Sunday, December 9, 2012

Keeping teenage kids and their friends at home

Question: How did you get youth to want to spend time at home with their friends?


Cynthia and Brad
The trick is-- MAKE THEIR FRIENDS WANT TO HANG OUT IN YOUR HOME and then the problem is solved. This requires a great deal of creativity and willingness to have your home get some wear and tear--teenagers are messy to have around. But if they detect that you are uncomfortable with this, it's curtains!! Let their friends know that you think they are wonderful and you want them around.  Have casual parties with lots of food, music, movies,  and  other fun things to do--making sure you are always close by so no chance for bad things to go on in your home. Behavior and language rules must be made clear, with a kind, firm word and a smile.  Think  of outings, such as ice skating, sledding, picnics, or let them bake cookies in your kitchen, (horrors) and with, again, lots of food back at your house. But this can get expensive (teenagers can eat a LOT of food) and time consuming There are also many parents who will gladly let you be the fall guy for all this expense and work. I found, and I think my children have found, that if you are willing to provide the house and the transportation, other parents are happy to send their child with a bag of chips and some dip, or some soda,  or maybe volunteer to provide a ride or two. But for the most part, it will rest with you and your willingness to be "fun" parents. But it is WORTH IT!! Nothing worse than having another set of parents to provide all this, and no kids hanging around YOUR house!!

Marsha (and Richard)
In the younger years we realized we needed something at our home that others did not necessarily have so they would want to spend time here.  Since we didn’t have video games or a pool table, etc. one Christmas we got an Olympic size trampoline.  I don’t think they even sell them anymore to families but we have one and it is way more fun than the smaller ones.  We still attract our neighbor children with our trampoline…like it or not!  It has been the single best purchase we have ever made…was quite a sacrifice at the time but perfect for our active children and now grandchildren. 

As the children got older our home was not the favorite place to “hang”.  There were a lot of little children around and that made it less appealing for our own older children who chose to go to other homes.  However, we saw more of our younger children’s friends and loved having them.  I know it’s best if your children enjoy gathering at their own home but we didn’t have that blessing.  However, we were very blessed by neighbors nearby who opened their homes and yards to all the young people and hosted them many times.

We have let our children and grandchildren know that they can host parties now at our home.  We have a large yard, swimming pool, basketball court as well as trampoline, even a set up for volleyball.  Those with smaller homes take us up on the offer and we love it.

I would guess one of the best ways to attract youth would be to make them feel welcome and always have food available.  I’m grateful to those who did that for us.

Danielle (and Jake)
I fed them!!!  also, we had things the kids wanted to do.  It was very important to me to have great stuff in the back yard (we had the first ever fire pit, a cast iron wheelbarrow!) An available VCR (old school), and the parents knew if they were at my house, there were adults present.  Did I mention FOOD? 

Mary (and Robert)
We made our house the place to be.  We had a pool, pool table, foosball table, ping pong, a big TV and we always said yes to having friends over.  I decided that I needed to put away my pride and not wait for the house to be in perfect condition for kids to come over.  Sometimes it looked okay and sometimes it looked messy and a little too lived in, but it was okay to bring a friend in to play.

When the kids were in high school we  said no to after prom parties up the canyon or at a hotel.  To make up for the refusal we opened the pool and heated it.  The boys invited friends and charged $10 a couple to come and spend time after prom.  They played games, swam, and played loud music.  We invited another couple to come play cards with us at the kitchen table.  Every 30 minutes we each took a route to inspect the back yard and pool, walk through the basement, make sure no one was in a bedroom somewhere, and generally see that all was well.  At 4am we served a continental breakfast and sent everyone home.  I think the kids enjoyed it, everyone was safe, and we nearly broke even paying for the pool to heat up. 

We also had long conversations with the kids who came to our house.  Even when our children weren't home we invited the kids in and spent time getting to know them.  Our kitchen table was the busiest place in the house.  Lots of games, treats and conversation.

Karen and Lance
Their friends had pools and we parents had to go with them if they were to use the pool. We didn't want to spend that time at the pool so we bought a 10 foot pool, about 3 or 4 feet high and filled it. All the kids came to our pool then, ha ha . It was fun getting to know all the friends of our children. They had some great times. Our children had good friends so we really didn't have to monitor them. They did like to come to our home though, and that was nice for us. Our children were so busy with sports, as they grew older, that we didn't really have to monitor them too much. They were too tired, getting up for early morning seminary, and games in the evening or afternoon, they were just too tired as we said. One parent called us up one day and asked how we keep our children in at night. So that's what we told her, to get her children involved in school activities that tire them out by night. That's all we can think of, worked for us.

Next week's question: Did you allow your kids to have sleepovers with friends or cousins? Why or why not? What are your thoughts on this?

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