First things first, there needs to be some kind of law against parents expecting you to admit they were right to their actual faces. I mean, there’s just no need is there? But we’re going to have to face it, there are some (a few, like hardly any really) times when your parents have been right about something and you kind of wish you’d listened to them. We’re not going to do anything crazy like tell them that, but, just between us, these are all the times they were totally right…

1. That boy was mean

He would take three days to text back, he said your favourite band was stupid, he ditched you at that party for the girl in the year above and he told you he ‘doesn’t believe in relationships’. He was a five star idiot who was out to pick you up whenever he felt like it and drop you whenever he didn’t but with those eyes and that hair you had decided that he was a beautiful lost soul. While you were deep in the throes of infatuation, your parents could see him for exactly what he was. Luckily, three weeks later you also realised you were way too good for him…

2. Staying up til 1am ruins the next day

Sometimes staying up until it’s technically tomorrow is the best fun ever, but on a school night when you’ve got a test on rivers the next morning it’s probably not such a good idea. You’re tired, bleary-eyed from watching six solid hours of Netflix and, yeah, the day is pretty much ruined. Ugh, why do parents have to be right?

3. You do need to eat your vegetables

Sorry but nobody loves every single vegetable out there. For every ok-ish one, there’s another that’s completely gross and you can bet that’s the one that will be on the table that night. “Eat all your veggies, they’re good for you!” your parents say as you roll your eyes and cut them up into tiny, hideable pieces. The thing is they totally are good for you. They’re full of nutrients and vitamins, they’re good for your heart, they help prevent all kinds of undesirable diseases and they can give you super glowing skin. Fiiiiiine, we’ll have seconds then.

4. It would have been way less stressful if you hadn’t left that project ‘til the last minute

When you get three weeks to work on a project, there’s no point in even starting it for another two weeks minimum right? Wrong, according to your parents. And they might have been onto something because when it’s 20 days later and you realise you have precisely 24 hours to start AND finish the entire project, you’ll be wishing you’d got it out of the way on the first weekend. It would have saved a lot of stress and a serious amount of ‘HELLLLLLLP MEEEEEE’ messages to the group chat.

5. Not all friends are forever friends

One minute you’re planning the interiors of the New York apartment you’re totally going to live in when you both move there together and the next you realise you haven’t spoken in a month. Your parents say it’s not a big deal but is it? It definitely doesn’t have to be. It’s always kind of sad when a friendship fizzles out but sometimes they last exactly as long as you need them to.

6. Being young isn’t the worst thing ever

When you’ve got teachers on your back and your summer job money has run out, being young feels like a curse, but your parents still insist on telling you how these are the best days of your life every five minutes. *Eye roll*. There’s no doubt being a teenager is definitely not a total breeze but six week holidays, zero bills to pay and seeing your mates Monday to Friday is a pretty solid trade-off.

7. It’s OK to fail

It doesn’t matter whether you flunk an exam or if it turns out that you’re not the next Jessica Ennis, failure hurts. And it hurts a whole lot more when you’ve really put the effort in. It feels like a huge kick in the gut that you’ll never come back from and, ‘it’s not the end of the world’ is the last thing you want to hear at the time. But in reality it isn’t and your parents know it. Failure can be the start of something new. It gives you the chance to step back and make a decision. Maybe it’s a wakeup call to work harder or maybe it’s your cue to try a different avenue. Either way, it’s OK to fail because there’s always something you can learn.

8. You should have worn a coat

How do they know?! The sun is shining! Do they have a sixth sense for the cold or something? Without fail, every single time they’ve told you to wear a coat and you haven’t, you’re shivering and full of regret 10 minutes later.

@SophieBenson_

When my mum and dad split up, it felt like there was a LOT for me to deal with. Where would I live? Where would I keep my things? Who would I see on weekends? What if I just wanted to hang out with my friends and forget about it all? Sure I knew it was tough for them… but it’s difficult not to get all me, me, me when stuff gets scary.

But, like everyone told me it would, a few months in and things started to feel more normal. I had a routine. Live with my mum, see my dad on Sundays. Keep all my things at my mum’s place, keep a few things at my dad’s. Feel ok to say “I don’t want to see either of you today” and go to the park or beach with friends instead. Simple. Who said this parents-getting-divorced-thingie was so hard..?!

