When you’re a teenage goth who thinks she knows better, advice from your mum is the last thing you want to hear. What does she know? She doesn’t understand the hardships you have to face on a daily basis, she doesn’t know anything about boys, and she certainly doesn’t know what’s ‘good for you’. Or does she?

Mums have been there and done it all, and they’re forever having to give us kids the real talk. Now I’m older, I realised how silly it was to think that my mum hadn’t a clue how life worked. She gave me advice time and time again, and I rarely listened. Here’s a few pieces of advice from my mum that I really should have listened to.

little charley
Little Charley – before it all went wrong…

Don’t use that mahogany hair dye – it won’t work

Back when I was naturally blonde and desperate to go darker, I asked my mum if I could dye it black. She of course said no and that was that – until I decided to buy a sachet of mahogany Wella Shaders & Toners (remember those?) from Superdrug. Mum took one look and told me flat out that it would go orange; it wouldn’t dye my hair ‘rich mahogany’. She explained the whole process and why my hair wasn’t the right colour for a shader, but I didn’t care. I wanted hair like my friends, dammit!

She was right though, it didn’t work. I had to go to school with my new orange hairdo and got called ‘ketchup head’ for a couple of weeks. All my mum could say was, “told you so!”

Please don’t date that dude

My poor mum had to listen to a lot of boy trouble from me – the unrequited love, the horrible breakups, the even more horrible breakups. And she always made me feel better. So when she saw that I was about to make a huge mistake, she warned me away. I was seeing a guy with a bit of a reputation, but I couldn’t see past how great I thought he was.

She told me I was better than that, that he’d break my heart. A leopard can’t change its spots, and I wouldn’t be that miraculous cure for being a dick. I didn’t want to listen and dived in headfirst anyway. Sure enough, he wasn’t interested in a meaningful relationship. After telling me he didn’t want a girlfriend, he promptly started dating someone else. Another “told you so!” moment.

whitby goth
Teenage me would have given anything to look as cool as this goth. Image by Bryan Ledgard

Wear some colour – it suits you

As a teen I’d spend almost every waking hour listening to Slipknot, devoted my bedroom walls to Davey Havok and Ville Valo, and looked up to Brody Dalle as a punk mother – to my own mum’s distress. She’d seen her pink and glitter-loving little girl turn into a moody, kohl-lined goth with an apparent hatred of anything colourful or conventionally girly.

I had taken the stereotype by the book and decided fashion and anything beyond greys and blacks was way too ‘mainstream’. The thing is, I didn’t earn enough in my weekend waitressing job to buy amazing Alchemy dresses or Nu Rock boots. And I certainly couldn’t trust myself to dye my hair black. Long story short – I was a really pants goth, I looked absolutely ridiculous, and my mum knew it. She tried to get me back into colour for years, and eventually it worked. I’m still partial to Slipknot though – sorry mum!

What advice did your Mum give you growing up?

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