Dr James Dobson says God gave you a child for 12 years to learn to love him before he turns into a teenager.
Well, there are a few things one can do to stay connected with your teenager. It is important to recognize the changes not only in their bodies, but also in their needs as they grow. They need to be treated as miniature adults and with the same respect you would like to receive. The best way to bond with your teenager is to have fun.
Find out what appeals to your child. Here are some suggestions you can try:
My daughter once said, “mom, you’re so lucky, you get to cook what you feel like eating every night”. Why not let your teenager choose the meal once a week, but then you cook together. I found that my teenagers developed a love for cooking this way (and today their spouses thank me!!!)
Teaching them to make a perfect white sauce is very handy for all types of meals – macaroni cheese, sauces for veggies etc. Or let them be in charge of baking or making the dessert. Meal times are a great way of including children in the chores. Each child could have a turn helping with making dinner then when they are old enough, they could be responsible for one meal a week. They need to preplan the menu though to ensure that mom has had enough time to have the ingredients available on that night. Encourage them to try new recipes out of a recipe book or searching on the Internet.
If they are being irresponsible with this chore, then mom and dad could take that night to eat out but take the amount that it cost, out of his pocket money. I am sure the next week he would be very eager to take his turn to cook.
Play board games once a week
Some teenagers enjoy something challenging like chess, while others would enjoy fun ones like Cranium or card games.
Discuss ways of earning money
What about bottling home made gingerbeer, making homemade fudge or brownies to sell at school, or to the tuck shop?
What about a business where they feed the animals or water the indoor and outdoor plants of people that goes on long holidays? Surf the net together and work out a strategy.
- Most teenagers are concerned about their weight. A nice long walk or bike ride can be a great opportunity to bond. Shop together for the appropriate clothes and make it a regular outing.
- Play a sport together, like squash, tennis, even darts or table tennis for the not so energetic. If you’re not much of an athletic type, try researching the sport your child is interested in.
- Find out about the icons in that sport or interesting information and facts. If your child is interest in for instance golf, find some online tips to improve his swing or offer to drive the golf cart, or watch him play tennis and go for a milkshake afterwards. This is where conversations grow organically.
Casual talk is the best. Not probing or judging. Just chatting. Take out some old families pictures and reminisce about fun holidays.Is there anything in particular your child has an interest in? Try and find out more. Google it and share your findings.
Even if you don’t totally agree, try and see it from his perspective. There are ways of discussing matters of interest without having to agree or condone these things. If you battle in this area, you may want to learn some listening techniques before you venture onto a touchy topic.
Home Movie Night
Have a surprise home movie night – in the middle of the week! With popcorn popping without the lid! Add double thick homemade milkshakes to that, and you have a winner!
Window shopping can be a lot of fun
This can be used to have those “wouldn’t it be nice if we had one of those” moments. This way they can see that you also want things you can’t have. This is especially nice when it ends with a pizza! Or, let your teenager take YOU shopping. You don’t have to spend a cent. Just let her choose clothes for you to try on, have a make-over at the make up counter and some different perfume. Try on hats, shoes, a bag – whatever! See what she thinks would look nice on you. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised. Try suggesting different occasions to dress for. Then, swop around and give her a turn.
Do you have a lot to do tonight?
- Does your teenager have a messy room? Make a deal.
- Work together helping each other instead of each one with his or her own task. It goes much faster if you have someone to talk to and make it fun. The time will just fly by.
- Meal times are a great way of including children in the chores.
- Each child could have a turn helping with making dinner then when they are old enough, they could be responsible for one meal a week.
- They need to preplan the menu though to ensure that mom has had enough time to have the ingredients available on that night.
- Encourage them to try new recipes out of a recipe book or searching on the Internet.
At this age they love to belong to a group or a club. Make sure that your family is the ‘group’ they enjoy spending time with. Occasionally a friend can come along, but try and also have fun time where it is only the family.
Consider suggestions from each child as to what to do or where to go. Build memories. Laugh together. Create albums of these special times and keep souvenirs.
Family time could be spending a night at home going through family albums and sharing stories or relating the birth experience.
It could be a candle light dinner with a time to affirm each other. Each person has the opportunity to be still and listen to others’ affirmation, then it is the next ones turn to be affirmed.