How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

The Onion: Brain-Dead Teens

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I saw some teenagers tonight while I was getting some butt cream for my toddler son. It reminded me what an idiot I could be and how obnoxious I must have been at that age. Not sure why I employed the past tense there, but I digress.

I am both excited and terrified of what my son will be like as a teenager. He’s such an impressive personality sometimes. But will he end up following in my pimply, gawky oversized shoes? I was total eye broccoli. Forget the candy.

Or will he be a rebellious, back-talking freight train of hormones like most of the teens I see? Unable to render emotions let alone manners towards the people in his life.

I’m hoping he will be an upstanding citizen of the world who loves art and athletic activities equally. Someone who fights for the underdog and leads his peers with compassion and dignity. A gentleman.

Bwahahahahahahaha… Is there a chance in hell? Maybe.

If you could give one piece of advice on raising a teenager, what would it be? Post it in the comments below, would ya?

Alleviate my fears with some digital wisdom.


41 Responses to “The Onion: Brain-Dead Teens”

  1. I have no advice…since I was a terrible teenager to my parents. Seriously I don’t know how they put up with me, I was awful and rude. I’m hoping by leading by example, setting boundaries and encouraging athletics and education I can raise a good man. Only time will tell I suppose.

    • SaM says:

      Sorry, but as a woman having met many men of all kinds, I don’t believe encouraging athletics will create a good man. Education is good, and health is good, music, etc. But as soon as your boy joins an athletic team, he’ll learn disrespect for women, how to believe he is better than everyone else, and probably break a few bones in the process. Unless you can convince him that you know more than his teammates, which, let’s face it, he’ll be a teenager.

      • Sam I think I will have to respectfully disagree with you. I also have met many men and I’m not sure that you can generalize sports as being the reason why some men disrespect women. My husband played basketball all the way into and through university and chose not to pursue it. He is one of the most undestanding and respectful men I have met. I could go on with the examples but I don’t really feel its necessary. Sports encourages respect for, team building, perseverence and discipline. All of which are qualities I want to see in my son.

      • Rachel says:

        I think it’s all about who’s heading the athletics. It’s the difference between letting your kid join the football team whose head coach is one of those froth-at-the-mouth win-at-all-costs homophobe types or letting him join the football team led by the coach who builds his kids up instead of tearing them down and who works with them all to make sure that they’re eligible and takes an interest in the team as a whole and not just the star players.

  2. Sam says:

    i think what made ME such an awful teenager was the desire to be free and have control of everything and that i felt my folks were too controlling and old fashioned…i guess one should try to be befriend ones child, encourage open communication and sort of set good examples but never preach or force…

    • Jesse says:

      I agree to a point, but our responsibility has to be to the health and well being of the child first. It’s very hard to be friends with a child when you have to set strict boundaries occasionally to protect the child. Open communication is awesome, but there are going to be many things my kids just don’t feel like hearing from me. I like the idea, but I don’t think it should be a driving force in the parents mind.

  3. Catherine says:

    Ok, so I am not an expert outside of being capable enough to recall what worked and what didn’t work with me as a teen. So, if I may, let’s go back to my time while I can still remember it: as a teen the only thing I wanted most was To Be Heard Without Judgement. That automatically made me feel accepted (even if I wasn’t but it was enough to feel a sense of love). I don’t think I’m saying anything most parents don’t inherently know, but it’s what stands out the most in my memory because parents, in all of their oxymoronic fearful love, are afraid to hear their kids say “I’m growing up. Please just trust me, the way you wanted to be trusted at my age. I’ll be fine. YOU turned out ‘aight.” 😉 That was a bit corny but I think we get the point! Great blog btw. Loving it.

  4. kittykye says:

    Trust. My folks and I had a great relationship growing up, and my teen years were terrific. I wasn’t a perfect kid, I stayed out and drank with my friends, but I always let my parents know where I was. My Dad always told me that no matter what, I could call him at any time for a ride from wherever I was, and he would be there. I never really had any trouble talking to them about what was going on with my life because they always gave me the feeling that they trusted me. Of course I did get in trouble, and they would tell me that they were disappointed in whatever it was I had done – which, actually, made me feel bad – and I usually didn’t do it again, because I wanted to keep that trust with them.
    Today, in my adult life, I still have a really good relationship with them.

