If your teens are anything like ours, they are really missing their friends right now. Your dads are not a replacement for your BFFs by any means. However since everyone is at home, it’s a chance for us to spend time as a family and connect like never before. This is a golden opportunity to reconnect with your teens during social distancing.
Even if you have a great relationship with your teen, it may be a rarity that you get to spend quality time with them between school, activities, and friends. With so many things being cancelled and learning happening from home, it is a time you can get back with your teenagers.
Ways to Reconnect with Your Teens During Social Distancing
Here are some ways to reconnect with your teens during social distancing. Some may work better than others, and perhaps you will get the stink eye when you first suggest one of these ideas. Trust me, boredom will set in and suddenly your teens will become more agreeable!
Get in the Kitchen
I’m not saying to start a cooking show with your teens. However, ask them what meals they would really like during quarantine, and have them help in the kitchen. Don’t treat it as a chore. If they choose the meal, they can help for that day. You may also consider doing some meal prepping at this time. Choose a few recipes to prepare and freeze them for later use.
While you’re cooking together, put on a playlist you can both tolerate and don’t force any conversation. Just enjoy each other’s company. These delicious recipes can help you get started brainstorming meal (and dessert) ideas with your teens.
Read a Book
Instead of asking your teen if they will read the latest Hunger Games with you, ask them what they are reading and take an interest. Maybe it’s something you may enjoy too. Hey listen, some young adult literature has gotten really good! Although they may not tell you, I have it on good authority from teachers that middle and high school students do discuss what they’re reading with their peers at school. Their social distancing conversations with friends are less about books right now, but reading something your teen is reading can open up great conversations! Check out this book list for ideas for teen reads!
Introduce Them to Movies You Loved
When your child gets to the age where The Breakfast Club or Dirty Dancing can become part of their repertoire, you can fall in love with your favorite flicks all over again! OK, they don’t have to be cheesy love stories either. Even the early Mean Girls (Heathers) or the Die Hard franchise can be on your streaming list. Unlike when we were teens, you don’t have to run to Blockbuster. Almost every movie you could imagine is available on some streaming service.
PS – Our kids LOVE The Breakfast Club. There’s hope for them yet!
There are a lot of people struggling right now. We’ve always taught our kids to be extremely grateful for what they have. If you have all you need (and maybe more) during this time, talk with your teens about how you can do something for people or an organization that’s struggling right now. One program, The Secret Kindness Agents, was started by educator Dr. Ferial Pearson. It focuses on random, anonymous acts of kindness from “agents”. Last month some of the agents donated their stimulus payments to people and small businesses in need.
You and your teens don’t have to reach into your pocketbook that deep, however. Simply creating some masks for local hospitals, or sending small cards or care packages to local nursing home residents can make a difference in so many people’s lives and mental health. It also helps you connect with your teen as they think about how they can make an impact in the world.
Asking your teen if they wanted to go for a walk or bike ride pre-quarantine may likely have caused massive eye rolling. Lately, getting some physical activity and out into the beautiful spring weather is often a welcome distraction from being cooped up at home. In fact, we have never taken so many walks together in our lives.
Don’t turn this into a deep conversation time (unless your teen opens and talks). Just enjoy the weather and the time with your kid. You’ll be surprised at the subjects that they bring up. We’ve learned more about their lives on these walks than we have for months and months.
Plenty of Ways to Reconnect
Although you are social distancing from the outside world, it’s a time you can grow closer to your family. There’s no need for cheesy “getting to know you” question games or coordinated family parties. Definitely give your teen their space to connect with their friends virtually, complete their school work, and even have some alone time. But hey, take these natural opportunities to connect with your teen through books, movies, food, fitness, and even service. Using these ways to reconnect with your teen during social distancing may just be the perfect chance. You’ll be really happy with the results.