Your kids may be home for the holidays, either on break from college or home from school, and you may be glowing with excitement for this time you will spend together. On the other hand, you may be dreading the extra time with your adolescent, bracing yourself for the increase in arguments, hostility, and general disinterest they may have in family activities.
So, how can you be intentional about spending time with your teen that is actually enjoyable for both parties? How do you compete with the friends and the parties and still get quality time?
Here are a few suggestions…
- Get in their world: Instead of expecting your adolescent to do something you find interesting, ask them what they find interesting and join them in it. Maybe they love skateboarding, ask them to give you a one-hour lesson. Maybe they love playing computer games, ask them if you can watch them play and get tips on the game. Maybe you’ll even get lucky and impress them with a new high score!
- Give them the “mic”: Set aside time and listen well to what they have to say. Put down your phone, close the laptop, turn off the TV and ask them intentional questions like…
- “What is the thing you are most proud of from this semester at school?”
- “What was the hardest thing you went through this semester?”
- “What were the best and worst things about this past semester?”
- Ask for feedback: The holidays can be a time to reevaluate how you’ve been doing – similar to what businesses do. You may ask your teen, “Is there anything you wish we did differently?” “Is there anything you have been needing from us that you haven’t been getting?”, “What could we do to be more supportive this next year?”, “What has worked in our relationship or our parenting lately?”
- Enlist their help: Give them a role in the holiday festivities that helps them feel included and needed. Maybe they are in charge of stuffing the turkey or helping hang the lights. Ask them which to-do list item they would be most excited about doing.
- Serve together: You may get some push back and eye rolls at the suggestion to give back, but trudge through and sign up for something. There are plenty of opportunities to serve others around the holidays. These are great opportunities for teens to expand their worldview, get outside of themselves, and create memories together.