Many families have found themselves in much closer quarters with their teenagers than ever before. Whether it’s a global pandemic or just summer vacation, how can you make the most of your time together? I live full-time on a campus with 60 teenagers at Heartlight ministries, so I get it. It’s challenging, but it’s also temporary. Your teen will grow up and be out of the house soon. In this article, you will find out how you can take advantage of the extraordinary opportunity to spend time with your kids. Here are six practical ways to make the most of your time together.
Choose to be Together
Try this. Instead of behaving like you’re forced to be at home with your teens, act like it’s something you’re choosing. Avoid complaining about the close quarters and instead treat your family members like you want to be with them. How many times have you prayed for more time with your kids? Well, this is it, and it won’t last forever. Don’t kill time binge-watching TV—that’s okay once in a while. Instead, seize the opportunity to grow a deeper connection.
Start New Traditions
Use your time together to make memories and enjoy each other. Instead of running out the clock, create new traditions to fill those long hours. Mix up dinner plans by inviting your teen to make the meal. Plan a joke night, karaoke, or even a video game challenge. What else? Be creative and discover new ways to enjoy your family time.
Your home should be a place of rest from the outside world, where your teens can talk, share, and bring up what’s on their hearts and minds. Some of these discussions will be important. Some will be silly and inconsequential. Whatever the subject, remember to value your teens’ input. Don’t put your teen down for his answers or his perspective. Listen! When you do, you are communicating value and expressing that their opinion matters.
These may be unprecedented times, so why not create an unprecedented relationship with your child? Engage your teen at a deeper level than you have ever had before. The reality is lots of teens who chose bad behavior are struggling to connect with friends and family. Talking and understanding the root of your teen’s behavior, by inviting discussion, may help him avoid poor choices. So, start a conversation!
Take Stock of the House Rules
Now that you and your family are packed in the house like sardines, maybe it’s a good time to relax some of those house rules that create tension at home. Have a discussion with your teen about the rules and ask for input. Together, you should work out a plan to keep the family values, enforce the rules, and give your teen a little more of the freedom she needs.
Let’s face it. The more time you spend together, the more likely you will come into conflict with one another. The important thing is to remain in relationship with your teen. They desperately need you, even when they don’t act like it! Your child, no matter what kind of mess he makes, wants to be loved. So, look for ways to connect and express your love, even while you enforce consequences for his actions.
You might be seeing your kid more, but that doesn’t automatically mean he knows you love him. Say it out loud. Speak about your love for your teen and how you’re proud you are. Show your love in other ways too, like encouraging notes, hugs, listening, eye contact, and pausing your work in order to pay attention when your teen is speaking.
Be a Student of Your Teen
Finally, if you really want to get to know your teen better, then study your teenager. This time together at home is a great time to learn more about your child. What does she enjoy doing? What does she need to be peaceful? What is missing in her life? Take this valuable and fleeting time to pay attention to your teen and look for ways to connect.
Mom, Dad … you’ve been wanting more time with your teen and now you have it! Take advantage of the opportunity before you, no matter how challenging that might be. You are going to be the one to set the atmosphere of your home, by displaying your character and genuineness. That speaks louder than any words! You have the opportunity to be to your teen what God is to you—the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among your kids, in the time that you have with them. I promise you, one day you will long for another time just like this. So, take advantage of what’s been placed before you and let your teens see the love you’ve been telling them about for years, by the actions they see in you.