If you are a parent of a teenager, there are a few things you should know that might help you feel…better about this new journey. Parents of preteens, this most likely applies to you, too. Parents of toddlers, I apologize for the glimpse into your probable future. You see, parenting a teenager is like being dropped into a foreign country–while you were sleeping– and you have no Parent to Teen Translation Guide. It can be disorienting, confusing and frustrating. However, there are a few things you can do that may help you out. Well, help may be a strong word. Perhaps I should say a few things that may aid you in feeling less like a foreigner and more like a tourist on an extended trip through Teenville.
First, you are stupid. Now, it does not matter if you were the smartest person on the face of the Earth prior to the teen years. Now? Well, now you are probably the stupidest person ever. Whereas you once had the answers to everything, you currently know nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean you have the intelligence of a rock where your teen is concerned. Other parents? Well, they probably think you are still smart, so you can rest comfortably in that. The good news? As your teen grows up– and it make take until he or she has kids of his or her own– you will once again be brilliant. You just have to ride out your stupidity for now. It’s okay. We are all Stupid Parents of Know-It-All Teens. Welcome to our club. We would have meetings, but we are not quite smart enough to plan any.
Secondly, you are not cool. Not even a little bit. Don’t even bother trying. It is like nailing Jello to a tree. Pointless and impossible. You may have been the super star of the world once upon a time, but now you are a dork. This is especially true if The Teen is around his friends. Even if his friends think you are a “cool parent”, trust me when I say your teen still thinks you are the most uncool person to walk upright. Personally, this just adds to the enjoyment. The moment my sons put on their “My Mom is so uncool” hat, I immediately become just what they fear. God bless the updated Freaky Friday movie for the embarrassing line of “Make good choices!” shouted out of a car window to a teenager. If you think I have not popped that one out when I get attitude, you either don’t know me or don’t see the humor in finding creative ways to keep your kids from acting too cool to have a parent.
Can we talk about your wardrobe? It just isn’t working. It doesn’t matter if you are impeccably dressed for the office and would make it on Blackwell’s Top Ten Best Dressed List. Your teen is not impressed. You probably look like a nerd. Or we can go to the other side of the spectrum. Take for instance the other day when I had on an old pair of jeans and a vintage concert t-shirt. Comfortable. Casual. And might I mention the t-shirt in question is the exact t-shirt The Teen stole out of my closet just a week before to wear to school. Now? Now it is just “so old and outdated” and makes me look like I am trying to be cool and failing miserably. Seriously. You cannot win no matter what you wear, so don’t try. Even stealing one of their very own t-shirts is a crime against humanity. In fact, once it has touched your body, it is no longer a shirt they will ever wear again. (I have found this useful on more than one occasion when I really covet something The Teen has in his closet.) When it comes to how you dress, dress for yourself because you will never be cool enough for your Teen.
Now that we have established that you are stupid, uncool and cannot dress yourself properly, let’s go over a few guidelines. I did not make them up, but have been well trained by my teen and near-teen long enough to have them down.
Do not speak to your teen in public. Unless his hair is on fire and then only use hand signals. He is above this whole communication in public situation.
You do not speak their language. I do not just mean text speak. I mean at all. Period. Even if the words that are coming out of his mouth sound like words you know, they do not have the same meaning if you were to use them. Just give up the challenge and hope to gain a phrase here and then that makes sense.
It is absolutely, positively unacceptable to show any kind of affection what-so-ever towards your teen if there is another person within a 20 mile radius. My teen and I came up with something similar to a gang sign that means, “Golly gee, sweetheart, Mommy sure does love you. Have a great day.” I don’t think his means the same thing. And “whatever” means “Are you finished talking yet because I am really not listening and am in desperate need for your voice to be quiet now.”
Don’t believe that I am telling you the truth? Read what these moms have to say about their teens. Busy Mom has the Ten Commandments of Being the Parent of a Teen that is a must read. You can see how she is learning about things that fall into these areas. And Chris Jordan? Her open letter to her son was priceless. (And for the record, telling your teen that continual and repetitve rolling of his eyes will cause seizures does not work. It just results in a massive eye-rolling event.) And Tammara? She is learning about picking her battles. Always good for some learning on everyone’s part.
But most of all, the thing you should remember is that even at their worst, even when they slam doors or roll their eyes, they need you. They will never tell you that. They will never even admit it to themselves, but they do need you. That little toddler that was learning to walk and knew without a doubt that should he fall, you would be there to help him up and get him back on his feet? He is still in there. And he is still counting on you to help him up when he falls and get him back up on his feet again.
I am off to listen to my stupid music, wearing my dorky clothes about to take my uncool mini-van to the store. Alone.