London, Oct. 21: Forget moody teenagers.
It’s moody parents who are disrupting family life, according to one of the largest surveys of British teenagers.
When asked to identify their parents’ worst trait, four in 10 of the 16,000 teenagers polled said it was their unpredictable moods.
Fashion — or lack of it — was also a concern, with 28 per cent citing poor dress sense as their parents’ worst quality.
The findings, from an online BBC poll published yesterday, contradict the views of many parents who believe that their truculent and hostile sons and daughters are to blame for the growing tension at home.
But more than half of the teenagers said they were fed up with being compared with “Kevin the Teenager”, the monosyllabic and rebellious youth created by the comedian Harry Enfield.
When asked what was the hardest thing about being a teenager, one in five cited negative media coverage and being stereotyped — ahead of exam pressures, mood swings and relationships.
Maggie Philbin, who launched the BBC’s Teen Survey, said: “As teenagers test the boundaries, family rules are rewritten. It’s tough on parents but I think it’s even tougher on teenagers.”
“Whenever I read about them, the headlines everywhere shriek about drugs, teenage pregnancy, joyriding and crime,” she said.
“No wonder parents become anxious but I believe the vast majority of teenagers have every reason to resent this parental paranoia and the implicit lack of trust.”
Jan Fry, of Parentline Plus, a charity which runs a helpline for parents, said it was crucial for parents to talk with their children.
“Because of the enormous pressures facing parents today, it is no surprise that they are sometimes feeling grumpy,” she said.
“But rather than be dismissive with their children, parents should communicate with them and explain why they are feeling a bit low,” he said, adding, “That’s the key.”