Here’s a couple of ideas that I learned from my crew.
Yep… You read that right! We have 5 kids in the space of 5 years (with twins), so that means I had 5 teenagers at the same time for a couple of years. Many times Mom and Dad are not the first choice of people that teenagers want to hang out with and that is ok. It fact it is a normal part of growing up and pulling away. It doesn’t mean you should not continue to make Family Time or one on one time a priority. In fact, you should make it an even bigger priority! Teens need time with family and time with each parent more than ever in their life! So, to recap, when kids reach the teenage years and they really often want nothing to do with their parents and family, we should make sure to make them spend time with us anyway!!??? But How?!
- Bribe them with food or beverages (non alcoholic :). Tell them you’ll take them out for Iced Coffee if they go to the store with you. Let them pick out their favorite snacks if they come to the grocery store with you. (Make sure to really let them pick out what they want – even when it is not nutritious at all!) Take them to lunch, breakfast or dinner. Take them out for Ice Cream. Even if you get just 15 minutes with them, it is worth it.
- Pick a couple of times a week (when it works for everyone’s schedules), and plan to eat together as a family. Make it non-negotiable that they be home for that meal. Communicate the day and time clearly (via text helps 🙂 with everyone. (Note: I know working around schedules is hard! We had 7 different schedules and people’s activities to work around – it wasn’t easy, but it can be done. Be creative – maybe your time together will be dessert at 9:30 at night for 15 minutes of time together 🙂
- Arrange to drive them at least once a week, even when they have their license. The time in the car is precious!
- Bribe them with gas. If they have their license and drive themselves, offer to take them to fill their car up with gas. You can get a good 20 minutes together this way.
- Make extended family gatherings a priority. One never knows how long they have with grandparents, aunts, uncles etc.
- Go to church as a family. Again, not easy! They will not want to go and that is normal. It is part of them pulling away and figuring out what they believe. Keep it a priority as long as they are at home. It gives them solid habits to build on when they leave and are adults.
- Go to their activities – Games, concerts, shows, debates etc. Show interest in what they like, even if you don’t enjoy it. Go to their things even when they say they don’t care if you come. They do care! Go even when they tell you not to come. You can’t go wrong showing your support for them and what they like to do.
The moral of the story is that even though teens push away from us with two hands and all the insistence in the world, we can’t let them. They want us out, but they also still need the attention and quality time with us. Choose your battles, but make sure family and one-on-one time remains a priority!