Teens can be tough nuts to crack. The older they get, the more they need your influence in their lives and the less they want to spend time with you. It’s a conundrum. Try some of these ideas for making memories with your teen, and always be prepared to talk whenever they seem willing.
Nerf gun wars
Buy enough Nerf guns and bullets for the entire family, and then take your best shot. For added fun, have a soundtrack playing in the background that includes Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Bulletproof. You might want to surprise your teen by shooting them first and then sliding a Nerf gun and bullets in their direction.
Are they helping you wash the car? Throw a wet sponge at them and brace for retaliation. Washing dishes together? Make good use of the spray nozzle. Or, use water guns instead of Nerf guns and take the battle outside.
Face it. Your teenager is more technically savvy than you. Admit it, and ask them to help you learn how to use your smart phone, how to access Netflix on the Xbox, how to edit photos and videos for Instagram, or how to download the Trivia Crack app. Let them laugh at you as you learn.
“Break” a rule
As a parent, you know when your kid needs a little extra TLC. Give your teen a special treat by going with them to the midnight premiere of a movie on a school night, letting them go to school late because you were having brunch, climb up on the roof and look at the stars together, eat chocolate cake for dinner, or pull all the cushions off the furniture to build a fort.
Prank the cousins (or close family friends)
If you’re fortunate enough to live near your siblings, team up with your teen to prank them. Keep it friendly, but secretive. Stuff a car or a bedroom full of balloons. Put sticky notes all over their garage. Fill the bathtub with packing peanuts. Remember that retaliation will be likely, so don’t go overboard.
Camp in the backyard
You could camp at a campground, but that will cost more. The goal of camping is for everyone to unplug. For the best results on this idea, encourage your teen to invite a couple of friends along and you do the same. Make it a teen versus parent game of sorts. Race to set up tents, build a fire, eat hot dogs, or hop in a sleeping bag. It’s not one-on-one time with your teen, but you’re making memories together and that’s a valuable investment in your relationship.
Off campus lunch
If your teenager goes to school somewhere that doesn’t allow students to leave campus at lunch, check your kid out of school one day and take them to get a burger at their favorite place. The fact that they don’t have to eat cafeteria food will make you their hero, at least for that hour.
Do something together to make your community a better place to live. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food bank, visit a retirement home, or tend to a neighbor’s garden. Find something you both enjoy and do that.
Train for a 5k together
Races are no longer just about running any more. You run through colors, through mud, over obstacles, or all of the above. Regardless of the race, train with your teen. The entry fee is nothing compared to the number of hours you’ll spend together getting into shape.
Don’t feel like your teen has to be isolated from their friends for you to be able to bond. Include their friends in the activities, too. Your kids will be more willing to participate, and their friends will (hopefully) remind them how cool their parents are!