One thing I've noticed as a teacher and coach is that many teachers/coaches practice the mantra: "Do as I say, not as I do." I have taught with teachers who chastize students for their disorganized backpacks and lost homework, willfully ignoring the hypocrisy of piles of mis-matched, months-old projects and papers strewed about their own classrooms. I have coached with coaches who scream at kids for lack of communication and discipline, only to cancel practices at the last minute and show up late for meets. So much of the rebellion of youth is directed at this hypocrisy, I believe.
As adults, we expect imperfection from one another. We're adults, after all, and we recognize that we ourselves are flawed. So perhaps part of the adolescent reaction is disappointed idealism. As adults, we are also generally on the same footing--even in hierarchical relationships, such as those between boss and employees, there is at least an appearance of equality. All bosses in the modern western world at least attempt to convey openness and approachability, even if all they really want is complete dominance and servile employees. Teenagers, however, are expected to live by the same rules that have been around for generations: they must obey and respect authority without complaint. All this at a time when they are finally becoming aware that the world is not the rosy picture of story books and sitcoms, that reaching the age of accountability doesn't equate to instant wisdom, and that even the finest people and the most inspiring leaders have glaring inconsistencies of character.
Isn't the least we can do to ease this transition keeping up with our piles of grading and showing up on time for meets? And when we inevitably do fall short, why is it so difficult to apologize and acknowledge what went wrong? I'm with the teenagers on this one.