These day teenagers are getting into more and more trouble with things like alcohol, drugs, and sex. One of the main reasons teens give in defense of these types of activities, is that they have nothing better to do. They complain they are “bored”. So, as parents, what can be done to combat this situation? One of the leading solutions is parental involvement. Many parents are so busy in their own day to day activities and responsibilities, that they simply do not have the time and energy to be as active in their teenager’s lives. Many parents feel that since their teens are more independent, they need less supervision. Studies have proven that teenagers whose parents were actively involved in their lives and activities, were less likely to be involved in teenage sexual activities, or drug and alcohol related incidents. There are several activities that parents could be engaging in with their teenagers to help keep them safe. While it may seem Like a lot of time, work, and even money, it is worth it to keep your kids out of trouble so they can reach their full potential.
1. Throw a theme party. Throw your kids a party and invite all their friends over. To make it fun make it a theme party. For instance, have your teen pick a favorite move, and have all of the guests dress up as a character from the flick. You can prepare and serve food that is shown in the movie, and take turns acting out your favorite scenes. You could throw an 80’s party and watch a corny 80’s movie, have everyone dress up in 80’s clothes, and have games like Trivial Pursuit and Win, Lose, or Draw. Do your research if you can’t think of any great themes. There are all sorts of crazy holidays that people celebrate such as “Chocolate Week” and “Friend’s Day”. For a chocolate week party, you could make chocolate fondue and have each guest bring something that could be dipped in chocolate such as sliced bananas or a bag of pecans! If nothing else, have your teen invent a holiday and theme the party around their idea!
2. Hold a poker tournament! One of the hottest things right now is Texas Hold ’em. Have a tournament. You can scrounge around for several dollars worth of pennies to keep the gambling fun and safe. If you don’t like the idea of your teenagers gambling, you can always use slips of paper where the teens can write down silly dares that must be carried out by the winner. (Be sure to proof the dares to ensure they are safe and harmless!)
3. Have a movie night! Rent a movie and build a night around it. This is along the lines of the theme party but is slightly different. The movie doesn’t even have to be a new release. In fact this could be a way to introduce your kids to a classic. Keep in mind, however, that this may be a tricky venture as most kids are probably not going to be interested in movies like “Casablanca”. Have your teenager invite some friends over, and serve popcorn, chips and sodas.
4. Have everyone over after the game. After high school sporting events is one of the most prime times that teens seek adventure. Inviting everyone over after the game is a great way to keep people out of trouble. When you open up your home, you are provided with the opportunity to offer a safe and supervised environment. Meet with other parents and trade off each weekend. Building a strong support group among the parents of your teenager’s friends will benefit you and your teen.
5. Have a scavenger hunt. Send your child and their friends on a scavenger hunt around the city. Recruit a few parents to be chaperones and drive each “team car” to ensure that your teens are being transported in a safe manner . Have a fun and crazy (but safe and legal) list of things for them to do. Be sure to check with your local businesses and ask their permission to participate. The last thing you need is a fine! Have a prize for the winning team.
6. Put on a Talent Show. Have your teen invite their friends over for a talent show! This is a great opportunity for the kids to laugh at one another. You can have a karaoke contest, beauty contest, comedy show and so on. Be sure to videotape the whole thing and have prizes for off-beat categories.
7. Go Carting Going go carting is a lot of fun and fairly cheap. Take a bunch of kids to the go cart track for a night of racing and video games.
8. Laser Tag Taking the kids to play laser tag is a lot of fun. Most local entertainment places like Main Event are great place to go play laser tag. Facilities are usually safe and clean.
9. Make a movie Let the kids use your video camera let them make their own movie. Every teen loves to make silly movies and it is a lot of fun. Then hold a movie awards show and screen all the movies and then have awards for the movies. If you really wanted to get elaborate then you could have a red carpet and have all the kids dress up.
Now I realize that many of these activities cost money. Fear not, for there are many cheap ways to entertain your teen. Everything from renting a video to playing cards can be a really cheap way to entertain them. Make sure that you keep in touch with the parents of your teen’s friends. Communicate your values and what kind of environment you provide in your home, as well as your concerns and expectations when your teen is visiting in someone else’s home. You should never compromise your own child’s value system and upbringing. If you feel that the safety of your teen is at risk, work with your teen to plan activities that you can host at your home. Also have your child check in at least once or twice during the evening. . Get together with other parents and make a schedule of activities that you all can host. And remember, you don’t necessarily have to have an event EVERY weekend. The idea here is to teach your teens that you don’t have to have drugs and alcohol to have a good time. Once you teach them to think creatively and come up with fun ideas, then they will be able to do it themselves. Remember though that they aren’t teenagers forever, so if this seems like a lot of work remember it is only temporary (probably about 5 years at the most) and you will live through it! You might even learn a thing or two for yourself!