3-Year-Olds Mays Be A*sholes, But 17-Year-Olds Are Stone Cold Motherf*ckers

The other day Sarah Fader wrote a post on Huffington Post Parents entitled 3-Year-Olds Are A**holes. I agree with her, and so have a lot of other articles on Mommyish, but even though toddlers might be their own special brand of asshole, they cannot compare to the utter assholy-ish-ness of teenagers. Three-year-olds may be assholes, but teenagers are stone cold motherfuckers. And I should know, because I have one.

I love my son. He is one of my best friends. He is amazingly smart, and interesting, and charismatic, and charming, and can be very helpful around the house.. when he wants to be. But he is also sullen and moody and sarcastic and cutting and capable of rational thought, which means that not only is he an asshole, but he is a smart asshole and right a lot of the time. You cannot argue with someone who is 6’3 and who understands algebra. You cannot win every argument you have with an almost-adult who is incredibly difficult to put in time out.

My mom always told me “little kids, little problems, big kid, big problems” and she is so right. I long for the days of my own son putting a cup in the toilet, instead of sneakily checking my vodka bottles to make sure they haven’t magically decreased by ounces since the last time I checked. Tantrums, drawing on things they shouldn’t, refusing to nap are all annoying parenting dilemmas, but I would take those over discussing the dangers of pot smoking and explaining sexual consent almost any day. Add a teen learning how to drive to that pile and a kid refusing to wear anything but pink pants is a cakewalk.

The reason teenagers are assholes is because they can be. Most teenagers are pretty good kids, and I think mine is exceptionally good, but he is overall an asshole, because he knows he can’t get grounded for acting like a normal teenager, making fun of the way I sing in the car or getting all eye-rolly with me when I suggest family game night or doing other asshole teenager things, like expecting me to buy him jeans in adult sizes which cost way more than pants from the toddler section. Teenagers are assholes because they know enough about the world to criticize it, they can debate politics and music and critique films and art and they make sense. And because you are their parent you actually have to do shit like listen to them and respect their thoughts. And worst of all, teenagers are assholes because eventually they take all of your money and go off to college and they are no longer around. And that makes them the biggest assholes of all. Teenagers are assholes because we have to let them go out into this great big world to become adults.

So Sarah, I hear ya, and the rest of you moms going through the three-year-old asshole stage, but come see me when your teenagers are assholes in about twelve or thirteen years. Then you’ll really have things to complain about.

(Image:   Vlue/shutterstock)

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  • ShanLea

    Lord help me, I have an almost-teenager and an almost-3 year old. Wine is my best friend!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      and shall be for many years

    • Jennifer Freeman

      I have a 16 year old and a 4 month old. Dealing with my daughter’s increasing independence while fighting off a very bitey nursing baby has been. ..interesting.

  • Alex Lee

    My twelve-year-old son is starting to realize that his eight-year-old sister can change her mind about anything at anytime – much to his frustration.

    Conversely, we think my eight-year-old daughter is beginning to realize that she can change her mind in order to get her twelve-year-old brother in trouble.


  • K.

    I teach that age-group, and as a teacher I adore my job, precisely BECAUSE of what you are saying, Eve, which is that 17yos are literally young adults. They are no longer children who look to you to guide them in their behavior through praise and punishment.

    Sadly, this makes your job as their parent very hard because they are transitioning to the reality in which they are going to pay for their own mistakes more and more–and your capacity to punish will be less and less. The latter is frustrating (finding out that grounding him doesn’t stop the vodka pilfering); the former is downright terrifying (realizing that grounding him doesn’t stop the vodka pilfering and that it might take a car accident to do that).

    The reason I love my job so much is because in that context, I feel like I make a difference as a teacher, by teaching my 17yo students how to think responsibly, critically, and compassionately, for themselves and to develop their sense of independent responsibility. It’s rewarding to see them do that, and I hope it steels me a little bit to remember the great influence of not just teachers, but mentors, coaches, friends, and all those other important people in kids” lives can have for when my own grows up!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I love this comment so much and I love the fact there are teachers like you teaching the teens

    • Kelly

      You have my respect. My best friend teaches kids in their young teens for reasons similar to yours and while I think you’re both crazy, I’m in awe of what you do.

  • Jessifer

    No point in checking the vodka bottles cause if he’s anything like me at that age, he’ll just water them down after helping himself to a few ounces.

    • Kelly

      If mine waters down my booze, he’s going to be in a hell of a lot more trouble than he would have been had he just stolen some. LOL

    • val97

      That makes me think of the episode of House of Lies where the teenager and his friend get drunk, and Don Cheadle’s character is more upset that they mixed his single malt scotch with Hawaiian punch.

    • ShanLea

      I feel so cheated, my parents never had vodka in the house, just a nasty bottle of peppermint schnapps that had been around since I was born!