But fast forward to a year later and my dad shook everything up again. He told me he was getting re-married. It hadn’t come as a huge surprise, he’d been seeing Linda for a few months as friends and I’d assumed they might be more. But it still didn’t seem quite right. The mixed feelings I had about it were confusing. Yes, I wanted him to be happy. But who was this new person? Did she really love him? What would our weekends together be like now? Would she get in the way? And what about Christmas? Would she be here at Christmas?

There were so many new challenges and questions to deal with, it felt like the worry and stress of the divorce all over again. But this time there was another person involved. A person I couldn’t help but feel I just didn’t like. A person who, let’s face it, was just getting in the way.

Whether your parents are separated, divorced or one of them has passed away, it can be really challenging when they start to go on dates, find a new boyfriend or girlfriend and, cringe, then even marry them further down the line. And you know what? It’s allowed to feel challenging. Or upsetting. Or just plain bloody weird. Yep, we said it. You don’t have to be happy and accepting of stuff all the time. Sometimes the best thing to do is say, “I feel sad about this”, own it, and then move on and figure out the best way to not feel sad anymore.

We spoke to some friends, experts and people who have dealt with a parent’s new partner in good (and bad) ways over the years to bring you some advice about how to deal with all the emotions, figure out how you really feel and then get over it so your mum or dad can be move on their lives with someone new — because as tough as that is to swallow, they want to be happy too. Just like you.

Talk about stuff (and then go ahead and talk some more)

Sarah told me that she was really wary about meeting her dad’s new partner when her mum passed away. She found it challenging, because it kept feeling like her mum was being replaced by someone new. In fact, when we spoke to a lot of people who’d lost a parent, they all said it felt like this when their mum or dad started dating again.

She got through it by talking really honestly with her dad. Telling him she was happy he had found someone, but the thought of forgetting her mum scared her.

“I made a point of sharing a lot,” she says. “It felt hard at first. Telling my dad when I felt scared or uncomfortable was really the key to us getting through it. I feel that if he’d just assumed I was okay, it would have felt like I was a bit trapped and couldn’t express myself.”

Of course, parents do somethings make mistakes too. And if there are any serious reasons (not just, like, their accent) for you to dislike their new partner, they’d want to know about it – which is another reason it’s important to keep talking.

Accept it feels sad and weird (especially when it gets really sad and weird)

We don’t want to get all doom and gloom, but sometimes it can all go really wrong. That’s because there are so many people involved when a new partner comes on the scene — and so many difficult, icky feelings to contend with.

I spoke to Alexa who told us that her mum had been struggling with her divorce, so quickly re-married. The problem? She hadn’t even told her new husband she had a daughter! Alexa says: “She asked me to meet Steve and I felt kinda excited about it — I just wanted my mum to be happy! It wasn’t until just before we were meant to meet she dropped the bombshell. She hadn’t told him about me. SHE HADN’T TOLD HIM ABOUT ME!”

“I’ve realised now my mum was just really sad and confused. She didn’t want to hurt anyone, but had really hurt me. I told her I felt angry, but we worked through things. It took some time, but we’ve learnt to trust each other a lot more now.”

Obviously this is quite an extreme case. But when things feel really bad, it’s important to take a deep breath. Accept that things feel bloody awful sometimes. Try not to get upset in the moment. And talk, talk, talk about how you’re feeling.

Think about what not liking someone might REALLY mean

It’s very easy to make quick judgements about who you do and don’t like. If you’re anything like me, you can decide someone is a bit annoying based on the way they wear their hair alone (I’m sorry, I’m only human).

I spoke to Dr Jane G. Goldberg, a psychoanalyst who recently published her eighth book called My Mother, My Daughter, Myself, and she told me sometimes it can be really good to think more when you say you don’t like someone:

“Actually, it’s probably more accurate that you don’t know whether you like him or her. It’s probably more true that you simply don’t like the role he or she is playing in your mother’s or your father’s life, and thus you don’t like the role that you are afraid he or she will be playing in your own life.”

When you think more about what “I don’t like them” means, it stops being this huge, annoying thing you can’t bear. Instead you can ask yourself what it is you don’t like. Like Jane says, you might find it’s not them you have a problem with at all – they, or the whole situation, just scare you a bit! 

Or maybe you do have a real problem, in which case it’s good to figure out what it is so you can talk about it properly.

