Looking for real life advice to share with your teen girls? RaisingSTRONGgirls has 10 tips for helping them succeed in life.
Feeling those puberty blues? Not sure how to talk to your troublesome teen? Do not be afraid. Teenager Paul Buhre has some salient words of advice for parents.
Sometimes, parents are so overwhelmed by the challenges of their children’s adolescence that they seek professional help. From a book. A parenting-advice book, to be precise.
There is nothing wrong with that. But once that book falls into the hands of their children, it’s all over. That’s what happened in my case. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was in a fine mood, having finished my school and homework duties, and I was about to reward myself with a few episodes of an exciting TV series. The only problem was that the laptop battery was flat, so off I went in search of the power cable. But no matter where I looked, I just couldn’t find it, and I began to suspect that my mother had hidden it as a way of reducing my screen time. Very clever, mother!
There was one place I still hadn’t looked, however, a chamber I rarely enter: my parents’ bedroom. I climbed the narrow staircase step by step until I reached the third floor of our small townhouse. I opened the door, and then I saw it. Not the computer cable; oh, if only it had been the computer cable!
It was lying on my parents’ bedside table and at first it barely even caught my attention. But when I spotted the word Puberty, I became intrigued. It was the title of a book. Beneath that word, a smaller, but still bold type text read: when your kids know it all and you can’t teach them a thing. And then in even smaller letters: plain sailing in stormy seas. It was written by a certain Jesper Juul. And the cover was emblazoned with a picture — half in shadow, like the personification of all evil — of a pair of totally ugly Converse, the kind teenagers like to wear.
An uneasy feeling crept over me. Why did my parents need to read this book? Were they so unable to cope with my brother and me? Somehow, I felt betrayed. I mean, are you kidding? If you have a problem with me, talk to me about it — don’t look for answers in a book! When they bought it, my parents were probably hoping it would tell them how to regain control over me, or how to survive this change without sustaining permanent damage.
Oh no, dearest parents, you won’t get away with this so easily. True to the motto “know thine enemy”, I decided to soak up every single page of this book like a sponge, to rob them of their ultimate weapon. I read it from cover to cover.
One thing I noticed right away was that Juul admits he’s not a parenting expert, and says such a thing doesn’t even exist. Pretty puzzling, I thought. The blurb on the back of the book hails him as “the shining light of modern educational theory” and as “one of our most important and innovative family therapists”. Aha, I thought to myself, the old “I’m not the messiah! He is the messiah!” number from The Life of Brian. Well, I’m not falling for that one. Oh no!
Anyway, the author turned out not to be particularly interested in providing answers, apparently considering it more important to ask questions. Yeah, take your time, JJ, you’ve got nearly two hundred pages to fill, after all!
The next chapter heading really made me start to wonder: “Puberty is a fact, not a sickness.” Can’t argue with that, I suppose. But then I read “Their brains are reorganising.” That’s why we’re unable to consider the consequences of our actions. WTF?!
Seriously, Juul believes that the part of the brain responsible for the anticipation of consequences is incapacitated in 85 per cent of teenagers. That’s a biological fact, allegedly, so I shouldn’t take it personally. Can I please be part of the 15 per cent and not the 85? Please?
I mean, I know what the consequences of my actions are. An example: If I hit my brother, he will either hit me back or run away. He’s also likely to start bawling like a baby and, since he’s such an incredibly talented actor, I will definitely get into trouble with my parents. But I know in advance it will be worth it. I think that can be called forward-looking action. So there is nothing broken in my brain. I hope not, at least.
To be honest, there are a couple of people in my class who’ve always made me wonder what they must be thinking of when they’re screaming and shouting in lessons while hurling balls, chalk, books, sponges, or any other potential projectile across the classroom. Are they, like me, aware of the consequences of their actions, but simply couldn’t give a s...?
I believe we teenagers are perfectly capable of thinking about the consequences of our actions. Might it be that the idea of something being biologically wrong with us is nothing more than a crutch for adults, to help them put up with us more easily? The simple truth is that we are almost never bothered about rules, limits, or unpleasant consequences.
