Do we do too much for our teenagers
? Hover around them like valets in Downton Abbey?
I heard about Claire Potter
on the radio. She set her son Fred 13 challenges as he reached his 13th birthday, all planned to teach him the skills he needed for grown-up life.
These included getting on a train on his own, cooking a meal, doing 13 household tasks and buying himself a whole outfit for £13.13.
Fred did really well. Claire sounds like exactly the kind of mother I should be.
Well, I thought to myself, it's never too late to change.
My 19-year-old is going back to university
. He's moving into a shared house in a part of the city where burglars don't even bother to break in. They know about students. They just wait for someone to leave the front door open.
"So," I say, as we drive to the supermarket, "have you thought about insurance?"
Normally, of course, I would have just bought it for him. But I have turned over a new leaf.
He frowns. He's good at frowns. I suspect he's practised them over the years to give the impression of listening with deep attention when his mind is actually elsewhere.
"You need to cover your phone and laptop," I say. "I'll give you the money when you've found the best deal."
He's still frowning. Claire Potter would probably have left it there. But I plough on. I say, "Shall I write that down so you don't forget?"
He looks hurt. "No," he says. "I'm on it."
The night before he goes back, his possessions are still strewn round the house. He wanders around, picking up the odd coat hanger and putting it down again.
I crack. I say, "Have you remembered about the insurance?"
"I'm going to do it now," he says, with great dignity.
He leaves me standing at the bottom of the stairs feeling that I've got the whole thing horribly wrong.
- 16-year-old wins award for his innovative baby sleep product
Schoolboy Joseph Weaver, from Winterbourne International Academy, Bristol, won <a href="http://thedreamlab.co.uk/finalists.htm" target="_blank">The Dream Lab competition</a> with his invention The Snug Hug back in November 2011. Joseph's invention has been given the thumbs up by inventor Sir Trevor Baylis who wants to give the youngster a week's work experience and perhaps snap him up as an apprentice! Joseph said winning was the <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/11/15/how-to-get-babies-to-sleep-invention-by-16-year-old-boy-wins-award/" target="_blank">“best day ever!"</a> Congrats!</p>
- Teenager writes to judge to defend her mum
Schoolgirl Sammy Booth, 14, got her mum a suspended jail sentence rather than time inside after she <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/02/22/drunken-mum-spared-jail-after-daughter-wrote-to-judge-begging-him-show-mercy/" target="_blank">wrote to the judge defending her dunk mum.</a> Sammy insisted her mum Julie could turn her life around if given the chance following an arrest for drink driving, and wrote a letter saying: “I'm scared for my mum and for myself. I worry what will happen if she's sent to prison. Where will I stay? What will happen to my pets? Will I be able to see my mum? Where will I get money from?" Julie has recently completed a detox programme, and has nothing but thanks for her devoted daughter.</p>
- Bullied 14-year-old wins modeling contract
Ellie Burton well and truly beat the bullies after she <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/07/28/bullied-14-year-old-girl-wins-modelling-contract/" target="_blank">bagged herself a modelling contract with Marks and Spencer,</a> modelling its Back to School range. Gorgeous Ellie was tormented about her appearance by bitchy classmates, leaving her with low esteem and no confidence. She now says: “What the bullies said was really hurtful. I had no self-esteem. People told me I was pretty enough to be a model with my corkscrew curls but I had no confidence and didn't believe them. I realise that only amazing models can make it big but I am going to try. I want to do really well at school too as I need a back up career.”</p>
- Entrepreneurial 15-year-old makes some serious cash!
