Monday, June 23, 2008


For the last two years, the Guardian has published a weekly column called Living With Teenagers (also published as a book, I'm afraid), which has now stopped, as the teenagers in questions have found out that their mum was giving them a bad name. The paper invited comments from readers, so here is mine:

I heroically bit my tongue for two years, but since you asked: I hated the column with a passion. I have 3 children (17, 14, 11), I can remember what it was like being a teenager (I kept my diaries), and I am even in touch with a few current teenagers.

In my view and experience, teenagers are a lot more interesting than the “human beings” that the author is so keen for them to turn into. Teenagers learn new things every day, they develop consciousness for the world around them, they discover literature, try creative photography, play guitar, care about music, write poetry, want to save the world or failing that become a rock star, upload 2 million photos to MySpace … whatever they do there is a lot of exciting stuff going on, and they are alive in a sense in which many people over 30 aren’t any more. Of all the positive things I associate with the teenage years, I’ve never seen a single one being credited in the column.

Instead, it was all trivial arguments, dirty laundry, lost keys, and the like. Yes, my children lose keys and scatter dirty clothes as well, but next to the things going on inside their heads, I consider these problems so infinitely trivial that I would never mention them to an outsider, let alone the readership of a newspaper.

And dishing out all this negativity behind the children’s back is downright mean. As a punishment I suggest you hand over the column to “Jack” and let him dish the dirt on his parents for the next two years. He seems quite all right, and his column I’d really like to read.

Part of this appeared in the paper and here.

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