Family time

How to spend more time with your teenager as a family

Teenagers still want to spend time with their parents. Of course they'd like to be on their mobile or computer, playing games and communicating with friends all the time and spending time with their friends too, either at each other's homes or out together. But teenagers also still value family time - eating together around a table, watching television as a family, even going out with you.

family time - spending time with teenagers mum and daughter

This is why you may want to defend or bring back the family meal - one aspect of family life which often slips away with our busy lives and schedules. For many families, shared meals have become a lost luxury. A contributing factor may be the pace of life - you and your children have so many competing demands that it can be hard to find an hour each evening when you can all be together.

If you feel pressured and short of time, opting for meals which can be put together easily, you may also be offering dishes which can be prepared and eaten individually. There doesn't seem to be any reason why you should all be at the table at the same time. Also, if preferences and food fads mean that family members eat different foods anyway, it can seem just as sensible for people to get their own meals as and when they wish.

Bringing back family meals

If family meals have disappeared in your house, it may be time to turn back the clock. Sharing a family meal may seem problematic and difficult to arrange, but it's worth it. Nothing quite brings a family together and promotes understanding and unity as eating together. You may come up against opposition when you suggest it. You may have to rearrange timetables, come home earlier, and your children may have to reschedule when they see their friends or study. You may all have to give up certain things to do it, but the benefits will outweigh these hassles. 

One of the side effects of sharing family meals is that it allows everyone around the table to feel valued and appreciated - another core need for teenagers. It means that you can talk in a relaxed way, asking about their day and telling them about yours. Aim to eat together as a family every day, but if that really is impossible, then aim for at least four times a week.

 

Tips for family time meals

  • ask everyone to contribute to the meal by laying places, preparing or cooking or taking something to the table
  • encourage everyone to talk - go around the table asking everyone to tell the family about something they did that day they enjoyed, something they were pleased and proud about or something they could have done better
  • use mealtimes to discuss plans to spend time together - outings, nights in playing games 
  • don't harp on about table manners - you can engourage this once everyone has begun to enjoy having shared meals

Read our article on other ideas for spending time with your teenager

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

What do you think of our website? Your opinion matters, please share your views by filling in our survey.