Separate them from you, a little

We know, we know. You love your parents. You want them to be happy. They’re a huge part of your life and you’re a huge part of their life. But remember, you’re separate people. What you want right now isn’t what your mum or dad wants, and vice versa.

Molly Goldberg, daughter of Dr Jane G. Goldberg, shared some wisdom about what it was like when her mum found someone new:

“When your parent takes a partner that you don’t like, it’s important to remember it’s not your life, and if it were, you would hope that your friends and family would be supportive. Keep an open mind, be kind, be accepting, and be there for your parent regardless of the outcome of the relationship. What matters the most is your relationship with your parent, and you want to nourish it with lots of love.”

It can be hard to put your feelings aside. Especially when your mum or dad’s new partner drives you up the wall. But you know what? Maybe they’re really happy! Or maybe the relationship won’t last very long – either way, keeping your relationship with your mum or dad strong will only make things easier in the long run.

Feel your feelings! It’s ok to feel weird – like, REALLY weird

It’s important to put on a brave face when you’re meeting your parent’s new partner for the first time. But don’t worry if it feels weird — it’d probably be weird if it didn’t feel weird. Telling yourself you should feel certain things is only going to make you angry, resentful and a bit bitter, too.

For many of us that seems scary. We’re so used to ‘being good’ and ‘being brave’ that to feel angry or express sadness seems kinda, well, wrong. But Dr Goldberg thinks that getting all up close and personal with your feelings is really important. Just don’t let them run the show.

“I value feelings. I love feelings,” she says. “But I don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are facts. They are NOT facts. Feelings and emotions don’t define reality. They are not always accurate. They don’t always predict the future. In fact, feelings are usually fairly unreliable predictors of the future.”

“We can understand the nature of our feelings: that they are changeable … and that they are not meant to be held on to for too long.”

The dealing with icky new feelings checklist

1. It’s ok to feel weird, or sad or angry, or did we mention weird?

2. Talk about how you feel — even if the main thing you feel is really bloody scared.

3. Remember this is about your mum or dad, not you.

4. Try to avoid just saying “I don’t like him/her/them” and instead think about WHY.

5. You’re doing fine, promise. This is really tricky. But it won’t be forever.

@BeccaCaddy

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Image: Manjit Thapp

Same strop, different day. Not that we’re predictable, or anything…

1. The Ignition

Jelly wobble spoon gif

It might be something as small as not being allowed a packet of crisps before dinner (despite the fact you’ve been at school ALL DAY and need to get your energy levels back up for all that Instagram scrolling you need to catch up on), or something bigger like not being allowed to extend your curfew despite your friend’s parents allowing HER to be out until 10pm… but your parents have wronged you.

The heat inside you has begun to bubble…

2. The Decision

Now you have mere seconds to weigh up the situation and decide whether to implement Strop Central. Is it worth it? Can this be reasonably sorted out instead? Do you have the energy? You’ve been at school ALL DAY, remember…

3. The Storm

Little girl storming out gif

Of course it’s worth it! DING DING DING, off we go. You narrow your eyes, take a deep breath, dislocate your jaw for maximum impact and give an almighty HUFF before sassing your way out of the room.

If you’re going all-out, you choose a phrase to shout as you leave. Something like “THIS IS RIDICULOUS”, “YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND” or the timeless, “UGGGHHHHH.”

4. The Stomp

Joey slamming a door on Friends

A strop must always involve stairs. That is the law. If the Ignition occurs downstairs then you’re set. You can stomp, stomp, stomp up to the bathroom or bedroom. If it occurs upstairs, you can stomp your way to… the garden shed? Just make sure you slam a door on your way out.

5. The RIGHT THAT’S IT

Angry little girl

Well, everybody in the immediate vicinity knows you are in a strop. Good. You’re fuming. You’ve had enough and this is the final straw. Nothing will ever be the same again for this family. They will regret their decision until the end of time itself.

6. The Reflection

Glowering girl gif

It’s been 10 minutes and you’re still sitting on your bedroom floor. The dust has settled, the bubbling anger has subsided. You realise that maybe this strop isn’t sustainable and maybe you could have tried to compromise and… NO. No, you must stick with the strop. You chose this path, you are entitled to the strop. Right?

