5 Guidelines to Having Fun with Your Teen
Remember Cyndi Lauper’s song from the ’80s, Girls Just Want to Have Fun?
You might remember singing that song at the top of your lungs while driving to the lake with your friends when you were in high school or college.
But that was a long time ago…and your life may not feel like much fun now.
But your daughter is still singing that song.
She still likes to have fun.
It may seem frivolous, but never underestimate the power of fun.
This is a language your teenage daughter understands.
If you are having a hard time connecting with your daughter, Fun is a great place to start.
Start with Fun!
It’s natural to ask, “Where do I start? My daughter and I are so far from what you’re describing.” I recommend you start by tuning into her positive emotions–and having fun!
Fun is not optional. It benefits you emotionally, builds a strong connection, decreases stress, and is good for your physiology. When you enjoy your life, your body creates more of the happy-body chemical serotonin. When you are stressed, your body produces more cortisol, which decreases your happy-body chemicals.
Moms use the excuse that they are too busy to have fun. We put fun at the bottom of the priority list because it feels extravagant. But it’s really essential. You need positive experiences with your daughter to buffer the hard times. The easiest way to connect is by sharing a positive experience. You want your daughter to remember the times you lay on the sofa watching a movie together or enjoyed a nice lunch with just the two of you.
Create positive associations with your daughter so she doesn’t solely associate you with the wicked witch of the West. Positive associations help you with your “like” factor.
Some of you will say, “My daughter doesn’t want anything to do with me.” This is true for most of us: your daughter will spend the majority of her time with friends. But she can still spend time with you every day, even if it’s only 30 minutes.
The main reason your daughter avoids you is that she feels you’re always on her back, telling her to do homework, clean her room, and come home by curfew. It’s not healthy for your relationship to be the 24-hour monitor. Try having some fun with her.
Five Guidelines for Having Fun
It’s so discouraging when you are trying to enjoy time with your daughter and it ends up in a big drama fest. If you are clear ahead of time, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls by taking the following into consideration:
1. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
There are many simple things you can do to create a positive experience. You can watch a DVD, have a nice lunch, get your nails done, and (of course) shop. If you are going to shop, decide how much money and time you’re going to spend upfront. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for a big drama-fest.
2. You can agree on the activity beforehand.
What may be fun for you may not be fun for your daughter. You might want to go to the movies, but that would be too embarrassing for her because of the friend factor. Let her take the lead. Ask her what she would like to do. Give her some prompts like, “Where would you like to go to lunch?”
3. Your agenda is to enjoy your time together.
This is a time to relax, not the time to bring up an issue, give advice, or pry.
4. Make it a win.
Begin with something easy, such as taking her to lunch. Better to spend one hour having a positive experience than having an all-day stress-fest. You probably want to avoid bathing suit shopping.
5. Be clear.
Tell your daughter you want to hang out with her and that you have no hidden agendas. It might take some time before she believes you. You are establishing a new pattern.