By Sue Pringle

  1. I’m just about to do that

Essentially, this is code for “I can’t be arsed to do that” and includes an array of basic domestic duties such as picking towels up off the floor, bringing down the laundry, and clearing the sink drainer of food debris (“at least I washed up!”). The only way to resolve this particular stalling tactic is to repeat, as many times as required, “do it NOW!”

how to understand teenagers

  1. I’m just going upstairs to get changed

The usual first statement when returning home after any kind of outing, regardless of whether it impacted on sartorial choices. It’s the perfect opportunity to disappear off upstairs, plonk yourself down on the bed/floor, and catch up with what’s been going on in the world, via a smart phone.

Time is of no consequence during this important activity, the fact that it takes around 60 minutes to take a pair of jeans off and replace them with something slouchy from Topshop is neither here not there, this is important bonding time with the world. Anything could have happened since the last check in, about 60 seconds ago.

  1. I’m just going to the loo

Whilst it may be true that your teenager actually does need to visit the bathroom, it’s more likely to be an excuse to sit in a small-ish room and catch up on what exciting things have happened on social media since they last checked, at least 5 minutes ago. The world is a very small place remember, a lot can happen in that window of time, so it’s important to know that someone might have posted another sticky-out-tongue-selfie.

  1. I’ll do that in a minute

Distinct from “I’m just about to do that” this is an example of a teenagers planning skills. They probably do plan to do the thing they say they’re going to do, it just might take a few hours, or even days to do it. Be patient.

  1. I thought you said you were going to do that, mum

In the same vein as the “in a minute” line of thinking, this one is reverse psychology, where you as the parent of a teenager, are expected to do something the very minute you are asked to do it. This can include responding to texts from school asking you to top their dining hall account up, transfer money, or send that email in to say that you have seen their end of term report (even though you haven’t) because they’ll get into trouble for not returning the “I’ve seen it slip”. The important thing to know, is that you have to do it immediately.

  1. I won’t be late

Never, ever believe it, especially from a ‘late’ teen, always assume they will be, and get a few hours sleep in before you wake up and realise they’re still not home. Teenagers can’t tell the time, especially when they’re out with the pack.

  1. I’ll be quiet, promise

No code here, simply disregard. Any teenager in possession of a drop of alcohol will be noisy. Buy some ear plugs instead, and get some sleep. And make them clean up.

  1. “You know the other day when…” (this one’s a bit more advanced)

This takes considerable skill to de-code, and relies heavily on prior knowledge of the teenager’s particular speech patterns, and how adept they are (or not) with the art of subtlety.

It’s usually an ‘ask’ for something, and it can have a slow build, cleverly constructed over a few days, weeks, or even months. It’s a bit like witnessing an unfolding a political campaign, there’s always an agenda, but working out what that it actually is and where it’s leading can be very tricky.

Younger models of teenager are quite clumsy, as it takes them a few years and failed attempts to hone their skills. Tip: if you’re friends with them on Facebook, you can catch ‘em out double quick, but they only make that mistake once before unfriending you.

By the time they reach 17 or 18 however, they’re usually quite expert, so you have to be pretty smart to outwit them unless you want to get completely fleeced. Campaigns include things like contributing to post A level flight/holiday costs, where the slow build parental approval process gently evolves into a consensus, a collusion, that you did agree they could go to Ibiza, and you’d pay for it. Keep your wits about you, remain alert; otherwise they’ll be entering your credit card details before you’ve worked out that you never got it back from the last Topshop spree you coughed up for.

More straightforward campaigns to master, might involve negotiations about how many people are coming to your house for “pre’s” (an obligatory part of teen culture, where each “pre” gets rated by the “pre-ers”). Forgetting any aspirations to get your teen to demonstrate any sign of public affection towards you when their pals are around, assume the role of invisible waiter with a never ending supply of designer stubbies and Prosecco. Understanding the code that you can see seen and not heard is key to success.

And never, ever buy the soft drinks or nibbles at Aldi, it might be good for the purse, but it’s social suicide for your teen.

  1. “I’ll pay you back”
    They never do. End of.

10.“I’ll put some petrol in the car”

Repeat, they never do.

Still love ‘em to bits, and wouldn’t have it any other way….good luck!

You may also like: Teens, Connecting And Privacy – Digital Safety Tips and Teens And Sexting – 5 Tips For Parents

Sue Pringle

Sue Pringle is mum to two daughters, now aged 21 and 18. These reflections are her personal views and insights on having seen off the teenage years, almost. She is the founder of Millie Lingerie which provides a vast selection of lingerie’s for post breast cancer women.  Visit her various hang outs online, the Millie Lingerie website, @millie_lingerie on Twitter, Facebook, millie_lingerie on Instagram.

Last Updated on February 1, 2023 by Editorial Staff

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