The Solution to Engaging Teens at Home
The transition to adulthood can be a difficult one for you to make with your teen. While they are no where near ready to leave the nest and look out for themselves in most cases, teens are beginning to take their first steps into a wider world than the one that you have presided over for so long. This can result in a kind of detachment from the home and the family circle, particularly after your teen learns to drive. Suddenly, there is something to do and somewhere to go all the time and it seems like your teen is never home.
Or perhaps he or she is there, but then they spend their time in their room sleeping, doing homework, and exploring the social possibilities of the internet. It may hurt, but it is important for teens to have their independence and you are aware of that fact. Still, maintaining your connection as a family is equally important. As the parent, you may need to take steps to engage your teen's interest at home.
Quality vs. Quantity
Bringing your teen home for high quality time spent with the family is an important way to strengthen connections and relationships. It will not work, however, if you turn the time spent at home from quality time to a simple quantity of time. If your teen is resistant and feels punished, then no amount of time spent will improve relations.
It is still good to get your teen into the habit of spending time at home, however. You can do this in a couple of ways. First, set expectations for your teen to meet. If he or she has chore, make sure that they are around to do them or impose consequences for their failures. This may not be quality time, but it does tie your teen to the home on a regular basis. Next, if you haven't already done so, sit down with your teen and his or her schedule to set some boundaries for him or her. Don't just settle for a curfew, insist that certain days and times be reserved for family activities and events.
Let the Good Times Roll
Now that you have your teen at home, however unwillingly, you can begin to engage him or her. Be sensitive to your teen's moods and take advantage of the times when they are open and available to you. It may not seem like this happens often, but you will find that the more good time you spend together, the more your teen will open to you. Though they are seeking independence, most teens are not emotionally ready to cut themselves off from a family that they love. With a little encouragement, they won't.
Finally, have your teen take a starring role in planning the occasional family event or activity. You may not always like what your teen chooses, but it is a good way to see what excites them and to make yourself a part of that experience.
You might also find the following helpful: