Lightbulb moments
Lightbulb moments
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
It would be quite easy to write your own parenting jokes. If I asked you, for example, “How many teens does it take to change a lightbulb?” you’d probably all come up with some funny punchlines. But I’m going to attempt to avoid stereotyping teenagers and rather celebrate them. Without teens, we’d never have adults.

That seems obvious, right? There has to be a transition period between the tweens and adulthood. Certainly, it involves a lot of exposed ankles as school uniform trousers get outgrown and also the occasional poor decision or two, but that’s a lot more acceptable than having a tween suddenly twitching into the workplace or becoming a parent.

We have the Teens section on Parent24, and, I confess, I’m partly to blame for making it appear that the teenage years are a morass of kids succumbing to temptation as they experiment with drugs, download pornography and bully each other online. Sure, we have a responsibility to offer parents resources which will help them deal with any problems, but we don’t do enough to remind each other to celebrate teens.

Normal teens? Really?

Yes, it’s true. Your teen boy or girl may be more balanced and responsible than you’d expect. I remember the TV show Absolutely Fabulous: Edina and Patsy, the booze-soaked party freaks get endless laughs out of mocking Edina’s very straight-laced teen daughter, Saffron. It’s Saffron who has to try and insert some common sense into the lives of her mother and her mother’s chaotic friendship with Patsy.

I’m just young enough that I remember the frissons of excitement as I snuck cigarettes out of my mother’s pack to smoke behind the tennis courts at school and drank those tiny airline booze bottles at parties. Pushing boundaries. And yet I don’t see that kind of behaviour in my children. Yet.

Rather than tempt fate, I will celebrate the good times with them. The innocence which still keeps them veiled from the harsher realities of the adult world like twerking and bills. I have friends whose teens have needed help getting out of trouble and other friends whose kids have made the transition to being remarkably well-adjusted adults without incident.

Teens can be amazing, caring, helpful, loving and kind! They may struggle to express some of their emotions, but that’s how we can help them: Not by inspiring a climate of fear about maybe/maybe-not obstacles, but by helping them learn to express themselves positively. Get them to externalise the good bits as they wrestle with their own tensions.

So instead of saying, in response to the lightbulb joke, “One; he holds the lightbulb and expects the world to revolve around him,” (Yes, I found that answer over at Better Parenting Institute), we can look for those sparks of creativity and energy that make teens so awesome, and help them to keep those burning.

As for toddlers changing lightbulbs… Thank goodness they’re too short.

What is your child’s favourite joke? Share it with us at, and you could win a R250 voucher.

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