By Vicki Little
Have you ever really looked around at the younger generations during holiday gatherings? The babies are being kissed and loved on (or peacefully sleeping, lucky ducks) while the young children are often gleefully playing with one another, amused at the simple things, like what is in Grandma’s purse. The elementary kids have put aside their “cool status” for the day and are the ones making funny faces and inappropriate noises in front of the smaller kids. And the tweens and teens are the silent ones in the corner, watching everything happen around them with a mixture of disgust and boredom. They are caught in a rough phase — too big for the kids’ table, but not old enough for the adult table filled with embarrassing questions and boring conversation.
As frustrating as teens can be around the holidays (there are valid reasons they are referred to as moody), they are feeling just as stressed and irritated as their parents. However, since their days of living under the same roof are numbered, it is more important than ever to create happy memories. It may seem impossible, but it actually isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Here are 4 ways to enjoy the holidays with your teen.
- Give them some space and make compromises. With so many different obligations surrounding the holidays, it is hard enough to motivate yourself and drag your spouse to the next event, much less get your disgruntled teen. It isn’t like you are lugging along a bag full of toys and coloring books to keep your teen occupied, but it is rude for them to spend time at these social gatherings on the phone. They not only need downtime, but they deserve it. Consider each gathering to determine if your teen’s presence is really necessary. Can they skip that work party? Can they take 15 minutes after dinner to relax outside and text some friends? If they are given a bit of space and compromise, they will be happier to hang out with later.
- Keep your traditions, but alter them as necessary. Have you ever heard the old adage that consistency is the key to parenting? As much as kids love surprises, they thrive on knowing what is expected, knowing what the consequences of their actions will be, and knowing what is coming next. Consistency is key in this equation. So even though they may roll their eyes when it is time to decorate the tree and reminisce over every ornament or watch sappy movies while sharing popcorn, they can still feel a peace in the consistency of it. Teen lives are filled with changing relationships, difficult homework, and new experiences. Those traditions that are so familiar will be the calm amid the storm. But they can be tweaked, though. Find areas where you can make traditions more “teen-friendly” — or create new traditions! Perhaps you can change up inviting coworkers that you really don’t want to see outside of work to your party. Instead, invite your teen’s best friend’s family over to celebrate with. This would be especially neat if the families have different traditions. Share your Hanukkah tradition with someone who celebrates Christmas!
- Allow them their privacy, and teach them polite ways to protect it. Just because they are still living at home, does not give anyone the right to ask personal questions or make embarrassing comments. Actually, those questions and comments are not OK for anyone, but teenagers tend to be the hardest hit. I can’t think of anyone who would not get offended by being asked personal questions about their relationships or receiving comments about their body, grades, or personal habits. Let your teen know you are on their side by letting them stand up for themselves, and also stand up for them. They will be grateful for this small act.
- Create some one-on-one time. The irony of this time of year is that kids get time off school and activities, but now we are too busy to spend time with them. They will be leaving the nest soon, so it is more important than ever to carve out time to focus on just them. This may be easier said than done, though. By now, your teen is on to your trick of asking creative questions at dinner to get information out of them. And they are also so over decorating cute sugar cookies. Find things that will interest them. Take them to lunch and go shopping for their friends and family gifts. Start something that will be ongoing that you can do each night, such as a puzzle or an ongoing game like Monopoly. Do what they enjoy. Go on a spa day, play video games, go to a movie, or eat ice cream. Take a run around the block or just sit in your pajamas and order Chinese food while you binge on Netflix. It doesn’t need to be huge. Just spend time with them.
What is your tip for enjoying the holidays with teenagers?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
Want more great content from The Mother List? Sign up here!