Connect with Teens
Sometimes it feels hard to connect with teens when school is in session. Their attention is pulled in many directions. It’s divided between family, friends, after school activities, sports, hobbies, and more. As parents, our time is also at a premium. School breaks may offer a chance to spend high-quality time bonding with our teens. Let’s make this holiday season a time to remember. Here are three ways to connect with teens and be in the moment – together.
1) Be a Tourist in Your own Town
Many of us take for granted the interesting things and goings-on in our hometowns. Whether you’re “city or country mice” or somewhere in-between, there are always things to get out and see. Consider playing tourist together. Ask your teen for suggestions of things to do and go from there. What if they’re not sure where to start? Popular websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor or apps including Culture Trip and All Trails provide ample tips to get you moving. Head to the closest welcome/information center, hotel, or motel lobby and snag tourist brochures for recommendations. Or, head to the library and ask the librarian for help.
For a change of viewpoint, travel around using a different mode than usual, be it car, bus, subway, boat, foot, scooter, or even Segway! You’ll see things through fresh eyes. If food is an inspiration, eat together at a touristy restaurant or well-known greasy spoon. Is there some food that your area is known for? Try doing a taste comparison test with your teen (I’m a Philly girl, so I’d naturally want to compare cheesesteaks!). For the teen history buff, check out museums, famous sites, or oddities that make your area unique. Walking outside and noticing things you’ve never noticed before may offer awe-inspiring discoveries. Experiencing the emotion of awe boosts well-being as you think about your smaller place in a bigger picture.
2) Do Good Together
Giving back and supporting others not only benefits those in need — it’s good for your health! Helping those around you builds resilience. Watching how you choose to contribute to your community can help develop positive character traits in your teen — they’re more likely to follow your lead. They’ll also learn to see life through another person’s perspective. If your teen has a charity or organization they are passionate about, work together to offer support. If they don’t have strong feelings about a particular place, the list of options to choose from is endless. Gather used coats and gently used clothing for a winter coat drive. Make meals for the elderly or the sick. Raise a small sum of change to donate to a cause of your choice. Send a cheerful, encouraging card to someone in the military. Work together at a food pantry or soup kitchen. No matter what you do, giving to others always feels right. It feels even better when giving together as a family.
3) Be Creative Together
Allow your inner artists, chefs, writers, musicians, and designers to come out. Making art of all types can be a great stress buster and allows people to express emotions. Create homemade gifts to give to friends. Cook an “old family recipe” together, letting your teen take the lead while you tell them stories about your memories of making it. Help your teen add some new decorations to their room. Work together to come up with a “family favorite” music playlist. Shoot a video together to post on social media. Design and make New Year Cards and send them out to friends and family. Keeping your minds on each other and the project at hand helps you relax and enjoy each other – all part of developing a positive mindset. Start a new family tradition that lets your teen’s creativity shine. Nurturing creativity in your teen may even contribute to a longer and happier life. Creative people often handle stress more effectively and using creative techniques exercises the brain!
The opportunities for bonding are endless. During a holiday in which you have a chance to invest in your relationship, take full advantage and enjoy! There’s no time like now to appreciate the amazing young person your teen is becoming. And know that it’s not so much about what you do. The benefit comes from doing something together. It’s that together time that really means the most to our children. So, make this downtime together time.