Sure they can be rowdy — and make a mess — but here’s why you want your house to be the teen hangout.
By Randi Mazzella
It was Friday night and my 13-year old son was trying to figure out a plan with his friends. He asked if a group of boys could come to our house to hang out and I immediately said, “Yes.” One of the other moms worried that maybe the boys were overstaying their welcome. Her son said, “No, it’s her pleasure to have us over” and I chuckled. It is something he hears me say all the time and it’s true. I’m happy when my son and his friends hang out at our house.
Here’s why I love that my house is the teen hangout — and you should too (despite the occasional mess and craziness that comes along with it).
You Get to Know Your Teenager’s Friends
I really know the kids my son is spending time with. Some of the boys have been coming here since elementary school. They have grown up before my eyes. Others are newer friends that my son has met through sports or in middle school. I don’t know them as well, so having them spend time in my home gives me a chance to get to become acquainted with them too.
You Don’t Need to Wonder What Your Teenager is Up To
Another reason I like having the kids at our house is because I know what they are doing. I am fortunate that I work from home so I am around to supervise, drive them places, and even pay for the pizza when it arrives at the door. This may change as they enter high school but for now I find they are respectful of our home and my rules.
You’re Creating a Happy Home
Most of all, I am happy to be the teen hangout because I love to hear the banter. With my older two in college, it’s just my son, my husband and I living full time at our house. It’s much quieter, so I enjoy noise of having my son’s friends here. I love the joking, the sports talk, the laughter, and even the bickering. I don’t even mind the mess they leave — it makes my house feel alive. Before I know it, my son will also be off to college. So for now, I’m going to enjoy the clamor of a bunch of middle-school boys hanging out in my basement.
Tips for Making Your House the Teen Hangout
If you want your house to be the teen hangout, here are some ideas:
1. Give your teenagers a designated hang out space. This allows them some privacy but also keeps the mess contained. My basement is optimal because I can hear what is going on (and check what’s up from time to time) but not be hovering.
2. Provide activities. X-box, television, basketball hoop, ping-pong, music etc. are all good ways to keep kids engaged and busy when they are hanging out together.
3. Put out the welcome mat. Let the kids know you are happy to have them. Converse a little but don’t overstep with too many questions (or you will get some serious eye rolls).
4. Outline the house rules. Make sure your teenager and all the guests know your house rules. Discuss how many kids can be over at one time, what rooms they are allowed in, and anything else that matters to you. Let your teenager know if there are any issues he cannot handle, you are there to intervene.
5. Snacks. Keep your cupboards full!
6. Don’t stress the mess. I do expect my son and his friends to try to clean up after themselves and not leave it a total sty. But some messes — crumbs and spills — are par for the course. You’ll survive — and so will your house — and your teenager will thank you.
Randi Mazzella is a mother of three and freelance writer/journalist/blogger. Her work has appeared in many online and print publications including Grown and Flown, About.com, Scary Mommy and Teen Life.