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Published July 26, 2011, 12:00 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Keep it light if you’re losing favor with your teenagers

It’s a rude awakening, going from parenting young children to teens. In one fell swoop, you drop 20 notches on the Cool Chart, never to rise again.

It’s a rude awakening, going from parenting young children to teens.

In one fell swoop, you drop 20 notches on the Cool Chart, never to rise again.

That’s right, fathers. Those neighborhood arguments over whose Dad has the biggest muscles will fade into oblivion soon. And mothers, enjoy that innocent marriage proposal by your starry-eyed tyke. In a flash, he’ll be ducking behind the produce section of the grocery store the minute someone familiar comes into view, treating you like a diseased stranger.

Here’s one way to approach the low-life status you’re soon to acquire: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

To some, this means wearing the invisible “embarrassment pass” loudly and proudly. There’s no better way to balance out the inevitable angst of the teen years than with a bit of “lame parent” strategy.

If your teens should be inclined toward turning off your oldies radio station just as you arrive at school, feign compliant surrender. Then, while driving away, roll down the windows and crank it up. It’s your minivan, after all. They’ll come to their senses soon enough and realize that Kool and the Gang still rocks.

Keeping up with teen talk generally works against parents. We had “gross,” “gnarly” and “totally.” Let kids have their lingo – unless they’re with friends and treating you like yesterday’s trash. Then it’s completely acceptable to say, “My bad,” “I know, right?” and “G-2-G!” (Flip hair as needed for dramatic effect.)

It’s not easy being a teen, nor to parent one; might as well have someone keeping it light.

A friend recently reminded me of how finite these years are after declining an invitation to dance during a lakeside wedding with the rest of the “girls.”

“Why would I?” she said emphatically, but with a wry grin. “My children are young adults; I don’t have anyone to embarrass anymore!”

Two of mine, however, hovered nearby, close enough to keep tabs on the cellphone but far enough to convince unknowing strangers they’d arrived separately by yacht.

As we old broads shuffled out onto the dance floor and began shaking our booties to “Footloose,” my girls stared wide-eyed from behind the punch bowl. The oldest mouthed a mock “I’m scared” as they watched me strut around, walking like an Egyptian with my friends.

If only they realized they control the embarrassment quotient. The more disturbed they appear, the more animated I become. It’s a law of parenting teens.

We’re really just doing our job by helping our teens keep things in perspective, just as they’re doing theirs by pretending we’re invisible.

It’s not like we’re going out on the town, wearing purple dresses and red hats or something.

Not yet, anyway.


Roxane B. Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and her husband, Troy, parent five children. She blogs on family life at http://peacegardenmama.areavoices.com.

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