Parenting Teenagers: Finding Sense in Nonsense


‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Teenagers” by Nigel Latta is one of my favourite books on parenting teenagers. I’ve read this book together with my teenager and it helped both of us to understand each other better. However there are a few points in Nigel’s book that do not feel right to me. One of them is about ‘trivializing the nonsense which comes from many kid’s mouths as they’re trying to find their own way in the world.’

I can partially share that view when it comes to emotional outbursts caused my tiredness or hormonal changes. However I would not ‘trivialize’ teenagers’ attempts to question everything around them and come up with their own way of thinking, no matter how ‘nonsensical’ it might seem. I would not be scared to get into a debate. 😉


As an example, if a teenage girl comes up with an idea, that running away at 16 and having a baby would make her life more ‘independent’ and ‘enjoyable’, I would not ‘trivialize’ or ‘dismiss’ that. Instead, I would attempt to have a good chat with her, trying to understand why she is feeling like that and discuss the potential consequences. If a teenager comes up with something like that, there must be a ‘trigger’ in the environment she lives in. Lack of attention or understanding at home? Too much control or complete lack of it? Anything else?


Similarly,  if a teenage girl is thinking of becoming a prostitute or porno star for glamorous lifestyle or to pay her University fees, rolling eyes, dismissing or ignoring that ‘idea’ won’t help. Try to investigate why she is thinking that way. Was it the story of a Duke University Porno Star that made her think that way? Or an article in a mainstream publication describing the ‘pleasurable’ side of that trade? Or one of the many blog posts that calls for prostitutes and porno stars to be ‘respected’ for their ‘pleasurable’ trade. Why would not they be respected by the society for something they ‘absolutely love’ doing? After all, we all know by now that girls do enjoy sex and sex work is now legally recognized in some parts of the world. What’s wrong then with earning money by doing something so ‘enjoyable’ and ‘pleasurable’?

Once we know the source of the ‘ideas’, it is time to do some research on whether that option is really ‘that glamorous’ and ‘pleasurable’ as your teenager might think.

First of all, let’s find out whether sex workers do ‘enjoy’ their trade. As Google kindly points out, we are not the only ones wondering about that. Below are a few responses from Yahoo!Answers-UK:

  • ‘Who cares about THEM?’
  • ‘No, they’re just after the money’
  • ‘Most of them are man-haters’
  • ‘Few are like ‘Belle de Jour’. Most are in highly dangerous situations on the streets selling themselves for a piitance to feed their drug habit.’
  • ‘no one enjoys HAVING to service loads of guys they don’t like, don’t find attractive, probably treat them like rubbish, and probably are too stinky/wierd/inadequate to be able to have sex with a regular woman without paying for it!’
  • ‘Most prostitutes don’t do it for the sex, but as a way of making fast money. Usually a life of abuse behind them, they lose any sense of self worth’
  • ‘You would be surprised if you knew how much prostitutes hated their clients.’


The majority of responses on Yahoo!Answers-international is pretty similar:

  • ‘Very few do. It’s a grind, just like any other job, except there is always the danger of running into a maniac trick. Most prostitutes just do their best to block out the act and pray the guy climaxes quickly. Think about it: would you enjoy a stinky, slobbery, drunken inebriate all over you?’
  • ‘Nope, most of them actually become numb to it. They begin to view sex as a very emotionless thing. Most prostitutes will do anything but kiss on the mouth.’

Poverty and Sin - The Prostitute #1From

OK, it looks like there is not much ‘enjoyment’ for most workers in that trade. How about respect? As reflected in some answers provided above, the majority of sex workers do not seem to get much respect either. Even their clients often treat them like  ‘rubbish’ in spite of all their ‘hard work’. Why is that?

