Communicating with teens



Daughter one is hovering between options – philosophy or global politics. However, whenever I start talking about global events she complains that I am always talking about politics. I call it homework support. She calls it dictatorship. I think the trouble is that most of my conclusions are not entirely positive, which is not very encouraging. I need to embrace the current global instability and party.  I need to look on it as an “opportunity” and not a potential disaster on all fronts. I’m just finding it hard to think of eg the North Korean situation as an opportunity kind of thing.

So I’m kind of hoping she doesn’t go for global politics. It might make for a quieter life, though philosophy is no bed of roses. Particularly with regard to animal rights. We are having a bit of a tussle over vegetarian politics in the kitchen. As soon as the secondary school does the chicken farming video in around Year 8 everyone wants to go veggie and, due to the internet, they come armed with a huge array of material to back them up. Teenagers are very persistent at the things they want to be persistent about. Obviously not the other stuff, like picking up clothes. I know, I know. I’m generalising. I am sure there are some very good clothes picker-uppers among the teen group and daughter two goes through phases of ultra-tidiness when she re-organises her entire room so it looks like a luxury suite. But the rest of the time it ressembles more an art workshop, with piles of clothes and bits of furniture all over the place.

In the midst of this chaos and the post-back-to-school admin deluge, stands only son – a paragon of virtue, always keen to help me out and “reduce your stress, mum”, although in the space of just one week back at school he has mislaid both his school trousers and his shoes, meaning he had to go into school in shorts that are a bit too big and brown boots which are a bit too small because at 8.43am there was no other solution. This has added to the dressing pressures of a morning since daughter one now doesn’t have to wear a uniform, triggering a 7.35am clothes crisis daily.

Only son has been focusing on his education, teaching himself via the Wonder Quest website. I heard about it in a newspaper and got him onto it as he loves minecraft. It intersplices fart jokes and the like with sessions on volume and capacity against the hallucinogenic minecraft backdrop. The perfect educational tool for six year olds. The other day only son was all ears when they were doing a grammar session and has now taken to asking me, whenever I say, “just a second” [which is often], “is that a figurative second or a literal one, mum?”

This parenting thing is all very well when it just involves small babies and toddlers. Although it feels at the time that that is the Everest of parenting. It’s when they start asking you questions back that the real test begins.

ps Still without wifi…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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