Having a teenager is a, how can I describe it, interesting phase. It is one that can leave even the most confident parent wondering what they ever did to deserve this influx of hormones that has taken away their babies and left them with an almost adult with attitude. Whoever said it was like a roller-coaster, wasn’t joking as their moods change for fun and you can never be quite sure which version of them you are dealing with at any given time.
It isn’t all bad (I promise) but I would be lying if I said that there weren’t any challenging moments and being able to cut some of the conflicts off at the pass, can be helpful. So this is my list of things that you should avoid doing when you have a teenager in the house. Stick to this and there might just be fewer arguments to be had and definitely less disdainful looks, eye-rolling and door slamming from them and less frustration for you.
Don’t EVER assume that they are listening to you
Both of my teen boys walk around with a headphone in at least one ear, music blaring. I try to make sure that there is at least some degree of eye contact when I am talking to them and I always get them to repeat what I said. Even with those measures in place, I will have a conversation with them, yet twenty minutes later, they deny all knowledge of it. I may have to resort to writing things down and getting them to sign it to say that they have read it.
Don’t EVER walk around the house naked
This is an important one. Apart from the fact that they will be retching in utter disgust or secretly taking photos of videos to be used against you in the future, many of them use FaceTime on a regular basis and you really don’t want your naked bod suddenly appearing in the background of one of their chats. Although I have never done this, my husband accidentally did once make this mistake and the other child involved probably needed counselling afterwards.
Do not think about, talk about, refer to or have sex
Having a teen in the house is possibly the best and cheapest contraceptive available. They don’t sleep even if they are tired and even though they don’t hear you when you tell them to clean their room, do their homework or stop killing their siblings, you can guarantee that their ears are finely tuned to hear anything that they shouldn’t. As for mentioning the word, be prepared for a completely over dramatic reaction.
Don’t ever assume that there will be food in the house
I don’t think a day goes by when I’m not in the supermarket stocking up. I’m not sure if this is a ‘boy thing’ but my two eat me out of house and home, quite literally, every day. I don’t know where they put it all and it doesn’t matter how much they eat, they are still hungry.
Don’t assume that you could manage without a washing machine
If my washing machine breaks down, it is the end of the world. Well, it isn’t exactly, but as I do at least two loads of washing every day with two teenagers who wear a uniform, come home and get changed and play sports, the washing is never-ending. I sometimes think that I can manage for a couple of days. I really can’t.
Don’t sing and dance
A song comes on the radio in the car or in the kitchen and you have a little sing or dance along. You suddenly become aware of an icy feeling around you and you turn to see your teenager looking at you with pure disbelief, a look on their face that could cut through steel. I don’t think parents are allowed to have fun. One of my fun-sucking teenagers just gets in the car and turns the radio or music off even though he is listening to his music through his headphones. It’s so unfair.
Don’t try and show them any affection, not even behind closed doors
Just don’t. This is one I find really tough and I can usually gauge whether or not to go in for a hug, but this is very rare. One of my teens only has to be brushed up against in passing and he shouts at you for ‘touching him’. God knows what my neighbours must think.
Don’t assume you are funny
I was served by a young man in a well-known high street café the other day and he was obviously new. I asked for a chai latte and it took him a while to find it on the till. When he had he turned to me and said “cool”. I quickly replied that I would rather have it warm thank you. I thought that was quite witty. Apparently not. The withering look he gave me was quite something and I felt like there was tumbleweed blowing around in those few seconds that followed. Clearly, my humour is wasted on the young. I relayed my hilarity to the boys later on and they both agreed that I shouldn’t tell jokes as they just weren’t funny.
Don’t remind them that you were a teenager once. They won’t believe you
As far as your children are concerned, you are old. You might not be that old, but there is a significant enough age gap between you are your children for them to think you are prehistoric. Ancient. They won’t believe otherwise. So they cannot even begin to think what you must have been like as a teenager and to be honest, even if they could, they probably wouldn’t be interested anyway. On the rare occasion that I have said something about ‘when I was a teenager …’ they makes some comment about things being different in Victorian times or they just roll their eyes and put their headphones in.
Don’t like the TV programs or music as them
Music isn’t a problem with my boys. I think I have a reasonable taste in music but the stuff they listen to is just noise. God, I sound like my gran when I say that. But it’s true. It is awful. But, rest assured that they feel exactly the same way about my taste in music. We did briefly watch Love Island together last summer but that is the only time for a long time that we have shared the same taste in TV, for them it is all about YouTube and if they do watch TV they like comedy and they like watching it without their parents.
Don’t share photos of them on social media (unless you have checked with them first)
This is a really tricky one, especially if you are a parenting blogger. But even if you are just a regular parent, lots of us like to share photos on the different social media platforms. But as they hit the teen years, many of them really don’t like it. They can share a million selfies of themselves but you can’t. And that is fine as it is their lives after all and when they are old enough to know better, we should be considering the digital footprint we are imposing on their behalf and stop if it isn’t what they want.
Don’t make plans assuming that they will agree to them
One thing my 14-year-old has taught me over recent months and years is that if you drag him somewhere he doesn’t want to go, it is not worth it. He will make your life a misery and make you wish that you had left him at home. I now inform them weeks in advance of any appointments or plans that involve them and then keep dropping in reminders every few days so that they can’t ‘forget’.