Last year my daughter Sydney changed schools while in Grade 8. The girls had been attending a private school with super small classes and she just couldn’t face the thought of going into highschool with very few friends who she was deeply connected with.
Can I take a moment to tell you a bit about My Sydney? She is a girl who doesn’t share much, most of the time it’s eyerolls and the deep sighs of teenage angst. Syd had a huge heart and is one of the wittiest people I know but she hides so much of herself. She is very independent, highly social and it’s not often that she’ll come out and share her emotions so we took her concerns seriously. We both understood how she was feeling and could relate when we thought back to our high-school days.
Brad and I took a deep breath, heard her out and asked her to hold the thought for a few days while we investigated.
After meeting with the administration at the public school she wanted to attend, we weren’t worried about the education available there. The teachers were warm and had a strategy for transitioning her. It helped my confidence that my best friend happens to be a teacher there so I was able to get the inside scoop.
Next up with the social side…it’s a BIG BAD world out there right? To be completely honest we’d been a bit shielded from this worry with her attending a super small school. I knew that she’d be hanging with kids we didn’t know so Brad and I decided that we would have to find ways to make our home attractive for the kids to hang out in. That way we’d get to know everyone and have a CLUE what’s going on.
If you want some insight into what’s inside a teenager’s head….find a way to be around them chatting with their friends and hide ALL of your emotions as they talk. Be the fly on the wall friends, if they see ANY kind of judgement….it all goes wrong and teenagers radars are on high alert.
Ok want to know how to secretly spend time with teens?
Serve Delicious Food! – Seriously go stock your fridge with DELICIOUS foods and they will appear. There’s a never-ending need for sustenance with these kids and they adore homemade goodies. On the evenings when Syd’s group are coming over I make sure to have some tasty food on hand or a recipe for them to make themselves.
Keep a Straight Face! – Remember what I said about judgement? It took me a while but I’ve realized that I can’t correct their language or what they’re saying if I want to chill with them EVER again. My ears have rang in protest at times but I held myself in check unless they asked my opinion, in which case I choose my words carefully!
Create a Cool Spot! – Frankly we installed an inground pool and hot tub in the backyard when Syd was 4 so we already had a space outside. During the Winter, we’ve designated the downstairs living room as the space where she can hang with friends. We have a big screen TV, the gaming station and computer down there for the teens to use.
One of the most important things teens look for in a hangout spot is wifi and LOTS of it. These kids are truly digitally connected with much of their lives spent online. So it wasn’t long before Brad and I realized that we needed unlimited, fast wifi to facilitate the need of our children and their friends. We discussed our options with Rogers and decided to upgrade to Ignite Gigabit with unlimited usage and faster speeds, so now all the teens can be on their devices at the same time and have a seamless experience. It’s also honoured me with the BEST Mom EVER award.
Offer them Rides! This is a GREAT way to hear what is going on with each teen. They scramble into the vehicle and once the fight for the front seat is done they natter away about the activity or event they attended.
There’s nothing like taking teens bridge jumping to get the conversation going!
Go with the Flow! When Sydney phoned me after school to ask if a group of them could come over and shave one of the boy’s heads I almost threw up. I took a deep breath and went along with it with the stipulation that his parent contacts me and said it’s ok.
This was SO not my thing but in the end the kids had a BLAST and I was able to be a part of it and they will remember that.
Sydney’s transition to school was a positive experience and both Brad and I are glad that we opened our home to her friends who have brightened our lives. We have Chelsea fast-approaching her teen years and we will continue to try to be crafty and find ways to attract the younger generation into our circle.
I’d be open to your ideas, please do share them with me because you know I’ll need them.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I have partnered with Rogers for this post but all stories and opinions are my own.
Krissa Liatopoulos says
Great article! I have a sixteen year old daughter and offering rides and letting the girls talk freely helped me be the mom all her friends wanted advice from. And of course I too, have unlimited wifi. Lol. Thanks Jules! Xo
Tami Qualls says
Food is probably the best way to attract a teenager. Both of mine can be won over almost every time. The other suggests I haven’t tried but will be doing so.
Crystal & Co says
Oh, I love that you’ve made your home the one for the girls to hang at. Super smart. Raising teenagers is hard! I think it can be more difficult than any other season of parenting. And they need us more than ever.
And yes, keep a straight face when they share things….. that can be hard tho!!!
Tami Qualls says
Unlimited internet is a big deal in our family. We moved last year to an area that doesn’t offer very many internet options and regret not knowing. Paying for cruddy internet does not make me happy.
Melissa Dixon says
I am all about having my daughters’ friends come to our house, she never goes to theirs. I just don’t trust people and I also like to know what is going on so this is perfect for us. You look like you are doing a good job and it looks like your daughter has a lot of friends, that is awesome!
Aileen Adalid says
This is such an insightful post. We’ve all been through this part of our lives, and it’s always great to have amazing parents such as you. For sure, your daughter is in ‘good hands’. These are tips that all moms should know!
Nicole Clarke says
Lol, SO TRUE that the house with the fastest WiFi & best food = IDEAL hangout spot. You’re doing it right.