experienced
09:42 by each other.
09:43 The husband is going to feel disrespected,
09:45 the child feels disrespected.
09:48 In fact, I think on some level that the child becomes defiant
09:52 because they feel disrespected.
09:53 Their needs are not being met on some level
09:55 and so they think, "Well, I'll just not obey the rules. "
09:58 And this creates a certain amount of insecurity.
10:04 If you're living in a family environment where
10:09 the boundaries are blurred, the respect is not there,
10:13 and individuals are very defiant, then you find that
10:16 people don't find the level of security that they need
10:20 in a relationship.
10:21 And children...
10:23 If children are living with their parents and they have
10:25 defiant parents, the children are insecure.
10:29 And that leads to disharmony and disunity in the home.
10:33 And so the entire family breaks down.
10:36 And we could end up with a situation where there's a lot of
10:40 dysfunction; the children acting inappropriately, the father
10:43 acting inappropriately, the mother acting.
10:44 So the dynamics in that family are in total chaos.
10:48 You know, there are certain causative factors that
10:52 cause this kind of a breakdown and defiance within the family.
10:56 When there is no structure or the boundaries are not clear,
11:01 people become defiant, they run over each other,
11:05 and that creates havoc in the relationship.
11:07 So we're saying there needs to be very clear rules.
11:10 There needs to be very clear limits.
11:12 And each member in that family should know
11:15 what those are.
11:16 And sometimes, young people, the reason why you're so defiant
11:19 to your parents is because of your friends; peer pressure.
11:23 I know of a young man who his friends said to him,
11:26 "Oh you can't come because your father isn't going to let you. "
11:30 And he said, "No, I can come. "
11:31 You know, he's trying to show that he doesn't have to
11:34 listen to his parents.
11:35 So sometimes young people, that defiant attitude
11:38 that you're displaying, it is because you want to
11:41 prove to your friend that you are strong, you are tough, etc.
11:45 But you're hurting yourself.
11:46 And unfortunately, there's also social regression.
11:49 The society at large seems to accommodate defiance.
11:53 And so it's almost like, "Well, if I behave this way,
11:56 I won't be the odd ball out.
11:58 Because my neighbor's, everyone I know
12:00 seems to behave like that. "
12:02 And so the child thinks, this is norm.
12:04 You know June, as you said that, I just thought of a concept of
12:11 alliance and coalition.
12:13 Because that is one of the factors.
12:16 When one parent selects a child; one that they love,
12:22 one that is special, they think that is special to them,
12:25 and they form this bonding, it can cause defiance
12:31 in the behavior of the other child.
12:33 So that whatever the causative factors are, it is real.
12:38 Defiance is reality in the home.
12:41 And children suffer, society suffers,
12:44 the church suffers, the schools suffer.
12:47 And when we come back from our break,
12:49 we will talk about defiance in the school
12:53 and defiance in the home.
12:55 And that's a big one.
12:56 Because, you know, what's happening in the school
12:58 and in society at large, we need to spend some time.
13:02 So we want you to come back.
13:04 As a matter of fact, in our next session,
13:07 not only are we going to highlight these,
13:09 but we're going to show parents what to do.
13:12 And we're going to talk to you children and you young people
13:15 and we're going to help you to understand
13:17 how best to behave and to relate to an issue or to relate
13:22 to a problem that you're having.
13:24 I'm excited about the second half.
13:25 So we're saying defiance is never a good thing.
13:28 Never ever a good thing. Yea, that's right.
13:36 There are many How To books available
13:39 but there's one that's free and perfect for every couple.
13:42 "How You Can Build A Better Marriage"
13:44 Bible-based matrimonial advice is given in a light-hearted
13:48 easy to read manner for those contemplating marriage,
13:51 newlyweds, couples in their golden years,
13:54 and everyone in between.
13:56 Simply call or write for your free copy.
14:09 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
14:13 We have been talking about defiance.
14:16 We have looked at defiance in the home
14:18 and now we're going to look at defiance in the school
14:22 and the society.