7. The Hunger

How I Met Your Mother food gif

It’s been 45 minutes. You’re called for dinner. You hear your brother come out of his bedroom and run down the stairs. It does smell good and your stomach’s rumbling. You were at school ALL DAY, remember? There’s nothing in your room to eat… maybe this was a rookie error.

8. The Return

Beyonce strutting

Ok. You’ve built yourself up and will go downstairs for dinner. You realise that you can’t stay up here (or in the shed – too many spiders) forever and dinner really DOES smell good. You open the door, hold your head up high, and walk down those stairs with great confidence.

9. The Dignity

Dignified girl

You won’t mention the strop. You’re over it. But they must still know that you’re not happy with their parenting, so you’ll take on a silent protest. No eye contact. No conversation. You will sit and you will eat. Nothing more, nothing less.

Apart from asking for the ketchup.

10. The Pretending Like Nothing Happened

I'm Fine Ross gif

Screw it. You can’t be bothered to be quiet and you’re getting a headache from looking down so intently. The strop is over, the silent protest is over, and you just hope that no one mentions it…

“Stopped stropping now, have we?”

HOW DARE THEY.

See stage 1.

@louisejonesetc

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Image: Hailey Hamilton

Going away without your parents for the first time is weird.

My first experience was a weekend away with the Brownies. We shared a large room in an old house, somewhere wet and cold in North Yorkshire.

It was also my birthday, something I’d been excited to celebrate with my new friends. That was until I overheard a girl whispering, ‘I could never spend my birthday away from my family’.

I felt a sudden pang of guilt and panic. I counted down the hours to getting home, snuggling on the sofa with a cup of tea and birthday cake, and watching Coronation Street with my mum and the dog.

Even writing that now makes me wonder why I ever left home again. But I did. I went to Spain with my new high school friend’s family, and rode the emotional rollercoaster all over again.

Whether it’s a school trip, a holiday with a friend’s family or a summer camp adventure – it’s likely that you’ll travel through a similar journey of the following highs and lows.

I can’t wait to get rid of the ‘rents for a whole week

Finally, I can shake off my parents and be the strong, independent woman that I am. No more sad camping trips in the rain and sharing a tent with my annoying brothers. And no more stupid games like rounders or Scrabble. This is my moment to be a proper grown up who sunbathes, acts aloof behind giant sunglasses and wears a two-piece swimsuit.

Mum please stop crying, I’ll see you in a few days

She is SO embarrassing. Why can’t she be a cool mum, instead of a regular mum? I hope Hayley didn’t see her squeezing Mr Teddy into my hand luggage. She needs to know that I’m totally mature.

I want my mum!

*Sobs while clutching onto Mr Teddy*

Why would she let me go through such a dangerous journey of passport checks, turbulence and lost luggage without her? Why did she send me off on my own? Why hasn’t she replied to my WhatsApp messages? Will she get on the next flight out here? Or has she already got used to life without me?

This. Is. So. Cool.

So last night’s drama was a blip. Today I made friends with six other girls and they all have belly button piercings. We discussed the importance of feminism and listened to Lorde while chilling in the sun. These are my kind of people, this is my type of holiday.

Oh great, my period has come along too

What brilliant timing! Thank you, life! Period blood polka-dots are the perfect pattern for my yellow bikini anyway. And I’m sure tummy cramps won’t be totally unbearable in this heat… Thank you mum for packing the maxi pads and super tampons! Can I get my period deported?

My family NEVER has this much fun on holiday

We walked around the local village today. Usually, I would have to wait around the souvenir shop for an hour while my mum stocks up on incense sticks and magnets for her friends. But here, we were allowed to go off on our own for a full hour! We got a cola at the cafe, bought friendship bands and stalked Hayley’s crush on Instagram.

I wish my brothers were here

We went kayaking today and it reminded me of the time my brother tipped mum from a boat into the lake. He sacrificed two weeks’ pocket money for that comedy gold moment.

And I got quite sunburnt today because I’m incapable of putting on sun lotion without my mum repeatedly telling me to do it. I wonder if the girls fancy a game of rounders. Oh no, maybe I do miss my family?

I never want to leave

I cannot be expected to go back to my normal life. I want to go swimming with these girls every day and have midnight feasts through fits of giggles with them every night. No one can tear me apart from my holiday crush, even though I have barely said two words to him – I won’t let them!

Take me home, now!