So maybe something is broken, after all. It’s hard for me to judge because I’m directly affected. But it does give us an excellent excuse. The next time I get into trouble, I can just blame my broken brain. Thanks, JJ!
In battles with my parents, I can, of course, make excellent tactical use of this knowledge. I intend to try it out the next time an opportunity presents itself:
Paul: “Mum, I don’t feel well.”
Mum: “What’s wrong?”
Mum: “Where does it hurt?”
Paul: “My head feels funny”
Mum: “Ah, you have a headache. Why didn’t you say so? I’ll get you a painkiller.”
Paul: “No, a tablet won’t help. It feels like someone’s building something inside my head. No, building’s not the right word. More like someone’s making alterations. D’you know what I mean?”
Mum: “Paul, what are you talking about? You haven’t been ...?” (She leans forward and looks into my eyes suspiciously.) “No, your pupils look perfectly normal. Maybe we really should take you to the doctor.”
Paul: “It feels like only half my brain is working. I think that’s why I’m so bad at maths now.”
Mum: “Rubbish! What are you talking about?”
Paul: “Do you think puberty can make you sick?”
Mum: “No, I don’t. Now, will you finally tell me what’s wrong with you?”
Paul: “Do you still like me, Mum, even though I’m going through puberty now?”
Mum: “Of course I do, why are you asking such a question?”
Paul: “Am I difficult?”
Mum: “Well, sometimes.”
Paul: “I’m sorry.”
Mum: “No need to apologise; it’s not that bad.”
Paul: “I’m just not very good at thinking about the consequences of my actions.”
Mum: “Who’s been telling you rubbish like that?”
Paul: “No one. I read it.”
Mum: “And where, might I ask?”
Paul: “In that puberty book you’ve got upstairs in your room. Am I so bad that you need a book to tell you how to cope? Am I really so hard to understand?”
Mum: “Oh, Paul, I’m sorry! I just wanted to see what he has to say. There are one or two good tips in it!”
Paul: “You don’t like me anymore!”
Mum: “Paul, don’t say that. You know I like you.”
Paul: “Why did you buy that book, then?”
Mum: “I don’t know. I’m sorry.”
Perfect! She’s putty in my hands. Now I can get anything I want:
Paul: “It’s OK. Will you buy me a new stereo system?”
Mum: “No, why?”
Paul: “Well, mine’s broken and I thought...”
Mum: “You can buy a new one yourself.”
Oh, well, almost anything.
Only joking — but it is annoying when everyone acts as if we were the most problematic group of human beings in the world, with the possible exception of Islamic extremists. When you enter a newsagency, you’re guaranteed to see at least one picture of a truculent-looking boy or a rebellious looking girl staring out at you from the cover of a special edition magazine about adolescence. Our children — who are they really?
Our brains are not just being reorganised, they’re possibly being damaged by all the porn we consume from an early age, or the constant gaming we’re addicted to. Apparently, we don’t know what tenderness is and don’t face any real challenges anymore. And boys cope less well than girls with everything, allegedly.
It all makes it sound like we’re an inferior, primitive race of subhumans. I sometimes wonder how all those complaining, criticising pensioners manage to forget that they were once exactly like us. Surely we can’t be so abnormal?
Despite his advanced age, Juul has not forgotten. He sees teenagers as human beings, which is one thing I like about his book. Seriously, there are one or two things I think we can learn from JJ. That you shouldn’t control and monitor your children’s every move. That parents should let children make their own experiences in life. That you should accept the fact that all sorts of things go wrong in families, and children aren’t perfect.
It’s like everything in life — there is never one single solution to all problems. All in all, it seems as if Juul is, in fact, precisely what he claims not to be: a parenting expert. OK, he is a little outdated: for example, he has no advice on computer games. But, all in all, he’s a pretty OK guy.
But there were so many questions that kept springing to mind while I was reading his book: Why are adults so at sea when it comes to adolescence? Why do they have such trouble understanding us?
I mean, like I said, they’ve been through puberty, too, after all. Why is it so difficult for them to think back to what it was like and put themselves in our position?
