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Steve Lunetta: Uncle Earl’s guide to teenagers

Right About Now

Posted: August 29, 2010 5:28 p.m.
Updated: August 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Raising teens is a difficult task. Anyone who attempts to do it without advice from others is making it far more stressful than it needs to be.

When I need advice, I drive over to Uncle Earl’s. Earl is truly a modern-day sage or oracle, able to impart wisdom on mere mortals like his confused nephew.

I found Earl sitting on his rooftop with his legs crossed in the lotus position. Eyes closed and hands outstretched, he looked like an old Buddhist cowboy.

“Earl? What in the name of heaven are you doing up here?” I questioned.

“Boy, I heard you were coming to me for advice. I wanted you to have a truly mountaintop experience.”

“Thanks, Earl. But my question is very simple. All I want to know is how to raise teenagers” I innocently asked.

His eyes suddenly opened and widened to the size of silver dollars, Earl exclaimed, “Like a Democratic legislator, your question is truly taxing, grasshopper! But, I shall enlighten you.”

Earl went on, “The first lesson you must learn is that all teenagers lie. Do not think your little Suzy or Johnny is pure as the driven snow. Teens pray that you do not smarten up and begin checking and verifying. Their stories will be blown faster than a revenue surplus in Sacramento.”

“How do I do this, Swami, errr, Earl?”

“Quite simple, my padowan learner. If they go to another teen’s house, get the number and call. Verify that they are there. Many parents are shocked to discover that their little angel is not where they said they were. Talk to the parents in the house, not teens. Remember the first rule — all teens lie. This includes your teen’s friends.”

“Get their Facebook password and check their account and conversations. Grab their cell phone, and do the same thing. Will you feel like a spy? Yes. You are a horrible person. Get over it. You are not the teen’s friend. You are the parent.
Stop the fantasy of being the ‘cool’ parent. Be the ‘jerk’ parent and see your kids live to be 20.”

I interjected, “Isn’t that very Draconian, Earl? I mean, I wasn’t perfect as a teen, and I bet you weren’t either.”

“That may be true. But times are very different. Technology has enabled teens to have many more contacts and exposure to things that we could only partially get in stolen Playboy magazines. Hardcore sex, violence and profanity are all readily available, and this is having a severe negative impact on our children.”

Earl went on, “Teens also use technology to stay ahead of their parents. Texting and instant messaging allows them to set up cover stories and alibis very rapidly. The only way parents can fight back is to pick up the phone and speak parent-to-parent. Most teen plots can be easily foiled with good communication.”

“You talk like teens are evil and insidious, Earl,” I interjected. “Isn’t that very harsh?”

“Not at all. If you don’t see the truth now, big problems are in store for the future. Check your teen for drugs and alcohol. You can buy a $30 test at the drugstore that looks for all the major drug families. One company sells an alcohol saliva test ( that you can use on junior when he stumbles through the door at 1 a.m.”

“I can’t believe that you would suggest this, Earl. Shouldn’t we be building trust in our teens?

“If you fully trust your teen, you are a fool. I have adopted the approach that I will neither believe nor disbelieve a teen. Everything needs to be cross-checked and verified before proceeding with any plan, plot or pilgrimage.”

“Well, what about love?” I inquired.

“If you truly love your teen, you will stop trusting. Sounds cruel and harsh, doesn’t it? But the sooner you take off the rose-colored glasses and see the situation for how it really is, the sooner you’ll be able to correct the issues that have crept into your teen’s life. You may even save that life. That is love.”

“You are too wise, Uncle Earl. What happens to teens if these issues do not get corrected?” I asked.

Earl replied “They become Democrats.”

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is following Uncle Earl’s advice. His column represents his own opinions and not necessarily those of the Signal. He can be reached at


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