14:23 My wife, June, is with me.
14:26 June, talk to us about defiance in the school.
14:29 You have worked with the school system in trying to help
14:32 some of these defiant students.
14:34 What have you come upon and share it with us here.
14:37 It is such a sad thing to see teachers who are committed
14:42 to help children grow and learn and become good citizens
14:45 and certainly good people.
14:48 But their job is challenged because they have what
14:52 we consider defiant children.
14:54 As you rightly said, I work with several schools in
14:57 New York City and we try to help children adapt to understand
15:01 that they must obey rules and follow the instructions.
15:05 But it is a work in progress.
15:08 There's a high level of lack of respect for teachers these days.
15:14 I lift my hat off to all those of you who are
15:19 teachers out there because it's indeed a challenge.
15:22 I have taught school before a couple of years myself and
15:26 when I did, times have changed.
15:29 You know, I was talking to a 10 year old boy
15:32 and they had asked me to help him with whatever was
15:36 going on with him.
15:37 And he sat in my office and he looked at me and he said,
15:41 "Dr. Smith, you see me?
15:44 My teacher is afraid of me. "
15:47 So I said, "Why would your teacher be afraid of you?"
15:49 And he said, "Well, my teacher is afraid of me because
15:53 I told her that if she should talk to me in a way that
15:58 I don't like it, I will box her. "
16:01 So I wrinkled my brow and I said, "Box her?"
16:04 He said, "Yes, I told her clearly I will box her.
16:08 And I explained to her that if when I box her and
16:11 she doesn't like it and she goes home and she tells
16:14 her husband and he comes," this little 10 year old boy
16:17 said, "I will box him too. "
16:20 That's where we have reached now.
16:23 Now in his mind, he thought that was appropriate behavior.
16:27 And somewhere there, it is telling me that this child
16:31 has problems.
16:32 Now teachers, principles, and all school personnel
16:38 deal with this daily.
16:40 And yet, children are expected to learn, perform, and pass.
16:47 My appeal to parents is, if your child is considered defiant
16:52 and if your teacher is complaining and bringing
16:55 to your attention that this behavior is occurring,
16:58 that your duty and responsibility is to go
17:02 into the school and to investigate what is going on
17:05 and to get to the source, to the bottom of it.
17:07 If you take the position which many parents take,
17:11 which is to be defensive and to try to encourage the
17:15 child's behavior, then your child is going to be
17:18 worse off for it.
17:19 And the defiance is being played out in many areas.
17:24 We see children not doing their homework.
17:27 We see them doing a lot of talking in class and being the
17:33 class clown, cracking a joke so that the others laugh
17:36 and then they get serious.
17:38 We see children skipping or cutting classes or turning up
17:43 late for their class.
17:45 And it just seems to be getting worse and worse.
17:49 And here's what we need to say to our families listening,
17:54 that it did not start in the school.
17:58 Sometimes we blame the school environment that they're in.
18:02 Sometimes we blame their friends and sometimes even the teacher.
18:06 And to some extent, you might be right.
18:08 But I'm saying, parents, you have to go back
18:11 to the basic; the home.
18:12 Because as it says, "Except the Lord build the home,
18:16 they labor in vain that built it. "
18:18 And that's important.
18:19 You have to go back to the basic of setting up a firm structure
18:24 within the home so that the children will act better
18:29 when they're in this school environment.
18:31 Now I think it is important to understand that children
18:35 are not born defiant.
18:37 And that if a child comes to school and is acting out,
18:41 as we call it, and seems to be totally disrespectful and
18:45 disregarding all the school's rules or of the supervision
18:48 of the teachers and the adults in the building,
18:50 then something is wrong.
18:51 And usually it is something very wrong.
18:55 So you're saying it's a learned behavior?
18:57 I am saying that many times what is happening is that
19:00 the child is wounded.
19:01 And it is possible that this defiant child is merely reacting
19:06 to very sad encounters, or trauma even,
19:10 that they have experienced.
