I have a brand new guest post to share with you today written by Thomas from The Doubting Thomas and it’s an absolutely great read. For anyone with young children, you’ll definitely resonate with this one. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker at times but also made me chuckle. It’s a long one, so grab yourself a cuppa and settle down to enjoy!
1. Talk to us
You’re probably going to go through a phase where your parents are the least cool people in the world. We know you love us, but we’re also the ones that set the rules, tell you off, potentially even stop you from doing things from time to time.
Just know that we mean it in the best way and we’re doing our best to show you we’re coming from a good place. Sure, you might think we might be stifling you but BELIEVE ME, when you have kids of your own you’ll realize why.
You’re both going to go through a lot in your teenage years, stuff that you don’t even know is stuff yet. I won’t lie to you, as a teenager you’ll deal with different emotions and not all of them are going to be good. But we’ll be here to help you, as much as you want us to. We won’t crowd you, so long as you understand that we’re always here.
We’ll try to make our house as open as possible for you and your friends, potentially even boyfriends or girlfriends. We’re not promising to run a hotel, but we’re saying we’ll do our utmost to work these people into our lives. Just know that we still reserve the right to say to you if something or someone doesn’t feel right. Respect us and we’ll respect you.
At the end of the day though, we love you and that’s why we’d love to be the first people you come to in times of trouble. As your Dad, I’ll try not to get too involved when you’re talking about boys…. I promise I’ll give them a chance. Your Mum will always be there to talk to about any problems you’ve got too; you know her, she’s always been there to fix them for you.
When all is said and done, we’re realizing you’re going to grow up, but we’d love for you to grow up around us rather than feeling like you CAN’T be around us.
2. Don’t be in a huge rush to grow up
This might sound like a confusing piece of advice, so I’ll tell you what I mean first with a little example of when I was heading towards the end of my teenage years.
I got on fine at school, made friends and did OK. You have to grow up quite a bit at secondary school, as one of you is about to find out pretty soon. I grew up quite a bit in some aspects, but when I left school at 16 (sorry, you guys have to stay a couple of years more than that) I had no choice but to grow up as I went out to work.
35 hours a week of working in an office felt strange. I was very young, but I FELT very young, sort of as if I didn’t belong there. Sure, I worked hard and made good of the situation, but I had to grow up and leave a lot behind. When my friends from school were planning days out after finishing sixth form, I was never able to join. Then eventually they stopped; they understood but they stopped asking me. I met people at work who turned from just colleagues into friends, but they haven’t lasted either.
Thinking about growing up also extends to the way you are at home too. You’re not always going to want to play with each other, or draw us nice pictures or dance around the living room with us; we understand that. But rather than spending all your time in your room or on your phone talking to your friends, check in with each other now and then. Be a little silly, get excited about birthdays and Christmas, sit with your teddies on the sofa like you do now (we promise we won’t tell anyone).
3. Learn about money
I’ll tell you this right now, money really isn’t everything. At 17 years old I was bringing home a couple of hundred quid a week; sure it was great, but I didn’t really know what I was doing with it. However it really is so important for your future.
I know you don’t truly know the value of money yet, but we’ll make sure you do. We’ll teach you about spending safely, budgeting, planning for what you might want to do in the future. I’m sorry to say kids that we’re not made of money, although we’ll always put you first when it comes to providing for you.
What I mean when it comes to learning about money, is that you’ll need to know the basics. How to open an account, withdraw money, save money etc. You’re lucky nowadays, there’s some great mobile apps out there and you can basically do anything you want to at the touch of a couple of buttons. If you’re struggling though don’t worry, you’re fortunate enough to have a Dad who knows a lot about this stuff.
If you’re going out to work, you’ll feel the power and the responsibility of earning money for yourself. Work out what you’re going to do with that money and try and put a little bit away each month; trust me, you might want to spend all of it but you would be in SUCH a good place if you stockpiled some away; I’m sure you could afford to do that a little bit.
If you choose to go to Uni well then, I won’t lie to you I have absolutely no expertise there. What you can be sure of though is we’ll help you in any way we can.
