Good afternoon fellow parents of tweens and teenage girls.
This may have been a tough 24-hour stretch for you, with the news that One Direction is splitting off into at least two directions. If this news doesn’t affect you, I sincerely hope you step on a sharp piece of LEGO coming down the stairs.
As a parent, this may be the first time your child is dealing with a piece of devastating news from the entertainment world. And since I’m still a little mad at Phil Collins for leaving Genesis, I feel like I have some wisdom to pass along. So I’ve created a handy five-step guide to dealing with the One Direction news so that you will be able to have an open and honest conversation with your heartbroken child.
1. Do your homework
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a 38-year-old man who had never heard the name Zayn Malik before yesterday. And I have a sneaking suspicion that you had never heard of Zayn Malik until the past 24 hours, too. (If you had miraculously heard his name before, there is no freaking way you knew that is how he spelled his first name.)
Anyway, before speaking to your kids about One Direction, make sure you know what you’re talking about. Don’t start by saying, “I love ‘Counting Stars’—that’s one of my favourite songs, too.” Your tween will scream at you, “That’s One REPUBLIC! Gaaaawd, does nobody understand me???” So be sure you know who you’re talking about by checking out One Direction’s Wikipedia page before interjecting yourself into any conversations about the band.
2. Use their lyrics when you can’t find your own words
Let’s be honest: Your ability to calm a hysterical 11-year-old is probably not listed as one of your skills on LinkedIn. But in the course of going the Google search, you may find some One Direction song lyrics that could come in handy. So put your arm on your daughter’s shoulder and just say the following lines from “Night Changes”:
We’re only getting older baby,
And I’ve been thinking about you lately,
Does it ever drive you crazy, just how fast the night changes?
Everything that you’ve ever dreamed of, disappearing when you wake up
But there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Once the awkwardness of this moment passes, just tell her you will take her on shopping spree to Justice or Aeropostale.
3. Catch their reaction on video
You know what the Internet really needs? More 12-year-old girls overreacting to news. So when you’re talking to your daughter about One Direction breaking up, make sure you are capturing the whole thing on video. Share it on your Facebook page, so it will allow for easy access for your daughter to bring up in therapy sessions 15 years from now.
4. Talk about your own experiences
It’s cool if you are still choked up about the Spice Girls breaking up 15 years ago. Or if the NKOTB tattoo is still visible on your lower back. We have all dealt with the pain of losing something we love. Heck, I get emotional every time they pull certain items off the McDonald’s menu. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that everything should come with a ‘Limited Time’ sticker attached—whether it’s the McRib or One Direction. You can bond with your kids over similar losses and they will either a) Have more respect for you or b) Think you’re really old because you’re talking about someone or something called Posh Spice.
And tell your kids about the time they pulled Seinfeld and Arrested Development off the air way too early. Now that is a pain I hope they never have to experience.
5. When in doubt, lie your way through it
You could make this a teachable moment for your child, too. You could tell them that Zayn Malik is actually quitting One Direction because he wants to get a university education. Or maybe you heard that Zayn wants to be lawyer or an ultrasound technician. Whatever field you want to push your child into, just tell them that Zayn is leaning in that direction. “Sweetie, I saw it on the news last night after you went to bed. Zayn is training to be a pharmacist. It’s his real dream.”
Follow along as Ottawa-based sports radio host Ian Mendes gets candid about raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with his wife, Sonia. Read all of Ian’s The Good Sport posts and follow him on Twitter @ian_mendes.