As a father of teenagers over the years, I have always enjoyed having my teens and their friends around. Not only do I enjoy their company, but I also have a good first-hand knowledge of where my teens are and who their friends are. But to make this work, your house has to be a welcoming place for teenagers if you want them to spend time there. Find out some tried and tested tips - suggested by successful fathers of teens I know - for making your home fun for teenagers.
Time Required: A few hours
- Remember that your teenagers want to be with their friends, and not always with you. Have an area available where they can be on their own and not always under your watchful eye. But make it a place where, while it is fun for teenagers, you can occasionally breeze in and out without being too obvious. We often found that dropping in with snacks or drinks was a good way to check in with the kids without being intrusive.
- Equip a room for entertainment. It doesn't need to be an 80-inch hi-definition TV with home theater system. A room with a TV, DVD player, a gaming system, some comfortable furniture and a few pillows for throwing can be fun for teenagers a great start. And a few reasonably rated video games or DVD's can go a long way.
- Have munchies on hand. This is vitally important if you have teenage boys around, but it works on the girls as well. Teen favorites include brownies, pop-tarts, ice cream, and salsa and tortilla chips. If you have girls, make sure you have chocolate as well. Foods that are fun for teenagers will make all the difference in the world.
- Avoid embarrassing moments. You know the things you do that sometimes make your teens feel awkward. Don't try to be one of them; avoid your little idiosyncrasies when your teenager's friends are around. We might think some of the things we do will endear us to our kids and their friends, but being the adult and the parent in the room will help make the relationship better with no cringe factor.
- Have things to do. Besides movies, teens enjoy games. Consider a Foosball table, a table tennis game or a pool table if you have room. Or just have a good supply of fun board games. A fire pit in the backyard was one of our teens' favorite places to hang out with their friends. If you have girls, craft and scrapbooking supplies can make a fun evening. A basketball hoop in the driveway can occupy teen boys for a long time.
- Keep your standards. Don't let objectionable movies, alcohol, tobacco or drugs into your home. You set the rules and enforce them and the kids will respect them. At one party at our home, a guest brought a card game that was not in keeping with our standards. Our daughter came and told us, and asked us to be the bad guys so she didn't have to.
- Set limits. If you want the house clean in the morning, make sure your teen understands. Keep the noise to a tolerable level, especially if you have neighbors who want to sleep. And make sure that your teen knows her friends are responsible for any damage to the property. Don't let it become a free-for-all just to create an environment that you think will be fun for teenagers.
- Use paper products. If you are feeding the Third Army of teens, make sure you have paper cups, plates and utensils on hand. Clean up can be a big job if you have lots of dishes to wash. Make it easy on yourself and have throw-aways available.
What You Need:
- Entertainment options
- A comfortable place for the teens
- A place for you to escape to
- Fun activities
- Lots of patience