'My teenagers hate me. I blame the internet.'

Ladies and Gentlemen. I have been officially cancelled. By my teenagers.

Apparently, I don’t know what it’s like to be a teenager.

I had thought, seeing as I am pushing 40, it would be obvious to them, that I have actually been one. 

How else would one make it all the way to wrinkles and chin hairs without first being prepubescent? 

Watch: Parents of teenagers, translated. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

I was young and hot not that long ago, I hasten to add! No, I didn’t Tik or Tok, nor did I Snap or Chat. And no, The Wiggles equivalent of my time were most certainly not woke.

My lack of "in the real world" experience in the teen sphere is a crime to my offspring.

It is met with an automatic shutting down of the hearing function. Punishable by eye roll. Or sigh. Or a terrifying combination of the former combined with the potent drop kick of a passive aggressive quip. And finished off by a strut down the hall, and a slamming of the bedroom door. Noted. I am not cool and my opinion is invalid.

In my defence, your honour, back then the internet was barely a thing. And you couldn’t get on it if someone was using the landline. Which they always were. 

Sitting in a little corner, a phone nestled on top of a table, connected to the wall via curly cable, a thick and heavy paper phone book close by in case you needed to look up a friend’s number, or address! 

Also, it took ages. And it made that weird, constipated, gurgling sound. Honestly, the internet was a very boring thing. If I had any questions, I could look them up in the family collection of the Encyclopedia Britanica. It was quicker. 

Alphabetical order. One paragraph. Question answered.

My teenagers are true digital natives, they are Gen Z. Zoomers. They have no memory of the world as it existed before smart phones. 

While I am still startled when I open my phone to take a photo of a flower and find myself staring at a screen filled with my own giant nostrils, turkey neck and several chins. 

These Zoomers I birthed, and their cohort, live online. Dating, learning, shopping, researching, communicating - everything - all done via screens. 


Being popular requires good lighting, a brilliant concept, and about 30 seconds of time on the internet combined with a catchy pre-recorded audio.

I now realise that what I thought was hard during the baby phase was actually pretty easy.

Listen: Yumi Stynes chats to Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo about her Five Golden Rules for parenting on Mamamia's podcast This Glorious Mess. Post continues below. 

Yes, the leaking and swollen body parts post-delivery were not ideal. The lack of sleep was truly torturous. And there was a lot of poo. But it quickly settled down. There was cooing. Smiling. A shared adoration. 

Soon enough it was a matter of shoving some sort of prepackaged organic vegetable something or other at them and patting myself on the back for being a great mum. There was light at the end of the tunnel.

But this stage of parenting feels like landing a job because I lied on my resume and all my workmates resent me.

I have no f**king idea what I am doing.

I am wildly underqualified to guide them through this online, rapidly evolving world we are all living in. I know nothing.

When I was bullied at school, I could catch the bus home, and leave it all behind, at least until the next day.

My teens carry their persecutors around in their pockets. Constantly. Their stress levels are high. Their mental health needs supporting. There is a lot of data building about just how detrimental the screens and the artificial connectedness is to the human brain. It’s terrifying.

I don’t know how to help, with any of it. And my anxiety leaks out of me in the form of helicoptering over their devices.

Screen times have been screwed down. I have passwords to their Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. They are not allowed Snapchat. 

To them I probably sound like a short dictator with a moustache while I march around barking orders in my UGG boots and messy bun. One of them even told me I am an "extreme parent".

It feels like I am fighting an invisible war. With both eyes closed. And the two hormone driven humans hate me for eating away at their independence and freedoms. And touché. 

I don’t like them very much either, but I am happy for them to hate me while I battle to keep them safe.

Tarrin Lenard is a Zimbabwean Immigrant who loves gin but drinks tea, teaches yoga and writes words. And not that it should matter but who has also birthed four humans. And been married. Twice. You can find more from Tarrin on Facebook or Instagram.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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