Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 04:13 pm

Raphael Bromilow, on behalf of all long-suffering teens, runs through some of his worst examples of parental misbehaviour

Parents, do you remember those dim and distant days when you were a teenager? Of course you do. So try not to do to your teenagers, what your parents did to you … embarrass them, in private and public, to the point of desperation.

She laughs into the pillow, holding my hand in the darkness of the bedroom. For a moment we lie in silence, staring at the ceiling. She presses her cheek into my chest and everything slows, and slows, and…

“WEEEEE WERE WATCHING STARS!” Paolo Nutini’s wailing voice – my ringtone – threatens to burst my eardrums. Who on earth is calling me at 01:30 on a Saturday morning?

“I’ll just go shut that up, shall I?” I apologise, crossing the cold floor to the vibrating rectangle of light. One glance at the screen fills me with dread.

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It’s my mother, calling from her room down the passage.

“What?” I moan sleepily, trying to make it seem like I don’t know who’s on the other end of the line.

“You’re not sleeping in there, are you?” comes the loudly whispered response.

“My mom … needs … help with something.” I cringe at the feeble transparency of my own voice, trembling slightly. Despite the lack of light, I know both of us can feel the blood rushing to my face.

I hang up and run to her bedroom, nervously approaching her blanket-wrapped form, propped up on pillows.

“Mom, why?”

“You remember the rule, don’t you? You aren’t allowed to share your bed with her.”

I was hoping she’d be asleep by now. Damn.

How am I going to explain this?

Parents can make life less than comfortable for a teenager. Here are five other ways I’ve noticed:

1. Barging into parties

My parents aren’t guilty of this most heinous of crimes, but it physically hurts when I see a mother walking her child into my house, asking where the responsible adult is, and, am I drinking alcohol? Oh how I pity them. Just one year from now your child might not live with you, and you treat her like that? She’ll probably leave as soon as possible.

2. Making out in public

Seriously, did no one tell you PDAs are gross? I’m glad there’s still that spark in your marriage, but there’s nothing romantic about kissing in Woolies. We don’t make out in front of you, so please. Having to stare awkwardly at the veggies while you guys have a little go at it isn’t as fun for me as it is for you.

3. Shouting at people in traffic

I still remember my then-best-friend’s father’s fat head, glinting in the morning light as he spewed abuse at the elderly driver in front of him. Absolutely terrifying. After 18 months of hiding behind dashboards and back seats, I’d had enough of his tendencies and had to succumb to the horrors of public transport. 

4. Insisting on watching terrible series “as a family”

I’m sorry if mediocre sitcoms and police dramas are your thing, but when you force me to watch them with you, my distaste rises. I’m more than happy to eat with you if we’re going to sit around the table and communicate, but trying to hear Sheldon Cooper’s nasal voice over the sound of chewing is not top on my list of favourite family activities.

5. Complaining at restaurants

Again, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with this, but I have been present at the scene of such crimes. You’re sitting at the table staring at your fork, when a movement out of the corner of your eye makes you look up.

At the head of the table, the mother of this unfortunate family prods her scone in a peculiar manner. She mutters. You glance around in panic, but it’s too late.

She waves at the waiter. Perhaps the only situation in which one would consider death by fork.

I’m lucky to have relaxed folks, but even they can make me blush. Parents need to understand that teenagers need space to grow into their adult selves. Give us a little freedom. We might just surprise you.