    • Lilly

      my parents were whiskey and brandy drinkers so it made it really hard to pilfer — colour matching was almost impossible and they drank it straight so they would know on the first sip that something was up.

    • moonie27

      Ketchup, water, and a little bit of food coloring.

    • ted3553

      ours watered down the bottle of vodka my husband keeps in the freezer. He then hauled out a bottle of frozen vodka and turned and looked directly at her while shaking his head. Soooooo, she’s not the brightest at trying to hide things. We still laugh about it now.

    • Jessifer

      Frozen vodka bottle? That’s actually pretty clever… I’ll have to remember that trick when my son reaches that age!

    • Janet Sanchez

      Hahaha. I use to do the same thing. One time my parents had yellow tequila – Afraid the clear water would ruin the color…I added yellow food coloring. It was magic to my eyes, but I never accounted for taste xD Oops!

  • Crusty Socks

    Allowance deduction for sarcasm, snarkiness and douchebaggery

    • Valerie

      What about for having sex with frozen Italian food? Is there a deduction for that?

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yes!! Grounded.

    • Crusty Socks

      Mmmm… now I want a ground beef hot pocket for lunch.

    • Valerie

      I’m having a Subway sub right now and all of this talk is making me look it in a different way.

    • Crusty Socks


    • andrea

      Better choose a different brand, those were recalled! Safe sex and all….

  • Kitsune

    My husband is a high school English teacher in one of the poorest districts in MA and he’s an amazing teacher. Considering the home lives a lot of these kids have and how he’s able to connect and help them I’m not super worried about our son as a teenager. My goal is just to get him through it with any mistakes made having no permanent consequences. I do have a while to go since my son just turned three months so I’m more worried about the asshole three stage. :)

  • Anne

    As a new mom of a 6-week-old who has a brutal nightly witching hour and will cry at any time of day unless she’s being held, I have been told by several friends to “wait until the 3-month-mark…that’s when they stop being assholes.”

    Lately, based on what I’m reading (while she is held by my mother or husband while I pump my boobs and check the iPad for 15 glorious minutes several times a day), what I have to look forward to is a lifetime of assholes. Yay parenting.

    • andrea

      Yes, it’s true. But take heart, the assholishness CHANGES so by the time you’ve had it up to *here* with the current stage, it changes into a new and exciting asshole stage.

    • Dee

      How I pity your poor child. What chance has a newborn baby got in life when her mother thinks of her as an asshole virtually from the day she’s born. I hate to say this but it is you who are the asshole…

  • lucie uk

    We were having a similar discussion in work today. My son is 17, and on the whole, a pretty neat kid. But I can no longer ground him. The kid works in local pub cheffing and waiting while also attending college. Luckily he is very respectful mostly. He has long term girlfriend and I think they are pretty sensible about youknowwhat. But sometimes I would love to be able to say ‘thats it – house arrest’. Yup teenagers can be big fat assholes. They can also be incredibly loving and giving, and amazingly funny. I think mine is fifty fifty asshole pleasure. That sounds so wrong :)

    • Alex Lee

      “Asshole Pleasure” could be:

      1) a really good band name.
      2) a delicious bar drink.
      3) Preakness champion racehorse.

      down the stretch they come…

    • Bethany Ramos

      So much lol!!

  • Jezebeelzebub

    I have an 11 year old daughter who is feeling her way into StoneColdMotherFucker territory- with the sighs and the eyerolls and the snarky tone of voice and the Jackee’ attitude. I know it’s only going to get more and more interesting. Fortunately for me, I kind of went with the Machiavellian School of parenting whereby I rule by fear rather than love. Love is great and all, but fear, I feel, is where it’s at. She can love me later when she’s grown. For now (and until she is Of Age), *I* get to be the Craziest SCMF in the Land and she can practice her SCMFuckery on her little friends.

    • meteor_echo

      Warning though, it might backfire. My father decided to do this, and he doesn’t actually know that once he gets older, I’m not helping him financially in any way ever and that I don’t care if he ends up being in a nursing home.
      Don’t use fear, because they’ll actually HATE you, and I mean they’ll treat you like an enemy for life. Making them respect you is a better solution.

