“Kids, who’d have ‘em?” No doubt you’ve heard this rhetorical questions many times, and equally, I’m sure, most of you have uttered (or possibly screamed) it yourselves.
Nevertheless, our children will always be a source of delight and pleasure to us, from infancy to toddlerhood, adolescence to flying the nest. There is however, a period in between these stages in life which I fear should be preceded by the EastEnders duff duff, it is, of course, the teenager. Specifically, the teenager about to take GCSEs and doing revision, or in my own particular teenager’s case, revision denial. And here’s the thing, how do we parent student teenagers? Where are the manuals ? Apart from some good advice on mumsnet (who knew?) you basically have to pick your way through this particular minefield on your own. If it helps, here is my own battle plan.
Commonsense, obviously is a great place to start, although a bit of an anathema to your average teen. But, ploughing on, start with a filing system for the handouts stuffed into bags - this will help make some sense out of the revision timetable when you (yes you) draw it up. Buy a huge stash of pens, pencils, highlighters etc., this will impede the avoidance tactics of “I can’t find any (insert relevant stationery.)” Provide a quiet place to study, Wherever your diligent darling decides to revise, by law – theirs – they need a laptop. FYI, don’t argue with a teen studying GCSE Law unless you’re called to the Bar – they know it all. Regrettably, along with BBC Bitesize (superb) on said laptop comes facebook, twitter, youtube, Championship Manager and each time you catch them on one of these comes the reply, that lthey’re on a break. It remains to be said, that being on hand with sandwiches, bottles of water, chocolate snacks and offers of testing and a shoulder to cry on is all you can realistically do. You can’t physically imbue relevant information into their brain, possibly because it’s too full of irrelevant stuff. Ask about any footballer and you’ll be met with a barrage of facts and figures. Ask about Hitler’s Foreign Policy or the Treaty of Versailles and you’re met with a blank stare and most teenagers’ weapon of choice – the shrug.
The trick is not to beat yourself or them up about it. All you can do is send them out on exam day with a good night’s sleep, breakfast and a hug, and look on like Alex Ferguson hoping that the hairdryer treatment wasn’t the best way after all. Finally, remember to tell them how proud you are of their hard work before August 21st – results day – there’s more to life than an A*.