Question: How did you enrich your relationships with each of your teenage kids?
One on one time - going to dinner, shared activities like skiing or tennis, father interviews.
Working together - employment in family business, yardwork.
Dinnertime as a family, scripture study, etc.
Brianne (and Spencer)
Once again I must say it takes a big investment of time. I believe I
spent 30 minutes each day listening and chatting with each child. Sometimes I was lying on their bed or floor - but interested enough to stay
awake. I wasn't reading email or facebook - maybe mating socks, but I
was really there listening.
I enjoyed hearing about everything. I thought they were interesting
people. They knew I wanted to hear, and that I liked them. I tried to
respect their ability to make decisions. I also had to be careful not
to gasp at some of the things I heard about. Sometimes I had to really
focus on the things I liked about them and let other things go.
Sometimes I passed them over to their dad - I told him "I don't like this
child right now, so you'd better build your relationship with them." I
remember being pretty disgruntled when he took one who was being a jerk
out for ice cream. We supported each other on family rules but he
didn't have to be frustrated just cause I was or visa-verse. One child
remembers the worst experience she had as a teenager was when her dad
calmly said, "I'm disappointed in you."
We supported them and on occasion joined them in the activities they
enjoyed. For one we all auditioned for a Christmas play and spent over
a month at practices and performances. Some of us were little more than
a face in the crowd - but we were together and our actor was doing his
For another we attended competitions and bought a mini fridge for
the debate room. I shopped for hours to find the right dress. For
another there were many performances to watch. We hosted a few parties
and fed their friends great food.
We encouraged and sat by them while they got started on overwhelming
school assignments (the hardest part is always getting started).
asked them for help when we had deadlines at work and too much to do,
and let them be our hero, running errands, cleaning up the house,
shopping, starting dinner, driving siblings and help with clerical stuff
from work. It is so important that they not feel they need rescuing,
but that it is reciprocal and they are contributors to the family good.
(We started this I help you, you help me, when they were quite young.)
All the time invested was so worth it! There is nothing I could
have spent my time on that would have lasted or brought such peace and
joy to my life as family relationships.
Cynthia (and Brad)
Special one on one is essential. I know my kids as adults tell me they loved it when I was at home in the kitchen when they got home from school (not possible for working moms). That seemed to be a time for interaction. Then, I would take each one shopping just by themselves sometimes. This was especially fun when I was shopping only for them. Then, this may sound sort of corny, but when each of my three girls had their first period, their Dad would take them to breakfast that week one time, for acknowledgement that they were growing up and how exciting that was. Our son had some sort of special event that warranted the same attention. But the most important all of our kids say is when they had one on one interviews with their Dad. He would take them to his official office at work on a Saturday morning and spend as much time as possible asking all kinds of personal questions in a loving way. They always came home feeling special. And Dad got a lot of inciteful information.
Marsha (and Richard)
I would have to say it was through family trips, mainly trips to extended family in Utah and Idaho which gave us the opportunity to ski, working together in our yard, meals together both morning and night and taking the teenage kids out to dinner occasionally.
My husband was always willing to take on the challenge of a trip at Spring Break. He loved to ski and enjoyed teaching the children to ski. Let’s face it, a wonderful day on the slopes is a great shared experience. The time spent in our van, traveling to and from Utah may have been a bit stressful at times but it gave us time with our children to ourselves and opportunity for conversations and sharing.
My husband employed some of our teens at his business which gave them the opportunity to travel to and from work together. I would have spent more time being the driver to their activities rather than sending them off with others if I had it to do over again.
The meals were key. It not only provided good nourishing food but was a time of gathering and sharing. Because of the size of our family I was often at home with smaller children, preparing the meal as the older children participated in their activities. At dinner we could all gather together over a nourishing meal and share the adventures and activities of the day. Shared meals also made it possible for our family scripture study and family prayer time to work comfortably into our morning routine.
As the children entered their teenage years we found it very special to take them out to dinner. We couldn’t afford this in earlier years and only did it once or twice a year but it was a wonderful time to visit, share their lives and have their focused attention.
We did not have the battle of cell phones, ipods and computers to distract them from our family activities. We had a large yard and often all pitched in on a family night to get a job done. It is true that working together and playing together as well as eating together, builds bonds. We still like to find any excuse to be together.
Daniel and Barbara
We were involved with their projects and activities, they knew we cared. We helped when needed and gave them positive encouragement.
Kenneth and Catherine
We had daily scripture study and family prayer plus weekly family home evening and family councils (calendar planning) plus monthly personal interviews and prayer in addition to annual family vacations. We also played tennis together and I taught them each to ski. We still have monthly family gatherings where we have dinner and family home evenings and various activities with our expanded family which each family takes turns sponsoring. A very special activity with the married adults is what we call General Conference Reflections where we each choose a General Conference address that touched our hearts and share why it was special to us. That is an amazing spiritual experience together.
Next week's question: What did you do if one of your kids refused to go to church one Sunday? What did you do if that turned into a string of Sundays?