    • Amanda M says:

      I had the same relationship. My parents were very open with us and stressed that if I chose to drink with my friends, then I should call them if I needed a ride. Alcoholism runs in my family and my parents chose to approach drinking in the standpoint that they’d rather have us be safe than kept a secret from them. At home, they didn’t expressly forbid alcohol either, offering me and my sibs drinks once we reached sixteen-ish.

      They also put forth an effort to listen to me without judgment when I really needed them to. When big decisions came around, while they would ultimately go with what they thought best, they explained what was happening and listened to our concerns.

  5. Stephanie K. says:

    What I’ve noticed from myself, my friends and my family, is that the more you openly communicate with your kids and are willing to accept their communication (even if what they’re saying makes you squirm in your seat), the easier it will be on you and your kid. Be someone your kid(s) can come to and talk to about anything without them having a fear of some huge reaction/blow up/fight. Obviously if they do somethin horrible, appropriate consequences must happen so they know there are consequences to their actions. But you can deliver the consequence in a cool, sane manner so that the teen still feels safe and that he/she has someone to talk to and be safe communicating anything to.

  6. Alan says:

    Start building a relationship with them NOW that gives them confidence that you will always be a supportive friend, as well as a reliable parent. Confidence that you will not judge them no matter how much of a freak they are. And confidence that your love is truly unconditional.

  7. i says:

    Fear, starting at an early age. You cannot replace good ole fashioned, debilitating, irrational, but respectful fear.

    This is how I was controlled, and minus a few infractions, I was essentially a model human as a teenager. My parents never had to strike me, never had to discipline me, because of that fear of their authority. I logically knew there was nothing they could do to sway me from dark path of the teen years, however, I was taught at an early age to respect my elders, and more than that, my parents morals which were impressed upon me from the first day I could interact with them.

    I was granted freedoms many of my friends were not, there was not control, but guidance. Suggestive directions were given, and because I had “true” respect for their opinion, I normally accepted their direction with open arms.

    If that doesn’t work, you could always flick them in the forehead.

  8. Ty says:

    “I’m hoping he will be an upstanding citizen of the world who loves art and athletic activities equally. Someone who fights for the underdog and leads his peers with compassion and dignity. A gentleman.”

    My dad offered for me a blessing, highlighting the attributes he saw and was proud of in me, and the ones he prayed I’d develop as I became a man. I still have that blessing he wrote out, and it offers me great encouragement. I find, even without consciously thinking it, I have strived to live out the qualities of boldness, integrity, and creativity my dad prayed for in his blessing he wrote for me.

    Not everyone who reads this might believe in the power of prayer, but speaking from experience, this made a big impact in my life, and I plan to do it with my kids some day.

  9. Amy says:

    Two words… private school!!!

  10. Tom says:

    What parents allow in moderation, children will do in excess.

  11. Meagan says:

    A book: Escaping the Endless Adolescence. My son is only 8 months old so I can’t verify how true it is from a parenting perspective, but it rang so true to my experiences as a teenager that I’m guessing it will be right on.

  12. Laura says:

    I am no expert, but as someone who has become the legal guardian of a teenage daughter, here’s what worked for my husband and me:

    ~Open Communication. Let them talk and actually listen to them. Even when they are saying the dumbest crap you’ve ever heard in your life. Try to understand where they’re coming from.
    ~Love them for who they are. Even when they haven’t showered for three days or changed clothes in that amount of time. Hold your nose and go in for the hug!
    ~Find their love language. There’s a book called “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers” by Dr. Gary Chapman. Figure out the way that communicates your love to them, and then spend some time cultivating that. Our daughter really blossoms when you compliment her, so we try to find things to verbally compliment her on.
    ~Establish boundaries. Regardless of how they rail against it, all kids feel safe when boundaries are established and maintained.

    Ideally, we would all be doing these things from birth. Good luck! :o)

  13. Paulo says:

    As a teacher, I work with teenagers all day, so my best advice is “Be nice.” That goes for younger teens as well as older teens. It just goes hand in hand with good manners and being polite. I think some of us adults could use that advice, too.

  14. katong says:

    Lead by example, teach by example, inculcate the right moral values, and connect with them emotionally… all this takes time. A child is not a pet.