Hayley is so annoying. In fact, everybody here is so annoying. Even my crush is annoying. I’m going to give my mum the biggest hug ever at the airport and get the Scrabble board out when we get home.

NONONO, why is it all over?!

Mum’s shouting at me for getting sunburnt, school starts again next week and my brothers are ignoring me for not getting them a present. Bring on next year!

@hlouiser89

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The realisation that your parents are actual people can be horrifying.

It’s like seeing one of your teachers outside of school, or Matthew Perry playing a character that isn’t Chandler.

You get used to seeing your parents in certain, parenty roles and it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that they exist outside of that realm; that they forget birthdays, that they send needy messages, that they feel fat some days, that they fall in love.

That they fall out of love.

And they also go through break ups.

For some people, when their parents break up, it can feel like their entire world is crumbling around them. As though the stable life they have always known has been blown apart.

For others it can feel like an enormous relief, an end to an unhappy household and parents who fight all the time.

But even if you expect it to happen, even if you knew it was coming, it can still hurt like hell.

I was seventeen when my parents broke up and I didn’t see it coming.

I was wrapped up in my own life. I was taking my final exams, I was navigating my way through my own, very intense relationship, I was trying to decide what I wanted to study at university. I didn’t notice the other things that were going on in our house.

I didn’t see that my parents were hardly talking anymore. I clocked that my mum was crying a lot, but I put that down to her becoming more emotional as she got older. I was aware that my dad was coming into my room more often to hang out, but I thought it was because he was worried about me going away to university next year and having an ‘empty nest’.

But when they finally told me, I felt the pieces click into place. I felt stupid and self-absorbed and confused. I had no idea what to say or what to do or how to act.

I mistakenly thought that because my parents had survived four children, five different cities and 30 years of marriage, that they were somehow immune from divorce.

When dad moved out, my boyfriend helped me pack all my dad’s clothes into big black bin bags and stuff them in the back of my car. We counted up all the spare change in his top drawer, separated it into different currencies and took it to the bank. We made cookies with my new Christmas-shaped cookie cutters.

I remember holding my mother as she cried and realising that I had never been the one doing the holding, I was always the one being held. My mother had spent her whole life taking care of me, and now I decided it was time for me to take care of her. And sometimes, she’d let me.

I would go to the supermarket and return armed with what I considered precisely the amount of chocolate to cure her broken heart. We would lie curled on the sofa watching films and she would fall asleep resting her head on my shoulder. When the film was over I would carefully nudge her awake and tell her ‘it’s bedtime,’ while I turned off the lights in the living room.

My parents got back together in the end, so I guess I was luckier than most. Now, they hold hands like teenagers who can’t bear the idea of being apart.

And sure, it was a crappy, emotional, chocolate-filled time but I learned a lot from the experience. The thing that stuck with me the most was that sometimes adults will act like teenagers and sometimes teenagers will act like adults. After all, we’re all just people in the end.

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Parents are unruly creatures. When I was a teenager, I could never figure out how mine were going to feel about things. I could disappear into town all day with a fiver in my pocket from the age of 12, and they wouldn’t bat an eyelid. I could rent movies with an 18 certificate and they would gladly watch them with me. But then they could draw the line in what felt like utterly random places: I had to be home by midnight, and not a minute before. I wasn’t allowed go to music festivals. I couldn’t sleep over in a boy’s house, even if he was just a friend. The list goes on. Even today, I still struggle to understand why my parents let me do some things, but not others.

However, I have realised one pattern: most of the things my parents wouldn’t let me do, turned out to be pretty crappy anyway. Look, I’ll prove it. And if you assume I’m lying just to make you feel better, well… I’m not. Shh. 

Festivals

I wasn’t allowed to go to festivals until I was 18, and you better believe that I went mere days after turning the illustrious one-eight. My friends had already been going for years – some since they were 15 – and I was fed up of feeling left out of their stories. I was ready to tick everything off of my festival bucket list in three days: I was going to share a water with a minor celebrity. I was going to meet a mystery boy at a silent disco. I was going to have that kind of complicated festival hair that is woven with flowers and glitter. I was going to be IT. 

The reality? By day two I wished that my parents had extended the ban until 21, or possibly 30. I was too poor to buy the incredibly expensive (not to mention unhealthy) food at the festival, and was instead slowly giving myself scurvy by subsisting on Nutrigrain bars and lipgloss. Everything I owned was damp, especially my socks, which seemed incapable of drying and very capable of giving me trench foot. You can imagine my delight when, on the Sunday morning, my friend got an asthma attack and we all had to leave early. 

