For me, the study couldn't have come at a better time. A few months ago, my son, Sam, turned 13.

You don't have to be a scientist to know what that means. That's right: goodbye car radio.

It also means I get to relive the worst time of my life, except this time through him. Adolescence is hard on teenagers. I hear it's even harder on their parents.

Which is why I've been wondering for a while if maybe I had developed ephebiphobia.

Ephebiphobia isn't a fear of vegetables. That's lachanophobia. It's not a fear of cats. That's ailurophobia. It's not a fear of bald people (peladophobia), rain (pluviophobia), or getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of the mouth (arachibutyrophobia). It's not phobophobia, either. That's the fear of phobias.

It's definitely not makingitupaphobia, which is the fear of making things up. I have no fear of making things up. None of the phobias mentioned above are made up. Except makingitupaphobia.

Ephebiphobia is the clinical name for the fear of teenagers.

They scare me, teenagers do. They're like aliens. They speak in some indecipherable tongue. Unlike regular people, they don't sit, they spill. Their moods change as rapidly as Irish weather.

I approach Sam's bedroom nowadays with trepidation.

The room seems to throb, like something out of a science-fiction movie. It appears to pulsate with an energy of fearsome unfamiliarity. What awaits in there?

I cautiously turn the knob on his door and enter a foreign landscape. There are landfills littering the floor, otherwise known as clothes. Not just laundry. Clean clothes. Why it is so much easier for teenagers to simply drop their pairs of jeans on the floor rather than hang them from the bedpost is another vexing question I trust science is working on.