Connecting with your teenager

There’s a school break coming up. Your teenagers will be home all day long! They might wake up before noon! Let’s make the best of it!

In addition to finding homeopathic remedies for my clients, I also frequently help clients and their families with practical advice on parenting, among other things. A recent topic in my office has been parents wondering how to connect with their teenagers.

Challenge Success advises parents that kids should not be overscheduled, we should protect their PDF (playtime, downtime and family time) and that “families need time to connect and build lasting bonds.” I’d like to share what has worked for our family to connect and build lasting bonds. One of my strategies for connecting with my kids and creating family time is simple.

I watch TV with them.

I like to get old-school with my kids and hearken back to a time when we raced to get a snack during commercials and had to get up to manually change the channel. It was a better, cozier time; a time when we all squeezed onto the sofa to watch Wild Kingdom, the Muppet Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. I have great, and most importantly, shared memories of my family laughing at the Swedish Chef and the Ministry of Silly Walks skits. It was an experience we had together and have laughed about our whole lives.

I have cultivated this strategy with my own boys and we have built a bank of memories of shared laughter (and drama) that is now part of our family history. We love to pile on the sofa and watch “our show”. Here are some tips on finding “your show”:
Find shows that are quirky, deeply engaging or funny, and that appeal to your teen’s interests.
Choose shows with lots of seasons so they don’t end quite so fast, forcing you to find a new show (ugh-the worst).
Choose short episodes. A quick 23-minute sitcom break is relatively easy to fit into a homework break or after dinner. However, I am also a fan of the 48-minute drama episode as well.
Your family will have their own tastes, of course, but here are some shows I have found to be very popular with my two teenagers:

Big Bang Theory:
A show about nerdy boy-men encountering girls, life, and comic-book stores. With 12 seasons, it can’t be beat. I shed a tear when it ended.

Young Sheldon:
Surprise! A spin off from Big Bang Theory that is unexpectedly hilarious and poignant. For best results, watch after you’ve seen BBT.

Modern Family:
A slam dunk for a wide range of ages and any gender. There is something for everyone in this show about an extended family, their unfortunate predicaments and outsized personalities.

Gilmore Girls:
Funny, smart, unexpected, romantic and goofy. All this and more found in the Gilmore Girls. I watched every episode and the reunion special with both my teen boys. Yes, it’s true. My older one watched all the seasons AGAIN when he went to college.

Downton Abbey:
This is possibly my favorite show. An upstairs/downstairs show about the trials and tribulations of the aristocracy and their servants in Pre-War England. By a miracle, I passed my love of this show on to my older son, and we watched the whole thing together. We even went to the Downton Abbey movie together. You’re welcome, future daughter-in-law.

West Wing:
True nostalgia here. Throwback to the 1990’s with Jed Bartlett (AKA Dream President) and his team of witty and gently goofy aides. The writing is smart and quick, and the politics no less relevant 25 years later. Bartlett 2024.

An amazing show for teens who have a dry, dark side. It’s whip smart, very quick and quite snarky, which can be very appealing to teens. The only problem is how short the seasons are. Every episode must be s-a-v-o-r-e-d.

House MD:
This is Sherlock in a hospital. I did not intentionally watch this show with my kids, they saw me watching one night and became engrossed. It is massively popular in our house. Dr. House is a deeply misanthropic character, so just know that it appeals to a certain kind of audience. Occasional gory medical visuals, but rare. It’s snarky to the max and a bit dark. Be warned – there is drug addiction! AP Physiology was a breeze after watching this show!

I hope this helpful! Remember this is just one way to connect with your teenagers, there are, of course, many more. Stay tuned for more ideas! If you are interested in learning more about Challenge Success’ work on finding ways to help kids succeed in their families and at school, click here. Happy watching/connecting over the holidays!

With love,

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