Mother-of-two girls Isma Almas has been through the teenage years with her eldest and is smack bang in the middle of them with her youngest. Sounds like she’s über qualified to offer some tips, and luckily for us, she’s willing to.
Teenage fix: (l-r) Tasha, Isma in the centre and Jo-Jo
I’m mum to two daughters, the eldest being 20 and the youngest, 16. To quote from X Factor, it’s been an ‘amazing journey’. Here, I’ve put together what I’ve learnt along the way; my ‘best bits’, if you will.
• Hide your nice things. Teenage girls (and some boys), can smell the purchase of a new beauty product from the bus stop. And they do not know what ‘use ‘sparingly’ means.
• In teenager language, to ‘borrow’ something means to ‘keep’. If you let your teenager ‘borrow’ your special bag/jeans/boots, accept that you will not get them back. You may even spot your teenager’s mate wearing your bag/jeans/boots following a swap for a jacket/skirt/nasty dress.
• Give them evening primrose oil supplements EVERY DAY. I swear by this stuff – it’s great for PMT and eases them through the hormonal years.
• You should take evening primrose oil supplements EVERY DAY. See above.
• Encourage them not to be swayed by the media’s general attitude to the weight and shape of women. Commandeer a few classic culprits and talk about the messages they send, and how they fuck with our heads:
1. You’re too fat. You obese fucker.
2. Diet forever. You obese fucker.
3. No thigh gap? You obese fucker.
4. A healthy body? You obese fucker.
• Make them watch Thelma and Louise with you.
Teach them to be assertive and empower them against everyone else in the world, but not YOU. It makes your job really hard otherwise and you can’t end an argument with them simply by saying, ‘because I said so’.
• Never let your supplies of sanitary towels/tampons run low. You will be running late for that important meeting/date/job interview, need a towel/tampon and needless to say, there won’t be any left in the house.
• Teach them how to budget and look after their money. By doing this, you are also looking after your own hard-earned cash.
• Cuddle them. Remember, we all need a hug and to be told we are loved. This includes teenage girls.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for their help. You are not superwoman and teenagers can muck in. It’s okay for them to empty the dishwasher/hoover/hang the washing out.
• Remember you are the parent. Be silly and daft with your teenage girls, have a laugh with them, but at the end of the day, remember you are the parent and not a teenage girl yourself.
• Teach them to be assertive and empower them against everyone else in the world, but not YOU. It makes your job really hard otherwise and you can’t end an argument with them simply by saying, “because I said so.”
• Choose your battles. Don’t get into a row with them about absolutely everything (I’m still working on this one). Challenge the stuff that’s important to you but then let the little stuff go.
• Don’t give yourself a hard time if you end up crying, behaving irrationally, shouting at them and going ‘missing’ for a few hours because you’ve had enough (I hadn’t taken the evening primrose oil that day). What matters is that you can resolve things and move on. And as long as it’s not happening on a daily basis, you’re doing just fine.
Isma is a social worker, writer, comedian and mother