The Teen Commandments

This is a guest post by Julie Dolan, the oldest sister of the fabulous Satellite Sisters who run blogs and a great radio show that every woman should listen to!

I was a pretty good mother when my sons were young. I was particularly good at instituting naps, preparing balanced meals, and reading at bedtime, but my parental confidence started to slip away when my oldest son entered junior high. Suddenly more was required of me than arranging stimulating play dates; I had to come up with on-the-spot rulings about attending co-ed parties, going to PG-13 movies without an adult, and buying rock CDs with explicit lyrics.

For me, raising teenagers has been a humbling experience. So when a friend asked me for advice on dealing with her three teenagers, I decided to compile a very short list of what I have learned. Here are my Teen Commandments, counsel for any adult who has the good fortune to live with an adolescent.

1. Nothing good happens after midnight. There is no social. educational, athletic, or spiritual event-at least none that you want your kids participating in-that begins that late at night.
2. No sleepovers. Innocent slumber parties in the preteen years become, for teenagers, the equivalent of parent-sanctioned AWOL status for twelve to fourteen hours.
3. Just call. No matter how late the hour or how much trouble he or she is in, your teenage should always call you when they get there or when they need a ride. No excuses.
4. Only one electronic device-phone, CD player, blow dryer, computer, etc-may be operated at a time. I am not sure of the medical or scientific rationale but I know multiple electronics usage can’t be good for teenagers and it’s murder on parents. My son had the habit of simultaneously playing his electric guitar and answering e-mail.
5. No piercing, no tattoos. One of our listeners amended this commandment by adding that corrective surgeries to undo body piercing and tattoos should not be financed with family funds. Let me just say that I am in favor of hair dying. It will wash or wear out and will make a great picture to blow up for his or her fortieth birthday.
6. The presence of an older sibling does not make it better. When your fourteen-year-old says, ” Don’t worry, Mom, John’s older brother will pick us up,” just remember that John’s older brother is probably sixteen (see Commandment number 7)
7. No sixteen-year-old can actually drive a car. Oh, they have a license, they’re behind the wheel, and they’re on the road but they are not “driving” as we know it. Driving doesn’t happen until seventeen or eighteen. The first year is a total free-for-all.
8. Eat dinner with your kids. My son’s high-school principal gave me this piece of advice at the freshman orientation. I thought he was crazy, but making time for this group activity rally pays off.
9. Find your son or daughter and adult friend. Face it, you’re the parent, not the friend. So find them an aunt, an uncle, a coach, a teacher, a minister, a neighbor, or some other adult to whom they can talk.
10. Don’t forget to laugh. Someday you are going to appreciate how funny it was that your son hosted a graduation party at your house and invited everyone in the world but you.
11. Be ready. Conversation, real conversation, between you and your teen usually comes at times when you least expect it.

9 Responses to “The Teen Commandments”

  1. Jen Singer
    August 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    I’m glad nothing good happens after midnight because I can’t stay up that late anymore.

    These are great! I’m going to print them out and read them again in 17 months when I have a teen in the house.

  2. Lucrecia
    August 11, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    This is great! Having a teen has certainly been an eye opening experience for me!

    The only one I disagree with is no sleepovers. I like for him to have the guys over – I learn so much when they get to talking and forget I’m in the house!

  3. 26
    August 12, 2008 at 8:58 am #

    I am a teen and find it funny how she mentioned cd’s with explicit lyrics. When I was 14 I found this band Wolf Eyes and my mom told me not to listen to them, which made me a huge fan and now I download all of their cd’s.

  4. Becky
    August 21, 2008 at 10:57 pm #

    Wow that is an awesome list of “teen” rules- thanks. Looking through your list reminded me of a book that I just finished reading, written by Jim Fay and Kristan Leatherman called “Love and Logic.” The book also provides simple and practical techniques to help adults have more fun and less stress while raising responsible kids.

  5. amyz5
    October 13, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    loved this! you came up as a related post on my latest.

  6. Vanessa
    October 13, 2008 at 10:10 am #

    cool i will check it out!!

    Thanks for reading


  7. alannha
    May 5, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    wow im a mother and i love that she expresses herself with her car, phone, music, piercings, and of course the sleepovers…i believe that shes a teenager and you’re only young and beautiful once so they should be allowed to live life the fullest! my daughter and i have the best communication, and it feels good when she talks o me as her friend and not a parent.

  8. Vanessa Van Petten
    May 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    It is nice you have such a great relationship!

    Thanks for reading!


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