A parents’ guide to bringing up teenagers – by teenagers

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Monday 30th April 2012

What a brilliant idea. As parents scratch their heads in puzzlement about their teenagers, two 17 year old girls have written a new guide to help them navigate their way through the tricky teenage years.

Louise Bedwell and Megan Lovegrove (above), who are both sixth formers at Nonsuch High School for Girls in Cheam, spent six months researching their book. It’s called Teenagers Explained: A Manual for Parents by Teenagers and not only is it full of sage advice, but it tackles everything from social networking and mobile phones to friends, clothes and messy bedrooms. All the things that make parents tear their hair out, in fact.

Above all, the two girls reckon that three things are crucial when it comes to understanding teenagers – communication, understanding and compromise.

“We wanted it to be a real ‘tell it like it is’ manual from teenagers’ perspective,” says Louise. “Teenagers can feel awkward and self-conscious and that can make it difficult for them to talk about sensitive issues so they end up bottling things up, which makes them stressed and moody.

“It can lead to those awful tense moments and stand-offs, usually followed by big emotional explosions which end up in blazing rows. Parents need to read the signs – there are times to talk and times not to. But teens also have to realise that their parents are usually only asking out of concern and in your best interest.”

So, if you’ve got a teenager in the house, here are some tips from Louise and Megan:

  1. Listen to us. Pay attention to what we say. Don’t ask questions about stuff we’ve just told you as it feels like you don’t care.
  2. Chat a lot. It doesn’t matter what it’s about.
  3. Bribery by means of food (brownies always go down well) is a good idea, from encouraging to talk with you or to reward them for doing schoolwork.
  4. Don’t patronise. Treat your teen as a fellow adult (when we deserve it).
  5. Support us emotionally, whether we need a big bear hug or someone to moan to.
  6. Don’t try and dictate our lives. Be there to guide us through.
  7. Don’t laugh at your teen, whether at their choice of clothes, the way they act or the fact that everything is one big drama. Try to see things from a teenage perspective.
  8. Pretending to be “down with the kids” is not funny, especially in public or in front of our friends!
  9. Don’t pressure your teen to bring their boy/girlfriend home (it will make us more likely not to).
  10. Lastly, cliché, but it will get better. Every nice, civilised person you know was once a moody teenager.

Teenagers Explained: A Manual for Parents by Teenagers by Louise Bedwell and Megan Lovegrove (White Ladder Press, £9.99)

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