To answer that question, let’s have a closer look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Chart

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often represented as a pyramid, with the lowest or most fundamental needs at the bottom. He distinguished 5 types of needs:

  1. Physiological needs such as food, water and sleep
  2. Safety needs such as security of the body, health and property
  3. Social needs such as friendship, family, belonging and identity
  4. Esteem needs such as recognition, self-esteem, confidence, justice and respect
  5. Growth or self-actualization needs such as creativity, problem solving, art, beauty, personal fulfilment and freedom.

The assumption of the hierarchy is that the lower needs have to be met first, and are preconditions for the realization of the higher needs, although a temporary insufficiency in the lower levels will not undo the aspirations of the higher levels.

Sex is one of our basic physiological needs, like food, water, sleep, breathing and excretion. Meeting our physiological needs is important for our survival. If we are starving, can’t breath or are bursting to go to the toilet, all the other needs will be temporarily put on hold. However do we ‘respect’ the air we breath or the water we drink? Do we ‘respect’ the toilet bowl we are using? Sex trade clearly fits into that category and therefore sex workers usually get no more respect than toilet bowls.


However sexual intimacy with a loving partner is much higher up the hierarchy, on the same level with friendship, family, love. This level is about belonging, being accepted, loved and cared about. If we are looking for enjoyment  and respect in sex, we should be able to find it on that level. Not surprisingly, sexual intimacy with a loving and understanding partner is often rated much higher on the ‘enjoyment’ scale, then casual sex, as illustrated by a few comments from Reddit provided below:

  • ‘Over time we come to learn how to push one another’s buttons in just the right way (something that does not happen in casual relationship)’
  • ‘Being in love adds a layer of intimacy that can really intensify sex. It transforms the act from fun sweaty exercise to an expression of love, all tangled up in all the emotions inherent in a loving relationship’
  • ‘I think it’s an undeniable fact that sex is better with romantic chemistry’
  • ‘I’ve had sex with near-strangers, and it’s kind of awkward.’ While ‘Sex with someone you love is transcendent. Sometimes, in the middle I think: “Wow, this is really happening. I’m not hallucinating, this is really happening and to me.’


If a teenager is still not convinced, let her read a few stories from the life of prostitutes, such as:

And get ready for many more debates to come while your young people are going through crucial teenage years 😉

Teenagers! i like to have humor cause i am raising one right now



23 thoughts on “Parenting Teenagers: Finding Sense in Nonsense

  1. As a teacher, my advice it be there in your child’s life and to simply talk to them. Talk and support, but not run their lives. Bad parenting causes bad teenagers. It doesn’t help when there are multiple step parents or absent parents either. Let them learn resilience and responsibility.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Thanks for your insightful comment, Flamingo Dancer. Totally agree with you on that 🙂 A few days ago I wrote a brief post on avoiding micromanaging teens.

      However while avoiding running teenagers’ lives, we need to be always approachable if they need support or someone to talk with. When dealing with teenagers, I have no ‘taboo’ topics for discussion. Teenagers should know that we are prepared to listen to them and discuss anything they might have on their minds.

  2. satzie says:

    This is totally mindblowing post.
    I have read and understood earlier through several articles, that sex is one of the physiological needs.
    But the way you connected to the topic, is extraordinary, i got goose bumps.
    I’m so much astonished with your way of writing and insights.
    A very good one.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Glad that you liked this post, Satzie. Lots of people avoid discussing such things, so teenagers often feel that all adults in their life are ‘unapproachable’ when it comes to such ‘taboo’ subjects. That usually makes things worse. 😦

      • satzie says:

        Lots of people including me do avoid discussing such things, and i think it is because parents/adults do not give more importance to understanding the teenagers. When i say understanding, i mean both the logical as well as the emotions/feelings.

        Most of the time when i discuss, i discuss with logical points of view, missing often the point – that emotions and feelings are also a part of communication.
        And hence i think the reason why we avoid such topics are not just because they are ‘taboo’ but also we forget to see the human behind the discussion.

        Thats how debates functions, i think. Debates sees just the logic. And when logic is given more importance, it appears heartless, inhuman.

