Guest post: talking with teens

Today is guest post day, courtesy of a mystery draw over at Little Mummy. I was thrilled to find out I was swapping with Eggs, Cream and Honey, as obviously I love cake. I was less thrilled than when I found out she is up against me in the MAD blog awards, as her blog is as scrummy as her name suggests.

If you want the other half of the swap, you’ll find me over there today talking about my (cough) love of all things baking. So let’s give it up for Eggs, Cream and Honey! (Welcoming round of applause)…

Chances are if you’re the parent of a teenager, you may have heard the “everyone else” phrase shouted back at you more times than you care to remember. This is the catchphrase adopted by your teen in response to the “no you can’t” line us parents feel the right to exert on occasion. They say it to make us feel guilty, inept and generally out of touch with the mass of other parents who are saying “yes”.

Here are some of the privileges everyone else might be getting:

  • a laptop of their own
  • a bedtime/curfew of midnight
  • unlimited texts and calls on their mobile phone
  • co-ed sleepovers
  • 18 and over games on their X-box
  • access to Facebook whenever they want
  • both Friday and Saturday nights out (sometimes Thursday too and don’t get me started on Orange Wednesdays)

Not being able to do any of the above things is like social leprosy to a teenager whose well-being directly correlates to the level of coolness accredited to them by their peers. Refusal can bring tears, foot stamping, door slamming and a string of venomous words aimed at yours truly. It will remind you of when they were toddlers. It might also make you wish they were toddlers again, so you could put them to bed early and call it a day.

Having by now developed advanced verbal skills highly attuned at pointing out the error of your ways, the teen is a mighty force to be reckoned with. How do you possibly hold your ground when faced with this onslaught and insist upon “no” really meaning “absolutely no way, don’t even argue, it’s not happening”?

Here’s a recent example between my 17 year old daughter and I.

“Mom, can I bring a friend with me when we go on holiday to France this summer?”

“Mmmm, don’t think so darling.”

“Why not?”

“Well I don’t want to drive all the way across France with 7 people in the car. It’s bad enough with the six of us.”

“I’ve already thought about that. We’ll fly.”

“I’m not paying for you to fly.”

“I figured you wouldn’t so I am planning on saving up and buying the ticket myself.”

“By the time you save up the money the tickets will probably be sold out or really expensive.”

“I know but if you buy it for me now then I’ll pay you back.”

“I’m pretty sure the villa only sleeps six.”

“No I checked online there is a pull-out sofa.”

“I really don’t think it’s a good idea. Can’t you just come on your own?”

“Mum, all my friends are going on holiday with someone! Don’t you get it? No one goes on holiday with their family alone. I am going to be so bored. Who am I going to hang out with? Do you care that it’s going to be the most boring experience in the world for me?”

“You’ve got your brother and sisters.”


And on and on it went. No matter how many times I changed track she had an answer for every single argument. And argue we did. Well in to the night. Until exhaustion sent us both to bed and, whereupon awaking the next morning, the discussion resumed its rightful position as that very large elephant in our kitchen.

So help me here parents of teens. How do I get across to this creature inhabiting my child that I really do have their best interest at heart when I say no to (that other elephant) a computer in their bedroom? I know the heartfelt promise that all their time won’t be spent on social networking sites is about as good as my promise that I’ll police it. Frankly we’ve both got much better things to do with our time. But getting them to understand that? No chance.

What are the things you refuse to give in on? How do you get your point across? I’d love to hear from you!



  1. 28 May, 2010 / 7:40 am

    I am still new to this dilemma as mine has only just reached the teenage years. But I have tried the “as a parent I have to make choices you wont and don’t understand but…” which is of course met with a glazed am I bothered look from her. My new tactic which surprisingly is working at the moment is to throw an equally big tantrum which is of course more dramatic and twice as painful for her. I complain that other mums have behaved children that don’t answer back or question their parent’s guidance. It isn’t a parenting style I would normally condone but boy it does feel good to act like a teenage just for a few fleeting moments. I would also add that if I look like I am about to throw a tantrum in the middle of shop it does have wonderful results without even doing anything.

    • 28 May, 2010 / 9:02 am

      Totally agree – my teen gets completely freaked out and scared if I start to look properly upset or like I might cry!

  2. 28 May, 2010 / 8:00 am

    We didn’t have a problem with ‘bringing friends’ but we did have a problem with designer gear. Our response was that if he wanted to make up the difference in price from his pocket money then fine. Guess what – he made do!

    • 28 May, 2010 / 9:03 am

      I actually encourage friends – I’d rather she had someone to hang out with than sulked the whole time, complaining about being bored and the lack of WiFi!

  3. 28 May, 2010 / 8:00 am

    Ohhh I feel your pain. I’ve had all those conversations too – ‘but YOU have a laptop, why can’ I have one?’

    Erm, because I bought mine?

    • 28 May, 2010 / 9:04 am

      The laptop is a tricky one – we don’t have any other computer in our house, so my teen can always play the ‘but I have an assignment to do’ card, and I’ll find her an hour later with about 64 MSN conversations on the go at once. Not exactly working hard…

  4. 28 May, 2010 / 8:40 am

    Oh what an insight in to what I have to come. I am hoping that the small age gap prevents this fo me – I feel your pain

  5. 28 May, 2010 / 8:46 am

    Oh god. I thought reasoning with my four year old was bad, at least she understands ‘No’.

  6. itsasmallworldafterallfamily
    28 May, 2010 / 9:46 am

    Now I’m scared.

  7. 28 May, 2010 / 11:48 am

    I don’t have proer teenagers yet, but Top Ender is already proving to be a challenge to me as I was to my Mum. I just wanted to say that one day, one day soon the beast will be gone and your daughter will return… at least thats what my Gran told my Mum!

    • 29 May, 2010 / 8:51 pm

      See I’m pretty sure I was a perfectly charming teenager – my mum says I was – unless she’s just being nice…

  8. 28 May, 2010 / 2:46 pm

    My two older children are now 19 and 22 and thankfully those years are over but the little two are still along way off, thank goodness
    My advice, a NO is a No and remains a NO. Stick to your guns guys and by the time they reach 18 it’s all sort of over.

    • 29 May, 2010 / 8:51 pm

      I agree that you can’t show any kind of weakness – they can find it, like dogs who can smell your fear.

  9. 28 May, 2010 / 2:47 pm

    That was a delightful guest post, well up to the standards I have grown to expect and look forward to. I think that it is going to be a tight race for the blogging prize.

    • 29 May, 2010 / 8:52 pm

      So long as I’m still your favourite! :-)

  10. 28 May, 2010 / 6:29 pm

    Hi hi, lovely post. My ten year old daughter ticks all these boxes (apart from the xbox – we don’t have that, and she doesn’t actually have a phone, but that doesn’t stop her arguing over using it!) I guess the main difference is that now, when I tell her ‘no’ she’s still willing to believe that I know better. Give it a couple of years, and I will have become an unreasonable tyrant!

    • 29 May, 2010 / 8:54 pm

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there – a ten year old is still young enough to believe adults have some kind of magical power that makes them ultimately more wise and knowledgable. By the time the get to about 14 they seem to be cottoning on the fact that mostly we are just pretending :-)

  11. 29 May, 2010 / 2:55 pm

    Oh gosh my daughter is ony 7! Really not looking forward to the teenage years at all!!! Great guest post :-)

    • 29 May, 2010 / 8:55 pm

      It WAS a great guest post – thank you very much for the swap Eggs, cream and honey, it was lovely having you x x

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