Top 10 Things Your Teen Hates to Hear You Say

We have all been, or are, teenagers and many of us have been, or are, parents of teenagers so I am sure we can all relate to the challenges that can throw up for both parties. What better way to examine the worst things the Teen hates to hear the parent say than with this joint effort from a full time member of each team!

So let me introduce to you in the Red Corner Elizabeth Williams Bushey aka @inklesstales. Elizabeth is a writer, illustrator, musician, and runs the award-winning web site for children, InklessTalesShe also gives concerts for children; you’ll find her original music at InklessTunes.

And in the Blue Corner Emily Indie (14) aka @EmilyIndie

Emily Indie is Elizabeth’s fourteen-year-old daughter. She is an actor, singer, pianist and writer. She is also wickedly funny, and has been known to bring mother-daughter arguments to an abrupt halt with: :That’s what you get for raising an independent thinker.”

1. “Life’s Not Fair.”

Whether life is fair or not, it ought to be – at least at home. It’s Mum’s job to make sure life IS fair, at least regarding who gets what chore, which sibling gets the firm talking-to and who gets blamed for the dirty dishes on the living room table.

As for life being fair OUTSIDE the home? Well, teens kind of hold Mum responsible for that, too, but to that, teens answer: see the above heading, as well as the saying: “hoisted on your own petard.”

2. “I Don’t Care Who Started It.”

It is of supreme and critical importance ‘who started it’, naturally, because whoever STARTED it is the one who DESERVED the bowl of pudding all over their head, of COURSE, and the day mothers of the world understand THAT is the day mums will STOP insisting teens of the world clean up the pudding dripping all over the floor. THAT, in turn, will be the beginning of World Peace itself.

3. “Don’t Use That Tone of Voice With Me.”

Mums really MUST learn to cope with their children having actual, human reactions to their totalitarian, fascist dictatorship rule over their lives. Be satisfied your teen is in your presence, however sullen, listening, however unhappily.

Really, Mummy? You insist on sunny faces and cheerful smiles as you endlessly list our shortcomings, as well?

4. “When I was your age….”

Teens absolutely LOATHE comparisons between YOUR teen years and theirs. Not only is it purely unfathomable to compare a modern teen’s life filled with Internet, smart phones, and petrol-powered vehicles to a life filled with dense vegetation, prehistoric predators, and hopelessly outdated customs regarding the opposite sex, it’s simply too boring to contemplate without nodding off.

No matter HOW relevant you feel YOUR experience is, it matters not. The very definition of experience? You have to go through it yourself.


5.”Instead of Going Out With Your Friends, Why Don’t You Invite Your Friends Here?”

A thought far too horrifying to contemplate.

Unless you live on Cadogan Square, off Sloan Street in London, or perhaps Notting Hill or Chelsea in which case your teen’s FRIENDS probably live on nearby Buckingham Palace Road, which presents the same problem, just on a £5 million scale, instead of just a fiver at YOUR house or flat, to your teen, will always seem a miserable, dred* hovel compared to nearly ANYWHERE else. Even a miserable, dred hovel.

6.”Perhaps You’re Taking This A Bit Too Seriously”

Perish the thought.

Mums of the world: Everything to a teen is of the Utmost Earth-Shattering Importance. At least, for the five minutes they’re going on about it. How DARE you not take them seriously? You must not really LOVE them! Thanks for CARING, then!

Never mind that after a glass of lemonade and a biscuit, they quite possibly may not even recall what it is they’ve twisted your innards right round about. AT THAT PRESENT MOMENT, it is the ONLY THING IN THE WORLD that matters.


7.”Why Don’t You Think About Getting Your Hair Off Your Lovely face.”

Mums: you really need to understand something. Teens pay quite a bit of attention to their hair. While it MAY look like it to you  and while it IS true teens DO tend to lie in until the last possible moment, teens DO take time with their appearance.

Just because the result achieved is not the result Mum might expect, doesn’t mean to a teen, the results are not a success. So actually, when you make suggestions like the above, you are, in effect, insulting them. Because they aren’t doing their hair and clobber for adults. They’re getting all fitty for each other.

8. “We’ll See.”

What, really, does that mean? We shall see, exactly, what? All teens know the not-so-secret translation of this short sentence, which is: ‘Please stop talking to me, now, darling.’ It’s just ridiculous and off-putting. Better, Mum, simply to say: ‘May I answer later, I’m quite busy just now.’

