The volume is deafening. Think sporting-event loud. Nine teens are squeezed into my tiny den playing video games. They laugh, yell, and the occasional curse word invades the air. They're having a ball! Better yet, my son (somewhere in their midst) is beaming. This happens almost every Friday night – a gathering, dinner, late departures. My husband, getting tired of the cost to feed this pack, asked, “Why are they always HERE?” Answer:
We WANT The Teenagers At Our Place!
|You WANT Your Teen At Your House!|
- At this age, your kid is largely who his peers are. Without the intimacy of grammar school and the connections you make on the blacktop, you don't know who your teen is hanging with, who he's influenced by. Actually SEEING and meeting these people is invaluable. You can get a sense of what a kid is like, especially if you hang back and surreptitiously watch and listen to them interact.
- When friends' parents pick up, you get a chance to meet and chat them up. Getting a sense of someone's family values is important and will make you feel easier when your kid goes over their house.
- You can get a sense of how those friends treat others. Junior's little sister will sometimes hang with the teens for a bit (until I call her out). We've had boys make fun of Lily and treat her roughly (push her out of the way, etc.). I was not happy and made sure that my son stood up for his little sister in the future. Conversely, there have been friends of Junior's who have offered to play with Lily, helped her with homework, and been quite kind to her. I LOVE those kids!
- It gives your child a chance to act the role of Host which is important socially. Responsibilities include offering friends drinks, snacks, serving dinner, and seeing their friends out with the polite “thank you for coming.”
- It's rewarding. My kids have more friends than I ever had at this age. These are people he sees at school and chats with online. In some ways, they're an extension of our family.
|There have to be rules for when Teens (or anyone) visits|
Now, in order for these gatherings to happen, I've set some Ground Rules
- I have to know, in advance, approximately how many people are coming. This is a practical thing since I need to know how much food to have on hand. I've put out 5 bags of chips and found them gone in 10 minutes. These kids can eat!
- There has to be a set departure time. We've had kids come and leave way too late, to the point where either my husband or I had to stay up just to keep an eye on things. That doesn't happen anymore.
- Junior know he has to clean up as soon as his guests depart. That means vacuuming the den, cleaning up errant plates, cups, etc., and taking out the kitchen garbage.
- When my daughter is around, the boys CANNOT curse. Yeah, once in a while a forbidden word flies out, but most kids are immediately apologetic.
So HOW can you make your house
- Give them space. I wish we had a dedicated space for them, but we don't. So they gather in the den and I basically leave them alone. They don't want me in there except to deliver snacks and I respect that.
- Have LOTS of snacks and drinks on hand. Paper cups and plates are a MUST and if you don't want to wash bowls for snacks, buy some disposable aluminum baking pans.
- Make dinner simple. We go through frozen pizza like it's water. Other popular dishes include macaroni and cheese (CHEAP!!!), pasta, and tacos made in the crockpot.
- Keep your Wifi password handy. They're going to want to log into your Wifi – place it on a piece of paper so they can pass it around. It's easier than repeating it ad nauseum.
- Limit sibling interference. Lily can hang with them for about 5 minutes before I usher her from the room.
|There's nothing better than seeing my teen (this is not him) happy!|
Having a group of teens over is loud, messy, and ultimately, a lot of fun. These gatherings create wonderful memories for my son and I cherish the smile on his face when I see him with his friends. Best of all, I know what he's up to when he's home.
Our kids grow up in the blink of an eye. Cherish your time around them and BE the place they want to hang.
Thanks for reading!