Parenting teenagers: just the thought can send cold shivers down the spines of parents of young children. I am not going to lie; it has its tough days. I have endured mood swings, bad attitude, emotion-fuelled fights, threats to leave home and the overwhelming desire to die hair green…that’s me, not them!
If you didn’t drink before, odds are you will soon; but don’t worry, no one will judge. But what if I told you that there are some pretty cool things about the teen stage? Would you believe me?
1. Adult conversation
Let’s be honest here, conversations with younger children are not always that stimulating. You have to try to be interested in what they are talking about when you are clearly not. You need to make sure you reply with an answer that acknowledges what they were saying and throw in something that is designed to advance their cognitive and linguistic skills: “yes love, that is a duck. What noise does a duck make?” bla bla. I can’t remember how many hours of my life were lost to conversations involving Pokemon. It hurt.
But nowadays, conversations are a two-way thing (when they move on from the grunt stage). We talk politics, world events and whether or not the latest Dr Who is cutting the mustard. Lots of laughs and lots of ribbing one another. Those years of supporting cognitive and linguistic growth pay off! Being in a house of nerds I am still submitted to brain numbing sci-fi talk, but great thing now is I can actually TELL them that they are boring me shitless and not feel like a bad mum.
You know what? The best thing about teenagers giving you attitude is being able to sling that shit back at them! Let’s get serious, ‘attitude ‘is genetically handed down. If your teen has ‘good’, chances are they got it from you. Own that shit! Show ‘em how it is done. But make sure you maintain some sense of adult responsibility and keep it humorous. Nothing is worse than an emotionally devo’ed teen. Being able to joke around with them is vital to keep communications open.
3. Legendary Cred
I am not sure whether it is just us awesome Gen X parents, but the cliché of ‘if parents think it is cool renders it instantly uncool’ does not apply these days. Example: when you crank the stereo with Pearl Jam, PJ Harvey and Sound Garden you can be assured to be met with a nod of approval and a “nice”. Let’s face it; our movies and music were pretty awesome compared to what our parents were into as teens. Shit, even Rick Astley is cool and funny these days – go figure! Cool music is a thing that can help the bonding between parent and teen. ‘Yeah I saw Nirvana at BDO’ – how can you possibly suck at being a parent with this level of cred?
4. Public humiliation
Man, I can not tell you how much fun it is to embarrass them. It is actually one of the most effective ways to get them to do or stop doing something: ‘If you don’t get these dishes out of the lounge room I am going to take off my top” (more effective with sons). If you answer me with grunts, I will respond with interpretive dance and yes I will do it in Coles. They actually secretly love it when you act like an idiot. It shows that we are not so uptight. It is also a good tension release for both them and you. Just be prepared for it to turn into a showdown in aisle three.
5. The BEST secret that no parent of a teen wants anyone else to know
(I am breaking the code by sharing this one.)
What is the one thing you can guarantee with young kids in the morning? They will hunt you down in the morning and hound you until you get up. What is the one thing you can guarantee with teenagers? Not even a bomb going off will wake them whilst it is still the AM. So often parents complain that their teenager is sleeping in until after lunch.
Complaining? You can tell the newbies to the teen stage. Two words people: morning sex! For most of us morning sex was a luxury Life BC (Before Children), but with a teenager in the house, specifically a sleeping teenager in the house, you and your partner are free for HOURS to laze in bed! You. Are. Welcome.
So guys, yes there are some challenging elements to raising teens. You may not get it right every time, you may end up in tears occasionally and you may end up buying shares in Booze Brothers. That is normal and not too different to raising toddlers. BUT, there are so many cool bits to raising teens.
Make sure you remember to look for the positives; there are heaps of great bits to the teen stage. Enjoy it! (If the morning sex thing doesn’t prove it for you then…I am not sure what will convince you.)