by Jane Parent
Sometimes they don’t want to be with you, whether it’s because they’re busy, or would rather spend their free time with friends, or are mortified by being with their parents in public. And sometimes, let’s be frank, your teenager isn’t the most pleasant person to be around, either. But that doesn’t mean you don’t both enjoy spending time with family together like you did when they were little. How can you make sure spending time with family is enjoyable for everyone?
“The developmental goal for adolescence is moving from dependence to independence, and that means doing more without parents. But becoming independent doesn’t happen overnight,” says Dr. Tira Stebbins, clinical psychologist and clinical director at Organization for Psychological Health in Solon, Ohio.
Although teens often seem to only want to spend free time with friends, they usually do spending time with family, especially with parents. “It’s important to carve out fun time with teens to keep the relationship strong and make it a priority,” advises Stebbins. One-on-one time together attending a sporting event or cooking a special dinner is great. “Take an interest in your teen’s passions, whether it’s the sport she plays, the music he listens to, or the TV shows they’re watching.”
What is most important, however, is getting your teen’s input into what you do. “If they have a say in the plans, teens are much more likely to engage,” says Stebbins.
Jane Parent is senior editor of Your Teen.