Last night the Paramour and I threw a dinner party for 10. Sounds impressive, but in reality there are two families of four and us, and we meet up every couple of months for food, wine and chat at each other's houses. It's laid-back, great fun, and one of the best bits is the children.
I should probably describe them as young adults. One couple has two girls, the other a boy and a girl. Across the families, one girl and one boy are 16 going on 17, and the other two girls are 14 going on 15. They've grown up together so they know each other well. Two of the girls have boyfriends, and the boy has a girlfriend. Every time we have one of these get-togethers, I think surely this time one of the kids will decide to do something different. But they don't: they choose to spend their Saturday night with their parents and their parents' friends. They don't slide off to do their own thing, either, although they could if they wanted to. We sit round the table in the kitchen, and in the living rooms there are computers, musical instruments (the boy and one of the girls are particularly musical, and the other two aren't bad), TV, books, all sorts of things they could use to amuse themselves, and they know they are free to do so. But they hang out with us, and chat, and make jokes, and laugh, and are terrific company.
I worked with troubled teenagers for several years in the 1980s, and I know they can exist in perfectly healthy families (as well as the other kind of course). According to the press - and, therefore, much public opinion - almost every teenager is a troubled teenager. But our four are delightful. They're great company: intelligent, funny, thoughtful, caring. And I suspect it is these youngsters, not the ones in the newspapers, who represent the majority.