Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

8 Ways You Know There Is A Teen in the House


Can't live with them, can't live without them. Your baby's all grown up and taking over the nest!

By James Wellborn, PhD for

For the longest time, all you had to do was look for a video game machine to tell if there was a teenager in the house. Unfortunately, the number of adults who engage in this type of entertainment has made that sign obsolete. You might also have been able to tell there is a teen in the house by looking for greasy, fat-filled, processed junk food. Again, there are now too many adults who can’t resist the heart stopping goodness of these foods. So how can you tell if a teenager is lurking within a domicile? Here are a few signs.

1. Shoes. One sure way you can tell if there is a teenager in the house is finding shoes in the middle of the floor. This doesn’t mean the presence of shoes (which is universal) or even the number of shoes (which is gender based) itself is the sign. It is shoes left right where you are likely to step that is the giveaway. Do they stop in mid -tride, remove their shoes and drop them where they stand? Do they toss them out into the floor from where they sit? Is it some kind of perverse attempt to punish distracted parents and inexperienced adult visitors? Whatever it is, no matter where you turn in a house with teens you will trip over shoes.

Related: The Road Ahead for Michael Gandolfini ( & what we should tell our own kids)

2. Water Bill. To find out if you are in a house with a teenager just check the water bill. Every month hundreds of gallons of extra water pour through the pipes of a house with teenagers. And why, you ask? Thirty-minute showers, that’s why. Seriously, after 5 minutes what is left to wash? What could they possibly be doing in there all that time? (Don’t ask.) Exorbitant water bills equals teens in the house.

3. Wet towels. More families enter therapy over screaming arguments about wet towels left anywhere but hung up to dry than for any other reason. (OK, this may be a bit of an exaggeration.) What is so difficult about taking the wet towel you just used to dry off your body cleaned for over 30 minutes under constantly flowing water and hanging it up to dry for use the next day? It sounds so simple. But, no! In a house with teenagers wet towels appear on the floor, on the bed, on the wooden dresser; anywhere moisture will ruin the finish or dampen the surface. Then, by the end of the day, the moist, dark surface of the towel has blossomed into a nasty stinky mildew-ridden science experiment. And there are no clean towels to dry off with. Let the screaming begin.

4. Posters as art. OK, not everyone has fancy taste in art, but only a house with teenagers has posters on the bedroom walls. Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out. Scantily clad male or female hotties. Band members either dressed for Halloween or looking like they just fell out of bed after a hard night of partying. Cute, cuddly animals. Cool advertisements from companies marketing products to teens. You know, high art. Teens apparently can’t resist.

5. Hidden apps. Teenagers have apps on their cell phone they don’t want parents to know about. Luckily for them, and not so much for many unsuspecting parents, there’s an app for that. Companies are now producing apps that hide other apps from casual detection or allow you to text without leaving a trace on the phone bill. When you live in a country run by a totalitarian government that regulates every aspect of your daily life (e.g., China, North Korea, the home of a teenager), apps that hide apps are the only way to maintain freedom and fight the good fight against The Man. Teenagers, freedom fighters, hidden apps, no brainer.

6. Ratty clothes. The presence of a teenager in the house is also indicated by clothing that is torn, frayed, ratty and ripped. And these are brand new garments! Teens can’t afford to look neat and put together or NO ONE will hang with them. Their clothes need to appear worn and damaged by long, hard days doing manual labor (without the sweat, effort and trouble of long, hard days doing manual labor). If an adult is screaming ,“What did you do that that brand new shirt!” there is a teenager in the house.

7. Group pictures of contorted faces. What is it with teens squinching up their faces and mashing them together when taking a picture? “LOL! That was such an awesome day!” “Here I am with my BFFs!” With the proliferation of cameras on laptops and cell phones, these pictures must now be in the billions. Would it be so hard to take a photo without looking like a 2 (or 3 or 4) headed ravenous beast? Not if there is a teenager in the house.

8. Footprints on the windshield. Looking for signs of a teenager in the house? Take a glance at the car parked in the driveway. There you will find the tell-tale mark of a teenage passenger--greasy, dirty impressions of feet on the windshield. This mark is left when teens kick off their shoes, slouch down in the seat and put their bare feet on the windshield while being driven to and from various activities. This is particularly likely to happen on long drives to vacation destinations. Teenagers apparently are incapable of keeping their shoes on and feet down when riding in a car making it easier to identify the homes where they reside. (They shouldn’t do this for safety reasons, by the way!)

Related: How To Photograph Your New Baby 

Who knows how long these signs of teenage presence will persist before becoming obsolete. Happily, they rarely continue past adolescence. They seem to disappear right about the time teenagers become young adults who have to actually PAY for all their own stuff!

More from

Dr. James G. Wellborn is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Brentwood, Tennessee focusing on adolescents and families. He is the author of the book Raising Teens in the 21st Century: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting where strategies for encouraging, praising and building self-confidence in teenagers are included among the 79 chapters on typical teenage issues. You can learn more about Dr. Wellborn or sign up for his monthly newsletter on parenting teens by visiting his website at

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.


Explore YourTango