When Do Parents Become Stupid?

Dear Mom and Dad,
Don’t Read This.
Your (Once-Teenage) Daughter

Am I the only adult who, as a teenager, snuck out of the house, made out with boys and worked on getting high as hard as I worked on Advanced Placement Calculus?

I read post after post of parents who are so shocked that their (or other people’s) teens would take a naked picture of themselves or drink a beer.

Am I the ONLY ONE who remembers what it was like to be stupid and impulsive and determined to be in love?

As a teenager, I saw things and did things that were disrespectful and dumb. BECAUSE I WAS DISRESPECTFUL AND DUMB HANGING OUT WITH A BUNCH OF DISRESPECTFUL AND DUMB FRIENDS (no offense high school buds).

I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of teenager.

I don’t understand this forgetting. I mean do only well-behaved teenagers become parents? Parenting is left to the 15-year-old hall monitors… and me?

Of course, in ten years when my son tells me he’s sleeping over a friend’s house, I hope that he’s ACTUALLY SLEEPING AT HIS FRIEND’S HOUSE. But will I cry and moan if he’s not? Will I say: I brought you up better than this? Will I judge the parents of other teens who are getting caught and point to them as bad influences?

No. No. No.

My kid will get in trouble for lying to me, but I’m not going to lament my parenting. This is what teenagers do. It’s not okay, but it’s not some sort of flaw either.

Teenagers are impulsive and emotional. Which is exactly like they should be with too much hormone and only a teeny tiny touch of perspective floating their brains.  They are toddlers with sex drives.

(Although I will be THAT MOM who calls the parents beforehand to check that a sleepover is a sleepover. My kids are going to have to be way sneakier than I was…. SUCKAHS!)

I thought that I was invincible as a teenager.  And all the crap I put my body and my mind though? I just may have been.

So wake up. Get over it. Oh, and check your liquor stash. Because vodka doesn’t freeze, but the water us teenage idiots use to replace it? Does.

Good luck!

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

29 thoughts to “When Do Parents Become Stupid?”

  1. Ummmm…maybe you will be lucky…not all teenagers sneak out, make out with boys and get high! Just sayin’….

    But, damn, the kids with their sex drives and hormones? Sure drive me to beyond crazy.

  2. That is awesome! I do believe parents IQ’s go down some once we become parents. I just think most people just want to believe their child is perfect and don’t want to admit that kids will be kids and will get in trouble. It is how you handle it afterwards that determines what kind of child you will raise. I love your quote: They are toddlers with sex drives. That is spot on!

  3. I was that kid, minus the “high” part. (That didn’t start till college.)

    But “Determined to be in love” — that was my middle name in high school!

    I’m hoping my hubby will be smarter than me when it comes to stuff like this. He’s way more worldly than I am!

  4. Somehow the memory of what *I* did in college (I was a late bloomer) and what they may/probably will do, kind of bums me out but it also kind of makes me happy. Because I learned a crapton about myself through making mistakes and choosing poorly on a host of things.

  5. ohh, the memories! (or lack thereof) I only hope my daughter is half as stupid as I was and only a quarter as reckless as her daddy is, I mean, was… Thanks for the reminders.

  6. YES.

    My boys are only 2 and 4, and I’m already bracing for impact. I, also, cannot believe I survived my teenage years. My lifestyle could’ve been pulled from the memoirs of a drug-fueled runaway, but I was still a “good” person. And when my boys inevitably do something stupid, I won’t berate them (as I sometimes was) for being terrible people. The lying is the bad part and the decision-making is learning-in-progress. The person, however, is still perfectly flawed and on-track to success.

    I think those who freak the most are freaking because they’re worried they’ve not provided the best foundation–and oftentimes, that is a problem that exacerbates this teenage fever.

    But I’m sure I won’t have that problem, because I’m perfect. Ahem.

  7. I am sooooo not looking forward to teenage years w/ two girls. When we went looking for houses before kids….there was another house on the street we bought for sale…loved it, except for the two spare bedrooms in the front of the house facing the street, mighty easy for kids to sneak in and out of and boys and girls to come a knocking at 2 a.m. in the morning. (like my boyfriend used to do). Instead we chose a two story, with the two rooms for kids almost impossible to get out of w/out breaking a limb…and they would have to tip toe past our bedroom down the creaky stairs to sneak out…oh yeah…I’m not stupid and I know my kids will lie to me. And I their mother, will not be blind.