        Now a days, even computers & programes are designed with human emotions/feelings into consideration – says the “Designing for emotions” book.

        But some of us do miss to see the emotions & feels of the other.

        “seek first to understand then to be understood” might help parents & adults in making relationships much better. 🙂

      • Otrazhenie says:

        Very good point, Satzie. 🙂

  3. bkpyett says:

    How lucky are your children that they have you to listen and discuss their ideas with them! Great post!

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Thanks, Barbara, for your kind words. When I was a teenager, I could not discuss anything meaningful with my own family. Luckily, I found a good friend who was always prepared to listen to my crazy ideas or thoughts and with just a few words ‘fix’ my way of thinking or put me on the correct course. That friend was a real blessing for me and losing that was the hardest thing in my life.

      I’m doing my best to show my children that I’m always available for them, that they can always approach me with any questions or any thoughts. I can only hope that they will do that when they need support, advise or a listening ear.

  4. Such a fantastic post – I particularly like the pyramid…for parents/adults to pay attention to for themselves as well… Demonstrating that and how we meet our own needs is the best way to teach kids, I think…

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Very good point. As the saying goes, happy parents make happy children. While focusing on the needs of their children, parents also should not forget about meeting their own core needs.

  5. Mike Andberg says:

    First, thanks for the Like on my post, Single Guys With Dogs. I’m glad to connect with you. I particularly connect to your posts on the subject of teen life these days. I was a high school teacher for many years. It was tough, but I survived MY being surrounded by teen life these days! But my memoir just written is about my life as teen, so coming-of-age is a hot topic for me. I hope you continue to peruse my website as I have many posts to come on the subject, as well as others. I will check yours out, too. It’ll be interesting to see the perspectives of those writers you’ve selected.
    My best, Mike Andberg

  6. Ajaytao2010 says:

    A very thoughtful and eye opening post for parents of teenagers as well teens, beautiful as always>

    thank you for sharing

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Ajay. Much appreciated. Glad that you liked this post. In my view parents do need to keep their eyes open to everything happening in their teens minds as well as keep an eye on ‘trendy’ stories in the media and on the internet that might influence teens. Then they might be able to provide a timely advice or support to their teens before they get into something nasty out of curiosity or lack of information.

      • Ajaytao2010 says:

        yes absolutely true dear i agree with you 🙂

        parents are responsible for the right guidance at the right time to their children otherwise they can easily be misguided by other intriguing forces

        thank you 🙂

  7. I am the parent of a teenager now and have successfully raised another child into full adulthood. Both children are completely different. Funny, when I was a teenager, I wanted to be both a nun and a prostitute. Not at the same time, mind you…but true story.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Loved your comment, Reenie, particularly your story about being a nun and a prostitute at the same time. Sounds so teenagerish 🙂

      I don’t remember well what crazy ideas I had in my mind when I was a child. However I did have some funny ideas when I was at primary school

      Once my primary school teacher asked us in the class what we would like to do when we grow up. Without a blink, I announced that I would like to be a geisha. I’m not even sure where I got that word from, but in my mind being geisha meant to be a very wise intelligent girl. As all I knew about babies at that time was that they all are found on a cabbage patch, I obviously was not fully aware of geisha’s job description.

      Don’t know what that teacher thought about me and my family, but she looked really shocked 🙂

  8. Done Essay says:

    It looks awkward but the points which you have raised are most important. Our new generation is facing lots of difficulties with the advancement in technology. They are having to choose some wrong path for gaining right thing as on point was mentioned regarding girls wrong activity for earning money to pay university fee. At one side they are shown Eden and for gaining that Eden they are shown multiple hell to get it and in end they are nor in Eden or in Hell.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Very good point. Having such conversations with teenagers can be a bit awkward. However if sensible adults avoid having such conversations with teenagers, then that ‘information gap’ will quickly get filled from less sensible sources, potentially leading teenagers down the wrong paths.

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