Last night there was a small incident, that it won’t go into to respect the privacy of the innocent, but it made me think back on my teen years, with my current perspective of a parent of teen daughters.
OMG! How did I survive my teens? To put things in context, my parents had but a small place in my teen years. My father was absent (returning when I was 18) and my mother abdicated from the role of strong parent. My older brother escaped the family home when I was 14. As a result my other brother, sister and I were pretty much left to do what we wanted, unsupervised. And we did.
It horrifies me now – both in terms of what I got up to and the risks I took. Boy, if I’d had me as a parent I would been locked up with the key thrown away. I mixed with a rough crowd – into alcohol and things by 15-16yo. I was very much on the periphery of this group, as a somewhat straight teen trying to be way cooler than I was. As an insecure girl, without a huge amount of self-esteem, it was risky place to be as I was joining in things I knew were not right and that I didn’t really want to do – but I didn’t want to be seen as the conservative, uncool person that was really me.
Now I see my daughters and worry. In some ways the risks are less – they are far more knowledgeable than I was. And they both generally have more confidence than I did. But the risks, though changes, are still very real. For instance, any slip ups now, and it can be immortalised on social media. The peer pressure is still there, as are woeful teen self-image issues, and alcohol and drugs are ever present.
So I tell my kids:
– tell me anything. I will always have known worse and I’d rather know.
– trust yourself and your gut instinct over anyone else.
– the friends you have in high school (as a teen) are generally friends by proximity only. As an adult you will choose your friends differently, based on what ‘you’ like, rather than a need to be part of something.
– accept that the teen years have a load of crap that is a part of it all. Very few remember their teen years as ‘the best of times’.
I know they will both grown into wonderful adults but I hope their paths are not too bumpy. You need some bumps to develop the ‘smarts’, but I hope they don’t have too many so they get damaged on the way through.
At the end of it all, I think I turned out OK – so my kids should be fine. But there were some rough, vulnerable years there.
I am ‘sweet’ 16 in the photo. Not sure what the hair was about though 😉