A middle schooler writes to Ask Amy:" In my family, almost every night my mother and father watch adult oriented TV and movies. I am allowed to come into the room when they are watching, but I would really like to play a board game with them or even watch a family appropriate movie instead. My mother is very busy with her full time teaching job and I feel that barging into the room in the middle of a movie to play a game is rude, but how else could I ensure some family time without disturbing her? Am I being too pushy, and should I leave them to their leisure time because they are busy."
How sweet and sad is that letter! The other day I was getting frozen yogurt (my favorite) and spied a mom sitting with her young teen son having some yogurt after school. The mom was busy texting away on her phone, while her son, hunched over the table, just kind of sat there looking lost. I know we are always talking about how rude our teens are can't be separated from their phones, but how about you? How attached are you to yours?
Believe it or not, many teens do want to spend time with you, they are just embarrassed to ask, lest it sound needy and immature. In a questionnaire I gave to 60 teens ages 14-18, this very issue was oft repeated when asked: I LOVE WHEN MY PARENT (S):
- Ask me to go places with them because I really don't get to do that a lot.
- Spend time just watching TV with me because I never get to spend time with them.
- Ask me to do things with them cause that's the best.
- Can just talk and hang out and have fun with me.
Our lives are all pretty crazy, especially if you are working, taking care of an elderly parent, and have kids. Getting laundry and food shopping done, returning emails, and god forbid take some time for yourself is a full day. But your teens are watching your every move,and if they see that it's alright to multitask then they will do it too. But another takeaway from them, is that you are just too busy for them. Are you constantly checking your phone when your kids are in the car, at a restaurant, before and after dinner, while you are watching one of their sports practices and games. Do you take your work home with you, and your kids get that you are unavailable? Are you halfway in or all the way?