Spending time with your teenager

Estimated read: 9 minutes 

We all know that as children get older it can become increasingly difficult to know what is going on in their lives and harder to stay close to them. Spending some quality time with teens might mean you have to make an appointment in their very busy social diaries, but there are ways around this.

Key points: 

  • Teens still need boundaries and you are entitled to have house rules and compromise can work wonders when trying to negotiate with them
  • Arrange a movie night where you can all sit down as a family.  If you can do this once a week you can give each member of the family the chance to pick a film
  • Sharing family meals allows everyone around the table to feel valued and appreciated - another core need for teenagers
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So, what can you do as a parent to try and make sure that you stay close to your teen as they venture out in the big wide world? It might mean that you have to be a little bit creative, or perhaps even push your own boundaries.

What your teens need from you

It’s easy for parents to feel “redundant” when parenting teens, but it’s important to remember that they still need you – just in a different way. Teens still need boundaries and you are entitled to have house rules and compromise can work wonders when trying to negotiate with them.  Reflect back on your own teenage years from time to time to remind them that you were also a teenager once and may have been through similar experiences.  Ensure they know your door is always open if anything is troubling them.

Teenagers still want to spend time with their parents. Of course, they'd like to be on their phones chatting to friends or playing games on their consoles. But teenagers also still value family time - eating together around a table, watching television as a family, even going out with you.

Things you can do with your teen

  • Arrange a movie night where you can all sit down as a family.  If you can do this once a week you can give each member of the family the chance to pick a film
  • Take it in turns to cook a meal. Give your teens a change to show you what they can do in the kitchen and take a back seat and chill out
  • If you have a “gamer” in the house, how about renting a game that you can all play together.  Teens often find it hilarious to see how shockingly bad their parents are at gaming!
  • Get active as a family – there are plenty of things you can try as a family and have fun! Go for a bike ride, enjoy regular walks or perhaps something sporty like football, running or basketball
  • If your teen wants to get creative help them decorate their bedroom.  It doesn’t need to be expensive but allow them to lead on this
  • You could arrange a games night by bringing out the board games, card games, quizzes or complete an online challenge game together

Bringing back family meals

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. 

Sharing family meals 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. Read our top tips:

  • Ask everyone to contribute to the meal by laying places, preparing or cooking or taking something to the table
  • Encourage communication - 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 
  • Use mealtimes to discuss plans to spend time together - outings, nights in playing games 

Further resources 

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at askus@familylives.org.uk or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker. 

Watch our video for some great ideas and tips

This page was updated on October 2021

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