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A Parent's Guide to Understanding Teenagers!

Updated on April 3, 2010

"Shut up, Mum, you're so annoying... So can I have that £10?"

During my 17 years of existence on this planet, I've managed to pick up on a few things, if anything: that, surprisingly, McDonald's has wormed its way into even the smallest corners of the world, that cats aren't so partial to citrus fruits, and that teenagers can be an absolute handful for parents. So I chose to write a hub which delves into the mind of a teenager to help parents better understand and, for want of a better word, 'cope' with their teenage monsters. And who better to write this hub then a teenager herself. I warn you that I will be stereotyping teenagers and refer to them as though they were an animal within this hub, using phrases like "If it becomes angry, keep as still as possible and don't turn your back," but I figured that's ok, because I'm one myself...

Now, before I start explaining the deep dark world of what it is to be this age, there's just one thing I struggle to understand myself: why don't adults understand us when they've been a teenager themselves? It could be, as somone once suggested to me, because times have changed and today's parents don't know what it is to be a teenager in the 21st century. New technology has affected the way we spend our time; most of us play on the Wii rather than playing ball in the street, for example. My theory, however, is that once over the age of 25, the human brain wipes out all memories of this horrific period of our lives... Sound fair?

So, on with the nitty-gritty...

Mood Swings

Do you ever find your little angel jabbering away to you, laughing at your jokes and then suddenly morphing into a gremlin with a face that could trip them up? I'm sure we're all aware of a little thing called mood swings, caused by sudden chemical changes within the hormones. Of course, not all of us get them, and for those who do get them, they can range from sharply exhaling and walking out the room to turning red with rage and throwing a chair across the room. And all for no reason. That's the important part. For no reason. Don't take it to heart when we snap at you when you ask how our day went - it's not you, it's us (unless you have actually done something to upset us...).

I am one of the unlucky ones who gets mood swings from time to time, and for me it tends to be one moment I'm feeling happy, and the next moment I'm sad. To the point where I could cry. My parents ask me if I'm alright and I have to walk away before I cry. Of course, from their point of view it looks like they've done something to upset me, but they really haven't. Not only are mood swings guilt-provoking from other's points of view, but they can be confusing, scary and stressful for the teenager his/herself.

The Transformation

Not to sound too sorry for myself, but being a teenager is (as you may remember if you're under 25) a difficult time both physically and mentally. We begin to have our own opinions of the world, our own dress sense, our own taste in music, our own wants and desires, we get our first part-time job, we discover a little thing called 'human rights'...and we discover the opposite sex. Girls begin their periods, boys' voices break - their bodies are changing. It's different, scary, exciting, new...and some adapt to the change better than others.

I'm a teenager. Quick! Ask me anything while I know it all...

Ah, yes, and one more thing: we begin to realise that our parents aren't always right. Yes, that's right, we discover that you lied to us about carrots making us see in the dark...and that eating bread crusts would give us curly hair...lies, all lies! (I still don't have night vision and have eaten carrots for 14 years!)

So we begin to play around with this fact; the fact that parents aren't always right. We feel that because we're at college and it's all fresh in our minds, we, more often than not, are right and you parents are wrong. We develop our argumental skills (which, in our defence, are actually an important skill to have in life) and practice them on the people closest to home: the parents. "You can't tell me what to do," "I'm almost an adult!", "I have the right to my own opinion," "I have the right to go out..." Sound familiar?

We become invloved in our own little world. We've never had 'real' responsibility before, so now, when we have a job, a partner, qualifications, are learning to drive, have descovered drink...we are invincible! ...And then the parents come along and burst our bubble by telling us to tidy our room and do our homework. Hm. It makes us feel like a child again, wouldn't you agree?

The Laid-Back Approach

Despite what parents may think, we teenagers do actually realise that sitting on our arses and chatting on the Internet won't get us anywhere. Yet we do just that. I and about 40 of my friends recently joined a group on Facebook called: "I really should be revising right now...but screw it, 'Scrubs' is on!" We have this amazing ability to relax and let things blow past us...some may call it 'laziness', but I'll stick to calling it "this amazing ability". We have not yet encountered the true stresses of life (bills, mortage, caring for children 24/7, a full-time job) and so we don't really bat an eye-lid at such issues.

The Stress of College

Getting the grades

At 17 years old, when someone turns to you and says, "So, here's a piece of paper. Write down what university you want to go to, what grades you'll need to get there, what subjects you want to study, what job you want to do and what subjects you'll need to do that. Hand it in by Friday," it can be most daunting and most stressful thing we've encountered yet. So on top of the fact that we have to plan out the rest of our life within a week and work hard for the next few years in order to get those grades, parents nagging at you to can be the last straw. Suddenly going out and letting your hair down with all your mates doesn't seem so unreasonable, does it? Even when you've got a messy bedroom at home.

Being bullied

Being bullied can be the worst thing in the world. If you have to spend 5 out of 7 days a week in a place you consider to be nothing less of a hell hole, where all that happens is you get tormented by the other kids, home can be the only safe place to go. This is where parental support (which doesn't involve nagging about that messy room!) comes in. Some develop physically faster than others, and so if you're one of the slower ones, you could be rejected socially, cruel as that may seem. And when that happens, worrying about clearing up their room is the last thing on their mind. See my hub for further information on how to cope with bullying.

Scaring little old ladies...

I apologise right here and now for frightening little old ladies when a group of us rowdy teenagers hyperly come bounding down the street towards her. Little old lady: we mean no harm. We come in peace. I'm sorry if our loudness and the fact that we like to wear our hoods up sometimes scares you... We are just enjoying life while we can, as I'm sure you did, too.

So. There it is. The teenager: a highly opinionated type of human; most commonly found in groups of 3 or more on street corners; nocturnal; preys mainly on parents and old ladies; lives in a messy environment; needs cleaning out once a day. Warning: do not make direct eye contact - can be deadly...

Kevin becomes a teenager!


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    • DaniellaWood profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      Thanks NewYorker! I'm glad it entertained you. Haha the 25 thing was just meant as a joke really. But thanks for the encouragement :) Daniella

    • NewYorker profile image


      8 years ago from New York, NY

      This is amazing. This is a complete WORK OF ART! I work with teenagers all day, and this is how I sense them. I do have to disagree with you on one thing though, I am 27 and I still remember how it was being a teen. That's why it's so easy for me to communicate with you monsters.

      But still, WORK OF ART! Gave me a good laugh too.

      - NY.

    • DaniellaWood profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      I think you're absolutely right, hypnodude - teenagers have changed since my parents' generation and so they find it difficult to understand what it is to be a teenager in the 21st century. Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, Daniella.

    • hypnodude profile image


      8 years ago from Italy

      Great hub Daniella. You're definitely right, over 25 years we usually erase and forgot, that's why it's so difficult to communicate with teenagers. But also this is due to the fact that when I was a teenager some twenty years ago I was pretty different from the teenagers I see these days. This I guess it's another reason.

      Go on writing this kind of hubs as I guess they are very useful. Parents must take care of their children, and sometimes this means even from themselves, hubs like this help understanding.


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