Maybe they really have forgotten how it was. But why, then, do they turn for advice to someone with exactly the same memory problem as them rather than asking us kids? OK, maybe it’s because we’re uncommunicative and moody, especially when they try to talk to us about this stuff.
To pre-empt all misunderstandings, I present here Ten Commandments for my parents to follow when interacting with me, if they want to survive my adolescence unscathed:
1. Thou shalt leave me in peace.
2. Thou shalt not enter my room, except when:
• you are bringing clean sheets or breakfast in bed;
• there is an emergency and someone is in real danger;
• I have overslept and you’re waking me up for school;
• there is cake;
• you are requesting an audience with me.
3. Thou shalt not give me orders. I will not accept them, but will answer, if at all, only to requests or well-intentioned advice.
4. However, it remains up to me to decide whether to follow or ignore such advice, since, after all, I am the one who must live with the consequences. This also means that I will only tidy my room when I feel like it, and not whenever you want.
5. Thou shalt cook me food when I’m hungry.
6. Thou shalt accept bad grades swiftly, without constant questions and recriminations. I normally know why they were bad, and if I don’t I will ask for help.
7. Thou shalt not try to force me to do things I don’t feel like doing. If you do, I won’t talk to you again.
8. Thou shalt support me in everything I do. I still need your help, even though I can’t admit it to your face. I am trying to become independent, and if I ask you openly for help, the illusion will be shattered.
9. Thou shalt try not to worry so much about me.
10. Thou shalt realise that I’m not being like this just for fun, or to hurt you, but because it’s the only way I can grow up. So don’t take offence.
11. Thou shalt know: whatever happens, and whatever it may look like — I still love you.
So how did a 15-year-old end up writing a book about teenagers?
Paul Buhre was an interm at a German magazine when he was asked to write about everyday school life.
With the help of a “cool journalist”, his article became the magazine’s cover story and before long, Paul had a literary agent. Now the boy who still dreams of becoming a comic-book artist is a bestselling author.
In Teens: What We’re Really Thinking (When We’re Not Saying Anything), Paul tackles tough topics with a healthy dose of teen humour — a lot of it directed at clueless parents — and great honesty.
On the internet: “Adults are no better, by the way. Just because most of them are dunces when it comes to technology, they are no happier without internet access than we are — they just don’t like to admit it.”
On drugs: “With issues like drugs, I think adults just tend to err on the side of caution. They seem to think it’s better to repeat something over and over a million times than say it once properly and clearly. That’s a grown-up tactic I’ve never understood. If they keep droning on, at some point their nagging will have the opposite effect to the one they want!”
On computer games: “I’ve only ever met one boy who was really addicted to gaming. But he was having huge problems at school and his parents had no time for him because his father was seriously ill. The fact that he never wanted to emerge from his computer-generated world was something even I could understand.”
On porn: “Protecting your child from this is possible only to a certain extent, especially if he (or possibly she) is better at using computers than you are. I think talking openly about porn is the only strategy that makes any sense.”
On growing up: “I have to form my own opinions; I can’t just take over my parents’ way of seeing things. I want to be my own man, an independent human being, not a yes-man or somebody’s puppet! That’s what arguments in adolescence are there for, and that’s why they’re so important to us teenagers. It’s strange that parents have such a hard time understanding this.”
On looks: “I’m sure you can imagine the treatment meted out to anyone who looks like their mum still has a hand in their fashion choices. But for those who can’t, let me spell it out for you: they will be snubbed, tarred, feathered, poisoned, drowned, burned at the stake and stabbed. In a nutshell, their life at school will become a living hell.”
This is an edited extract from Teens: What We’re Really Thinking (When We’re Not Saying Anything): Paul Buhre(Scribe, $27.95)
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This year on HuffPost Teen, bloggers shared their personal stories of struggle, triumph and inspiration, while imparting some wise-beyond-their-years powerful pieces of knowledge with their peers.
We've rounded up the best real-life advice we've heard from our bloggers in 2014. Below, here are their words of wisdom that you should follow in 2015.
1. Rejection does not define you.
"Overall, rejection is going to inevitably happen in our lives at some point. Remember, the dreaded thin letter is simply a thin letter. This piece of paper says nothing about your worth, creativity or potential. Rejection is tough, especially if you had your heart set on something; however learning how to handle the unfortunate event can help in the long run."
