I can’t remember a specific instance, but I’m sure that at some point during my teenage years I spoke poorly of my parents. Times when I was angry, frustrated, or just plain cranky. Times when I said things that I didn’t mean and certainly wouldn’t have ever said to their faces.
I was never the note-passing kind, so these moments of unfiltered stupidity would have taken place either over the phone or in person. I would have made damn sure that there was no chance of being overheard.
Today’s teens communicate differently. They text, they tweet, they message each other across various platforms. They leave a trail. One that should be easily deleted, but a temporary trail nonetheless. A discussion about this recently got me thinking about some of the brilliant things teenagers do and their complete surprise when consequences follow.
We all want to get along with our teens, but sometimes they make it tough. In the interest of facilitating peaceful co-existence I’ve come up with a list of things for teenagers to keep in mind next time they are feeling brilliant. Some are things I wish that I had thought of twenty + years ago, some are lessons that I wish our teen would learn. Since this is intended as a public service and not public shaming I won’t divulge which are which.
1. If you are going to text something bad about somebody that is known to routinely check your text messages, delete them after sending. (probably saw that one coming)
2. If we say we need to check something in your room, don’t run up there as fast as you can. It tells us you are hiding something.
3. If you are not allowed to attend a concert, party, or other social function, don’t pick that night to ask to sleep over a friend’s house. Particularly a friend that is known to have less than ideal parental supervision.
4. You didn’t lose track of time. You’ve checked a device that has the time on it fourteen times since you started reading this list.
5. If you plan on swearing up and down that you didn’t eat/drink the last of something, don’t leave the wrapper/packaging sitting on top of the garbage can. Especially not the garbage can in your room.
6. If you are going to spend eight hours cleaning your room, but ask to have your phone with you to listen to music, don’t post twenty seven things on Facebook. Also, make your room look slightly different.
7. Don’t plan on wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt all day and then think you are going to crank up the air conditioning in your room. It’s August. Dress appropriately. The inverse shall be true this winter.
8. If you say you are with somebody, but aren’t, make sure they are aware that they are your alibi. Especially if there is a good chance we may run into them.
9. If your grades are good, your room is clean, and your manners are proper, your level of freedom will increase exponentially.
10. A conservative estimate would put you at 30% as clever as you think you are. The fact is, we know a lot more about what you are doing than you think. Most of it we will let go. Some we won’t. Don’t presume to know which is which because we aren’t always sure.
Feel free to share this with any teenagers that may benefit. I think that these modifications should resolve a great deal of strife, but if you have any others, please add them in the comments section. We are all in this together.