    • Jezebeelzebub

      I can see how it could backfire… it didn’t in my case, though. I was raised in a similar way- let me ‘splain. When I started HS, my dad took me aside and told me he didn’t want me doing The Drugs. He said The Drugs are scary and bad, and if he found out I had been dabbling in The Drugs, he would fear for my life and sanity and would have no choice but to take mt out to Blackwater River and duct tape me to a tree until he felt like I ddn’t want to take The Drugs anymore. he said he would stay with me and feed me and make sure bears didn’t eat me, but that it would probably take a long time for him to decide The Drugs hadn’t got me anymore. And part of me was like, YEAH RIGHT. But more of me was like …. he seems to have thought about this an awful lot. Do I want to be taped to a tree? The answer was no. I also knew that for my dad there was no difference between pit and heroin… so I left The Drugs alone. Sure, I wanted to try The Drugs. And I did… but later. Much later. When being taped to a tree wasn’t a viable threat anymore- and by the time I wasn’t worried about that anymore, The Drugs didn’t hold the allure they once did. That is the sort of thing I am talking about. He didn’t beat me or lock me up under the stairs. He didn’t go through my room or mess with my friends- but had I given him a reason, I think he would have. And he would have had 100% backup from my mother. I perpetrated normal teenage fuckery, but I didnt get wild with it because I knew that my parents were the Craziest SCMFs in the Land and it just wasn’t worth it to me to possibly get taped to a tree. FF 20 years later and I love my parents- we are very close. I live next door to them, In fact- well, my dad anyway. My mom died last year. She had cancer. She did not go easy. It was my privilege to take care of her during her illness- I was honored to do that for her. I would do that for my father, too- I would do it happily. 20 years later, my remaining parent is still looking out for me as he has done my whole life and I figure if the way I feel about my parents is the result of how they raised me, then to raise my daughter in a similar fashion can bring similar results. My parents were not and are not perfect people but they love me, and have always done in their SCMF way. They did their best, and I give points for that. And I think i turned out okay.

  • ted3553

    One of the hardest for me is letting them make their own mistakes to learn instead of me just telling them exactly what to do. I guide a little but ultimately, they’re going to have to see if their approach works and how to edit that for next time.

  • Hibbie

    I hate when I’m trying to discuss an issue with my kid and my friend literally laughs in my face and says “wait til she’s a teenager!” That’s part of the reason we haven’t spoken in months.
    However, I get what you’re saying. When my daughter was born, my biggest parenting fear was potty training. Seriously, I was terrified of doing it. Now that that is in the past, I’m looking forward to other big milestone parenting tasks, and I can’t even wrap my head around discussions of sex, safe sex, consensual sex, and NOT GETTING PREGNANT. My fear for navigating those discussions and lessons successfully makes potty training seem like a drop in the bucket (heh).

  • momjones

    You could always do what I used to do when one of my three was being an asshole: look him or her in the eye and say, “You’re an asshole.”

  • pixie

    I wasn’t an asshole for the most part (I pretty much just didn’t want to put in the effort to be an asshole and I never really saw the point in doing asshole things…plus my parents rock and even if I did fuck up royally, I knew they’d always be there for me), but there was a time when I was going through puberty and my mom was going through menopause…yeah, that was nasty. I would be all hormone-y and emotional and “complicated” for a week/week and a half every month (because I was cursed with the cramps and periods from hell) and my mom was going through her own hormonal turbulence. Thankfully she found out that going to the gym was therapeutic for her and I got used to my own issues and turned to the internet (and thankfully BC helped a couple years later when I was 16/17).

  • oywiththepoodlesalready

    I have a 22, 19, and a 3 yr old. While the teen behavior is much fresher in my mind I can say without a doubt, the 3 yr old and his asshole behavior is about to drive me nuts. I know they all come with douchey issues but atleast a teen understands me when I say they better stay the heck out of my face for the rest of the day.

  • Dee

    You people are simply amazing! My boys are now teenagers but I remember their toddler years with nothing but fondness for their innocence, sweetness and the spontaneous love they shared with me on a daily basis. Asshole is the last word on the planet I could ever imagine leveling at these little angels. You people are sick and completely lacking in gratitude for the wonderful gift of young life you have in your care. Anyone who could ever think of calling their precious little one by this epithet or any other is the asshole…not to mention selfish and self-centered. Get over yourselves…it’s not about you anymore!

  • jbantifem

    It sounds to me like most parents are unwilling to punish their teenagers, which IS allowed by the way. Stating you can’t because they may be 6’3″ tall sounds to me like you’re afraid of them. Are you? If so, no wonder they’re so violent to other adults and people – you haven’t taught them to be otherwise because you’re terrified of them. Thank you SO much for that. Not.

    I never got away with any of the things teenagers get away with these days and that’s because I was put in my place whenever I WAS an asshole. No one was afraid of me and I was much taller and larger than my authority figures before I was even 16. No one cared. I was there to shut up, listen and learn.

    If you’re going to have kids, do us all a huge favor and grow a set before having them. That way the rest of us don’t have to watch out for their nasty, violent behavior and lose respect for them as people because they were raised by parents who were/are terrified of them.

    Parents are to blame these days and I don’t care who is offended by that. I raised a son and he was taught to respect others. Which is more than I can say for most human beings these days.

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