It’s said that writers should stick with writing about what they know. As a mom to two teenagers and a tween, I’m an expert at annoying youngsters emerging from childhood and on the cusp of adulthood.
My children believe I’m so talented at it I should share my wisdom. So here are twenty-five tips for driving a teenager stark, raving mad:
- Say Hello. Good Morning. Goodnight. Heck, any greeting will do.
- Ask, “How was your day?” (Add dear, honey, or sweetheart if you want a hair-trigger response.)
- Remind them that they have it so much easier than you did in your childhood.
- Ask them if they did their homework.
- Ask them again if they did their homework.
- Ask them one more time if they did their homework.
- When a younger sibling destroys one of their favorite CDs, begs them 100 times to play with them, or bugs them when they are on the phone, remind them they did the same exact thing to you when they were that age.
- Ask them how their love life is.
- Regale them with stories of your past teen heartbreaks.
- Say the word sex.
- Say the word condom.
- Say sex and condom in the same sentence.
- Warn them not to have sex until they are absolutely ready, which means after they’ve been married for 10 years or about to turn 40.
- Come up with a hundred, casual, lighthearted ways to ask them if they have experimented with sex, drugs, or alcohol.
- Tell them that you were once a teenager, and you understand what it feels like to be their age.
- Tell them how you feel about underage drinking, and drug use. Statistics are good at this time. So is a ready story about any relative or adult they know that had a problem with such substances.
- Talk to them about the dangers of drinking and driving. And driving and texting. And keep talking to them about it.
- Make sure they are very clear about how you feel about drinking and drugs.
- Remind them that if they should ever find themselves in any situation where they have been drinking or are about to get in a car with someone who is under the influence of anything stronger than coffee and chocolate, that they should call you or somebody they trust. You would rather get a call from them telling you that they made a mistake and need you, rather than get a call telling you that they are never coming home.
- Mention how you would like them to wait to have sex till they are emotionally ready. Again, remind them that married and 40 is a great idea.
- Another well-timed and oh-so-casual plug for birth control and protection against STDs is good now, too. (And maybe one more little teensy reminder about the whole 40 and married thing. Be careful. You don’t want to be too annoying. Pace yourself.)
- Let them know you don’t care if they hate you, you love them.
- Also let them know that if they hate you, that means you’re a good parent.
- You could also thank them for the compliment, but only if you are trying to elicit an advanced stage of annoyance.
- Tell them them that your parents annoyed you when you were their age and now you are so grateful that they did because it helped you become the amazing adult and parent you are now.
My kids assure me that if you follow any one of these tips, you too can be a full-fledged annoying parent like I am. Please feel free to add or omit to this list. Of course only you can truly know the best way to annoy your own child.
This piece was previously published on Kathy’s site, My Dishwasher’s Possessed!