  15. Tim says:

    Just go with it. I have a 14 year old son whom I have tried to get to act like a human. Needless to say it is without progress. I should not be upset by his 45 minute showers, although it is disturbing to think of what he is doing though. I do get inflamed when I call his name 12 times while he is watching TV. Seriously I could have sex with his mother in the same room and he would not even notice it. Save yourself and start drinking heavily.

  16. Riley says:

    Like father like son. Be the man you would like him to be. A child will fallow your footsteps. Fare, respectful, and loving. You do that and it will go both ways.

  17. Anna says:

    Let the kid express themselves however they want, as long as it’s not unhealthy, and never, EVER, get angry over bad grades. If your kid is trying their hardest, they are doing fine. If their best work can only bring them in a D average, then you go and help them or get them a tutor. I’m fourteen, and I’ve gone through enough crap to last a lifetime. I’m glad I have parents who let me be myself and don’t get upset over my forms of expression, no matter how weird they can seem to them. I’ve seen so many of my friends crack under the pressure of trying to balance school, stress from adolescence, and the need to be perfect to get their parent’s approval. Don’t do that to your kids.

  18. Anna says:

    Oh, also, never read a parenting advice book and put it to use.
    Each and every teenager, no matter how well-behaved they are, will hate that more than anything you can do.

  19. luba says:

    The single most important piece of advice I would give on teenagers is GET THEM A JOB, quickly, preferably around age 12. The most well-mannered kids I’ve ever met started working at an early age. It gives them a sense of worth and perspective about how life really works and what their parents do all day, and handles the unequal sense of entitlement. Make them start pulling their weight, and keep them busy doing productive things along their own purpose in life. Then they’ll be coming to you for help on how to handle the assholes in their life instead of being one.

  20. luba says:

    One of the most effective coversations I ever had with my teen was “What would you do if you spent all your money and bought all this stuff for your friends, and you went out of your way to drive them wherever they needed to go ’cause they didn’t have cars, and you were getting in trouble for not finishing your homework because of helping them out, and they didn’t say thank you and repaid you by telling you that this was expected, didn’t want you to be around because you “ebarrass” them by existing, and then turn around and complained about all the things you still don’t do for them? I can guarantee you that you wouldn’t stay friends for very long. So, let’s stay friends, shall we?”

  21. Rikard says:

    We used to regard people as grown up at around the age of 14 (after confirmation, in my home country sweden).

    Today, I sometimes read of “youngsters” at the age of 24. Puuleeeze!

    If you shall stand any chance of having a mature, self reliant, caring teenager (you know, what we in general would call to be grown up) I believe it an absolute necessity to actually start to treat them as grown ups quite early. Shure, they’ll make mistakes, but, honestly, you still do and I still do, at 40… it’s part of life.

  22. O'Connor says:

    You can’t let your teenager see any weakness in you. They’re like hungry lions. The second they get even the smallest scent of it. They are all over you, like a zebra with a hurt leg.

  23. Chika says:

    My mum just sat back. She was always open with me about everything. If I asked a question she would always give me the exact amount of information I wanted and if she couldn’t she’d help me find the information. She let me have my wild days: hanging out with older people, dating morons, coming home drunk at 3am, get my face pierced, get a tattoo. She was always there with asprin, a hug and (if the situation called for it) a grounding (which was more of a “I yelled at you, you learned something, now go out with your normal friends”).

    Let them make mistakes. Never hold information back if they want to know something. And let them know that they are never too old to climb up on your knee for a cuddle when things get rough, although one day they may be too heavy.

  24. Christina says:

    I wasn’t going to comment on this one, but I thought it best while I have all the answers. When my 2 year old and newborn are teenagers, I’ll have absolutely no answers!

    So…hiding in a cupboard for the next 10 years works for me.

  25. Debra says:

    There are two things you need to successfully raise a child through the teen years. I have raised two daughters to adulthood. One was easy; one, not so much.

    1) PATIENCE!!! Pick your battles. I used to ask myself “Will anyone die if this happens?” If the answer is no, let it go. If the answer is yes or maybe, fight for what you think is right.

    2) DUCT TAPE!! You need the duct tape mostly to put over your mouth when the urge to interrupt your raving teen becomes too strong to resist. Listen to them. They are people too. You will also need the duct tape to put over your teen’s mouth when they refuse to listen to you. And, it also comes in handy to secure said teen in place so they hear what you have to say without running away.

    Just remember, the teen years are temporary. Eventually they will reinstall the brain they remove when they hit their teen years, and realize you are not as dumb as they think you are.

