Life

Leona O'Neill: Hell is other's people parents...

In a public information message – and because you can't divorce your children – Leona O'Neill urges parents everywhere to unite against the scourge of children guilt-tripping them with mythical 'other people's parents'

Those cool 'other people's parents' think nothing of allowing their teenagers to turn the family home into a nightclub...
Those cool 'other people's parents' think nothing of allowing their teenagers to turn the family home into a nightclub...

As now a parent of two, almost three, teenagers, there is one phrase that really rips my knitting – 'other people’s parents'.

These mythical creatures, who I’m pretty sure are a total figment of every teenager imagination, are the ones my kids look and lean in to when they are looking for things from me. These bastions of fabulousness, smugness, cheeriness, coolness and never-short-of-money-ness make me feel like I’m the strictest, most uncool mother in the world.

These mystical perfect ‘other people’s parents’ are cool, relaxed, have-it-all-together, with-it, on trend, on point folks who allow their 16-year-olds to drink beer or go to pubs. They allow their sons to stay out until 2am with no resistance. They allow their children to stay up all night and play video games on a school night.

These mythological ‘other people’s parents’ pay for their child to go to raves in different cities on a bus that has blacked out windows and disco lights. These ‘other people’s parents’ willingly pay £60-£100 a week into their child’s bank accounts and don’t expect any chores done in return, they don’t nag about homework or people fighting with their brothers.

They pay for their 18-year-olds to go on foreign holidays to celebrate the end of their exams and they buy their 17-year-olds brand new cars. They allow their kids to eat ice cream at 11pm and buy them sweets before school. They hand them £20 every time they go out the front door.

They allow them to go to really cool nightclubs when they are underage. ‘Other people’s parents’ are not boring like we are. They are fabulous and fair, sound and hilarious and have bottomless pockets stuffed with money that they don’t mind dishing out on their child’s every whim. They don’t give their kids any hassle about anything at all, not even tidying their rooms.

In fact ‘other people’s parents’ clean their teenager’s rooms for them when they are out with their friends so that it’s lovely when they come home. Other people’s parents have no stupid rules.

‘Other people’s parents’ buy the nice food, not all that healthy eating stuff that you can’t fry or zap in the microwave. They don’t put back all the chocolate biscuits that their children put into the trolley in the supermarket. They don’t be shocked when the woman at the till says ‘£150 please’ for the new pair of runners their child has put on the counter and they don’t ask ‘can you not get that exact same T-shirt in Dunnes’ when asked to pay for the exact same T-shirt in a designer store for six times the price.

‘Other people’s parents' take their kids off on really cool holidays every year. They don’t keep bleating on about cost-of-living crises and ask their kids if think that they have a money tree in the back garden.

Who the hell are these ‘other people’s parents’ that my teenagers use as a stick to beat me with? I’ve never met them. I’ve never seen them. Are they real? Are you them?

I can’t stand it any longer, I need to know. I want to know if other parents are doing this parenting stuff all completely right and I’ve been doing it all wrong for all these years. I want to know if my kids spend their days secretly wishing to divorce me and go and live with these seemingly perfect ‘other people’s parents’.

Are ‘other people’s kids’ doing the same thing and telling their parents that I allow all the stuff that they are not permitted to do, that they are also using me as a stick to beat their parents with, to make them feel guilty and lesser?

This is a community service broadcast on behalf of an ‘other person’s parent’ – me. Don’t believe the hype your kid is spinning.