Teenage angst. A term that conjures images of dark clothing, moody eye rolls and hair flips. Of closed doors and, more importantly, closed communication.
Parents have always experienced a disconnect during the teenage years. It’s a totally normal thing given that this is the period of time during which children are testing boundaries and learning to become self-sustained human beings who will one day forge their own. There are some stark differences between 21st Century parenting and that of years prior. Up front and centre is the fact that we have to battle to friendly foe that is technology.
It’s harder now than ever because there is more to compete with.
We become sort of dependent on school hours and extra-curricular activities or specialist tutors to provide stimulus for our children. We tell ourselves that we are good parents for making sure they have everything they need to attend these alternatives.
Sometimes, though, what they need is us. But how can you approach the subject of togetherness with your teen if you’ve already let time creep in and nestle between you?
Below, I’ve outlined 8 ways you can reconnect with your teenager. I even ran them by some of my students who assured me the are “not that lame”. Good luck!
1. Read the Same Book
One of the biggest problems with getting teens to love books is the fact that parents often make the act of reading into a punishment. “Go in your book” is used to dissuade teens from doing other activities which they may be enjoying more. A simple way to turn this around is to make reading fun again. The concept of a mini book club with your child can actually open the stage for more reconnection. If you both read the same book, you can discuss the plot, characters and what you like and dislike together.
2. Make a Mood Board
It’s the perfect time to start setting goals. Talk to your teen about goals you might have for the new year. Together, you guys can make a mood board to use as a visionary for your collective goals. Too often parents stop discussing things like this with their children as they get older. Teens can feel disconnected from your decisions or may not even want you to be a part of theirs. Doing a fun, crafty activity like this will help to put you back on the same wavelength.
3. Visit the Beach with a Picnic Lunch
Try out a new recipe (hello, Pinterest) and put together a beach lunch or dinner. Nature is a great way to decompress and Anguilla has no shortage of beaches. The act of preparing food together is something that can bring you closer to your teen. I always think that being in the kitchen and working together is a great way to foster communication, which, let’s face it, can be difficult during these years.
4. Go Get Ice Cream or Bubble Tea Together
Anguilla has two super great sit-down options to get a sweet treat: Crave in West End and Bestea in George Hill. You could also try going to a fancy restaurant, but just ordering dessert. The idea of getting something fun and different can be special for your teen (and probably you, too), especially if you don’t do that sort of thing often.
5. Play a Video Game
Yep, I said it. Most teens are obsessed with some game or another, and chances are you spend most of your time telling them to get off of it. What if you changed your tune and decided instead to sit down and play it with them. This evens the playing field (no pun intended) and shows your teen that you care about their interests.
6. Watch a Documentary
Learning something new is a great way to strengthen a connection. There are some amazing documentaries on Netflix for a variety of intellectual tastes. Make some time to sit down with your teen and choose one together. It’s good for children to see their parents in a vulnerable learning state because children spend most of their time in school doing just that. The pressure of having to perform well and bring home good grades can often lead to rifts between teens and parents. Letting your child see that you don’t know something and are willing to learn can have a positive impact on your relationship.
7. Play a Board Game
I honestly feel like the art of board games has started to die off. This used to be one of my favourite things to do with my mom when I was little. I will say that I am guilty of always telling my kids “maybe later, I’m busy” when they pull out the board games. This practice is something which I recently decided to stop doing (and by “recently” I mean just now). Sometimes we are so fast-paced or busy trying to move on to the next task that we fail to realise the impact the “maybe later” mentality is having on our kids, especially teenagers.
Plus, board games are fun. A bit of friendly competition can help create a platform for future connections with your teen.
8. Stream a Show Together: No Phones!
Start a new series, but keep a “no phone” rule while it’s on. We are all super guilty of scrolling while watching something which takes away from the holistic feel of viewing television. Another way tech has changed how we consume entertainment is the fact that we can binge a whole show at once in isolation. Making a rule that this is you and your teen’s “show” means that you both will make time to watch the episodes together, the way TV used to be.
Let me know if you try any of these out, or if you have more things to add!