An article in the Guardian G2 last week, featuring advice from posts on Mumsnet on how to handle toddlers, got me thinking. There often isn’t a great deal of difference when dealing with teenagers. Some of the issues may have changed but the methods to get them to do what you want are pretty similar. As one enters the teenage years the opportunities for sharing tips and advice with other parents are rarer. There is no hanging round the school gates and fewer social situations to swap stories. Most teens with any savvy will actively discourage their parents to meet up with their friends parents, as they know it will inevitably lead to some indiscretion being revealed. When you do talk to other parents of teens you find they are all pretty much the same. Here are MAM.com’s observations on living with teens.
Direct confrontation is never a good idea as it can lead to tantrums and digging in of heels. Distraction often works to avert bad behavior and complete denial that they are actually your children, is the solution in extreme situations.
Never ever answer the question 'what are we having for dinner?' After slogging home on the bus from Hell, carrying several bags of M & S shopping snatched in your lunch hour. You will almost definitely want to cause physical harm when they say. 'I really don’t like (insert food that they loved the week before) cant we have (insert food that they have hated since they were babies)
Don’t attempt to change teenage sons eating habits. KFC, kebabs and copious amounts of chocolate are staples and the 'you'll get spots and really fat' argument doesn’t work.
Don’t attempt to change teenage daughters eating habits. Special K instead of meals followed by copious amounts of Harribo are staples and the 'you'll get spots and your thighs are not enormous' argument doesn’t work.
Don’t try to introduce new foods into their diet unless they are deep fried or come delivered in a box with an Italian, Chinese or Indian logo on them.
Drugs and Alcohol
When asked the question did you take drugs – lie. If you didn’t, say you did once and didn’t like it (the Bill Clinton approach) if you did, say you did once and didn’t like it, don’t mention the time you took three black bombers, went to the Hacienda and didn’t sleep for a week. Either way they won’t believe a word you say.
Don’t try to tell your teen anything about drugs, they get enough information at school to open a small narcotics factory.
Don’t leave half opened bottles of alcohol in the house if you are leaving them home alone. You won’t be able to remember how full it was (as you were half cut yourself when putting it away) and will not be able to make accusations.
Don’t overreact when faced with a drunken teenager, just hoover really loudly, play the Sex Pistols at top volume and make them a full English breakfast, very early the next morning.
Give your teen a set amount of money each month and don’t give them any more when they run out. Try to stick to this and don’t believe the 'I'll pay you back honestly' approach. My children now owe me the cost of a small terraced house in Hull.
Teenage boys will loose bank cards (Oyster cards, keys, coats, in fact anything that isn’t attached to their body) and never ever have any money. They will always have some kind of scam on the go, involving trading of play station games or buying of technology/guitars/music etc etc on EBay.
Teenage girls will try to entice you to go shopping with them under the guise of 'mother and daughter bonding.' What they actually mean is, if you buy me lots of clothes, I will be nice to you for a couple of hours. If you buy me lunch as well, it might even last all day!
Enjoy all the thing things that are great about teenagers; listening to new music and sharing your favourites with them, buying your daughter clothes you love but would look ridiculous in yourself, being amazed by their confidence and ability to sing, play the guitar, draw, understand science etc etc. Most of all, be grateful you no longer have to worry about best friends, girl friends, boy friends, spots, GCSE's and interfering parents!