  26. Alex says:


    i saw your video and it really made me upset

    i would like to help i think she is so beautiful and im really sorry to hear this

    hope to hear from you soon

    • Lacey S says:

      Alex – the Onion is a satirical website publishing fake news. The story of the “braindead teen” is just one that they made up for laughs and to get people thinking and sympathizing.

  27. Rachel says:

    According to my mom, parenting a teenager begins when they’re toddlers. ;3 If you don’t have a handle on them then, it just gets worse with age.

    Everyone has already given great advice here. Some of it I might repeat because it bears repeating.

    *Let him be who he’s going to be. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to live up to a parent’s dream of who you should be. You’ll either get a miserable person or a rebellious one. My mom told me recently that if someone had asked her when we were teenagers where we’d be now, she never would have been able to even guess. And yet, here me and my two brothers are; independent, fulfilled and happy with our jobs and where we are in life.

    *Treat them the way you expect them to treat you. The golden rule applies. If you don’t respect your kid (their privacy, their opinions and their feelings), why should they respect you? Like the one commenter who said above, ‘be nice’.

    *Someone else said to, be who you want them to be. If you’re a good man (and from reading this blog, I can tell you are), he will be too, I have no doubt.

    *Listen, listen, listen. And realize that you can’t always fix the problem, and that sometimes, they don’t even want you to try, they just want someone to talk to about it. Trust is big too. If he comes to talk to you about sex and you shut the conversation down so fast it makes his head spin…he’s not coming to you again with questions/concerns/problems, and that’s definitely not a road you want to be on. There are a lot of people out there who are against being your teenager’s friend, but sometimes I think people are confused about what being a friend means. I wouldn’t tell/let any of my friends go out and do something colossally stupid, and I certainly wouldn’t supply the alcohol to help the stupidity along. There’s a difference, I’d contend, between being your child’s friend and being an overly permissive parent.

    *Like the other poster said above, let them make their own mistakes. Best they make their mistakes when you’re there to help them out and when you can provide a little bit of a safety net than cotton balling their world and letting them fall flat on their face without anyone there to help dust them off and show them how to cope and get back up on their feet.

    *Ignore everything anyone tells you on how to parent a teenager and go with what feels right to you. ;D You know your kid and you know what works and what doesn’t.

  28. Michelle says:

    I wrote this to a bunch of mothers who have toddlers right now. I have a 17 year old and a 2 year old.
    Your sweet little doodle bug, open mouth kisser, late night snuggler will hate you one day. Even if you never think it will happen (I never did) prepare for it because it hurts.
    Your child that loves to snuggle and give hugs will one day not want you to touch them. Even though they may fight, roll their eyes, push you away, HUG THEM ANYWAY.
    When every word out of their mouth is negative or turns into an argument it can be difficult to remember why you love them. TELL THEM ANYWAY and DO IT OFTEN.
    For a long time I pulled away from my oldest because of her attutude and her hatred of me. We had always been very close and this new hatred and attitude hurt me. She yelled at me and pushed me away when I tried to hug her, so I stopped. She never said I love you back and gave me attitude when I said it so I stopped saying it. A year later and our relationship was horrible. She thought I hated her, was waiting to be kicked out, felt I no longer wanted her around etc. So I have made it a point to tell her everyday that I love her. She hasn’t said it back yet, but she hears it now. I make it a point too hug and kiss her every day. She no longer fights it and actually has willingly hugged me (maybe twice but it is something).
    So, when your children get older, no matter how they act show them you love them anyway.

    • Anna says:

      You make good points here, but I don’t think you should use the word “hate” here at all. Though your child may act as if they hate you, and they may say it, they’d be nowhere without you. They’re probably scared and unsure, and like you said, doubting you will always be there for you. Your affection is good in this situation, but be sure to give your kid alone space, as well! Over-affection could also be a reason they’re so defensive. They may thing you’re putting up a dramatic act because you’ve “forgotten” how to love them.

