Like you have time to read a book.
Parenting a teenager is a fulltime job, because being a teenager is also a fulltime job. Sure, they may busy themselves with school, sports, and text-messaging, but their true raison-d’etre is to perpetuate their teenager-ness 24/7. Which means while you are slacking off doing things like breathing and living, your teenagers are doing things like plotting and scheming. (They will throw in some sleeping as well, what with being teenagers and all.) Because their lives are all about them, and yours is all about working, cooking, cleaning, paying the taxes, and still finding time for Dancing With The Stars, they have the upper hand.
That’s where this book comes in.
Were you ever a lifeguard? Me neither. As Woody Allen once said, I don’t tan; I stroke. But as any lifeguard will tell you, the biggest threat to their personal safety is not a riptide or a shark. It’s a swimmer in trouble. Yes, the very person they are dedicated to help will, in their own panic and hysteria, threaten to destroy them both. Sound familiar? That’s because you’re the parent of a teenager. So how do you survive? In general, there is a Plan A and there is a Plan B.
Plan A is an intricate, well thought out series of rules, chores, and boundaries designed to keep your teen in line.
Plan B is what to do when Plan A blows up in your face.
But mostly, this book is not about parenting teenagers. It’s about how to survive parenting teenagers. It won’t be easy, but since you’re reading this it’s probably too late to back out now.
It may take a whole village to raise a child, but it takes a book to raise a teenager. Because, well, Teenagers Suck! Before we jump right into the book, you should familiarize yourself with these:
]The Ten Commandments Of Parenting Teenagers
1. You are always right. And if you’re not always right, it’s because your parents messed you up when you were a kid.
2. Praise in public, criticize in private. Most people do the opposite. Don’t be like most people.
3. Yes, you do have to tell them a thousand times. Stop counting and get over it. Now tell them again.
4. Your teens are smarter than you think, and stronger than you realize. So don’t go acting all superior just because you have wrinkles and credit cards.
5. Remember they are growing up a lot faster than you did. Advantage, you. Growing up fast is way overrated.
6. When they really screw up is when they need you most. If your parents comforted you in those situations, remember how good it felt? And if they didn’t, remember how much worse it made you feel?
7. Their defeats are 50% yours, but their victories are 100% theirs. Not exactly sure what that means, it showed up in a fortune cookie. But it feels true.
8. Remind yourself, they won’t be teenagers forever. Someday you will look back on these years and laugh. Definitely. Probably. Maybe.
9. Love them enough to let them hate you. Don’t be their friend. Be their parent. Friends come and go. You’re all-in.
10. Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you bleed internally.
(Bonus Commandment) You can do this.
Table Of Contents
Chapter 1: Hormones: How the Simplest Creatures Become Criminally Insane
Hormones: How the Simplest Creatures Become Criminally Insane
A Boner-Fide Problem
Taking Matters Into His or Her Own Hands (aka Masturbation)
Going with the Flow—Managing Menstruation
Some Dry Humor about Wet Dreams
Lifting and Separating the Truth About Bras
Pornography: The ABCs of XXX
The Teen Diet: Two Pizzas and a Bowl of Cereal
Waking Up at the Crack of Noon
Chapter 2: Mars, Venus, & Teentown
The Human ATM
In Teen We Trust…NOT!
“Home, James”—Your Life as the Chauffeur
Picking your Battles #1—When to Make Peace
Picking Your Battles #2—When to Go to War
Phrases Your Parents Used on you that no Longer Work, Not Even a Little Bit, On
Understanding (and Surviving) Peer Pressure
Chapter 3: You’re Not Leaving the House Looking Like That!
The Teen Wardrobe/Disrobe
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow (You Hope!)
Make-Up or War Paint?
You Pierced What?
Ridiculous—Think Before you Ink
Chapter 4: Say What?—What we Have Here is a Failure to Communicate
The A-to-Z’s of How to Talk So Your Teen Will Listen
The A-to-Z’s of How to Listen So Your Teen Will Talk
And Now, a Moment from our Sponsors
No Laughing Matter—Serious Teen Issues
Chapter 5: Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag…of House Rules
Chores & Responsibilities
Monitoring the Monitor Part 1: Computers
Monitoring the Monitor Part 2: TV & Video Games
The Clash of the Curfew
Mission Impossible: How to Get a Teen to Clean their Room
Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare: The Driver’s License!
School Daze: How to Get your Kids to Focus on School
Cell Phone Culture
Privacy (a.k.a. Snoop, Dog)
Chapter 6: Relationships Between Drama Queens & Kings
When Their Friendships Just Don’t “Clique”
Co-Ed Sleepovers—An Actual Conversation
Breaking Up is Hard to Do (And Even Harder on You)
The Truth Hurts (So Teens Lie Instead)
The Disposable Lifestyle
With Friends Like Those, Who Needs a Bottle of Scotch? You Do!
Chapter 7: Special K and Other Drugs: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
Five Degrees of Drug Separation
Teen Nightlife: Parties & Prom & Clubs
Dealing with Drinking
Putting Out the Fire and Curbing Cigarettes
Chapter 8: Sex: From Hanging Out to Hooking Up!
The First Time: A Relatively True Story
Talking the Talk: The Birds, The Bees, And Beyond
Homosexuality: Lesbos and Trannies and Gays, Oh My!
Chaperoning Your Dating Teen
“Going Out with Someone”—What it Means Through the Ages
Chapter 9: Rebel Yell
Letting Them Go (aka The Beginning of the End…or the End of the Beginning…or What Exactly?)
Giving Up (Some) Control—A Modern Day Fable
To Shrine or Not to Shrine—How Long Can You Go Before Throwing All Their Crap Away
Endgame: The Sky’s the Limit
Appendix: Reference Books To Complement Teenagers Suck