It’s nice when everybody sharing a space gets along but sometimes there can be challenges when it comes to relating to your teenagers and their friends. By taking an authentic interest in them and with a little creative thinking, you can take any number of steps to create a space that they will be happy to use as a hangout spot.
- Give Them a Say
You might not expect your kids to be able to speak with authority about swimming pool loans, but giving them a voice when it comes to helping them establish their own space can be a powerful first step to planning their hangout spot. It’s both a bonding agent and an insightful way to begin. Better to discuss first, rather than see disappointment later.
- Feed Them (In a Relaxed Way)
Teenagers and food go together like peanut butter and jelly. Not only do you want to have teen-friendly snacks and drinks around, but you might be a little more relaxed when it comes to ringing the dinner bell. Part of the autonomy that you’re working with them to establish comes down to decision-making and deciding when to eat is a big one. You and they have different lifestyles and even though family dinners are one of the great things that happy, well-adjusted families do together, maybe you can designate certain nights for them.
- Add to the Bedroom Vibe
As kids get older, their rooms become central to their identity. They represent the ultimate safe space where teens can unpack those identities. You might let them add some furniture, like bean bags or soft chairs or even a second-hand sofa. The caveats involve trust and cleanliness. Effectively, you trust that everyone is behaving and that the leftover fruit in the corner of their hangout spot will make it into the trash can unless it is a science experiment to see how much protein in a banana.
- Give Them Options
A great thing you can do for engagement is to offer lots to do. Teenagers have lots of energy and interests. Let your home be the place where they aren’t on their phones all day. If you can give them a space where they can play table tennis, pool, video games or any other trending pastime, they’ll head your way.
When designating an indoor hangout spot, consider how they covet their privacy from you and their younger siblings. Basements and attic spaces are good for this or configuring your own relaxation space away from theirs.
If you have yard space, this opens up a whole new realm. Lawn games like Kan Jam, cornhole and bocce are the perfect slower-moving companions to pick-up football or basketball games. That said, consider giving them the space to create a wiffle ball field or to unroll a Slip and Slide. Offer them access to some outdoor furniture so that they can have their own patio space.
- Generate and Maintain Mutual Trust
None of this will work the right way without trust and respect. You want your space to be respected by the kids in the same way that you’re giving them the respect to use it appropriately. Whatever rules are laid down aren’t just for your peace of mind but for all of the other parents who trust you and the hangout spot that you’ve created.
You don’t want their music blasting through the premises, but when they’re occupying their hangout spot, it’ll help them relax and feel at home. Likewise, maybe when it’s approaching the dinner hour, you could put on some soft music and advertise the meal as a buffet-style seating opportunity for all comers. This low-pressure sell might just attract them to your table.
Part of giving your teens their bit of autonomy means hammering out a set of house rules for the new venture. Things like where eating is appropriate and whether shoes are worn in the house should be decided in advance.
Creating a safe space that your teenagers and their friends will want to occupy is important and can ease your peace of mind. It can be as easy as getting to understand their wants and needs and installing some elements into your home that they will enjoy.