-- Madonna Matta
2. Only you have the power to define what "beauty" means.
"I've learned that no matter your shape, size or what you look like you can be a princess. You can be whatever you want to be. A princess isn't a size, it's a state of mind. It's loving yourself no matter what. It's how to see yourself inside. It's becoming your own princess and not buying into stereotypes. It's making your own magic!"
-- Ally Del Monte
"We need to realize that we choose our beauty. We are the ones who create realities for ourselves, and we need to move past this self-hate. Every single person in the world has beautiful qualities about himself or herself. It is best to step outside of the artificial stereotypical beauty that history has created for us, and to start deciding what truly appeals to us."
-- Nasir Fleming
"My lack of a thigh gap does not keep me from being beautiful, nor does any other 'imperfection' I've been blessed with. I don't care to conform and look like every other girl, and I don't much care about what society's definition of beauty is because I know it's only skin-deep. There are far more important things in life to care about."
-- Isabel Song
"Acceptance is acceptance. All bodies are bodies, but who cares? The people inside of them are way more interesting."
-- Miranda Feneberger
3. Don't waste your time listening to the haters.
"You can't allow people's ignorant decisions to affect you. You fight off the fake friends, overly emotional family members, cyber bullying or the annoying cliché high school girl. You brush it off, you let it go, you keep trudging on."
-- Sabrina Dominguez
"To be brave, you have to stand up FOR the bullied, FOR yourself and TO the bullies."
-- Ally Del Monte
4. Your mental and physical health are important -- prioritize them.
"No matter what disability, disorder, impairment or other obstacle tries to rob you, it is not for them to dictate what you can and cannot do; it is YOU who decides."
-- Hannah Zack
"For those who are struggling with something similar, know that you're not alone. There are teens all around you who are going through the same thing. Surround yourself with people who love you and want to help you. The biggest piece of advice I can give you, as a teen that's been through it and is still going through it, is to be open. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and talk about how you're feeling often. Sometimes just being able to be open can make a huge difference."
-- Samantha Goodyear
5. Popularity is pretty overrated.
"You'd think that the people who end up in the ever-so elite 'cool' or 'popular' group, are just that: cool. As it turns out, that's not always necessarily the case. That's not to say that there aren't popular kids who are cool, interesting, and fun to be around; there absolutely are. But the more time I've spent around the 'cool kids,' the more I see that there's nothing particularly cool about them that separates them from everyone else. And there are just as many kids who reject that label of 'cool' and consciously opt out of that social scene who still have really cool skills, personal stories, hobbies, and are definitely worth getting to know. Bottom line, one's position on the social hierarchy does not define who they are as a person, or their level of 'coolness.'"
-- Carly Steyer
"The truth is, popular kids have a quality about them that is mystifying. It's not a pair of sneakers or a certain lip color. It can't be simmered down to '21 Ways to Be Popular' or 'Popularity in 19 Days.' Popularity in its simplest definition is accepting who you are and flaunting it. So go out there guys, and flaunt it."
-- Anna Koppelman
6. It's in everyone's nature to be competitive...
... But constantly comparing yourself to others will only drive you crazy.
"I don't see people as competition. I think that's an unhealthy preoccupation, and the only apparent 'competition' or person standing in my way is myself. My own self-improvement is my cynosure. I work hard for my own benefit. At the end of the day, all that really matters to me is that I did my best and gave it my all. As long as I didn't hold back and did everything I could, I'd be fine with anything, even rejection."
-- Isabel Song
"I used to constantly compare myself to other high school students, wishing that I was as interesting, accomplished and self-assured as they were. It took a while for me to realize that fixating on the achievements of others is futile and that everyone has something unique to offer the world."
-- Kara Chyung
7. Sometimes, the most valuable lessons aren't taught within the walls of a classroom.
"It is important to be culturally aware, so that as global citizens we can understand different beliefs and see beyond stereotypes. This way we can break the barriers of cultural insensitivity and build stronger relationships internationally."