4. Be careful with social media
You might have heard us talking about social media but not know exactly what it is. That’s good, but it’s inevitable you’re going to learn all about it soon.
Please, be careful. Always. Unfortunately, not everything online might be as it seems.
I know it might be a bit strange for us to be saying this right now. I mean, the majority of what you know on the internet is all good, right? The internet gives you Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Pinterest (the app with all the pictures) and asking all sorts of random questions on Google. But the internet is massive, it’s absolutely huge, and it can be dangerous too if you’re not sure on what you’re doing or we’re not sure either.
I’ll tell you a little bit about when we were teenagers. Well, social media wasn’t really a thing and popping on the internet was a very complicated task. The NOISES our computer made when we had to connect to the internet (via this wonderful little idea called “dial-up”) were horrific, almost as if the machine was in pain.
Nowadays though, you can access pretty much anything you want with the touch of a button.
We didn’t have Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat; it was an era where MSN Messenger and MySpace (you’ll have never heard of either of those) ruled the roost and on the whole, the internet was so much more innocent than it is now. You can use your smartphones for so much more than just those things too.
On that subject, please don’t be annoyed if we put restrictions on your phones. Well actually, if I’m being honest, be as annoyed as you want because we’re still doing it anyway.
We’ll track your usage, we’ll track your history and we’ll only be letting you loose with social media when we feel you’re ready. Social media is great for so many things, but our main priority is to keep you safe and we’ll never apologise for that.
5. Be nice…. but put yourself first!
We’ll have hoped that we’ve brought you both up to be nice, friendly and approachable people. We’re already so proud of you both for the way you are with people, and we really hope that continues into your teenage years too.
However, I want to talk to you about a very important step which will be vital to how you are as a teenager and beyond.
Be nice to others, but you also need to be nice to you. Treat people as you would want to be treated, sure, but make sure you’re not wasting your time on people that aren’t being as nice to you as they should be.
(Yes, this goes for relationships too)
I don’t want this piece of advice to put you on a downer, but nowadays there are people that aren’t that nice. We’ve always tried to help you with or shield you from these people, but when you’re growing up in the outside world that isn’t always possible.
So long as you don’t let others take advantage of your kind nature, you’ll be fine. There will be people out there who will try, but stay true to yourself and remember your own self-worth. We’ll do everything we can to continue instilling this sense of belief in you so that when you do need to continue growing up, this will be hopefully already be a part of you.
You know earlier on when I said a little bit about us saying if someone in your life doesn’t feel “right” to us? Well, it’s sort of like that really. As much as we don’t want to completely control your life, throughout your teenage years and so long as you’re under our roof we sort of have every right to voice our opinion on the people you associate with.
If we feel your friends are using you, or we get wind that they’re making fun of you, we’ll speak to you about it. Life is far too short to care so much about people that don’t give you the same back. Remember this and you’ll go a long way in life when it comes to your self-esteem.
You’re not teenagers yet, but time absolutely flies and at some point you’re both going to be at very opposite ends of the teenage spectrum.
The world has become a very different place since we were teens and by the time the youngest of you gets there it’ll probably have changed a lot more in that time too. Life is going to throw a lot at you, and generally during your teenage years is when it will start.
I wish we could see into the future and have all the answers readymade for you, I really do. However, life isn’t that easy to map out, so we’ll have to go with the flow together won’t we?
The five pieces of advice I’ve given you above (and all the rattling on I’ve done underneath them) all come from a place of experience and a place of knowledge. Going back to what I said at the start, you might not think we’re “cool” anymore but I sincerely hope you won’t shy away from talking to us about things that are troubling you; I hope you find us relatable enough to share in your successes too.
I hope you can both remember that any advice we give you is there for your benefit, to look out for you and to protect you, whilst always trying to see things from your point of view. We love you both so much, and we’re really looking forward to whatever journey you both decide to take us on.
Which pieces of advice would you like to give to your future teenagers? Or if you don’t have children, what advice do you wish you could go back and give to your teenage self?
Check out more recent guest posts here: