At times, the relationship between you and your teen may seem strained with busy schedules and your teen's increasing independence. You may want to find ways to reconnect with your teen simply to catch up or to spend quality time together before or after a major event, like a deployment, a move, the beginning or end of a school year, or even your teen's graduation. Consider some of the following activities as ways to have fun and strengthen the relationship between the two of you. Remember to choose activities that interest your teen and plan ahead to avoid scheduling hiccups.
- Night on the town. Treat your teen to dinner at a favorite restaurant and a movie, concert, play or musical, or other fun activity that interests you both. Keep it light and fun, or discuss issues or upcoming events. Either way, give your teen your full attention.
- Day at the park. Pack a lunch or reserve a grill and head to the park. Venture down a walking trail, swim, bike, fish or play a sport. For a little extra adventure, clear a weekend and pitch a tent at a nearby campground. Check out your local installation or community park facilities, and arrange some time for fun in the sun with your teen!
- Construction project. Bond with your teen while introducing a new skill by building or remodeling something for your home, like bookshelves, TV stand or table. You don't have to start from scratch; you can make a project of simply changing paint colors or tearing up old flooring. Let your teen help each step of the way, from planning to admiring the finished product together.
- Parent-teen family garden. Revive your family garden or start one from scratch. Team up with your teen to plan a budget, select plants, make your purchases and then clear a Saturday. Divide upkeep responsibilities to keep the garden beautiful all year long.
- Movie marathon. Select several favorite movies or new releases and gather the family for a night of fun. Don't forget the popcorn!
- Parent-teen book group. If you and your teen share a love of reading, read together! Extend the invitation to other parents and teens, if you wish, but give your teen the ability to invite group members and select some of the books. Be sure to set ground rules, such as respecting everyone's opinion during discussions, and establish timelines for reading progress.
- Game or puzzle night. Games and puzzles can be a great way to interact with your teen and have fun at the same time. For a full game night, try allowing each family member to select a game and decide in advance whether you'll keep score or play just for fun.
- Cook a meal together. Plan and prepare a meal together. Stick to a theme, make some of your favorite foods or decide to try new foods. Invite other friends and family members to dinner if you like, or make it a special time just for the two of you.
For more information about connecting with your teen, check out the Children, Youth and Teens page on Military OneSource.