  29. Travis says:

    never show inconsistency, especially in the area dealing with the consequences of actions, in punishment, or reward. and if your children know, when dad says no, it means a spanking if disobeyed, so many children I see nowadays act total fools in public, but swift punishment is delayed by “I said stop” and “no hamburger on the way home for you” often times, physical pain and swift consequences are best, ignore liberal, humanistic, pseudo philosophical parenting advice and literature. human beings are not above an animals primary method of learning, pain and pleasure. my son knows that when I say ” if you do that, that’s 49.5 glue sticks on the hand ” that it means literally he will be struck by a glue stick 49.5 times. no joke. but he also knows when I say “tomorrow, since you did right, we will go buy modeling clay and glaze and make our own cereal bowls” that it means rain or shine I’m gonna keep my word. lead by example. and your child needs to KNOW. I AM THE LEADER. if he learns that your judgement is sound at a young age, when he hears you say “that kid is off limits, he is a bad friend for you” that you are provably right.

  30. Brandy says:

    i dont know bout the advice thing being as my first child isn’t even a year old yet but in my opinion i think the parents of that poor girl needed put down not here if she were completely brain dead she could not get dressed put on make up talk text write anything she wouldn’t have been able to speak the words are you for real killing me now dumb ass doctor needs to be put down too that is rediculous im 21 years old and i in fact went through that faze sort of anyways not quite that bad at one point in my life now i am a happily married for over 3 and a half years now mother of one beautiful baby girl i know what those parents were going through couldn’t have been easy but life aint suppose to be easy especially dealing with disturbed or mentally ill or mentally challenged children they aren’t animals you dont just put em down cause something is wrong with them its sick really even the thought she wasn’t brain dead or she wouldn’t have been able to move whatever the case she deserved a chance i mean hell she was only 12 years old for crying out fucking loud she had her entire life to get better for something to change she never even had the chance to get better some people should never have had kids i think u should have to take some kind of test or do some kind of study to get a license to have kids well to have sex really cause one leads to the other, their is a license for everything else in the world less important i mean its just plain outragious the kids didn’t ask to be born or made if you don’t want them if u can’t handle whatever the responsibility is to them don’t make em plain and simple if an accident happens give them to someone who will step up and would do anything for them too many kids need good parents to many couples that would be great parents cant have their own,,, simply put stop being an inconsiderate think nothing has consiquinces would care less person and the whole world would be a better place. that’s my story for anyone who cares to know.

    • Lacey S says:

      Brandy – As I posted to Alex above, the Onion is a satirical website that posts fake “news”. The girl is in no danger – they were just trying to be funny. And a good reule of thumb – everywhere you thought to pause your mental voice when you typed that, you probably should have put a comma. Everywhere your mental voice took a breath, put a period <3 People naturally talk, and think, in punctuation 🙂

  31. Michelle says:

    Brandy dear, I think you need to go back and re-watch the video. It was a spoof, a joke – as in not to be taken seriously.

  32. Lamb says:

    Hmm. Some of these suggestions are so lovely and encouraging that it makes me wonder if you actually have teens. I’ve got one leaving for college soon, one about to get his license, and one in middle school. How about a little reality:

    Toddlers and teens are very much alike. They are both moody, argumentative, infuriating, irrational, difficult, exhausting, and prone to tantrums. The difference is that toddlers dont know better and teens rip your heart out. On purpose. With glee.

    You know how rational a two year old is during a tantrum? Well that’s a modicum of logic and restraint compared to a fifteen year old who is getting his phone confiscated for texting continuously from midnight 4:00am on a school night. You think your heart stops when your little guy takes a tumble down the stairs? Wait until they’re out driving in their first snowstorm. And believe me: losing your kid for a few minutes in the grocery store is a party compared to searching the streets of the city for them at 2:30am when they get mad at you for grounding them and run away. I’m not belittling how hard it is to parent little ones. Really. I had three kids under 5 and a husband who travelled a lot. It was really tough. I’m just letting you know that it’s all just training for what is to come.

    I’m a bit biased. I’m on the trenches now. I’m sure in a few years I’ll look back and miss having teens. They are amusing at times. I can already see my oldest starting to become human again. (Just in time for him to leave so I can’t enjoy it!) And really, I’m lucky. My kids are pretty decent students, mostly responsible, don’t party, and have never gotten in a serious relationship with the opposite gender. (the latter is not going to be true too much longer, unfortunately)

    My parenting advice: You are not your teens friend. You are their parent. You cannot believe how much this distinction hurts. However, it is your job to guide and protect them when they are at the most dangerous time of their lives. It is not for the faint of heart.

  33. Emily S. says:

    That was funny.

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