5 Tips for Navigating the Holidays with your Tween or Teen

Parents are acutely aware of how time passes during the holidays; hormonal, moody teens being themselves while parents are intensely aware that the kids are growing older and will eventually leave the nest, maybe only to visit on the holidays. Knowing that our kids are gaining their independence can make it difficult to fully enjoy and navigate the holidays with tweens and teens. So how can we really appreciate the time we have left with our kids at home? How can we create a space that's special for the holidays? I've got 5 tips for navigating the holidays with your tween or teen.

parenting support for teens

5 Tips for Navigating the Holidays with your Tween or Teen

parenting teenagers at the holidays

1.       Give them room to be a teen or tweenBecoming an adult is tricky for both parents, teens, and tweens. It’s the time when we want to hold on the hardest and when they want to get away from us the fastest. Their behavior may seem more frustrating during the holidays because as parents we are overwhelmed with holiday events, shopping, holiday planning, and our normal work and home expectations.

When it seems like your teen or tween is acting out during the holiday, realize that it’s a combination of things. They are asserting their individuality and maybe for the first time dealing with their own work obligations and gift-giving dilemmas while we deal with our own level of stress and realization that they aren’t our babies anymore.

2.       Set expectations – The holidays are supposed to be fun and memorable but that doesn’t mean we throw all the rules out the window. If there are homework projects to be completed over break, make sure your teen or tween stays on top of it and completes them. When it comes to family get-togethers, remind your teen or tween of the behavior you expect around extended family.

During the holidays you may have to lower some expectations as well. Your teen or tween isn’t going to model perfect behavior every minute, but sometimes they might surprise you.

3.       Include some friends – The holidays don’t have to only be about spending time with the grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. It’s about spending time and enjoying the family we choose as well. Your teen or tween may balk at spending all their free time with Uncle Joe or Aunt Sue or listening to one more “back in my day” from grandpa.

Give them some time to spend with their own BFFs or invite their friends along to see the holiday lights. Even letting your teen or tween throw their own holiday party {with some guidelines and supervision of course!} can show them you want them to have fun during the holiday too.

4.       Compromise – It’s hard to compromise, isn’t it? You have an ideal vision of the holidays. You see magic and wonder, a roaring fire in the fireplace, and Bing Crosby crooning while you wrap gifts. That is until your teen or tween hits you with last-minute plans to hang with friends or the sudden decision that they don’t want to bake their favorite cookies this year. What?!

You’re going to need to decide what’s the most important and let the rest go. If the baking spree is really a must, then compromise with your teen or tween that they help make the pumpkin roll instead of the sugar cookies this year.

5.       “Just Chill” – Out of the mouths of teens, right? Sometimes the best way to navigate and survive the holidays with your teen or tween is to simply chill out. Stop stressing over the things you can’t control {like whether or not your parents will criticize the turkey again this year or if the snow will hold off until you can get the holiday lights up}. Allow some downtime for everyone before you rush off to the next party or start that baking spree and simply enjoy each other’s company, that is of course, until your teen blares their favorite gothic rock holiday album.

While we’re reflecting and waxing poetic about keeping our teens and tweens young, they are looking ahead to the future when they can create their own traditions and take their family in small doses {much like we may have looked forward to when we were their age}. We can put ourselves in their shoes and, as sad as it may make us look at their growing up as a way to make new memories in the future.

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