10 Rules for surviving your daughter's teenage years

  1. Do not attempt a conversation before midday
    Don't bounce in with a cheery "Good Morning" or make inquiries about breakfast or what her plans are for the day. This is courting extreme danger. There is nothing more venomous than a tired teenager and they are most tired in the six hours immediately after dawn. Under no circumstances open the blinds. A crazed cobra would be a welcome alternative to the response you'll get from under the covers.

  2. Cut your losses
    If you can't find the TV guide/stapler/hairbrush/phone/flashlight/nail clippers/deodorant/pepper grinder/can opener/chain saw, etc, do not waste half an hour combing the premises. Remember, you can never get this time back, ever. Go straight to your daughter's room. It will be there.

  3. Do not question your daughter about the number of hair products in the bathroom
    Each hair is an individual and, unlike you, your daughter knows this. And each hair must be treated in the manner best suited to its type, condition, color, degree of frizz, etc. This explains the 6,875,483 bottles of shampoo, conditioner, defrizzers, straightening balms, waxes, salves, leave-in conditioners, wash-out conditioners, deep conditioners, everyday conditioners, scalp treatments, root treatments, total treatments and treatments to remove all other treatments that jostle for position on your bathroom shelf. And yes, they are all needed. However, you can turn this cash drain-and you're the one paying for all these potions-into less of a financial deficit by buying shares in the parent companies concerned. Here is your opportunity to indulge in a little insider trading.

  4. Never pick up the phone assuming the call is for you
    This would be a rare event indeed. The adolescent female brain actually resembles the New York telephone exchange and while it may have trouble retaining useless trigonometric equations, it has no difficulty in multitasking certain intricate operations. Your daughter is quite adept at holding a conversation on her cell phone, chatting to another acquaintance on your land line and typing frantically to a third conspirator in an internet chat room, thus single-handedly tying up the entire household communication network. If someone actually succeeds in penetrating this "wall of words", it will only be yet another one of her verbally-enhanced friends. Your answering the phone will only give the distinct impression to her friends that she actually lives with her parents, thereby eliciting the response mentioned in Rule 1.

  5. Don't ask your teenager to help with household chores
    Really, life's too short to go this route and anyway, it's probably easier to persuade that camel to go through the eye of a needle. Camels, despite their noted bad tempers, are pussycats compared to a teenager being hounded to clean her room, empty the dishwasher or vacuum the hallway. Even if you do succeed in getting such a task completed, the energy expended in doing so will only make you implode in a negative energy imbalance. In other words, do it yourself.

  6. Book an appointment at the local tattooist and body piercer
    Get in early with this one. As soon as the first sign of teenage rebellion manifests, go get yourself "inked up". You know she'll be wanting to do it as a statement of her "independence and emerging individuality," (even though all her friends are doing the same), so you must make the first move. By definition, it can't be cool if you're doing it. Sporting a couple of prominent tatts during her "difficult years" is well worth the price, both financially and emotionally, of seeing your innocent baby covered in an array of pigments and metal objects. And the rattle of a tongue stud on your expensive front bridgework is worth the pitying looks from your colleagues in the boardroom when compared to the thrill of beating your teenager at her own game.

  7. Don't worry about your daughter doing drugs
    This is a great concern for many parents, but it need not be for you. Again, at the first sniff of anything illegal emanating from your teenager's personal space, it's time for you to kit up with all the paraphernalia of the dark side. Bongs, plastic tubing, needles, hydroponics-these are your weapons in the war against drugs. At first, she may think you're cool, but you'll quickly become both an embarrassment and a liability as you loll around in a sea of bottles and bodies. The law of compensation will ensure that she will be horrified by your new behavior and likely pack you off to rehab. Round 7 to you.

  8. Readily offer to drive your daughter anywhere
    The alternative to doing this is that you will have no idea where your offspring is, or who she is with. Or worse, a be-pimpled youth in a vehicle, held together only by rust, will call to whisk her out of your life for the next few hours (or long enough to enter into elaborate, or not so elaborate, mating rituals in the back seat of this conveyance of carnality). Listening to the mindless babble of a gaggle of girls embarking on a shopping blitz or the stony silence of your very own princess is a small price to pay for the sheer terror of a testosterone-laden male making off with your precious genetic material.

  9. Turn a blind eye to the clothing strewn on the floor of your daughter's room
    Nothing hastens a trip to the cardiac ward quicker than getting steamed up over your daughter's choice of floor coverings. Sure, these expensive clothes that you're still paying off with the credit card may now resemble the apparel of a seasoned tramp, but it's a tribal thing really. Teenagers are another species. And just as some people adorn their floors with animal skins, adolescent girls do it with expensive, brand name clothing. Even the Dalai Lama would have trouble coping with this one but you can console yourself with the thought that when your daughter moves out, the carpet will be virtually like new.

  10. Never acknowledge your daughter in public
    This is an important one. As the parent of a teenager, you must accept that you have now plummeted to the status of an Untouchable. Should you ever find yourself out in public with your teenage daughter (and this will be rare), do not move within a three-yard radius of your offspring, do not make eye contact and NEVER make bodily contact, especially in a gesture of affection. If you must speak, do so whilst gazing nonchalantly in the opposite direction. Extra points can be gained if you can appear to be mumbling to yourself, thus giving your beloved child the opportunity to pass you off as a complete loony to her friends.

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