Staying out past midnight

Look, I’m an adult who can go to bed whenever she wants and doesn’t have to answer to anyone, and I still leave the party at midnight. Believe me, nothing good is going to happen after the witching hour.

Travelling

Another thing that you should wait until you have actual money to do. At 19, I backpacked through Spain, France, Amsterdam and Germany, where my budget was £38 a day, exactly. That’s including accommodation. Needless to say, I spent a fair amount of nights “sleeping under the stars” – which, believe me, is nowhere near as poetic and romantic as it sounds. 

Dating

Your parents think you’re too young to go on dates? I’ll let you in on a secret: dating is not good when you’re young. It’s not good when you’re old, it’s basically good never. Sure, going out to a restaurant or to the cinema or to a gallery with someone you really like is great fun, but ‘dating’ – as in, turning up at a place and eating food with a near stranger – can be absolute hell. You never know who is supposed to pay and you always forget the point of your story halfway through. Avoid this one for your entire teens, or your entire life if you can manage it. 

Going on holidays with your friend’s family

This is something that, when I was around 13, everyone started doing. Suddenly, families everywhere seemed to be extending free holidays – FREE! – to feckless pre-teens who did nothing to deserve it other than befriending their wretched spawn. I was incredibly jealous of all this free holiday action, especially because everyone who went on holidays together seemed to return with a stronger, more sisterly bond. 

My parents were cynical about the prospect of letting me go on holidays with other people’s families, partly because they were afraid of having to return the favour, and they were not the kind of people to give some rando teen a free holiday. 

However, time taught me that going away with your friend’s family is not all its cracked up to be. You’re basically expected to be a guest, 24/7. That means no arguing, doing exactly what your friend’s parents tell you to do, and going along with their weird family traditions and crap car games. Who wants that? You’re supposed to be on holiday. 

@Czaroline

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If you have separated parents (or the blessed fortune of having a ‘weekend home’), you’ll know the pain, pleasure and relentless packing that accompanies a life lived between two houses.

The good news is, it gets better – or rather, you get better at it as the years go by. The bad news is that by the time you leave home(s) you’ll be such a pro at the two-house thing you’ll genuinely struggle to adjust to living in one…

It’s at the other house

Whatever it is, it’s at the other house when you need it. It could be small or large, life-enhancing (eyeliner) or as a essential as your beating heart (phone charger): cometh the hour, cometh the moment you realise you know EXACTLY where it is, and it’s about 12 miles away, along the A22.

You can see it in your mind’s eye. You distinctly remember looking at it and thinking, ‘I shan’t forget you my friend,’ then getting a distracting WhatsApp and never looking back. My advice to you would be ensure everyone in your family has the same phone (if they haven’t already), and to make steps toward implementing the below scenario immediately.

You have double of everything…


Like a material Noah’s Ark, if it’s necessary to your life you’ve got it doubled – whether it’s toothbrush, pyjamas, hair brush or wellies. But unlike Noah’s Ark, the crucial difference between them is that one is always older and lamer than the duplicate: Little Mermaid pyjamas and a toothbrush that more closely resembles your doormat, for example, versus an electric number and some snazzy shorts from New Look.
The trick is balance: you can bear the fact your pants at mum’s have all the days of the week on them in fluorescent colours, as long as you’ve got a room with half decent wifi access and GHDs at her house. In the end though, you will probably end up lugging the best stuff between the two.

…except when you don’t


The day you need to watch Sky will be the day you’re at the house which has never had Sky, never will, and why-do -you-want-Sky-anyway-read-a-book. This is less of an issue in the giddy age of Netflix, but the principle also extends to Freeview, games consoles and the good telly. If only it were so easy to blag a second 34 inch flat HD screen of your parents as it is a spare hair dryer and extra sandals.

Breakfast becomes a whole new ball game

Once the most predictable of meals, breakfast steps up a gear when you’re confronted with two homes, each with a different cereal offering. Some cool kids might disagree, but other than “Saturday” I can’t think of a better realisation to have before 8am than ”I’m at Mum’s! That means crunchy nut cornflakes instead of Weetabix!”

