Now that my teenager is of an age where she wants to hang out with friends, I'd like her to bring her friends to our house to socialize. I know she might think I'm embarrassing and old, but I can be cool… No? Well, then I can try to make our house a relaxing and safe place for teenagers to hang out. Here are five ways to get the teenagers to come to your house the next time they want to chill.
Make it inviting. No one wants to visit a home that seems unwelcoming — particularly teenagers. Turn on some lights, clean up the bonus room and greet your guests with a welcoming, but not overwhelming, greeting. If it's nighttime, turn on the outside lights and make sure guests know where to park. Offer to take coats and play hostess for a few minutes, just until your teen's friends feel comfortable. Show them where they can access food, entertainment and a bathroom, and then try not to hover.
Provide food. Teenagers and food go together like peanut butter and jelly. When I was a teen, my friends' four food groups were pizza, cookies, chips and soda. Now my tastes have gravitated toward more “grown-up” food, but you can be assured your teenager and her friends will appreciate snack foods. Try to serve a fruit and veggie with other snacks, and always offer water as a beverage option to set a good example for your teen and her friends.
Feeding hungry, growing teens can be expensive, so invite friends to bring snacks to share, stock up on teen-friendly food when it's on sale or use coupons to make your budget go further. I've found teenagers love homemade foods just as much as commercially prepared, and food cooked at home is generally less expensive.
Comfort counts. Any good host wants to make guests feel comfortable. Teenagers are lounging experts. Consider the space they'll be hanging out in. Add extra pillows or blankets for movie watching, arrange furniture for optimum game playing and move any valuable items out of the room so nothing gets broken or misplaced.
Supply activities. I wasted many, many hours of my teenage life playing the “what do you want to do” game with my friends. Often, we ended up at one house or another. While it's not up to parents to micromanage their children's social lives, it's good to have a few activities on hand for teens to do.
The obvious activities include playing video games, watching movies and listening to music, but teens might also like playing card or board games, baking cookies, playing sports in the backyard or having a fire to roast some marshmallows. Trampolines, basketball hoops, karaoke machines, pool and air hockey tables, and any arcade-like games are bonus activities teens will like. Teens might act too cool for organized activities, but having a few options won't hurt.
Have rules. Even though teens may seem to dislike authority, make sure they understand the “house rules.” It is important to set boundaries for teens. Simple rules might include no pairing off in bedrooms or no inappropriate movies. No parent should encourage underage drinking or supply drugs or alcohol to teens. Babble offers these rules to make your house safe for teens.
Make sure you meet all the teens hanging out at your house. Knowing their parents is even better. Rules might not make you seem hip, but they will let teens know there is a caring and responsible adult in charge.
Chances are your teen might not want to be seen with you in public all of the time, but if you make your house inviting and fun for teens, she'll want to bring her friends home to hang out. Soon your house will be the hippest hangout on the block.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.