What you should have taught your teenage son or daughter

Ah, the beautiful years of being a teenager. They’re the years where everyone wants to be someone – where they want to prove something about themselves because they believe they know the world in their little telescopes. They’re the years where the flowers have begun to bloom and the stir in the woods become more hostile and virile. Oh yes, we all seem to remember these strange years like an itch behind our necks – it’s always something that makes our skin turn pink just thinking about.

Civilisation is getting older, and so is the human notion of societal and self-actualisation needs in this fortunate little scope we call North America. As Mother Nature gets older, the societal and economic disparity only gets worse, and our living situations follow.

The birds and the bees have always been the topic everyone likes to joke about. What about the other stuff? When they finally step into the dark ages of what we know as “reality”, it’s simply not enough to explain what goes where, because we’re changing. Kids can look things up on their own now, and probably know fountains more than you do with the information age, and all that bull shit technology companies like to feed into our consumer brains.

What do we tell our kids?

  1. When I was your age… Adolescents don’t steer without a driver. It’s always nice to know what kind of mistakes people made so we don’t end up in some ditch, hooked on Ambien like a drying dish rag. So what if you lost your virginity when you were 14, or you had your first joint when you were 16. Did you regret it? Do you regret it now? What were you thinking? Let’s not kid ourselves here – our kids have probably done a lot of things we’d lose days of sleep over without our knowledge. You might as well tell them to play it safe and not get themselves killed. The earlier you start with your stories, the less it seems awkward to them and the more they’ll listen.
  2. How the hell does a bank work? At some point it’s nice to know how to make money for ourselves. They’re still kids – they’ll spend it on things you’ll scream are utterly useless or inappropriate, but the fact of life is they’ll know how cash flow works. Learning how banking worked, though, was a bit of a chore as a kid since I was only introduced via having a bank account set up. Knowing how interest worked and whatnot, and how to save money and be economical, came from being a heavily conservative person.
  3. “Your grandmother was a pretty woman with a silver tongue.” People should never lose sight of their roots, regardless of how painful it might be to talk about it. Your kids deserve to know what it was like when your parents were around, and why you were different or similar. Were you abused? Tell your kids how much better off they are because you grew a backbone to protect them. Were they involved in the second world war and came back a veteran? Tell them what they’d like for their upcoming birthday. History is what shapes the next world, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
  4. They need a parent and not just another friend. Let’s face the facts. You probably hated it when your parents busted you when you sneaked out to the movies with your friends and you gave that high pitched “oh my god! I was so worried about you! Did you remember to wear clean underwear?”, but had your friends not made a big scene about you being a Momma’s boy, you probably would have shoved it off and thanked your mom for handing you an umbrella during that conversation, because she so happened to have checked the weather before you left. She cared about you. Be wary of your kid’s surroundings, of course, but if it has to be done, it has to be done. That being said, kids don’t need you to fight with the principal because they got a C when they procrastinated all night the day before. They ought to learn something out of it, not find a Get out of Jail Free card under their sleeves.
  5. If all you care about is getting out of school, at least finish what you’re going for. The job economy as of yet really sucks. It’s a little nerve-wracking when you start worrying about job security when you’re a university graduate. Honours students become unemployed or work in mundane factory jobs. It’s just not the same anymore. Thinking about dropping out? How do you plan on living on your own when jobs barely look at people without an educational degree? No, you can’t live at your parent’s house (unless by choice and circumstance) at the age of 30.
  6. Sex is sex. We’re animals. We’re hormone factories by the time we’re teenagers, and I bet a horse that none of us understood that feeling we got when we became more aggressive, more attuned to being “attractive”, or less inhibited when we were faced what allured us. It’s a biological necessity, and it’s futile to try to subside it. We wanted it. Remember those little things we said that made everyone giggle like morons in gym class? Fast forward a few years – kids know where to get porn, thanks to our drive to make it more accessible. We’re vile in our own ways, but only because we have to. What you do with this statement is completely up to you – if you’re conservative, it’s a sacred practice, and if you’re liberal, get them to mate like monkeys. No one cares what you do behind closed doors – just tell them to use condoms for god’s sake and don’t let them out cold when they realised they did something wrong. This isn’t something they can fix with “say sorry to daddy!”