Do try to resist playing one parent off against the other on the cereal front, though. Tempting as it is, there’s only so far you can milk it before they cotton on and you’re stuck with plain porridge at both houses for weeks. Blurgh.

You’ve got a ready-made homework excuse

A trembling lip, one solitary tear, and a shaky voice announcing “mum and dad are separated and I left it at Mum’s and I was at Dad’s last night I’m so sorry” works wonders when it comes to letting you off the hook for that maths homework you clean forgot to do last night. Ditto PE kit and musical instruments.

A word of warning however: while rivers of sympathy run deep for the kids of divorces, they do dry up eventually. Try to limit your abuse of your home situation to a maximum of once or twice a term, and to target different teachers each time.

ALSO: this does not work for those of who have a weekend home. You can try it, but if the idea of you leaving your Key Stage 6 textbook by the pool in Provence elicits pity on the part of your teachers, they’re a softer lot than mine…

You live your life out of a holdall

Before reading Jacqueline Wilson’s The Suitcase Kid, I thought me and my brother were the only ones in the world whose lives could be reduced to a single Reebok holdall. Now I realise there’s a whole tribe of us out there, lugging homework, school shoes, chargers and at least five potential Saturday night outfits from one house to the next.

Our necklaces are never not tangled into a knots; our earrings haunt the depths of the bag like bright sea creatures, to be expertly fished out when required; and our tights bear the scars of always, always getting caught in the zip.

You become a master of packing

See above. Where lesser mortals spend days deliberating over how many knickers and what size of body lotion they’ll need for a trip, you pack like a woman on the run from police: ready to leave at a minute’s notice when the sirens sound. By the time they’ve located their adaptor plug, you’re halfway to Rio.

It’s a niche skill, true, but it will stand you in good stead next time you’re late for a plane or decide to engage in some serious crime.

@clare_finney

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Image: Unsplash

Parents are embarrassing in real life, but they are, without question, at their peak cringe when they decide to engage with social media. If, by some lucky miracle, your parents aren’t on social media or haven’t worked out emojis yet, we strongly urge you not to teach them (though on the plus side, their social media cock-ups can provide a steady stream of LOLs).

But one 18-year-old from Austria has decided her parents have taken their digital activities one step too far – so she’s doing the only logical thing: she’s suing them.

Say what?

Yep. She’s suing her parents for posting embarrassing childhood photos to Facebook. In the last seven years, she claims her parents have uploaded more than 500 photographs of her as a child to the social network without her permission, and that it has made her life miserable.

They knew no shame and no limit – and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot – every stage was photographed and then made public

Woah.

While lawyering up might be a pretty extreme response to public parental affection (whatever happened to just writing “GOD MUM YOU ARE SO EMBARRASSING GODDDD” underneath and slamming a few doors?), there’s no denying that parents + social media often = a whole heap of pain.

In case anyone else is looking for more reasons to go all Good Wife on your ‘rents, here are a few other social media mishaps that we wish we could sue our parents over…

1. Re-posting poems captioned “Share this if you’re a mom who loves her kids!!!!”

2. Liking three weeks’ worth of Instagram photos in one giant landslide of notifications

3. Putting kisses on the ends of tweets to nobody in particular.

4. Misusing the cry-laughing emoji on texts telling you your Grandma is in hospital.

5. Showing they’re angry with you by passive-aggressively refusing to like your photos, and expecting you to notice or care.

6. Excessive fear of The Man, leading them to periodically delete their accounts or post 500-word chain statuses about Mark Zuckerberg harvesting details on your favourite crisps and Netflix viewing habits to sell to terrorists.

7. Replying to everything Phillip Schofield says on Twitter, and genuinely expecting a reply.

8. Posting things in the voice of their pets. E.g. A photo of a dog with “I had a really hard day today! I went for a big walk in the morning and swam in the river, then rolled in some mud so had to have a bath when I got home. I met so many new friends! Now I’m home and cuddled up with teddy” on Twitter, and genuinely expecting a reply.

And our personal fave:

9. Referring to it as ‘The Facepage’.

Dislike.

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1. “It’s just like a big roast dinner!”

The calm, nonchalant words of your mum or dad the morning they start on Christmas dinner.

2. WHY AREN’T THE POTATOES BROWNING?! I TOLD YOU TO TURN THE OVEN OFF/UP/DOWN/INSIDE OUT (delete as appropriate) NOW EVERYTHING’S RUINED

The harassed, furious and screeching words of your now red-faced, vein-popping parent as D-time approaches, emitted at an ear drum-bursting volume. Cue kitchen exodus.

