Some of the (well) hidden perks of having a teenager
We have two teenagers in the house at the moment and in September we’ll have three (actually four if you count the visiting Spanish student).
If you mention the word teenager in polite company you are often met with knowing grins and a raised eyebrow, or looks of concerned pity. Probably because all adults were teenagers at some point in their lives (contrary to contemporary popular teenage opinion) and so we vaguely remember how insufferable we were then ourselves.
Or maybe it was our parents who really were the awful ones and we were simply rebelling as we had no alternative? (Obvious irony here incase you didn’t notice).
Transitioning from childhood into adulthood with increasing responsibility and independence is a tumultuous time of life. Of all the ages in my own history, the teen years is one that would be on the bottom of my time-travel-to-the-past wish list.
In any event, teenagers get a bad rap, but to be brutally honest some of that is justified (eye-roll, eye-roll, pout, frown). I usually don’t appreciate the verbal and physical outworkings of their developing independence. Like the smart-alec comments or the after 11pm driving around collections from discos/rehearsals/events.
However, on one of these drives, when it was just me and a teen in the car, I noticed something that was actually really nice, we had a proper conversation! Driving is brilliant for that isn’t it? Somehow, because you’re not actually looking at one another, there’s a freedom in what gets talked about and all sorts of topics bubble up to the surface. I find it’s the perfect time to have a heart-to-heart and find out about the latest personal drama. Also they can’t escape so you have their full attention in case you need to impart some nugget of parental wisdom.
It occurred to me how nice this was, that my children are growing up and we have conversations on a more adult level. We share more of the same humour and they are great company on one-one-one outings.
It got me thinking about all the hidden perks of having a teenager. There are a few, and although they are kept well-hidden at times, when they do arise, they are great!
One perk is that they are now at an age when earning a bit of cash through babysitting and other odd jobs is possible, so they can buy their own trendy outfits which you can then borrow yourself. That’s two perks in fact. Now that my daughter is taller than me, I can finally borrow her clothes and her clothes are newer and a
bit lot more trendy than mine.
She’s also great at make-up and hair as her knowledge is vast – thanks to YouTube, so I have my own personal beauty consultant at home although you wouldn’t know it from looking at me.
I have been busy lately with a college course and so I’ve used this time as an excuse to not be able to do much housework. Teenagers are very handy for throwing a vacuum cleaner around the house and for cooking bangers and mash (with no veg) at short notice.
Teenagers are very smart and know everything so whenever you’re stuck with an ignorant TV remote you only need to find the nearest 13 year old for all your troubles to disappear.
You can go on long walks up big mountains and they can keep up with your pace. In fact usually they now can climb higher and walk further than you. (That is if they want to be with you, if they don’t that’s ok too because they are old enough for you to leave them at home).
They introduce you to new places that you have never been to and hope to never visit again – like the body piercing shop.
Teenagers are good for you too, in MANY ways. You develop patience as you teach them how to drive.
They keep you humble – reminders of how you are failing as a parent occur almost on a daily basis. Whether they tell you outright or you just reach that conclusion yourself – there are plenty of opportunities for you to wonder where on earth you’re going wrong.
They teach you to appreciate hugs. I do miss the baby cuddles, I’m hardly allowed to touch them. My hand may not under any circumstances ruffle the boy’s fringe. So when they spontaneously give you a hug it’s a pure golden moment and you’re loathe to let go.
They make you sentimental. Nowadays I am seldom allowed to take their photo so I have to resort to ones of their backs or ancient baby ones (like this adorable one below – weren’t they lovely?).
There are plenty of things I miss about the way they used to be.
However, I love this age too, I loved them since they were born, naturally, but this stage is a lot of fun. I’m learning as I go, parenting is often all about experimentation and faking it until you make it. It’s a wonder to me that we do ultimately make it sometimes.
I asked other parents for some more ideas on how their teenagers are useful and here are the replies I got back:
Beth: They’re very handy to help out with technology queries as they seem to know everything. Twinderelmo.co.uk
Emma: There are so many perks to parenting teens not least as parents you can be spontaneous and go out for a meal or to the pub in peace! They can also cook you dinner! emmaand3.com
Rosie: You can definitely do more when they’re older. Me and my 13 yo go triathlon swim training together. I used to hate taking him swimming when he was tiny – no fun but love it now! busymumlifestyle.co.uk
Nellie: There’s no need to switch the telly or lights on as they don’t know how to switch them off.
Whilst they’re good with tech I often find I need to “ask for a friend” to get assistance.
Every day is a school day and their homework is a steep learning curve for you.
They laugh at risqué things and then look shocked, as big and tough as they think they are.
Over 18: They’re not morning people so when they roll in at ridiculously early morning o’clock they’re fabulous at reminding you of all the nights they didn’t sleep, telling you they love you and smiling for no reason.
Some of them can drive.nelliepompoms.co.uk
Megan: They are handy for walking the dog (also an excuse for them to sneak out and meet boys!) My teen quite likes cooking and will often make a meal or at least some dessert at the weekends (She is v good at apple crumble). She’s very good company on a shopping trip and searingly honest about my fashion choice. trulymadlykids.co.uk
Becky: My son discusses current affairs with me now he is in his teens and he really does have some refreshing and interesting ideas. It is like talking to a peer but he is coming to things with fresh perspective – wonderful! eatsimply.co.uk
Carly: They are handy for ‘baby sitting’ younger siblings! momoftwolittlegirls.com
Kate: They can help carry and reach stuff and no more ‘kids only’ tv! Also, I absolutely love going out for dinner with my twins now as their conversation and banter is fab! (When they put their phones down) modernmum.net
Amy: Mine has been a big help entertaining his baby sisters so as I can get stuff done! mamamighalls.com
Tracey: They help the younger ones with their increasingly difficult homework!! www.packthepjs.com
Laura: My 15 year old is useful for entertaining the youngest three while I shower. I no longer have to shower with an audience – bonus! fivelittledoves.com
Carla-Marie: They are great babysitters when mummy and daddy need some “me” time haha mybump2baby.com
Mandi: We can now share clothes and shoes! Plus shopping with teens is much more fun than with toddlers although a lot more expensive! www.bigfamilyorganisedchaos.com
Natasha Jayne: My 13 yr old is into musicals and music as much as I am. We have been to a gig together and are off to the theatre later this year. It’s so much fun (when she’s in a good mood) mummyandmoose.co.uk
Sarah: You can send them to the shops for you if you’ve run out of milk and my daughter is also very good at doing my hair especially Dutch braids and using curling tongs. kippersandcurtains.com