The chicken and egg conundrum fades into insignificance beside the problem of parents and teenagers. Which exacerbates the other? Pity the teenagers: their hormones are raging, their bodies are embarrassing them at every turn, they are neither adored children nor irreproachable adults and they need to sleep for 22 hours a day, which no one will let them do. Or pity the parents: their cherished little darlings have morphed overnight into hulking lumps of sullenness, who flinch at the sight of daylight and from whom their parents are lucky to extract the occasional grunt or uncooperative gesture.
As your 16-year-old would undoubtedly point out, why descend to the superficiality of judging teenagers more on their manners than on their character? As Somerset Maugham said, ‘Few can suffer manners different from their own without distaste’, so accept that normal teenagers are just differently mannered and swallow your distaste. Hail their occasional appearance during daytime hours with good grace, welcome every grunt as if it were the Sermon on the Mount and use humour to chip away at the seemingly unscalable wall between you and them. Your one weapon – and it must be used judiciously otherwise you will blunt its edge – is embarrassment, an emotion which dogs every teenager, every hour of the day. “Just joining in the fun,” is a phrase to chill every teen’s blood – try not to use it in front of their friends, merely threaten to use it in front of their friends if they don’t cooperate at least one out of ten times.
The good news is that just as you might be feeling flabby and complacent in your chosen career, along comes a teenager to exercise your brain – the negotiating skills you will need when dealing with them will make years of study and work experience seem like a warm-up exercise…

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