If you have a teenager living in your home, you have probably experienced some form of resistance when it comes spending quality time with the entire family. Things that your child used to love doing are all of a sudden ‘lame,’ and good luck convincing a teenager otherwise. It’s not that you are getting old. It’s not that they hate you. It’s not that they are victims of an alien bodysnatching regime. It’s all because of one thing: they are teenagers. Something happens, chemically I guess, when a person turns 13+. Everything is ‘lame’ unless it was their idea. That, my friends, is the key. Use their ideas to engage them in activities that involve the whole family. Keep in mind, this just might mean you (Mom, Dad, etc) will have to embrace something that you probably think is lame. Like video games…
Role Playing Games:
Teens today, more than ever, are caught up in fantastical, emotional, online adventures. It’s not the physically active hobby you may prefer they be obsessed with, but these games today test patience, memory, team building and strategy. In just a few minutes your entire family can create custom avatars and jump into the adventure as a family. You may soon see the allure of these games and become just as invested in achieving the ultimate goal, whatever that may be. A family that games together stays together!
Gone are the days of playing video games with a maximum of two players. Today sports games are as in depth as the actual sport itself. Many sports games allow up to 8 players at a time. With the ‘Create a Player’ option, which is extremely popular with teens, each family member can create themselves and place themselves on an existing team or a Custom Team. It may seem like a simply fun activity, but once the puck drops the intensity revs up! Communication is the key to winning, and you will likely have to allow your teenager to take the lead – they know what they’re talking about.
The term ‘Community Engagement’ typically isn’t something that a teenager is going to get excited about, but if you are able to get them to understand the impact they can have and how much the little things mean to people, you just might be able to get them involved. Here are a couple ideas:
Random Acts of Kindness:
It’s that time of year where the air gets a bit crisp, and the trees start to lose their leaves. This presents a great opportunity for the family to head out into the neighbourhood with rakes and bags. If there are some elderly residents in your community, head over to their place and rake their lawns for them. It takes very little effort for a family to tackle the task, whereas it could take a senior much longer to complete the chore. Once the snow starts to fall, the family can shift their focus to shovelling and salting the walkways, stairs and driveways of your neighbours. These acts of kindness may turn out to be thankless, but that doesn’t make them any less rewarding.
Goodies for Seniors:
Gather up the family. The meeting place is the kitchen. The mission: bake some muffins, cakes, cookies or all of them. Give each family member a specific role, whether it’s finding the recipe, measuring the ingredients, kneading the dough, etc. Once the items are finished, the family can head over to the nearest seniors residence and distribute the goodies. While the family is there spreading sweet joy, there is a strong possibility that new friendships will arise. That will probably be the incentive to continue to do this on a regular basis. Getting the teenagers to make the connection between these random people and their own grandparents could spark the desire to spend more time together.
Family Renovation Projects:
In this age of technology one of our best resources, like it or not, is the glorious Internet. Google and YouTube are both excellent sources of information and instruction. For minor repairs, or major overhaul projects, the world wide web is there to help. As you become more comfortable doing handy work, look for bigger challenges. Install a new set of floating shelves to create more space. Learning the importance of using a level, anchors and proper screws can go a long way towards fixing things yourself, instead of paying somebody else to do it. Give your teenager the chance to take on a project themselves. A teenager who can feel a true sense of entitlement in the place they live, because they have actually contributed to it, will be more likely to help maintain the space like it’s their own.
For more ideas of what you can do with your teenagers, put yourself in their shoes and try to find out why they are so interested in the things that occupy most of their time. Think back to when you were a teenager, and the things you were into at the time. Now imagine what it would have been like if your parents had found a way to connect with you and spend some quality time doing what you like doing, instead of what they like doing. If you were lucky enough to have a healthy, open, engaging relationship with your parents when you were a teenager, find out what they did to relate to you and replicate it!