-- Yii-Huei Phang
"It's easy to ignore what's going on around you, and to let people and events fade into one gigantic blur. But if you take a moment to observe, to really stop and give people some attention, you could learn a whole lot. You never know."
-- Camryn Garrett
8. Even at your lowest points, remember to stay positive.
"Not only is it important to motivate ourselves, but one another, in ways that have been seemingly unfathomable in the past. The simplicity of kind gestures and warm embraces can run the world almost as well as Beyoncé."
-- Kamrin Baker
"You can't win the war if your mind is always starting the fight. You've got to learn to love yourself, kid. You've got to see that you're worth so much more than all those dark thoughts consuming your mind. You're going to get through this, but only if you change the way you perceive yourself. You're pretty freakin' awesome, and it's time you start believing it."
-- Hannah Strohmeier
9. Friendships are stronger and more valuable than you can even imagine.
"Being in contact with friends through email and social media will pull you through those really tough days when you feel like you have nobody else in the world. They might not understand what you're going through, but they will be there to listen to your rants (maybe even ranting with you), and they are the ones who will put together the pieces after you break down crying on your keyboard."
-- Valerie Hsieh
"How can I be a better ally? Out of my own experiences, I've found the keys: communication and awareness. As my friends and teachers have done for me, I do the same. If a peer is down, I ask if they are okay, need to talk or just want to do something."
-- Casey Hoke
10. Don't be afraid to exercise your voice.
"No matter how involved you're looking to get in politics or social activism, or at the intersection of politics and social activism, there are going to be road bumps. People will make you doubt yourself because of where you're from, who you are and what you look like. There will be people who say you are wrong simply because of your age. But those people do not define you. You set your own limitations. The most important thing to remember is that your age is not a liability. It's a superpower."
-- Rebekah Bolser
"If politicians want young people to vote, then they have a duty to us to improve political education in schools. However, we also need to play our part, and show that we are not the apathetic youth the media has stereotyped us as being, so, if you want things to change, make it happen. Create an online petition, write to your local parliamentary representative, attend local debates and educate yourself about politics."
-- Susannah Keogh
11. Start living like you're planning for your future -- there's so much good to come.
"Most of us will not become leaders of massive civil rights movements -- although there are plenty of movements that need great leaders -- however, we are already the leaders of our lives. I urge all my classmates to steer themselves in the direction that they know is right. I urge you to ignore anyone who tells you that the motive you hold so dear, the purpose behind your actions, is wrong or unimportant."
-- Jackson Barnett
"Make sure that you have goals that actually mean something to you, and then live them. Get into that college, become a tiger trainer, get your pilot certification. You are the goal and the goal is you. Become one with it. Never stop trying to reach it, and be on the lookout for new opportunities to fulfill them around every corner. If you're going to do it, do it 500 percent. It's going to be hard work, and you might not always enjoy it, but if it's your goal (this is very important, that it's your goal), it will be so worth it in the end."
-- Justina Sharp
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I think it's perfectly logical for mothers of teenage girls to want to pass on words of wisdom to their daughters. And, it's natural for those teenage girls to push back.
Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old teenage life quotes, teenage life sayings, and teenage life proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.
Anybody who has a problem with 'Skins' obviously doesn't understand teenage life.
Drama, lies, tears...teenage years.
I love being a teen because you don't have all the responsibilities of an adult yet.
Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.
As a teenager you are at the last stage in your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you.
Teens think listening to music helps them concentrate. It doesn't. It relieves them of the boredom that concentration on homework induces.
Marilyn vos Savant
I don't know what better teenage life you could get than going around the world doing what you love to do.
Teenage life - possibly adult life too is all about what you want and can't have. And then about what you receive and misuse.
Live your life like you are 80 years old looking back on your teenage years.
No boy is worth your teenage years!.
The teenage years are ridiculously crucial and hard and, um, awkward.
When you are in your teenage years you are consciously experiencing everything for the first time, so adolescent stories are all beginnings. There are never any endings.
You can only be young once. But you can always be immature.
Too many of today's children have straight teeth and crooked morals.
Words of Wisdom for A Teenage Girl. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are more than just a body. You are seen. You are heard.