Your Guide to Parenting Teenagers in a Pandemic

How to make your children enjoy life with you when they should be out partying

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  1. Read articles on how to parent your children during a pandemic and get super frustrated at anyone who claims to be an expert on an experience that no one on earth has ever experienced. (Teenagers did not exist during the 1918 Flu Pandemic and neither did TikTok, I don’t think.)
  2. Remind yourself every day that your teenagers are not your friends. They would rather be with people their own age. They would prefer to be with their friends, but hanging out with their enemies would also be better than hanging out with you.
  3. Puzzles > Board Games
  4. Check-in on your teenagers once a day to make sure that they are breathing. Once a day is enough. More than that is smothering them.
  5. If your teenagers let you follow them on social media, like everything they post, but NEVER comment on anything. I learned this the hard way, so you don’t have to.
  6. Don’t complain to them about your work Zoom meetings because school for them is literally all work Zoom meetings.
  7. Make it OK that your teenagers hate this time. Maybe in the pre-pandemic or post-pandemic world, teenagers can “thrive” or “live their best lives,” but even if it looks like they’re doing either of these things now, do not suggest this to them or even near them.
  8. If your teenagers want to watch Netflix at 1.25x speed, let them, even if this seems totally deranged to you.
  9. Drink coffee. If you previously didn’t drink coffee, start drinking coffee. Now is not the time to not drink coffee.
  10. If your teenagers ask you for a sip of your wine, give them a sip, but only if it’s one of the nights that you’re drinking the cheap stuff. No need to refine their tastes so much that they’ll end up being disappointed when they’re buying their own.
  11. Encourage them to develop a hobby, but hope that that hobby isn’t anarcho-capitalism.
  12. Even though you’re all living under one roof 24/7, accept that most of your best conversations will still happen on your family group chat.
  13. Your children get to decide whether or not to keep their cameras on during Zoom school. If any school administrators disagree with this, flood their inboxes with the angriest emails you can muster.
  14. Do accept their Zoom tips.
  15. Don’t listen in on their Zoom classes.
  16. If they don't want Alexas or Google Homes or HomePods in their bedrooms, respect that. You can’t use them to listen in to what they’re doing in there anyway. Not that I’ve tried. (I’ve tried.)
  17. Schedule Zoom calls with your friends so you can all talk about your children, but don’t forget that you are not in a bar and your children are in the next room and can probably hear you.
  18. Get plants. Overwater them until they die. Replace plants. This is better than overwhelming your children with this kind of attention that has to go somewhere.
  19. Don’t be offended if your daughter who is applying to college doesn’t let you read any of her personal essays. Do not waste any time thinking about whether or not they are about you. Because seriously, is it worse if they are about you or if they aren’t about you?
  20. Pressure them into following you on Twitter, just to keep yourself honest. Enjoy that they will occasionally like your tweets, but NEVER ask them what they thought of those tweets because then you will learn that they like the tweets of yours that they see, but they don’t actually read any of them.
  21. Tweet something embarrassing about them just to make sure they’re really not reading your tweets. Nope. They’re not.
  22. Don’t bother asking them if they’ve ever read anything that you’ve written on Medium. If they do eventually make time to read what you’ve written on Medium (because I mean, really, what else do they have to do?), they will probably tell you that you made several typos.
  23. Burst into song on occasion because one out of ten times you do this, your teenagers might crack a very small smile at how embarrassing you are, and it might be the first time they’ve smiled all day.

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