Forget a Saturday job, teenager Toby Smith cashed in on his online gaming prowess by <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/01/10/entrepreneur-schoolboy-paid-5-pounds-for-every-30-minutes-as-a-personal-online-protector/" target="_blank">acting as a virtual bodyguard for gamers!</a> Toby, from Hythe in Hampshire, is offering his services on the <a href="http://www.fivesquids.co.uk/" target="_blank">fivesquids.co.uk</a> website (where people advertise tasks they are willing to undertake for a fiver) as an online protector for players of various Xbox 360 shooting games. His mum and dad Peter and Sam, both 47, say they are impressed with their son's 'can do' spirit - and pleased to see him making some money of course!</p>
- 15-year-old fashion guru launches own magazine
Not content with having a popular online blog aged just 12, 15-year-old Tavi Gevinson has <a href="http:// http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/09/08/15-year-old-fashion-guru-launches-her-own-magazine/" target="_blank">recently launched her own online magazine, </a><a href="http://rookiemag.com/" target="_blank">Rookie</a>. Tavi is editor-in-chief of the title, and oversees a staff of around 40, who are, unsurprisingly, mainly much older than her. We bet she keeps them on their toes...</p>
- Teenager rides horse after risky operation to straighten her spine
16-year-old Laura Fitzwalter had the worst case of spine curvature doctors had ever seen. But the brave teenager <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/teen/riding-high-the-teenager-with-worst-case-of-spine-curvature-docs-ever-seen-cured/" target="_blank">stayed positive and is now happily riding her beloved horse, Sparky, </a>following a risky operation to straighten her spine. Her spine was bent so severely at 180 degrees that if she didn't have an operation to straight it, it would have killed her. Her mum, Tracy says: “We were shocked when we saw how curved Laura's spine was. The surgeon said it was the biggest curve he had ever seen. It was devastating to hear it would have killed her as it was crushing her heart and lungs. Now she has had the operation and luckily she has made a full recovery.”</p>
- Teenager wakes sleeping bus driver to avoid crash
Emmanuel Williams, 17, leapt into action to wake his school bus’s dozing driver, adverting potential disaster. Emmanuel noticed the driver's head nodding strangely when the bus started swerving. He jumped from his seat and roused the sleeping man. "I was looking at him and his eyes would close, and when we'd get to a turn, he'd look both ways, start driving again, and they would close more and more," said Emmanuel, a pupil at Mount Tahoma High School, Washington, U.S. <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/12/08/dramatic-cctv-of-teenager-waking-sleeping-school-bus-driver-to-avoid-disaster/" target="_blank">You can watch Emmanuel’s heroic efforts in our video.</a></p>
- Teenager donates lottery win to charity
19-year-old Ryan Kitching only tidied his room to stop his mum nagging, but the teenager was thanking her after he <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/03/02/teenager-finds-53-000-lottery-ticket-after-mum-nags-him-to-clean-bedroom/" target="_blank">found a winning lottery ticket amongst his mess!</a> The lucky lad won £53,000, and while he’s set to treat his mates to a boys’ holiday in Majorca, he’s also going to donate a chunk to <a href="http://www.firstresponse.org.uk/" target="_blank">First Response,</a> the medical charity he volunteers for. “It's a great charity and I'm planning on donating some of the winnings to them,” says Ryan. Officially the definition of a Nice Young Man as my mum would say!</p>
- 16-year-old given standing ovation at Labour party conference
Rory Weal, a 16-year-old from Maidstone, stole the show at the Labour Party conference, winning a standing ovation from thousands of party activists for his speech. Rory impressed delegates with an impassioned speech that had Labour leader Ed Miliband jumping to his feet to shake his hand. Impressed? <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/09/26/16-year-old-given-standing-ovation-at-labour-party-conference/" target="_blank">You will be when you watch it.</a></p>
- Gastric bypass teenager sheds 10 stone
Britain's youngest <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/12/12/jeniffer-hogarth-gastric-bypass-teenager-sheds-10-stone-23-stone/" target="_blank">gastric bypass patient,</a> 17-year-old Jeniffer Hogarth tipped the scales at 23 stone, and her family thought she was eating herself to death. But the teen is now celebrating her trim new figure after shedding a massive ten stone! “If I hadn't had a bypass, I dread to think how big I'd be,” says Jenifer. “I couldn't even think of pretty Christmas party outfits as I was the size of a house. Now I can't wait to go to shops like TopShop and New Look like all my friends. I've even found a gorgeous boyfriend. It's almost like I've been reborn.”</p>
- Teen sisters cope with rare skin condition
Teens Stacey and Emma Picken shed their skin every day after being <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/teen/snake-skin-sisters-rare-condition-means-girls-skin-grows-six-times-faster-than-normal" target="_blank">born with a rare condition</a>. They are the only sisters in the UK known to be born with rare condition called lamellar ichthyosis, which affects only one in 600,000 people, but they are certainly not letting it hold them back. Emma is a budding cartoonist and she is even talking to people in America who organise camps for children with this skin condition, and wants to start something up over here for fellow sufferers.</p>
- Teenager born with one arm to compete in javelin throwing 2012 Paralympics
Hollie Arnold was born with one arm. <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/teen/teenager-holie-arnold-born-with-one-arm-to-compete-in-javelin-throwing-2012-paralympics/" target="_blank">She is now preparing to compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games,</a> throwing the javelin for Great Britain. Hollie, 17, has spent years perfecting her javelin technique, but was held back by having no right arm to provide crucial balance. She has now been fitted with a specially weighted prosthetic arm by a company that provides limbs for injured soldiers, and is hoping to compete in the London Paralympics.</p>