19:11 So a child, for example, who has experienced abuse,
19:15 whether it is physical or sexual abuse,
19:18 they have very little power over sometimes the perpetrator.
19:22 And so they usually manifest their upset this way;
19:26 by defying, by reacting in a very negative way and in a
19:31 defensive way in order to protect themselves.
19:34 So I'm hearing you saying that there are reasons,
19:38 whether it's biological, psychological, emotional,
19:42 whatever, but there are reasons at times
19:45 why some children are defiant.
19:48 For example, when a child doesn't feel special,
19:52 doesn't feel that they are special.
19:54 And that feeling could start with their parents.
19:56 And where we spoke about alliance and coalition,
19:59 because their sibling, the parents treat them in a
20:03 special way and give them more, and what have you,
20:06 and this child feels isolated and so they develop this
20:09 defiant nature, this defiant attitude.
20:11 So it's important for parents to treat all their children equally
20:16 and to treat all special no matter which one is doing
20:18 well in school, they all should be treated special.
20:22 Now children are basically wonderful individuals.
20:25 They are, I consider them adorable.
20:28 There is nothing else as joyful as being around
20:31 a group of happy children.
20:33 Their laughter just invigorates you.
20:35 But when a child is hurt, when a child is feeling
20:39 emotional pain, usually what happens is they get defiant,
20:44 they resent their experience.
20:47 And so because they can't find their own answers
20:50 and their own resolution to their difficulties,
20:53 they act out in the ways that we often see them.
20:56 So one of the things that tends to happen when that occurs
20:59 is that the child experiences what we consider deficiencies.
21:03 They have, whether it's emotional or even cognitive,
21:07 they just don't perform well because they're preoccupied
21:10 with their emotional pain.
21:12 And so they don't follow up on their assignments,
21:14 they don't pay attention because they simple can't concentrate.
21:17 A child that is being abused or being molested sexually
21:22 is in a very traumatic experience.
21:25 And often they have nowhere to go because they don't think they
21:29 can or that they will be believed.
21:31 And so they just act out their rage.
21:33 So parents should understand, based on what you're
21:37 telling us now, parents should understand that there are
21:41 times when there are unresolved issues with the child.
21:45 And the behavior that you're getting at home and the
21:50 behavior you're getting at school is not necessarily
21:53 that the child wants to be defiant but that there are
21:57 some other issues that are going on there, unresolved issues.
22:01 And maybe what the parent needs to do is to see
22:03 how they might get help for this child.
22:07 Therein lies the answer.
22:08 I think what tends to happen is that most times we
22:11 come down hard on the child and we punish the child.
22:16 Or label the child.
22:17 Or the child gets expelled from school when the child is
22:20 really crying out for help.
22:22 That's how I perceive a defiant child; as a cry for help.
22:25 Because again children are usually lovely, wonderful,
22:29 happy, joyous people.
22:31 So when they are traumatized and they think that this is
22:35 going to be their life forever, then they act in very
22:38 disorganized ways.
22:41 Poor role models play an important part,
22:46 even though it's a negative one, in a child's defiance.
22:50 Because sometimes children see something and they don't like
22:55 what they see.
22:56 Parents may think that their child doesn't know
23:00 and may be doing something in secret.
23:03 And that child could discover it.
23:05 And because of that, the child is acting out.
23:08 They want to tell the other parent but they're afraid to,
23:12 maybe of the consequences, whatever is going on.
23:15 And so they don't.
23:16 But dealing with this, bottling it up inside,
23:19 keeping it can manifest itself in other defiant behavior.
23:24 Realistically, while all this is true, there's some children
23:29 who are just pert.
23:31 They just did not get the right instruction, the right limits,
23:36 the right boundaries were not established.
23:38 And so the child never learned what is appropriate and
23:40 what is acceptable.
23:41 And so they just get by with doing everything
23:44 that they want on demand.
23:46 Do you think that some parents today are kind of afraid
23:52 of their children, afraid to correct them?
