Updated 27 March 2014

Nag, nag, nag – but are your parents right?

Eat your vegetables, phone when you are going to be late, early to bed on school nights, do your homework, don’t slouch. It is at this point where the glazed look comes in handy.


Nag, nag, nag. Honestly sometimes one would think all parents had to get a diploma in this before they had kids.

Eat your vegetables, phone when you are going to be late, early to bed on school nights, do your homework, don’t slouch. It is at this point where the glazed look comes in handy.

The glazed look allows you to switch off and look distant and uninvolved without actually being rude and risking a fight or punishment of some sorts. And let’s face it, while parents have been around a lot longer than you have, they are not always right about everything. But often they get pretty close.

So what are the things they say you should not shrug off?

Safe and sound. Don’t walk around after dark alone, don’t get into a car with a stranger or drunk driver and let someone know where you are or are going to be. Have fun by all means, but don’t end up as an accident statistic.

Food is good. You need lots of calcium and protein as you are busy growing. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also really important. Fizzy drinks and hamburgers are not. If you are scared of picking up weight, rather eat healthily and get some exercise than to eat like a bird and slouch for hours in front of the TV.

Zits are the pits. Squeezing pimples, especially when they are still developing, can make them worse, as you could be causing the infection to spread under the skin. Keep your skin clean by washing at least twice a day. See a doctor if things get out of hand, but remember just about everybody gets these at some time during their teens. You are not alone.

Fun in the sun. Our sun is dangerous and the ultraviolet rays can do real damage to your skin. Who wants to look like a saddlebag with eyes at age 25? And 25 is not that far away. Promise. Cover up, whether by means of a hat, long sleeves or sunscreen.

Think twice about having sex. Sex is very pleasurable – that’s why the human race is still around. So the temptation is great to experiment and let’s face it, this is the time that your hormones are raging. But there are very real dangers out there. To have sex is also a powerful emotional experience and it could be that you might not be ready for it. And then of course there is the danger of either getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant. And of course, sexually transmitted diseases, of which HIV is a life-threatening danger. Make informed decisions about sexual matters, don’t just let things happen.

Where there is smoke. Smoking is not cool. Speak to someone who has been trying to quit smoking and you will find out exactly how difficult this is. Many really grim diseases, like lung cancer, are very prevalent amongst smokers. And what’s more, it makes your breath and hair and clothes stink. So it is much easier to not start at all than to try and stop later.

Sweet dreams. Sleep is important. You need your eight hours a night as your body is growing and needs all the help it can get. Learning is also so much easier if you have had a decent night’s sleep. Your mood will also improve when you are not constantly yawning. A late night now and then won’t kill anyone, but don’t make a habit of it.

You won’t die if he/she leaves you. If your first love affair does not work out, it can feel as if the world is coming to an end. It feels as if the sun will never shine again and as if your life has all become completely useless and horrible. Everyone feels this way the first time it happens. The difference is that when it happens when you are 25, you know you have already survived it before. As time passes, you will feel better. And remember that the other person most probably did not deserve you and doesn’t deserve you making a misery out of your life for months.

Get a job. Whether you clean the neighbour’s pool or work in a restaurant or do babysitting or newspaper deliveries, it is always a good idea to have some money of your own. You don’t want to have to ask your parents for every cent. Having your own money also gives you a bit of freedom as you can spend it on the things you choose, like clothing and movies of your choice.

Do your homework. Dull as it may sound, this is a good idea. The reality is that the marks you get at the end of Grade 12 largely determine your future career path. And being stuck in a lowpaid and boring job for decades seems a bit of a harsh punishment for being too lazy to study during your last year at school.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2010)

(Picture: upset teen and mom from Shutterstock)


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