Evidence suggests today's parents of teens are much cooler than given credit for

Is this evidence heavily researched and irrefutable? No. But "new" trends are looking mighty familiar.

Paula Quam
Paula Quam, InForum Digital Managing Editor
(Photo by Nichole Seitz/Forum)

Author's note: Because I love irritating my teenagers by using their generation's slang words in my everyday conversation, I will, for your reading pleasure, infuse said words, along with a brief vocab explanation for clarity; i.e., I hope you find that this column slaps (is really great).

I knew it. I KNEW it. Teenagers have been trying to make us parents feel like we're not bussin' (awesome) for far too long. But right now, there are so many things these kids think are cool that are actually just regurgitated comebacks from when we were their age. Here's some evidenced-based tea (gossip or interesting information) that should boost our parental confidence.

The clothing style

Shoulder pads: I was shocked, and I mean SHOCKED — to walk into a "cool", young local clothing store to see shirts and over-sized blazers with shoulder pads. And I oop! (I was surprised.) Did they make us women feel powerful back in the day? I don't know. I was too young to realize that's what they were for. But I do remember boys saying the pads were only there to cushion the sides of our heads as we, in an attempt to understand a basic concept, tilted our heads back and forth, risking a traumatic brain injury from our shoulders.

Plus, the shoulder pads would become deformed after washing and drying them in the 'ol Maytag. So I'm not a fan, but girls, if you want to steal this old style of ours, far be it for me to stop you.

High-waisted jeans: These have been a thing for a while now, but let's be honest. Are they very flattering? No, of course not. IMO, they make our cake (voluptuous bottoms) look boxy. They did then and then do now. But hey, you do you. I guess I remember thinking I would never NOT french roll my jeans, so I'll stay humble and wait for that to come back while also remembering that my mom once told me they used to roll their jeans in the 50s and 60s. Our moms...they were the OGs (someone or something that was the original, especially one that is highly respected).


Colorful tennis shoes: Has anybody been to a high school basketball game lately? Some of the most expensive, sought-after shoes today look like something Punky Brewster may have worn while running around with her little buddy Cherie.

Like bruh (term that can refer to anybody but tends to mean me when my kids are speaking), where are your Zubaz? Don't take my word for it, though. Forbes recently did an article on the '80s influence on the 2023 fashions. That's Forbes, people. Not some mid (not terrible but not exciting either) sort of publication. They're legit.

The music

Cassette tapes: Taylor Swift released her latest album Midnights on a blue cassette tape.

A cassette tape! I'm not cappin' (lying), man. It costs $17.99, and in the photo she's wearing blue eye shadow. I don't think she's just being thirsty (attention-seeking) either; that girl knows what's up.

The '80s music comebacks: This past summer, Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill was the #1 streamed song, thanks to the Netflix series, "Stranger Things", which is set in the '80s.

Metallica's Master of Puppets also re-entered the charts, thanks to the same series. My kids don't even typically hate when I put on some good '80s and '90s music, either. They act like it's okay to listen to because it's "vintage" and kind of quirky, when I'm all like, girl, you know it's just because the song is lit and we're all about to get turnt up. (This has two different meanings, so don't misunderstand my usage of it. It can either mean somebody is intoxicated OR that they're very excited. I meant the latter.)

Mustaches and mullets

Mustaches: You want to know how some teenage boys get W-rizz (the ability to attract members of the opposite sex without trying) these days? They try to grow a mustache. Some of them succeed. I keep trying to tell my son that if he shaves, it'll come in faster and thicker. Low-key, no-cap (kind of secret but not lying), I think he's starting to believe me, so hopefully he'll shave it soon.

It's a bold statement, I get it, but teen boys are walking around high schools looking like they've gotta go pick their kids up from daycare, thinking girls are simping (trying overly hard to get them). Now, the mustache fad is not evidence that we're cool because it's a tad older than most of us, but it does mean our uncles had some W-rizz that we weren't aware of at the time.


Mullets: I don't want to talk too much about mullets because in journalism, they say you give power to those things you shine a light on, but these are young men who aren't even necessarily rednecks or punks.

Boys of all walks of life sport this look now. Like, what? We've already been down this road...why revisit it? What's next? Rat-tails?

In conclusion

Listen, you guys are my fam (friends), and we need to stick together. If we let them, these teenagers will chip away at our social confidence and make us feel the way we made our parents feel! (Wait, what?)

Point is, we need to stand together with our tired, fried-out hair and our husbands' dad bods. You know why? Because we're Goonies, and Goonies never say die. Also, because life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. You get where I'm going with this. We're cool, and don't forget it. We're not just here to carry a watermelon, we're here to dance.

Author's note: While I cannot with absolute confidence say I used all of these teen slang terms correctly in a sentence, I will say that it doesn't matter because using them slightly incorrectly can be even better. It enhances the cringe-factor for teens.

Paula Quam joined InForum as its managing digital editor in 2019. She grew up in Glyndon, Minnesota, just outside of Fargo.
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