Sunday, June 13, 2010

Understanding your Teenager by Julia Buckley

Julia Buckley is a Chicago area writer.  Her first mystery, The Dark Backward, was released in June of 2006 and earned high praise from Crimespree and others; her next book, Madeline Mann, received glowing reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal.  (She sold two books in the Madeline series, which was never released by the publisher).  


Julia is a member of Sisters in Crime, MWA, and RWA.  She keeps a writer’s blog at on which she interviews fellow mystery writers; her website is  She is currently at work on a new mystery series featuring an amateur sleuth and English teacher. She also blogs at INKSPOT ( and POE’S DEADLY DAUGHTERS (


Understanding your Teenager
by Julia Buckley


For two years now I’ve lived under the same roof as a teenaged boy.  Needless to say, this is both a joy and a constant challenge.  I’ve developed some minimal understanding of my teen as time has passed (this does not, however, make me a teen expert).  However, I am happy to
share what little I’ve learned so that parents on the verge of the teen years might have a sense of what they’re facing.


Here are some tips and truisms:


1.  Your teen will rarely agree with you; this is almost a requirement .  It is somehow related to his honor.  However, if you assert an opinion and your teen mocks it as ridiculous, do not be surprised if the next day he states that it is HIS opinion, and he has no memory of you ever sharing it.


2.  The teen needs to feel superior, both to you and to her siblings and to the world in general.  There are few sentences that being with “I like” or “I am impressed by” and a whole lot of sentences that start with “I hate” and “You know what’s stupid?”


3.  Your teen sees you as the following things: meal provider, car driver, person who is “lame,” chore doer, nagger (when you want HIM to do chores), money giver, and general person who makes the house run.   Your teen will not be grateful for any of these roles that you play, but he will recognize that you play them.


4. Your teen does not particularly want to be seen with you in public.  You are, to be honest, shameful.  Your teen may tell you (as mine does) to go the far-away movie theatre so that no one in the audience might potentially recognize you as a family.  Teens like to be seen as independent organisms.


5. Your teen wants your love but won’t admit it.


6.  Your teen needs you to keep her in line, but really hates any criticism.  She will continually accuse you of showing favoritism to other siblings rather than admit to any wrongdoing.  Teens are masters of obfuscation.


7.  The average teen, like the average cat, would sleep for much of the day if you let him.


8.  Teens like junk food; it’s your job to get vitamins and minerals into their bodies.


9.  Until you make him or her get a job, your teen really will believe that money grows on trees. :)


10.  Your teen will be off at college before you know it, and then you’ll miss all of the things that drive you absolutely crazy now.


I know the strange contradictions of my son at this particular age.  In many ways, he’s more fun and more hilarious than he’s ever been.  In many other ways, he drives me to the brink of crazy town.


I guess the ultimate litmus test is to ask if you think your child knows that you love him and if in fact he loves you back.  If the answer is yes, then it makes all of the above a lot easier to bear.  


Ken Lewis said...

Do not lose heart, Miss Kitty. (Although it sounds like you haven't.) I raised five teenage boys and actually had two of them arrested during the process. My oldest, Shane, for Assault With A Hoover. He threw our vacuum cleaner at me when he was 18, and drunk, during a discussion with me about why he was 18, and drunk. You know you have received a "passing grade" as a parent when your thirty year old son, who is now a parent himself, not only forgives you for the night you had him spend in jail...he thanks you for it.

Julia Buckley said...

Wow! I hope I don't have to go through the whole jail part of it. Although that's not the first story I've heard about parents letting kids sit in jail while they "Think" about things.

Earl Staggs said...

Julia, looks to me like you have a good handle on the twixt twelve and twenty generation. My wife and I raised two girls and somehow, in spite of us, they became adults we're proud of. Now we have four grandchildren, two boys and two girls. One is twenty and three are teens. It's interesting to see them going through the same trials and errors we did. Sometimes I wish I could go back and and redo many of my errors, but parenting is not an exact science and the manual is incomplete.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Earl hit this nail on the head, I think - "the manual is incomplete." But. What do I know. I've only raised cats and dogs, and a few chickens. None of which were well behaved.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, Earl. Good to know your offspring are adding value to the world. :)

Kaye, you make me laugh--I'm glad to know that my pets aren't the only ones who don't behave. Or, should I say they behave--but very badly. :)

Unknown said...

I have to agree with Julia's litmus test. It makes everything easier. As of December when our twins turn 20, we'll only have 1 teen left out of 6 children total. I recognized each characteristic you described, and I can only say I'm glad we chose to recognize the humor and originality our kids exhibited. We've 'erased' the bad parts from our memories. Unless of course, they make for funny stories.

Julia Buckley said...

That's good to know, Robin. And six children--that's lots of blessings, but I'm guessing lots of chaos, too!