5 Things Parents Forget About Being a Teenager

#2. Teens Don't Think They Know Everything

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This is one of the dumbest phrases I have ever heard, but virtually everyone I've ever met from all walks of life has been on the receiving end of it at least once. It's usually said during or right after an argument, and half the time it's wrapped up in a thick blanket of sarcasm. "Oh, sorry, I forgot. You already know everything. Just fill in my half of the argument with whatever you want, Brainy Van Genius."

Here's the thing: I have never met a single person who honestly thought that they knew everything. If you're a parent and you have a child who genuinely thinks this, you need to get him to a psychiatrist right away because he has some major problems with narcissism, and he needs help. Or, at the very least, a Randy Savage flying-elbow from the top of the fridge.

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"Let's see how much you know now, boy!"

What the parents have forgotten from their own teenage years is that this is when they first start legitimately questioning the parents' beliefs and opinions. Right or wrong, that's a good thing. It teaches them to be both open-minded and critical. They're finally realizing that being an adult does not make a person an infallible fountain of truth. There are just as many dumbass adults as there are dumbass teenagers, and it's important for kids to learn how to stand up for themselves and debate when they believe that they are right. Even if it makes them come across as annoying assholes.

How the parents handle that is extremely important, because their reactions and replies will teach the kids how to either debate or argue. And, yes, there is a huge difference between the two. Pull up any social media or forum on the net and watch how quickly the average "debate" devolves into name-calling, passive-aggressive jabs, and flat-out rage-fueled shit throwing.

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"Fuck Times New Roman font! I'll burn your fucking house to the ground, whore!"

Again, whether the teen is right or wrong isn't the issue. The issue is that when the parents don't know how to handle it, they get frustrated, and saying "You think you know everything" is a means of striking back. Make no mistake, it's an attack phrase. It has no purpose beyond trying to remind the teen that he isn't as intelligent as the parent. I'd advise the parent to respond with calm, collected logic in these instances, but those words would be just as useful as saying, "When they get like that, all you have to do is shit out a moose. A whole, live moose. Right out of your asshole."

#1. "Use Your Head" Is a Meaningless Phrase for a Teenager

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I don't care how "good" a teenager is, eventually he or she is going to get into trouble. Or hurt or into an accident or dared to eat a blowtorch. If the parents are sane, they'll make sure the kid isn't hurt before following it up with, "What were you thinking? You have to start using your head!" Let me save you the trouble and just tell you what the teenager was thinking:

"This looks like fun. I'm going to do this thing." Or ...
"My emotions have boiled over. I am now acting out of pure response to that emotion." Or ...
"If I don't do this thing, every one of my friends who I love and respect will think I'm a huge pussy."

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"Look at the little baby who won't slam his balls in his algebra book."

Just like in most of these points, a kid that age hasn't had enough experience to know what to expect in any situation that's out of the ordinary. For instance, the average 16-year-old boy hasn't had a lot of experience ramping cars. But get him and three of his friends together on a country road with a set of train tracks, and that car is going to be airborne. Even if it's a pickup truck and two of the friends are sitting in the bed. Yes, I've done that. We were lucky nobody died. My mom would have a heart attack if she knew how many of my stories end with that phrase.

The teen has thought it through ... he just doesn't have all of the variables to plug into the equation. A teen's decision-making process is at a disadvantage right out of the gate. Yes, there are some kids out there who have genuine mental problems that impair their decision-making, but normal, average teenagers use the mental tools they've been equipped with. They don't just jump into a situation with a blank mind and the inability to consider consequences. Those who do carry that problem with them their entire lives. Regardless, the phrase "use your head" helped them exactly none.

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"Shut up. Not one fucking word, or I'll set every last one of you on fire."

I'm not saying that adulthood wipes the memory like a colonial droid. Time has a way of filtering out the ugly parts of your past until you're left with a heavily Photoshopped version that may look a lot nicer but isn't a truthful reflection. If we don't keep the original raw copy stored away somewhere in our big ol' headface, it's easy for us to blow off modern teen problems as them just being whiny, coddled bitches who have never seen real pain. But if that's what the parents truly think, then the teen isn't the one with the problem.

John is an editor and columnist right here at Cracked, with a new article every Thursday. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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