When your children were little did you ever have anyone smile smugly and say “Just wait until they are teenagers?” Chances are that people said this to you so often that you began to dread the day your child turned 13. You started expecting them to suddenly morph from the cute and gorgeous child you knew and loved to their very bones, to a grumpy, sassy, eye-rolling, rule-breaking nightmare. Teenagers get a lot of bad press. Some of it is true some of the time but we think that, actually, teenagers are pretty awesome. Here’s why…
They’re so much fun
Teenagers know how to live life to the full. They don’t think about the boring grown-up reasons why not to do something. They can make you dance round the living room with the music turned up loud or wade into the sea with your clothes on. They’ve got a wicked sense of humour and can make you laugh until your sides hurt.
When they’re really into something, they are REALLY into it. They read about it, research it, debate it and get you thinking and talking about the causes closest to their hearts. Whether it’s gender equality, animal rights or why we need to act now to save our planet, teenagers can get you thinking. Teenagers have a very strong moral compass, that is not yet diluted by cynicism of the disappointments life can throw at you. So when they care about something they really care, and they can make you care too.
They’re full of optimism and determination
Teenagers face life full on and believe they can follow their dreams. While we are full of fears and worries about student debts, being saddled with a huge mortgage, the dangers lurking round every corner and the brutal force of the knocks life throws at us, teens are full of optimism and live in the now. They don’t worry so much about the potential problems that might lie in their path. They make plans to forge ahead and just go for it.
They fill your home with laughter and chatter
You might get peeved about the constant stream of teenage bodies hooting with laughter, singing at the tops of their voices and hovering up any food you had in the fridge. But face it, you know you’ll miss the noise, the giggles and even the teenage dramas when your child leaves home.
They can cook (and make you cups of tea)
They might use every pan in the house and cover every kitchen surface with mess but teens can cook. They can whip up batches of gorgeous cookies or even full meals. They can also make cups of tea and include you in the tea run.
They love (some of) the music, books and films that you love
Now they’re older there’s nothing lovelier than sharing some of the same passions. When your teen discovers a song, a book or a film you love it’s just awesome. Through their eyes you can remind yourself again of all the reasons why you were so passionate about them. Whether it’s watching The Breakfast Club together and remembering why it was your favourite movie as a teen or whether they love reading Jane Eyre so much that it moves you to re-read it and discover why you loved it all over again. There’s nothing like a shared passion to make you feel closer to your teen.
They can fix any techy problems you have
Remember feeling so frustrated when your parent couldn’t work out how to set the timer to record a programme on VHS and dismissing them as hopeless dinosaurs? Ahem – now the tables have turned and your teen is a whole lot more tech-savvy then you. Can’t figure out how to make an Instagram story? Your teen will know. Can’t make the new speaker play your Spotify playlist? Your teen will figure it out in a nano-second. They’re your on-hand technical wizards. Even if they do call you old-school for being so clueless.
They’re engaged and want to make the world a better place
Teens today are more politically engaged than ever before. With the rise of social media and rolling news, teenagers are more aware of the issues that affect them and are not afraid to take action and stand up for what they believe. Recent big political events, such as the Indy Ref and the EU referendum showed a higher percentage of young people voting than in decades before. When confronted with an important choice and when they believe that their voices and their votes matter, young people will stand up and be counted.
They get your adult jokes
Teens have a wicked sense of humour. They get what makes you snicker or smile when it comes to something laced with innuendo or something a bit risqué. Finally there’s someone in the house, other than your spouse, you can share quick-witted rude jokes with.
They can get to places by themselves
After so many years of being a glorified taxi-driver and responsible journey planner your teen can finally make their way to where they need to be in their own steam. Whether it’s catching a bus to head into town, hopping on a train to visit another city or driving themselves to appointments, it’s the first time you are off the hook to being the one who has to ferry them to and fro.
They make you so proud
It’s often when you see your teen through a different lens that you feel most proud of them. When you watch them being kind to their younger cousins, talking politely to their grandparents, chatting to a teacher at parent consultations or even just when you overhear them talking to a friend who really needs cheering up. You get a glimpse of the utterly awesome, wonderful human you have raised and your heart can burst with the pride you feel for how amazing they are.
Let’s hear it for the teens
Sure – teenagers can be moody, they can be self-centred, they can give you attitude that pushes all of your buttons but these traits don’t define them. We all know toddlers have tantrums but we don’t think that that is ALL they are. In fact, when you think back to the toddler years you remember your child as super cute, brilliantly funny and utterly gorgeous. Even if they did embarrass you by having a major meltdown in the frozen foods aisle one Tuesday. Similarly teenagers shouldn’t be reduced to the negative stereotypes that make up a tiny fraction of their beings. They’re awesome. Make sure you let them know it.