Teenagers are busy people these days. And they may not want to spend their free time sitting at the table while parents try to engage them in a near-perfect episode of Let's Have Some Quality Time. Add into the equation other children in the family, demanding jobs, parents who travel or are on-call, and it's hard to find time for in-depth conversation on a daily basis.
So, scrap the idea of what that has to look like, and take the opportunities, regardless how small, to spend the time you've got with the teenager you love.
1. In the Car
Your teenager might be driving (with you as the chaperone), or maybe you're the one schlepping her to and from events each day. Regardless of who is behind the wheel, it's an opportunity to talk and catch up on what's going on in their lives. All that time on the road adds up.
2. Out to Lunch
Or supper. Either one. Brandi Sharum, an Arkansas mom of five says her husband used to pick up their oldest child and her friends from school and go out for supper before Wednesday night church activities. Their oldest is now in college, and still meets up with her Dad for an occasional lunch. Connection is always better with food.
Whether it's grocery shopping, just scanning for bargains, or choosing an outfit for a school dance, just doing something with your child that she likes to do makes the time well worth it. One of Sharum's daughters enjoys shopping, so that's what she does with her. "It's different with each child."
Maybe it doesn't have to be such a battle after all. Shari Brookins lives in Kansas and is the mom of four children. She and her teenage daughter both love math, so when her daughter brings home math homework, they work on problems, each trying to be the first one with the correct answer. Homework wars demolished by homework peace.
5. Watching TV
You heard me. Wendy Jackson, the mom of a ten-year-old and a fourteen-year-old, said she sometimes just sits with her teenager during one of his shows, asking him questions about the plot and characters, which he loves explaining. "You might have to try it," she advises parents, "even if you don't enjoy what they're watching."
6. Just…Anything They Are Already Doing
As long as you take the opportunities often. Deb Bonner has raised two sons. She said that anything from showing interest in their friends, to going to their events, to just talking (even for only a few minutes) lets kids know you love them and want to be involved in their lives. "Do these things repeatedly throughout the teen years for lots of memories — for you, and them."