After some deliberation, I have come up with the following answer to the problems of parenting teenagers: Be skint. Stony broke. In the financial doghouse.

For if you are skint you can respond to various demands with absolute conviction in your tone when you say “I’m really sorry my darling boy, but I have no money. None whatsoever. You will have to buy your own designer jeans/ hair bleach/ deodorant/ illegal alcohol/ chavvy cap.” Your blasted yet beloved offspring may rant and rave at the basic unfairness of life, but in my experience they never fail to recognise the basic, unvarnished truth and either accept the lack of bleach/ jeans etc or go and get a part time job.

And whenever my darling boy proposes that he will drop out of sixth form in order to spend six months getting fit and applying to join the Paratroop Regiment, I can say with conviction: “Of course darling. It’s your future. But you must have either a job or a college place right up to going on basic training, or else I will be even more skint than I am now.” (Note to the childless – m’husband and I get family allowance plus tax credits until Firstborn is 19 AS LONG AS he is in further education).

For the first time ever in my life I am congratulating myself on my financial ineptness.

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