I once told my mother that I didn’t want her to be my friend. She was my mother, and I wanted her to be just that. But she had got it into her head from some hip self-help book that parents of teenagers should be their friends.
And I didn’t want that. After reading similar emotions on Quora, I realised I wasn’t the only one. And for good reason too.
Teenage is wonderful. It’s when we get to see the world in a new light, experience the pangs of attraction, affection, and even lust. It’s the time to roam around carefree and enjoy life for what it is.
Except, teenage is also when a child goes through a lot of things she doesn’t understand. Like the physical changes in her body, the unpronounceable hormones that show up from nowhere, attraction (or aversion) to people, and (goodness!) mood swings that are just too confusing to comprehend.
What’s more, we’re in the mobile era. The world expects teenagers to know everything; to discuss the latest tech buzz during dinner, finish a 30-inch essay in minutes, do some sort of sport, and break (even Olympic) records that they’ve never heard of before. The 21st century is not the teenager’s haven.
For a child starting out to navigate our conniving society, handle breakups and peer pressure, understand that mom and dad don’t talk to each other, and still perform well in school is too much of an ask.
Their heads are filled with emotions they can’t identify, thoughts they don’t know to express, and doubts they can’t clarify. They’d go to school happy and come back with a broken heart and no clue as to why they feel that way. Is it the teacher yelling at them for a silly grammar mistake, friends getting lunch without them, or that the cute boy in class hadn’t shown up that day? Anything could break their hearts. Because teenage is a myriad of hormones.
That’s why they need direction. They don’t need yet another friend to talk to because their friends have the same problems. What’s more, sometimes they don’t even trust friends.
Teenagers don’t need another friend in their parents. They need advice, instead. They want parents to teach them to handle a situation, not just acknowledge it — as friends do.
Children realise that their parents have already tackled the reins of teenage. And no matter how much they argue, complain, or swear at their parents for imposing a curfew after 10 pm, they know it’s for their good. Deep down, teenagers love their parents for those tiny rules because they know mom’s got their back. After all, a parent is always a stronger authority than a friend.
That’s why teenagers want parents to be parents. Because a mom who’s got her life sorted is motivation for a child to get her’s too.