December 09, 2013 —

The holiday season is a joyous and fun-filled - albeit sometimes stressful - time of year. As we busy ourselves with compiling shopping lists and creating menus for holiday feasts, it’s easy to get caught up in preparing for all of the festivities. However, amidst all of the hustle and bustle this holiday season, I have one small request for you: make time to talk to your teens.

Now that the school year is well underway, evenings and weekends are booked with band concerts, sporting events and endless class projects that sometimes make it difficult to stop and really check in with our family. With so many commitments, we have to remember to block off a chunk of our schedule for one-on-one time with our teens. As parents, we can’t forget that it’s our responsibility to create opportunities for meaningful conversations. 

It can be challenging to try and find time over the coming weeks, especially with family members visiting from out of town and an ever-growing list of things to do before the end of the year, but it’s certainly possible. Here are a few ideas for carving out that valuable time to chat with your teen.

  1. Do It Yourself. Enlist your teen’s help in creating holiday-themed crafts. You can also head to the kitchen to whip up a batch of cookies, hot cocoa or some other cold-weather treat.
  2. Decorate. Get together and set up wintertime decorations around the house or throughout your local community.
  3. Get outside. Take a walk, throw the football around, go ice-skating or build a snowman.
  4. Warm up. If it’s too cold to be outside, try an indoor activity like wrapping gifts. Or maybe take a drive to see the festive holiday decorations around your town.

Before you dismiss these ideas because you think that your teen will reject the very thought of spending quality time with you, remember that beneath the crossed arms and rolled eyes, there is still a young person trying to a find their way through some of the toughest years of his or her life. Take advantage of the holidays and use them as a time to really reconnect with your teen.

Nourishing a communicative relationship with teens takes work, but it’s worth it. Make the time and listen to what they have to say. By taking these small steps, you’ll do yourself a huge favor in maintaining, or perhaps creating, an open line of communication with your teen. And, when you need to approach important topics such as medicine or alcohol abuse further down the road, you will already have the foundation necessary to start the conversation.

What would you add to my list above? Do you have any holiday traditions that allow you to spend one-on-one time with your teen? Share your ideas in the comments below. Have a wonderful and safe holiday season!