Six Rules For Teens

Bill Gates Would Make a Great Parent!

I recently joined a blog network full of moms who write about their kids. Being new there and in order to find some connections, I started a discussion group called “Got Teens” for moms of adolescents. Pretty soon the moms started coming out of the wood work to join–mostly to commiserate with others about their teens. I have to admit at first it felt good to realize that the adolescent experiences that we have in our home are not unusual.

Over and over I have heard stories of sons and daughters yelling and screaming at their parents, refusing requests and, of course, the daily, hourly-heck-by the millisecond-slamming of doors. At first, it satisfied me that perhaps I hadn’t done anything “wrong” when raising my sons, but instead perhaps it was generational or “normal” for kids between the ages of 14-18 to torture their parents with explosions that rock the house over something as simple as an innocent comment like, “Whew, Aidan your feet are stinky!” At first it satisfied me…at first, but then Bill Gates got involved and now I am back to thinking that parents of this generation ARE partially responsible for the lack of respect, lack of work ethic and just a general lack of politeness that perhaps other generations had to a degree.

Bill Gates? You ask. Yes, Bill. Last week I received an “urban legend “ email that was an excerpt of a high school graduation speech that was supposedly given by Bill Gates, which was later proved not to be the truth. However, WHOEVER wrote the list was a parenting genius, pure and simple. In it was 11 things that are never taught in school (and I contend at home as well.) I will give you the link to the whole list at the end of the column, but I wanted to address SOME items of things of which I (and perhaps other parents…or maybe it’s just me…anyhoo…) was guilty of NOT teaching or allowing my sons to experience.

Rule one was Life is not fair – get used to it! I get sweaty reading this one, mostly because I know that for many years I shielded my boys from the bad and unfair. Not only did I shield them from it, if something unfair happened, I would vehemently try and right it so as to spare them any feeling of discomfort. Although I meant well, it backfired on me and unfortunately my boys. Instead of raising obliviously happy-go-lucky sons, I instead created two little men who think that they are entitled for things in this world to ALWAYS be fair and equal. And, like Bill says, we know that just doesn’t happen. Instead of making things happy and shielding them from the sad, I should have equipped them with a sense of balance that sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to, but there will be other chances if perseverance is their guide. 

Another rule stated: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both. When I read this rule, I nod my head because I do recognize in my children this idea that things should come easily. There is an automatic frustration with both of my teen boys if they can’t have the best cell phone on the market or wear the most expensive sneakers. One son just can’t understand why not doing homework counts against him in high school when—and I quote—“Cleary I understand the curriculum if you look at my test scores!” It is about work ethic, and somewhere along the line my sons didn’t get on that train when it passed through town. You’ve got to earn the A’s, earn the respect, earn the money in order to reap the benefits, which brings me to Bill’s next rule: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

When discussing with my 17 year old his summer job plans he was adamant that he was NOT going to work at a fast food restaurant, NOT going to work at our local amusement park, NOT going to work for minimum wage, and the list went on, and on, and on. He actually said that he wanted to find a job that was not multi-faceted. He wanted a single role and only a single role. “Like what?” I asked (trying to hide my smirk.) Well most of my friends just sit there….like this…(at the word “this” I need you to picture a seventeen year old tilt the dining room chair back, cross his arms across his middle and bob his head up and down, up and down…mimicking someone doing…well…nothing.) “Good luck with that.” I quipped. And then I threw out the aforementioned rule. “Aidan, flipping burgers are not beneath you. Your grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping: they called it “opportunity.”

At this point he stopped and turned around. I thought for a moment that I had reached him, for he had a pensive look on his face. Then he smiled and without a beat said, “Where’d ya get THAT gem? Dr. Phil?” Without waiting for an answer, he turned on his heal and walked away, but I didn’t get upset. Nope. Instead I remembered Bill Gates 6th rule: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault.

If you want to see the entire list, just click HERE.


Logan Fisher

Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s MotherhoodEye on EducationFaces, and Appleseed.

3 Comments on “Six Rules For Teens

  1. Life isn’t fair – so get over it. <– Good Point!

    By the way, great blog!

    ~ Helen Nutter

  2. Brilliant! As a school counselor and mom, I see this all the time! Great article for parents!

  3. I really enjoyed this article. Though I don’t have teens yet, it reminded me of my teenage hard headedness.

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