  8. I remember how stupid I was as a teenager. What I didn’t count on was how being the mother of your OWN teenager renders you Gullible Idiot. I also forgot how f-ing sneaky teenagers are. So yes, responsible and vigilant parent, you call to make sure your teenager is at a sleepover and speak with a very nice, deep-voiced parent. Who happens to be the 20-year old slacker brother of “sleepover friend” and is, naturally, posing as parent. The brother who still lives at home, works at Game Stop, and just went out to buy a keg for your kid and his buddies.

    Just wait. Good times.

  9. Thank you!!! I’m one of the teens that did all of that too!
    I now am the mom of one of them and I feel very alone in the world of parents who know that their teen is not perfect and will not only make the same mistakes but even try to take them to the next level!!
    It is a challenge , but , I’m going with the theory that it is all part of life lessons !!
    I am not thinking I’m stupid ! I , at times, wish I were a little more stupid !!

  10. So, last night my mom and I were watching some procedural show. A cop says to a mom “Did you know your 14 year old son was sexually active?”

    She says, “He would NEVER do that!!!!”

    I looked at my mom and snorted. I said “Any person who thinks a 14 year old male – ANY 14 year old male – would pass up the opportunity to have sex should not be allowed to have children.”

    Apparently, I’m sort of cynical. Which may be why so many other parents are “better” than me and have children who would “never” do these things.

  11. Oh, I was a baaad teen. And I remember all of it. So when my 13-year-old son does something stupid, I’m not all that surprised and I try to roll with it. But my husband, on the other hand, must have been one of those hall monitors or he has a really bad memory because he really does NOT “get” it!

  12. I love this post! I don’t want to be that ignorant parent either – while still secretly hoping that my children are perfect and never break the rules.

  13. I was a pretty good kid for the most part, but I chronicled everything very carefully in my journals all throughout high school so that when I got to be a dumb parent I wouldn’t forget! haha. it’s sort of painful and embarrassing to read through those things now. *cringe* but hey, that’s adolescence for you!

    1. I’m there now with boys 18 and 20. I figured I was very prepared after the things I did but I wasn’t. It’s really heartbreaking at times, and the worst part is now they don’t get sent home, or taken home, like I would have if I’d been stopped for all the many things I did (but didn’t get caught). Now they get arrested, and they have to go to jail. I keep remembering those two really cool, sweet and fun boys and wonder where in the world they went, and wonder if there was something I could have done differently…. Sometimes I just want something to be proud about.
      p.s. I think I share a husband with ShannonL.

  14. I tell the kids that I’m glad that I didn’t have me as a Dad. There wasn’t much that the boys did that got by me. But this daughter has already out maneuvered me and she’s only 11. Looks like she gets locked in the bedroom and brought food for the next few years.

  15. I loved this. My parents used to mark the liquor bottles before leaving overnight and I would send a friend to the store to buy identical bottles, mark them in the same spot, and drink my parent’s. I thought I was really smart until one I day I realized I could just drink the brand new bottles that I bought. All hell broke lose after that.

    And? My favorite trick was telling my mom I was staying the night with a friend, then actually staying with a boyfriend. When my mom called the friend to check on me, my friend would say I was in the bathroom or something. Then my friend would call me and we would 3-way call my mom so the friend’s number would show up on the caller ID.

    1. Oh my God. You were…devious! And I say that with admiration in my voice. It would never have dawned on me to use the three-way calling.

  16. This post bummed me out. Mostly because I realized, after reading it, that my teenage rebellion – reading The Thornbirds and the banned book list – was, well, lame.

    I kinda wish I could be a teenager again for one week so I could raise some hell.

    Which also makes me think I’m going to need someone else to take over parenting my children in about ten years. I may be too easy a mark.

  17. I threw open house parties when my parents went away in high school. I even got caught once. But I still think my mom would say I was an excellent kid. Maybe she threw open house parties too.

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  19. I am laughing at your poor kids. They’ll never stand a chance to pull one over on you. Then again they inherited your genes and will probably be craftier than you.

  20. Are you kidding me? I know exactly what I did as a teen and my kid definitely will need to be super sneaky to get away with stuff. I’ve reached the point where we’ve had some pretty frank discussions, I’ve made some confessions which has spirited some confessions on his part. I give him some space but I don’t for one second fool myself that he’s not sometimes up to no good. I’d rather he do it now when he’s under my roof then when he’s off at college with no oversight at all.

  21. holy crap I think the same thing on a daily basis. I WAS a raging teen and I TEACH raging teens.

    Eddie is screwed someday.

    or busted.


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