There were times this summer when my garden was awash with bikini clad bodies jumping in and out of the hotub. Then as the sun set, the chiminea was burning kindling and marshmallows were being toasted. Cars came and went from our driveway as teenagers popped in and out. It wasn’t just the 17 year old either. The 13 yr old was in and out, friends coming over to eat chips or play on the X Box. It seems that a fun place for teens is my home. And I love it!
Making your home a fun place for teens is pretty high on my agenda. When my teenagers friends come in I always take a moment to say hello, before leaving them to it. I make sure I know their names and ask them questions. Not personal stuff, but just if they have had a good day. When I walk past those same friends on the way to school, or in town I again also smile and say hi.
It is easy to raise your eyebrows at the coming and goings. It is easy to huff or sigh at 10 pairs of shoes littering your hallway. When the fridge is empty it could be easy to blame the hordes that treat my fridge like it is Tesco’s, except you don’t have to pay! Yet I want my children to see their home as a fun place for teens. I know our home is an open door for our kids and their friends. This is why we have such a great relationship with our children. They don’t need to be out of the house or hanging out somewhere else. Instead they continue to come here and their friends like it too.
Teenagers are often given a bad press or I see other parents saying they are dreading the teenage years. However for me I am dreading the empty nest. In a years time my eldest will be heading off to university and before she goes I want to enjoy her company. I have enjoyed parenting a teen and she in turn has given me no real concerns.
By being the home that the teenagers like to come to means that I know my children are safe. I generally always know where they are and I know who their friends are. We don’t listen in on conversation but we generally know what is going on in their friendship groups because we see it unfolding. When one of the girls split up with her first boyfriend, it was at our house she ate chocolate and we ranted about boys.
Our tips for making teenagers happy to hang out in your home are:
- Say hi but then leave them to it.
- Have snacks and soft drinks available for them – your own children should know what is allowed to be offered and shared out with friends. I often buy some snacks, bags or crisps etc if I know in advance that we are having their friends over.
- Previously agree which rooms they are welcome to hang out in. I don’t mind them being in their bedrooms, the dining room or garden.
- Have activities you don’t mind them doing, for example we don’t mind them using the hot tub or lighting a fire in the fire pit. They also play cards.
- Don’t intrude on them. I pretty much leave them to it and certainly don’t keep popping in on them or trying to take over.
Being the house where your children’s friends like to come and hang out is important. This approach has kept the channels of communication open. Parenting teenagers does not need to be scary or something to dread. Instead embrace it because in only a few yearss time they will be spreading their wings even further. Make the most of the time and enjoy knowing their friend because those friends are important to your teenager and those friends could be around for many years.