3. “I’ll get the drinks.”

Said by whichever parent isn’t cooking, as they grab the wine bottle and exit the kitchen in reverse.

4. “Well, it IS Christmas.”

First heard at 10am (along with the Buck’s Fizz cork), then throughout the course of the day whenever the bottle, chocolate box or brandy cream passes.

5. “GO ON. It’s Christmas!”

Said jovially to anyone who does not subscribe to the above rule.

6. “Take it in turns, please”

An order totally ignored by you and your siblings as you tear through your stockings with all the ferocity of a Tasmanian Devil – whether you’re 5 or 15.

7. “Now it’s mummy’s/daddy’s/auntie’s/grandma’s (delete as appropriate) turn”

Cue the giving and receiving of a gift so eye-wateringly dull (cycling gloves, garden trowel, tights) it provides an immediate reminder that growing up sucks, in almost every possible way.

8. “Hurry up, or we’ll miss the Queen’s speech!”

There’s always someone so desperate to watch the Queen’s speech they’ll insist on bolting down Christmas pudding at a speed you know will come back to haunt them later. To the amusement and/or total indifference of everyone else.

9. “But I thought you’d grown out of Advent calendars?”

Every year they ask it, as if you would ever grow out of something as exciting as legitimately eating chocolate at 8am.

10. “Sorry it’s not a chocolate one”

When, finally, they remember to get you an Advent calendar – and they completely miss the WHOLE POINT. 

11. “But I thought you’d grown out of stockings?”

May the gods defend you from ever hearing these dreaded words, which it’s almost impossible to defend yourself against without sounding just that teeny bit spoilt. It was fun while it lasted, but that, my friend, is Santa calling time on your fun.

12. “What do you want for Christmas?”

Your mum* will have already asked this. Your dad will ask you around the 22 December, with all the wide-eyed innocence of a middle aged man who’s only just realised Christmas is happening. 

*Or vice versa, obviously. Christmas is no excuse for gender stereotypes.

13. “Are you sure that will fit in the hall, darling?”

The doubtful parent, or whoever it is that’s responsible for putting up the Christmas tree at the garden centre when the other one feels a competitive, almost primal drive to purchase the tallest tree going.

14. “There’s no way that’s going to fit.”

When you get the tree home.

15. “It’s okay, I’ll just saw the top off.”

[three hours pass]

16. “WHOSE ******* IDEA WAS THIS? I SWEAR TO GOD, WE ARE GETTING A FAKE ONE NEXT YEAR.”

When sawing the extra four feet off has left needles where needles ought never to go, and inevitably leaves the tree bald.

17. “Did you keep the receipt?”

There’s always at least one present in the pile exchanged between partners that falls short of expectations. Short of lying, this is usually considered to be the most tactful response.

18. “Don’t worry, I kept the receipt!”

Said by an anxious parent when giving pretty much any present, whether it’s a pair of suspect heels or some rollerball pens.

19. “It’s dry. It’s dry, isn’t it? Dry as a bone. I knew it would be dry.”

The cook, upon the serving of the Christmas dinner.

20. “Do you need picking up?”

Said with a heavy sigh when you declare your intention to go to your mate’s Christmas party.

21. “I can’t pick up yerup darling. I’vad too much tdrink. Walkorgerra cab.”

Said in a sleepy, rolling slur when you ring them at 10pm

22. “Have you written your thank you letters?”

Every day between Christmas and New Year.

23. “Are you sure you meant these for me, mum?”

Your mum to your grandma upon unwrapping a bumper pack of men’s thermal vests.

24. “No I did NOT make the Christmas pudding. Who do you think I am, Jesus?”

The parent who cooked Christmas dinner to the parent who didn’t cook Christmas dinner when the latter asks innocently if the pudding is home made.

25. “Has anyone seen the matches? Where are the matches? The pudding’s getting cold!”

Birthdays and Christmas. Literally the only time humans ever need matches anymore. No wonder they can never find them.

26. “It won’t light. Why won’t it light? Give me another match, I’ll just GAH GAH GAHHH.”

Lighting the brandy on the Christmas pud. And maybe burning the tree offcuts. 

@finney_clare

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.