Suddenly, from your former role of cherished cherub you seem to be re-cast as a potential threat to international peace and security. Hormones, a spurt in brain growth and the inevitable acne combine to make life one big drama in which you’re the star and everybody else serves as an extra. Trouble is, most parents fail to follow the script, causing plenty of hiccups along the way and even the occasional re-write.
Such lack of co-operation from your significant grown ups may prove frustrating but, while it may not be possible to control them completely, you can certainly enjoy a measure of influence by employing these highly effective strategies.
As a teenager, you’re expected and even encouraged to form your own opinions on every aspect of life. Religion, history, politics, social issues of all kinds and, of course, ecology can all be touched upon, according to your level of knowledge. Otherwise, you can quite safely rely on common causes of argument and unreasoned debate such as bedtime, over-revealing outfits, various piercings, entertainment and choice of friends. Experts in the art have been known to reduce their parents to gibbering wrecks, simply by remaining annoyingly and defiantly calm. Unless you’re a natural, however, this feat will take months of practice to achieve and until you maintain the requisite skill you may occasionally find yourself on the defensive. A good tip: Always have some grievance in reserve so, if your parents prove to be holding their corner, you can simply change the issue.
Any family outing provides a great opportunity to disconcert and irritate your parents – but shopping has to be top of the list. Wherever you are, remember to walk at least three paces in front. This achieves two objectives: (a) you can avoid a lot of embarrassment by pretending not to be with the offending grown ups and (b) most importantly, it keeps parents in their rightful place – following in your footsteps while dutifully carrying all the money you’ll need for those wildly unsuitable clothes. Should one of them dare to address you in public, tell him/her to ‘stop shouting’ and look around in horror to make sure nobody has heard them. If Mum gets tired of holding up ‘nice’ outfits for you to consider only to meet with scornful rejections, watch out that she doesn’t rebel by looking out for ‘something for herself’. She must realise that the whole purpose of shopping is for your benefit, not hers.
Here’s a brilliant way to demonstrate your intellectual superiority and ensure Mum/Dad will never be able to hack into your laptop/mobile/iPad. If either parent asks you to help them with their new computer, wait until he/she isn’t looking before clicking the relevant links or using the appropriate keys. He or she will doubtless urge you to show them what you did, in which case you’d be quite justified in ‘Tutting’ loudly and stomping off in supposed frustration, muttering “I’ve just shown you!” As a result, the parent will be reluctant to ask you again and it may be some time before they can use their computer without your oversight and/or expressed permission. Any kind of new appliance, in fact, is an excellent tool in your quest for supremacy - and, by withholding information, you can maintain possession of remote controls for some time to come.
It helps to know exactly how quickly you can rise, wash and dress yourself in the morning. That way, you can stay in bed until the last possible nanosecond, while Mum or Dad works themselves into a frenzy to get you off to school/college in time. Once ready, make sure Mum or Dad are temporary distracted – e.g. looking for car keys, applying lipstick, washing a few pots – when you actually appear. Now you can reverse the process by yelling “Hurry up! I’m late!” which, when delivered with a note of hysteria, will induce satisfactory levels of exasperation from parents.
Naturally, you’re far too busy playing on your computer or watching your favourite TV programme to rush into the kitchen just because Mum announces tea is ready. The fact that she’s slaved over a cooker for ages is no reason to stop doing the things you enjoy. If it’s a fry up, you are perfectly justified in refusing to eat it once it’s gone cold, forcing Mum to create something more palatable for her now desperately starving child. Such a strategy guarantees five-star service and is excellent for when you didn’t really fancy the dish of the day in the first place.
Most Mums will insist they never nag. What they do do is repeat themselves many times over, usually with phrases starting with “Will you.....?” which are automatically blocked by the average teenager’s defence shield. If by any chance such requests manage to break through and you find yourself in danger of extreme action such as vacuuming, cleaning the car, washing up or tidying your bedroom, the only protection is to pretend you haven’t heard. Earphones are one way to block out irritating sounds, no matter how loud they eventually become. Ignore them for long enough and it’s a safe bet Mum or Dad will have done the job themselves. In this case, their impatience is a virtue!
No matter how many times your parents mention homework, a canny teen will wait until the last minute of the last night before it's due to be handed in. By this time, of course, you will be in a complete panic, forcing your parents to abandon plans of an early bedtime in order to help you. This is an ideal method of (a) getting attention and (b) getting your parents to do your essay or algebra for you!
NB. If all else fails, never underestimate the power of the Incredible Sulk! Screaming, “It’s not fair!” and “Nobody cares!” and stomping off to your bedroom will, at worst, get you out of a sticky situation and, at best, earn you a few extra cuddles and treats – just as long as no one you know is watching!