Family relationships change as kids get older, and no time is full of more changes than the teenage years. Teens are known for being moody and uncommunicative, seemingly preferring to lock themselves in their rooms over spending time with the family. Even so, family is still important to teens. Parents and grandparents are their emotional support, a constant during a time of transformation and confusion.
It can seem daunting trying to connect with a teenage child or grandchild. Kids today live in a much different world than previous generations—how do you even begin to share quality time with them? Whilst technology is rapidly changing the world we live in, in some ways it hasn’t changed much. Connecting with kids in simple ways can be effective and rewarding for the entire family.
Here are five ways to reach out to the teens in your life:
Start a family book club. Literature can spark discussions that reveal a person’s personality, hopes, and fears. A family book club could help you learn more about the children in your life—and yourself as well! Ask your teenager to recommend one of their favourite reads or suggest one you enjoyed at their age. When you’ve both finished, discuss the story together. Not sure where to start? Many books now include discussion questions in them, and free reader guides are widely available online.
Prepare a meal together. Cooking is an important skill to learn, especially for teens. Mastering a few basic recipes will come in handy once they’re living away from home. It’s also a great way to pass down family traditions-- many of us wish we could replicate our grandparent’s prized recipes! Why not let the grandkids in on your mystery ingredients and bond over this shared secret.
Complete a craft or building project. Cooking isn’t the only life skill you can enjoy together. Basic home or car maintenance may be more your child’s speed. Or perhaps your teen is a budding fashionista with an interest in sewing or knitting. Whatever their interest, offer to teach them any skills you have that match it. Once they’ve mastered the basics, find a project to complete together, such as restoring a classic car or sewing a quilt.
Plant a garden. Tweens and teens are more environmentally conscious than previous generations, making gardening a potentially great shared hobby. Nurturing a vegetable garden will help lessen your impact on the planet and promote healthy eating. You can even move the fun into the kitchen, cooking with your harvest or canning vegetables for the winter.
Ask them to teach you something. We tend to think that adults are the only ones who can be teachers, but our kids and grandkids can also teach us a thing or two! Teens are very tech-savvy, but they can offer more than just computer or smartphone assistance. Maybe your daughter excels at public speaking, whilst just the thought leaves nervous. Or perhaps your grandson loves identifying insects and arachnids. Asking kids to share their knowledge with you helps build their self-confidence and strengthens your bond.
How does your family stay connected as the kids get older? Share your story on our Facebook page.