23:57 Is it an Eli syndrome?
23:59 I think that some of that is true, but I think the family
24:01 itself, the family form and structure has been so eroded.
24:05 You know, the original nuclear family, it very rarely exists.
24:09 So we have all different kinds of family forms existing.
24:12 And what tends to happen is because of these dynamics
24:15 that are occurring in our families parents are sometimes
24:18 very guarded about how they administer punishment
24:21 or set discipline.
24:22 Because they think; one, the child is already hurting
24:25 because of the divorce that occurred or because of the
24:27 problems in the relationship.
24:28 So they just allow most of the behavior that could
24:32 be considered dysfunctional to go by.
24:35 So if someone is listening to us, and I know you are,
24:38 and you might find that you have a defiant child
24:41 or a defiant home, and so you might be asking this question,
24:45 "Well, what can we do?
24:47 My child is defiant, what can we do?
24:50 Where do we start, where do we go from here?"
24:53 Our first message would be, start early.
24:56 And a mother might be pregnant at this moment.
25:01 We're saying to that mother, start early.
25:04 Do not wait until you see the problem to try to get help.
25:07 Try to start very early.
25:11 You know, we often say that everyone, before they
25:15 learn to drive or can drive, they must get a license.
25:18 But yet so many people just have children and they're not
25:21 capable of parenting and appropriately
25:24 training their child.
25:25 And so unfortunately, many children are brought into homes
25:28 where there isn't adequate supervision.
25:30 So yes, parents, if you do have children that you're
25:34 responsible for, you really do need to start early
25:37 and to make sure they're guided.
25:38 Let me make sure I'm hearing you clearly.
25:40 They must learn to drive first before they get a license.
25:44 Right. Okay.
25:46 And then they go drive.
25:49 So parents must do some training before they can expect
25:54 to have good children.
25:55 You can't just want good children and you
25:57 don't do the training.
25:59 That's so important.
26:00 But don't you think also that if there's a problem,
26:05 because sometimes genuinely there's a problem,
26:07 if there's a problem then they should genuinely
26:09 seek to get help?
26:10 They should.
26:11 But I think that when you think about parenting,
26:13 you also have to put it into perspective of the society.
26:15 Because I think we also have so many breakdowns in our
26:19 social structure that it spills over into our homes.
26:22 Look what's happening in society.
26:24 If you have problems with the home, it's spills over
26:26 into the church and it spills over into the school
26:30 and then into the society at large.
26:32 And look what's happening in the society;
26:34 the drugs, the alcohol.
26:35 And all of these are coming way back from the home.
26:39 Defiance is never ever a good thing.
26:42 If it starts in the home, try your best to do something
26:46 to quell it, to put a check mark on it.
26:49 Defiance in the school is also dangerous to the growth
26:53 and development of the child.
26:55 Because what's going to happen? It spills out into the society.
26:58 In short, what's we're saying;
27:00 defiance is never ever a good thing.
27:03 Do something about it.
27:04 The Bible speaks of a king, Nebuchadnezzar to be exact,
27:08 who was very defiant.
27:10 And his grandson, Belshazzar, was the same.
27:13 As a matter of fact, Belshazzar gave the order to bring
27:16 in those golden vessels.
27:17 And he drank from them, which he knew he should not have.
27:21 And as a result of his defiance, God visited him in His wrath
27:25 and he lost his kingdom.
27:26 We must learn a lesson from Belshazzar.
27:29 That is to say, do not be defiant.
27:31 Do not be defiant to your parents,
27:33 do not be defiant to your spouse,
27:35 do not be defiant to the society.
27:37 And most of all, do not be defiant to your God.
27:41 Families can grow and families can be strengthened,
27:44 but each of need to be cooperative.
27:46 We need to work together, love each other,
27:49 and care for each other.
27:51 May God bless you and your family
27:52 as you grow stronger and stronger.
27:56 Remember, marriage is forever, by God's grace.