Do you remember the excitement and wonder in your child’s eyes during the holidays when they were younger? Do you remember how excited your child was to help you bake cookies or decorate the home for the holidays? Well, if you are the parent of a teen, like I am, you may get the sense that they are only excited about getting out of school and of course receiving gifts. Many teens may act as if they don’t care if the house gets decorated or not or if the family gathers around the table for a nice meal, so long as there is a iTunes card, a new gadget or cold hard cash given to them as a gift. As adults, we know that there are more important aspects to the holidays than receiving gifts and it is our job to help to pass that down to our children — yes, even the big ones.
Don’t despair – believe it or not, while teens seem to be totally preoccupied with their friends, their gadgets and their privacy – most teens really are comforted by holiday traditions and those traditions become more important as they head into adulthood.
Regardless of your religion, it is essential to express to your teen the value of the extra time they now can spend with their family and friends during the holidays. Why not help your teen look forward to the holidays for reasons that aren’t related to gifts? The best way to do this is to plan some activities that will encourage your teen to get involved with the holidays and not hide out in their room on their computer or smart phone.
Here are a few suggestions to get your teen involved in the holidays:
Have Them Help You Plan: Don’t forget how cool your teen is. Most teens are full of fun ideas that many adults just don’t think about. Ask your teen if he or she has any ideas that they would like to see incorporated into the family holidays this year. Just think of how happy they would be to know that they started a new family tradition! If they don’t have any ideas off of the top of their head, encourage them to think of a few. For example: perhaps your teen is great at playing board games. Why not put them in charge of choosing a board game for the entire family to play together. What if your child loves to experiement in the kitchen? If so, ask your teen to prepare a new dish to unveil at the holiday dinner table or have them help you to create the holiday meal plan and then they can help you to shop for the food and also help to cook the meals. When teens are included in the holiday planning process, they tend to be more enthusiastic about the upcoming festivities.
Holiday Family Fun Night: What teen doesn’t like to have fun? Put your teen in charge of planning a holiday fun night for the entire family. You can have your teen pick a day that works for everyone during the holiday beak and then they can plan a fun day/evening that everyone will enjoy. There are so many great activities that your teen can choose from: ice skating, movies, laser tag, or perhaps just going out to dinner. Of course you will have to share with your teen what the budget is but this holiday fun night can be as extravant or as low key as you need it to be. Letting your teen choose the activity then having the entire family get together and have fun really does help your teen feel involved in the holidays.
Teen Party Time: Don’t forget that your teen is growing into a young adult. Perhaps you can let your teen have a small holiday party of their own at the house with his or her friends! It is your home so of course, you set all of the rules but just think of how happy your teen will be when you tell them that one of their holiday chores is to choose some friends to come over for a teen holiday party! It doesn’t have to be something big at all – it can be as simple as friends coming over to watch a movie, eat snacks and play a few games. This will allow your teen just a bit of independence in a fun way.
Charity Time: Have your teen choose a local charity that they are passionate about and then plan an hour (or more) that you can go and volunteer as a family at the organization. This is beautiful way to strengthen the family unit and it also just feels good! The satisfaction and pride that comes from helping others is amazing! Many high schools now require that students accumulate community service hours. You can have your teen check with their school counselor or homeroom teacher to see if any volunteer efforts that they partake in can be considered for the community services hours that they are required to collect. When teens commit their time and effort to an organization or a cause that they feel strongly about, they feel a large sense of pride.
While most adults are now fully engaged in the ‘planning’ of the holidays, it is important to remember that holidays are meant to be shared with our family and friends and they are meant to be happy. While it may be necessary to change some of the aspects of famiy traditions as our children grow, making sure that our teens are involved in the holidays is very important.
Question: What are some of the holiday traditions that your children/teens enjoy?