At the age of 14 I spent two month's allowance on a pair of pink shiny trousers and a wildly inappropriate crop top that made me look like Pretty Woman in a training bra. Fashioned from the two tone fabric that made Pilot a legendary shop of the 90s, I fell instantly in love with these flared beauties. Unfortunately they were six inches too long for my stunted little sparrow legs and my mother, always an advocator of good taste, demanded I return them. I cried. I slammed doors. I screamed "I HATE YOU AND YOU'VE RUINED MY LIFE!" at every available opportunity. I even left little notes strewn around the house, begging her to let me keep the much beloved pants. Eventually, after several days of anguished debate, I reluctantly agreed to exchange them for a dress.
Back in 1998 there were no parenting blogs helpfully doling out advice on teenage fashion crises, tattoo whims or spur of the moment belly button piercings. But with Spice Girl wedges now a distant memory, we've witnessed a huge proliferation in technology, allowing instant communication at the touch of a button.
Though we still have agony aunt columns and Jeremy Kyle to solve the world's ills, social networking is rendering both TV and print increasingly obsolete. Alright, so a small selected audience can tut and frown at the inarticulate participants on chat shows. But for viewers at home, Jezza's forceful approach to solving family feuds (and worrying obsession with lie detector tests) offers no real value. I've no doubt the "OMG you slept with my boyfriend and turned him into a polygamous transsexual" car crash TV will always have a place in ITV's schedule, but these days people want more than that; they want real advice and genuine interaction.
Popular blog Mumsnet, which has now been developed into an online magazine, is great for dealing with more run of the mill family situations. Focusing on bullying, education and yummy things to cook on a Sunday, the publication's live chat room is invaluable to members. Through the veil of anonymity the internet offers, mums can talk openly about everything from the difficulties of juggling motherhood and a career to the bonking in EL James' bestselling 'mummy porn' novel.
Moving away from the chat room phenomenon, Clive Rich, one of the UK's leading negotiators and father of four, has just launched a new web app which gives parents advice on dealing with sticky family situations. The 'Close My Deal' app allows children and adults to role play potentially inflammatory situations online and improve their negotiating skills. So if your teen has ever threatened to throw a house party in your absence or has a bedroom like the aftermath of a nuclear bomb explosion, it could help you improve communicate without resorting to chair throwing.
As we move further and further away from the "children should be seen and not heard" tradition, compromise and negotiation are becoming increasingly important for families. Whilst it sounds easy enough in theory, the reality can be more challenging. So if parents can engage their tech savvy kids with a mobile app to improve family relations, I'm all for it. If 90s mobile technology had been more sophisticated than plastic bricks with buttons, I'm sure I would've been happy to give it a whirl. You never know, we might have even solved the pink pants debacle without the Naomi Campbell inspired showdown.
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