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What do you do when your teenager won’t participate in family time?

User
Dec. 16, 2015

My daughter is growing to be more and more distant. With the holidays I really want her to take a more active part of the family events and things going on. How can I encourage her to participate?

Answers
User in Montrose, SD
Dec. 21, 2015

Sometimes it’s as though my teen is allergic to me...ha ha. It’s as if one day I turned into someone totally different, and honestly, it’s normal for teens to start pushing away, wanting independence, and disconnecting. We have all gone through it. Part of this is because your teen is connecting with their peers, they are going through the same things, have the same interests, etc. The teenage years are also a time where your teen is probably becoming less dependent on you. Maybe they have a job, or they can drive and do things for themselves now. You can’t take this all personally because this is something that all parents go through with their teens. The important thing for you to remember is that you are their parent, and if they refuse to spend time with family you don’t have to accept “no,” as an answer. You shouldn’t be negotiating with your child about what they can or can’t do. You’re the parent, you have the authority, and as soon as you blur those lines it’s hard to get that authority back.

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Growing up as an Army brat and a Mother who was sick. I slowly as a young teen didn't always get time with my parents so I slowly retreated from my family. When time came to spend with them I had already found plans. My parents then came up with daughter father dates and mommy daughter days. So I agreed that twice a month I could pick an activity to do with them. So my mother would take me to a lunch date or do an activity I picked. My dad would take me to a movie and after we would get coffee. Slowly the relationship regrew with my parents , as a teen. We also did family time and we were allowed a guest to join which became fun. Also I personally love this idea too. Whatever book series I enjoyed our family would do reading out loud time which seems lame to a teen at first be helps out. Everyone got to pick a book. I hope this helps. I also forgot what article I read but it basic lyrics stated that having/sharing an experience with someone's builds a better bond than getting/giving them things.

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I think the thing is to just sit them down and have an honest conversation. Tell them about the importance of family time and share a story with them about how when you were their age you ended up missing out on a lot and regretted it. Your teen still needs you and yes they may be pushing you away to gain independence, but you’re a parent and it’s your job to still include them. Set limits with your teen, suggest that your teen hangs out with their friends or does an activity on their own, and then also schedule regular family times like game nights or movie nights. Spend time doing fun things with your teen and not just help with homework. It’s a really tough time period, and we’ve all been there. Good luck!

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Amanda Mcnamara
April 14, 2016

My two younger siblings are currently in the throws of their teen years (18 & 16), and each represent the opposite ends of this situation's spectrum. My sister's hobbies include hiding in her room, broadcasting her 'matter of fact' reply to the high school gossip, constantly telling the rest of our family we are 'wrong' (i've learned it doesn't matter at all what we're talking about...we're wrong. The sky ain't blue, you were mistaken), and hiding in her room some more. My brother, on the other hand, is all for family adventures and activities. It really just depends on the kid. I've managed to have a handful of successful hangouts with my sister since her world was enveloped in a thick cloud of teen angst (around age 15), but they've always been initiated by me, and conducted on her terms. She likes to lay on her bed, crank tunes and endlessly browse the internet looking at silly things, so I'll cautiously wander in, plop myself on her bed, and show her my own silly internet findings. Does she tell me to go away sometimes? Oh more often than not, I can't lie about that, but there have been those shining moments where she's allowed me to hang.
My advice is this- you can't force anyone to do anything, especially a precocious teen. You tell them not to touch the hot stove, and that's exactly what they're going to do...just to spite you. They're at an age where having a parent as an authority figure is stifling, they think they can do it all on their own. What do you know anyways? Sheesh.
Choose your battles. Conceding to doing activities on their terms may end up being your best hope at some family fun. Plus, its a great way to learn some more about your kid, their personality, and their interests. 

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User
Dec. 22, 2015

I think the key to successful discipline is to not react but respond. Give yourself time to respond to your child's actions. Take a moment away to think about what they've done and the appropriate consequence. Don't yell and don't bargain with your teen - that will get you nowhere and they won't consider you the authority figure. The key is to have a calm discussion with your teen, talk to them about the ins and outs and the rights and wrongs of what they've done and use it as a teachable lesson.

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