Do your teens hang out? Oh, the drama of preteens and teenage children. All teens hang out. Of course, most parents want their teens to hang with them sometimes at least, even if it means picking up junk food wrappers. Preteen party crashers may be an idea for you and your friends.
Seriously, teens do mean messes, both literally and figuratively. The more teens, the more junk food wrappers scattered in your den before they migrate to the next house. In addition, right along with the junk food wrappers, they bring lots of emotional drama, too. Maybe allowing your preteen or teen to party crash with the grown ups will shake loose a new, more mature attitude for them.
Preteen Party Crashers
Even when my kids were babies, I noticed how our whole culture seems to conspire to separate youngsters from their parents. Why is that? Probably because they never met my mom!
As a child, I learned to party crash from Mom. When I got old enough to attend events with her, it never occurred to me to question whether I was actually invited. In fact, my siblings also grew up being apprenticed by mom to enjoy grown-up events. Yep, we were pre-teen party crashers. My amazing mom taught me to never be afraid to take my preteens along with me.
On any given evening of my youth, we never knew if my dad, the obstetrician, would flip burgers on the grill at home or deliver a baby at the hospital. As a result, Mom demonstrated her brilliance and fortitude. She saw no reason to change her plans or go solo, not with three young dates ready to tag along. Hence, I cite her as an encouragement to young doctors’ wives everywhere.
Teens hang out? Preteen party crashers is a way to get a head start. You can get ahead of the rejection your teenagers may be dishing out towards you by inviting them to tag along in your adult world. Just take a page from my mom’s play book.
Leave my baby in a nursery? You gotta be kidding!
I will never forget visiting a grand church immediately after our first baby was born. A kind, elderly lady suggested firmly that I might enjoy dropping my little darling off in the nursery. Scandalized, I wondered whoever heard of separating a mother from her child, even for an hour of uninterrupted worship. Eventually, I got over it and dropped off my kiddos frequently with a sigh of relief, I confess. But, oh my, I tremble to think what I said to that well-meaning church lady.
Still, even as a young mom, disturbing trends among the parents just ahead of us caught my attention. Their teenagers had awful attitudes. Were all teens destined to rebel about spending family time together at church or anywhere else?
Plus, most parents spent weekdays going in different directions like taxicabs on steroids. Families were stretched thin with different activities for every child. Perhaps, could it be that parents who ditched their kiddos in the early years reaped what they sowed when their teens rejected time with family later?
We can Coach Teens Toward Interdependence
Teenagers seem to bounce between codependence and independence like pinballs. Of course, as mature adults, our goal is coach them in healthy interdependence and respect for others. A healthy balance of collaboration and self-sufficiency mixed with self-respect takes strategic effort on the part of the parent. Families that are rich in fellowship and mutual respect master the art of collaborating and cooperating. Teens can learn to applaud each other’s strengths and rejoice about the way they, too, can serve. Learning to serve teaches us all to rejoice when we identify a weakness or need that matches our strengths.
Prioritize Free Time Together
Dave and I decided to dial back our extracurricular activities as young parents. We prioritized free time, playing outdoors, and using our imagination. Classic books enthralled us all as we passed them around, reading out loud to each other in front of a cozy fireplace. In a generational tribute to my cute mom, our kiddos crashed events meant for adults, like fundraisers and committee meetings.
Friends warned us that our kids would miss out on scholarships because we limited extracurricular sports and activities. Although, we soon learned that was silly since all three of our kids got scholarships.
Finding the Right Balance
Mom needs a day off every now and then, of course. Dad does, too. Couples need together time away from the kids. Clearly, it’s a challenge to balance all the competing needs in a family. Obviously, I don’t know what unique strategy might work best for your family. On the other hand, I hope you listen to what your own heart is telling you. Most noteworthy, all kids grow up. By the time they leave, you want them coached in healthy interdependence. Now might be the time to clear your calendar and prioritize family time.
Hanging out is good for teens. In fact, all of us need a little hang time together. Finally, we won’t regret one minute spent together as a family.
May I pray for you?
Dear God, the One who made time and relationships, please bless this dear reader with wisdom in managing the hang time available for family. You want to spend quality time with each one of us, dear One. Please teach us to crave tender fellowship with our children, even those challenging teenagers we gave birth to a few short years ago! Give us clarity on what their true needs are as they test out all kinds of independent stuff on us. Teach us the best way to coach our teenagers in interdependence, as we depend on Your Spirit to guide and coach us. In Jesus name. Amen.
Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Personality, specializing in Christian Marriage and Family invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.