  7. Monogamy was a economical defense mechanism that turned out to be a sacred practice. Mating with 10 different people isn’t very good for situations when you can only support families of 2 children and a set of parents. Eventually they too may end up in this situation. The feeling to stray is hard to understand unless they know the psycho-physiology behind it. But what is fidelity, anyways? Our mentality of it will be different from theirs. After all, you can thank the 70s for the sexually-liberal media.
  8. I tell you playing guitar is useless, but don’t stop playing it. Remember the whole claim that 13% of music graduates end up in medical school? Competition is strange and fluctuating. People want to see different colours. Science majors just doing biomedical sciences with nothing on their plate but school and no work experience are pretty lacklustre and not worth talking about. Don’t do that to your kid. If he or she wants to play soccer, play in the school’s marching band, join a camp or work as a stock boy/girl at the closest discount grocery store, let them. It’ll do nothing but help them in the future, because living a sterile life is pretty dull and uninteresting.
  9. Don’t laugh at other people unless it’s out of good spirit and you’re being sensitive. At this age, all I remember was people spouting the word “faggot” and “gay” to everyone. I was guilty of it too. My guess is the only reason why these were insults is the whole “unholiness” of homosexuality and whatnot. Listening to stories about lives closeted away is painful to say the least, and it’s really our fault. No one deserves to live a life full of lies. And don’t laugh or pick on quiet people – there’s a reason why they’re not saying anything. They’re either plotting the next apocalypse in their little silent minds, or their mother is in the hospital with leukemia. Or both. If someone wore the same shirt twice, there’s probably a reason for it. Laughing at someone being poor is as indecent and insensitive as laughing at someone whose legs were blown off when they stood to close to a shrapnel.
  10. On the note as above, if someone comes out to you and says they like you, answer sensitively. It’s something a lot of us wouldn’t do, but we ought to teach our kids about it. Sexual freedom has become a lot more common now, and leaving your kids to believe in your little blanket, “Christian*” ways is only going to hold them back into a minority in the upcoming years of liberalism. It’s being decent, just like how you’d refuse a dish of goat curry from a dacoit, or a plate of rabbit lasagna from the mother of a mafia leader. You’d be stupid to do otherwise. Instead of trying to expose them to the world, tell them to answer like they are being served a dish – if you like it, take it happily, and if you don’t, tell them you’re not into it and thank them for their thoughts. They’re not likely to pursue if you’re stoic enough.
  11. Don’t let people dictate happiness for you. No teacher, friend, parent or stranger should be able to tell you what you like or don’t like. Don’t like the smell of cigarettes? Get a fucking brain and don’t light that cigarette. Did your friends call you a pussy? You are what you eat! (Or if you’re a girl, at least you know you won’t die of COPD or small cell carcinoma as quickly as they will). The one thing I still feel proud of today is telling my “friends” to “fuck off” when they all called me a “faggot” (yep, that word again) when I carried a trumpet on the school bus. I don’t regret doing that at any point in my life.
  12. Your friends from high school will disappear from your history eventually. They’ll probably forget who you are by the time you’re 20, and you’ll forget who they are until something brings them to mind. It’s a sad truth, but they’re temporary, and so are you. Have fun for now, but remember your “best friends forever” bullshit is really bullshit. Even if you go to the same university or college, you’re not going to see them again.
  13. This will be the best years of your life. Live like it. We all whine about living in some fucked up world when our parents won’t let us do anything. Reality is, parents aren’t as strict as a boss that controls your salary. Live freely and learn things you wanted to, like sports or instruments or languages. You’ll never get that opportunity to do it again.

* “Christian” is in quotations because, realistically speaking, adverseness to homosexuality is not really because a book dictated it, arguably, but because our parents didn’t tolerate it, and their parents didn’t, etcetera. That, and I bet at one point in your life you were curious.