9. “No!.”

While saying no is well within Mum’s rights, saying no without any explanation is, well, rude, no matter to whom you’re saying it. No matter how flimsy that explanation might be: after all, when you told the vicar’s wife you simply COULDN’T manage to bake those fifteen pies for the Saint Theresa’s Day Festival, at least you managed to come up with the wild lie that your sister had suddenly been taken ill. Sure, you had to hide away in your flat that whole Sunday, but you DID enjoy the all-day EastEnders marathon on DVD.

Isn’t your teen as worthy of an explanation as the vicar’s wife?

10. “He/She Wasn’t Worthy Of You.”

Uh-Oh. You would, really, be better off doing the Tango in a field of landmines than saying something like this to a heartbroken teen.

In the view of the heartbroken, a silky gauze veil of instant nostalgia descends over the former beloved, turning them into an icon of purity and perfection, and making the rejected feel horrid.

The only thing for it? Common-sense mum-style sympathy and coddling.

“There, there, now, duck. How about <insert teen’s favourite supper and/or afters. >” Then, get them cosy on the settee with a nice quilt or two, some hot tea, some comedy films on the telly, and keep the biscuits and the hankies coming.

Because that’s what Mums are for. Being hands-off when your teen needs to feel independent  but being there when your teen doesn’t feel QUITE so independent and strong after all.

* dred “ dreadful. Teen slang for dreadful. (A Lexicon of Teen speak)

Many thanks to both Elizabeth and Emily for getting their heads together (hopefully without arguing) to come up with a super Top 10.

What examples do you have of stuff Teens hate to hear? What do you think are the worst things a parent wants to hear from their Teen? – Now there is a can of worms for someone to open!

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Portraits of Elizabeth & Emily from Elizabeth Williams Bushey

All other images from via Elizabeth Williams Bushey


  • MommyBlogExpert

    I loved your post and have already tweeted about it. As a mom of FOUR teens (triplets plus one more born w/in a year) I am always learning something new about how to deal with my foursome. Thanks for sharing these ideas with bewildered parents like me, everywhere!

    • Thanks for the kind words! Whether you’ve got toddlers or teens, the main thing is always communication – and keeping it as positive and as real as you can, I truly feel.


  • Number 10 is the funniest. As a friend once told me if “he wasn’t worthy of me does that mean I was dumped by someone who was a loser, in turn making me that much bigger of a loser.” Last time I ever said that to a friend.
    Great list!

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely great list! As the mom of 2 older teens and 2 young adults, I can attest that they don’t want to hear these words come from our mouths! As they get older we have to learn to treat them more as the adults they are becoming.

  • All ten were apt, but number 5 in particular got me laughing, it’s a running issue all the time trying to get my daughter to have her friends over here. Wait, maybe it’s not the place, maybe it’s me……..

  • Allie Akins

    you missed one.

    11. I’m not mad, I’m disappointed 

    • Ha Ha – thanks Allie for a fine addition to the list :-)

  • Tom Phillips

    This was poorly written – seems like an spoiled female teenage trying to justify their consumerism.

    “YOUR house or flat, to your teen, will always seem a miserable, dred* hovel compared to nearly ANYWHERE else. Even a miserable, dred hovel.”

    This seems like the sad modern values of a spoiled north American teenager.

    • lawlietismine25

      Not really. I would just rather go out to a park or loiter on the sidewalk than be in my house. Then again, it is 95 degrees in here, and 80 outside. :/

  • My Denver Pet

    I only have a 2 year old but I’m interested to see how her teen years will be! I’ll keep these in mind though! :)

  • KnowsFromExperience

    “You look nice today honey” please mom, i look like crap

  • Ginny

    what about, “because I said so”? Nothing makes me angrier than to not get a straight answer when I want to know why I must do something.

    • You obviously speak from experience Ginny! Many thanks for taking the time to leave your comment :-)

  • lawlietismine25

    What my mom says: “We’ll see”. What she means: “No.” My mom has done the “don’t use that tone with me” that I don’t care about ANYTHING anymore, because I’m afraid of being scolded. And the “back in my day..”. don’t even get me STARTED on that one. Good article. :) I liked the compromise, where it wasn’t all for or against either party. :)