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10 From GEM: 10 Things To Do With (And For) Your Teenager

Creative Commons/moodboardphotography

Creative Commons/moodboardphotography

10 From GEM:
10 Things To Do With (And For) Your Teenager

The teen years are a time when parents need to stay more connected than ever with their kids, but it’s also the time when teens start to shut their parents out. Even though teens are establishing their independence, that doesn’t mean you have to let them slip away. Here are 10 things you can do with and for your teenager to have fun, stay connected, and even make them smile.

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1. TALK ABOUT YOUR
TEEN’S LIFE PLANS

Creative Commons/Mysmasken

Creative Commons/Mysmasken

You’ve probably talked about things like going to college and choosing a career, but life is long and your teen should be full of ideas about what to do with her life. A conversation about plans doesn’t mean that they must be followed to the letter; they are subject to change. It’s just a starting point for conversation that will ideally get her to think about what she wants out of life. What’s the perfect age to get married? Have children? How can she use her talents and strengths? What will she do to serve others? Where does she see herself when she’s (gasp) your age?

Read more: Guest Posting: The Magic, The Mom, And The Marathon

2. ASK FOR DETAILS ABOUT
YOUR TEEN’S DAY

Creative Commons/Bob & Marcia Webel

Creative Commons/Bob & Marcia Webel

The typical question parents ask is, “How was your day?” This is question might not yield the best results because it’s likely to generate the answer “fine.”  Not much conversation with that. Instead, try questions like:

  • What did you most enjoy/dislike about your day?
  • What made you laugh out loud?
  • Who were you glad to see today?
  • What did you do that you liked?

Once you ask the question, be interested in the answer. Ask follow up questions and get clarification. This is not the time to tune out or focus only on cooking dinner.

Read more: 10 From GEM: Spring Break Edition..Tech Toys For The Entire Family

3. TEACH YOUR TEEN HOW TO DRIVE

Creative Commons/kstategirl02

Creative Commons/kstategirl02

Many parents dread this activity for a number of reasons, but your teenager has to learn. Even if you’re able to send her to driver’s education, it’s still a good idea to get on the road yourself with her. If you’re wary about using streets, find a huge parking lot like at a local high school. Other than lampposts, there isn’t much to worry about driving into. When you are a passenger with your teen, you will get an idea of what kind of decision maker she might be on the road.

Read more: Guest Posting: Teaching Kids To Drive: The Curse Continues

4. ASK YOUR TEEN TO
TEACH YOU SOMETHING

Creative Commons/susivinh

Creative Commons/susivinh

Teenagers are so used to adults teaching them things that it’s thrilling for them to have a role reversal and be the one with the knowledge. Your teen knows something you don’t know, whether it’s how to play the guitar, the shortcuts and tricks on a smartphone, or the latest celebrity gossip. Go to your teen and learn something new, even if it’s a topic you’re not all that interested in. If your teen is engaging in a conversation with you, go with it!

Read more: The GEM Debate: Should A Cocktail With Mom And Dad Be The Law?

5. STAY OVERNIGHT IN
THE CLOSEST BIG CITY

Creative Commons/qthrul

Creative Commons/qthrul

You don’t need to go far. Maybe you live close to your state’s capital or the largest city in your region. Head to the city and stay overnight at a hotel. Stay up late watching movies or talking. The next day, visit a museum, do some sightseeing, and do a little shopping.

Read more: 10 From GEM: Spring Break Edition: Flee The Crowds..Fun Off The Beaten Path

6. COMPLIMENT YOUR TEEN

Creative Commons/LexnGer

Creative Commons/LexnGer

This is a guaranteed esteem builder. Your teenager may be used to the standard compliments you’ve been giving her entire life like the fact that you like her haircut or you’re proud of her report card. Take it a step further and compliment her very specifically. For example, if she shows you an “A” paper, read the paper and compliment the way she wrote the introduction. If your teenager plays a sport, whether her team wins or loses, compliment a specific play she made. Not only will it show that you care, but it also shows that you’re paying close attention.

Read more: Our Story Begins: Why The Routine RULES And How It Can Help You Too!

7. TALK ABOUT SEX

Creative Commons/close up and a half

Creative Commons/close up and a half

Talking about sex and sexuality can be awkward for parents and teenagers. Hopefully, you’ve started the conversation years before. Despite any embarrassment you might feel, you must have an ongoing conversation with your teen about sex that goes beyond the head-in-the-sand approach of telling him not to do it. This is a conversation where you need to ask a lot of questions, allow him the opportunity to come to his own conclusions, listen to what he’s saying, give your opinions, and above all, remain calm. Some topics to cover are birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, the potential for pregnancy, and the emotional ramifications of sex. Whether you’re talking to a boy or a girl, the information and resources need to be the same. You don’t want to implicitly give permission to your son to have sex, but send a different message to your daughter. Remain consistent on where you stand no matter the gender of your teen.

Read more: The GEM Debate: Purity Balls.. REALLY? (VIDEO)

8. VISIT COLLEGES

Creative Commons/t i g

Creative Commons/t i g

Traveling to visit colleges can be costly and time consuming. If you are able to travel, then you should definitely do so. If you can’t, visit local colleges, universities, and community colleges. Making a visit doesn’t mean that your teen has to attend that school. You want your teen to be aware of what different schools offer and get a feel for college life. You’re also giving your teen an opportunity to make an informed decision about choosing a college and a major.

Read more: Single Mom Slice Of Life: The BIG Question From My In-Between Teen

9. WORK ON YOUR FAMILY GENEALOGY

Creative Commons/justhman

Creative Commons/justhman

Everybody likes to feel a sense of belonging and teens even more so because they’re figuring out their place in the world. Knowing family history is something teens can get behind because it will give them a legacy to live up to and shows how they fit into history. Having your teen work with you on your family’s genealogy will give her a purpose beyond herself. She’ll get a chance to hear stories from older relatives, attend family reunions, view old photographs, and discover heirlooms.

Read more: Guest Posting: Parents… Why You MUST Feed Your Kid A “Reality Sandwich”

10. DO SOMETHING
UNEXPECTED

Creative Commons/.thomas alexander

Creative Commons/.thomas alexander

It’s such a thrill for teenagers when their parents do something completely out of character. Do something outrageous that will blow their minds. It shouldn’t be anything dangerous, just something that makes your teen wonder if aliens replaced you when they weren’t looking. Try something like waking him up in the middle of the night to make a fast food run or taking your teen out to lunch on a school day, even if it means he misses a class.

Read more: The GEM Debate: Life Lesson Or Lack Of Control?

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Teenagers are known for running hot and cold in the same day, so it’s tough to come up with creative and fun things to do with and for them. What do you do with your teen that you both enjoy? Share your ideas below.

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picmonkey alexis

Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is a stay at home mom and writer who loves all things chocolate. Read more about Alexis on her blog lilliebelle.org, email her at alexistrasswalker@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5.

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