Your teen may need to learn how to work harder, be kinder, and make better choices, all around. Maybe your teen desperately needs counseling, interventions, or both. But that’s beside the point. Your teen needs to have fun with your family, too. Maybe you don’t feel like it, and maybe your teen doesn’t seem to want it. But that changes nothing: You both need it.
Why Good Times Can’t Be Earned
Maybe something inside you churned, and you wish we were having a face-to-face conversation. You’d have a bunch of arguments against the idea of planning fun activities for your delinquent teen. Maybe “he doesn’t deserve it” or “she shouldn’t be rewarded for bad behavior” are included in your reasoning. But we’re not talking about a one-for-one, here. It’s not like we’re saying that the next time your teen is late for curfew, your response is to hand them plane tickets to Hawaii. Especially for kids whose primary love language is quality time, though, at least some family activities and trips need to be offered with no strings attached. Otherwise, you’re sending a message you probably don’t want to send: They can un-earn your love.
Why True Love Can’t Be Bought
Perhaps you’ve never thought of the way you wield your favor as a “bargaining chip,” but when we use our love as a negotiating tool, we’re basically attempting to emotionally manipulate our kids. That’s never good, even if our desires for them are. Do you ever use fun times as a carrot out in front of your kids, hoping to motivate good behavior? If so, your teen’s misbehavior probably really hurts you. Sadly, you’ve set yourself up for disappointment. Your teen’s character weaknesses really aren’t about you. Sure, they affect you, but they’re primarily based in his or her relationship with God along with natural propensities. Maybe you’ve never been tempted to behave quite like your teen. Then be thankful. And ask questions. Try to understand. But at the end of the day, show love anyway.
Why Family Fun Is Particularly Helpful
There’s a lot of research out there about brain chemicals. Unfortunately, much of it is used to help excuse addictive and immoral behaviors, as if humans have no choice but to give in to their impulses. But there are beneficial applications of this knowledge, too. When we experience good times together — particularly when physical activity and new experiences are involved — we get to be part of those “happy chemicals” for each other. Not only do we get the memories of happy times together, but we also get the benefit of emotional bonding. When we record those memories through photographs, journaling, or other means, we increase the benefit of such times — both for us, as parents, and for our kids.
Especially when we’ve had a rough day, week, month, or year, our bodies have probably been plagued with stress hormones, and planned good times can provide a welcome relief.
Continue reading with Part 2.