Oh, I am thrilled to be relaunching this series about what those with smalls imagine the teen years to be like. And even more thrilled to kickstart it with the wonderful Charlie from Mess & Merlot. I’ve followed Charlie’s blog for a while now and love her way with words that tell it how it is. Charlie has an ability to write in a way that just makes you feel like you’ve just sat down for a cup of coffee with your best friend and a had a much needed feel good catch-up. She is realistic, honest and one damn good baker too! So with no further ado, I hand you over to Charlie!
1. I know it’s a long way off but what are you dreading about your children becoming teenagers? Online gaming/internet scares me. I can already see similarities between myself and my Mother when I think about the conversations I have with my eight-year-old on the subject. E.g. while I find it infuriating to have to repeatedly explain to Mum the difference between sending something via Messenger and ACTUALLY POSTING IT ON FACEBOOK where the entire world can read it (deep breaths), I am equally clueless when it comes to things like connecting with other gamers online and the security issues that could come with that. Sexting, cyber-bullying, grooming and the like are always a worry once children are too old for Kids YouTube!
Body Image- another biggy. Children are far more body conscious these days and from a much earlier age. I do my best to encourage a healthy view of body image in my children (both of whom have completely different builds) and we regularly discuss how everyone is different etc, etc but I know that as they get older this subject can become very complicated.
Safe Sex/Pregnancy- I think this is a pretty justifiable concern right? Whether you’re the mother of boys or girls, this is probably something you’re going to gain a few grey hairs over once they start dating.
Driving- Well I mean, ANYTHING could happen.
Life changing decisions- A-Levels or College? University or Internship? Gap year travelling or get a job? Live at home or emigrate to Tibet? I would like to think that we’ll discuss all of these as a family while Teenager takes on board the wisdom of The Elders but who am I kidding? I know, I know they need to be independent and make their own mistakes in life but can’t we just wait until they’re at least in their 30s?
2. What are you looking forward to? Despite all of the above, I am excited about watching them grow into young adults and spending time with them on a more ‘grown up’ level. I really hope that they might actually want to hang out with The Old Dear occasionally , even if I do have to bribe them with the promise of a new pair of trainers in return!
3. As a parent, what issues do you imagine are important when raising teens? As with every stage of parenting, we want to guide our children through life in the best possible way. From the very early stages of teaching right from wrong or the importance of sharing to the more grown-up issues of compassion or self-respect. The teenage years are a time where I imagine encouraging positive traits e.g. self-worth, respect for others, morals and a positive view on life will be invaluable in helping them grow into a well-rounded adult. In my head that’s the dream, in reality, we’ll probably be dealing with daily hormone-induced Kev & Perry-esque meltdowns over short skirts and curfews.
4. What kind of parent do you think or hope (!) you’ll be when your children are in their teen years? I’d love to think that when that time comes my kids will feel happy talking to me about anything that’s on their minds. No parent likes the idea of their child being upset but I imagine it’s much easier to get a five year old to open up to you than a fifteen-year-old to do the same. When we’re teenagers we know everything right? I certainly did anyway, the last person I would ever go to for advice would have been my mother (sorry Mum!).
5. Is there anything you’d like to say to your own parents before your children become teens or were you an angel? Oh God, I look back now and realise just how much I got away with as a teenager! I wasn’t particularly rebellious but I had no concept of how much parents worry about something that may seem like no big deal to a teen. Heading ‘out’ with friends (Where? What friends? How long for?) is totally normal teenage behavior so why did my parents insist on knowing every detail? Of course, now I realise it was because they cared. Sorry Mum, again.
6. Is there any advice that you would give your children before they get to the teen stage? My kids lose interest in what I’m saying halfway through most sentences so the likelihood of them ever listening to me long enough to give them advice is very slim. To be honest I wouldn’t even know where to start – there is SO much advice I’d like to give them. I think as parents we generally try to bring our children up to be well-rounded, decent human beings. From an early age, we’re advising so hopefully by the time they reach the teen stage they’ll have the basics down.
‘Treat people how you would like to be treated’ is a really kid-friendly piece of advice that applies at every stage in our lives. It’s easy for them to understand even if it’s not always easy for them to put into practice! ‘Always imagine how you would feel if someone did/said that to you’. As a parent of young children, I hear a lot of ‘He said, She said’ type tales from the classroom so we get plenty of real life examples to discuss!
7. Do you envisage raising teens to be an easier stage than raising littles? *Buries head in sand. Pretends it’s never gonna happen*
Thank you so so much, Charlie, for taking the time to answer these. I felt myself nodding my way through so many of your answers. All the worries that you mention that I know I’m going through now are real. Communication is key through this stage for sure. It helps everything seem to run just that little bit smoother. I also love your answer to advice to your children before they get to teens. If we all treated everyone as we would like to be treated the world would be such a better place. That advice will stand them in good stead for the appropriate use of social media too. Oh, and I did have a little giggle about your conversations with your mum about the difference between Messenger and posting on Facebook – I think I may be that mum! Charlie, I think you’ve got this parenting malarkey nailed so I am sure you’ll breeze through the teen years. Come back to me on it, though, as genuinely interested in how right I reckon you will be!
Charlie’s links are below and if anyone else is interested in taking part in this series please get in touch.