Quality Time: Family Night Fun With Teenagers

A guest post by Harry Vincent

 

When the kids are tiny they’re easy to please. When they grow up, things get much harder. Here are some fun ideas for a more mature family that doesn’t want to give up family time.

 

Cook a Large Meal Together

Cooking is usually something reserved for the parents, but teens should learn this valuable life skill sooner rather than later. If your teenager doesn’t have any real cooking skills, then family cooking can teach them everything they need to know (or at least the basics) while simultaneously giving you more family time. Everyone wins.

Start with simple things like cooking pasta or baking lasagna. Then, over several weeks, you can work up to more challenging cooking feats like baked goods and soufflés. If you’re feeling especially daring, brew some beer or some other alcohol at home (though they might feel that it’s unfair if they can’t drink anything).

fermented beverages that aren’t alcoholic is also an option and will teach them a lot about how their favorite store-bought foods are made (think pickles, sauerkraut and the ever-popular kombucha).

 

Have an Upgraded Movie Night

Instead of renting a DVD, start off by streaming a new movie from iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play. If you’re one of those families who still doesn’t have high speed Internet, look at these Time Warner Cable Internet Plans.

To kick things up a notch, take the party outside and throw the movie up on a big screen. You will need a projector for this. Is it an investment? Yup. Will it be fun? Are you kidding? You remember how much fun the drive in was when you were a kid? You can bring that experience home. Your kids will love it.

 

Choose Unusual Activities

When the usual stuff gets boring, and it eventually will, it’s time to kick things up a notch. A few ideas include:

 

Rock Climbing

Indoor rock climbing is becoming more popular and, if you’ve never tried it as a family before, you should take your kids. Maybe they’ve been with their friends, but there’s no reason why this can’t also be a family activity.

Is it unusual? Maybe. But, you will also build team and trust skills, spotting each other as you climb to the top.

 

Go-Kart Competitions

How many families do you actually see go-karting together. Not many. And, that’s precisely why you should try it. Go-karting is fun and you can kick things up a notch by racing against each other and keeping score.

The way you would likely have to do this is by racing for time. At least one family member would have to sit out each round and time the others. Rotate drivers so that everyone races the same number of times. At the end of the night, add up the times and the lowest total time gets a prize – maybe a free drink or a sundae or something else (and if you win, yes your kids should totally pay for it!).

 

Have a Sing-A-Long

It might sound cheesy, but it’s not if you put some time into it to make it special. First, you need the right setting. Dedicate a room in the house for family games. If you’re going to do family karaoke, you had better nail it or it’s going to be torture for everyone.

A lot of people like karaoke because it’s silly, you can goof off, and no one actually expects you to sing well. But, what would happen if you flipped this game on its ear, took singing lessons, and held a family competition?

That’s exactly what you should do.

Buy your family a good microphone from a company like Blue Microphones, and get a shock mount with a pop filter. Now, take some singing lessons as a family. Think of this as training for the competition.

When you feel you’re ready, pick songs and pit family members against each other. Everyone votes for their favorite singer. You could even get extended family in on the action if you needed impartial judges. It might be unusual, but at the end you will have accomplished two things: you will have learned a very good skill (singing) and you will have brought your family closer and shown your appreciation for their new talents.

And, that’s not strange. Matter of fact, that’s what family should be about – coming together.

 

Harry Vincent is a family therapist. He likes to share his insights on family living. His articles can be found mainly on lifestyle and family websites.

How Formal and Informal Contracts Shape Families


Martha Ertman, author of Love’s Promises.
Topic:
How formal and informal contracts shape all kinds of families.
Issues: The difference between a “deal” (I cook dinner and you wash the dishes) and an enforceable contract; Type A families (heterosexual couple raising a biologically related child) vs. Type B families (pretty much every other kind of family imaginable); how contracts shape and sustain families as opposed to simply being cold and calculating.

#MilitaryFamilyFriday: Saving Money + Being an Absentee Landlord

At one time or another, most of us run into some tight financial times. Being on a military salary—which, as we all know, isn’t the greatest in the world—doesn’t help. But, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to save money, whether you’re trying to build your retirement fund or just socking away a few extra bucks for a rainy day. Here are nine tips that will help you save money, even on a military salary. Read the rest of this article on my about.com minisite.

If you’ve been living off base in a property you own, it also means that you have to figure out what to do with your current home. The most obvious choice is to simply sell the house. But what if the housing market is down or you’re underwater? Should you keep the house and become an absentee landlord? Read the rest of this artilce on my about.com minisite.

I’m always looking for great organizations, programs, and other resources to help the men and women who serve our country. If you’ve got a suggestion or referral, please drop an email to armin [at] mrdad [dot] com.

The State of the Family + The Parents’ Phrase Book

Richard Eyre, co-author of The Turning.
Topic:
Why the state of the family matters and what the world can do about it.
Issues: Everything starts with the family—and ends with the family; social problems that are crushing society; making your own family stronger than the competing cultures; how parents’ perspectives are distorted by false paradigms.



Whit Honea, author of The Parents’ Phrase Book.
Topic:
Easy, useful phrases, scripts, and techniques for every situation.
Issues: Words to help you discipline and enforce limits; build a child’s self-confidence; handle questions about life and death; talk to your kids about friends, bullies, and playing by the rules—or not.

Family Camping Never Loses Its Magic

Camping is one of those great family activities that requires everyone to sacrifice a bit of their time to open a window of opportunity for some real family bonding. Often times, parents take cell phones and keep them somewhere safe on camping trips, so that the members of the family can communicate and bond without outside interference.

So why doesn’t every family go camping? Well, depending on several factors, camping can be expensive, time constraining, or unsafe. However, these are very special circumstances. For the average family, camping can be done without spending a ton of money, during a time that’s good for everyone, in a completely safe and fun way.

The most common reason for not camping is the expense factor. Camping can be extremely expensive, depending on your requirements. However, camping is about “roughing it” a little, and not having to worry about a little dirt under your nails. Tents and sleeping bags are typically the largest “required” expense for camping. It doesn’t have to be super expensive, though. For a summer camping trip, summer equipment will do just fine. You can find quality summer tents, with rain flies, big enough to sleep 4 people and their gear for as little as $80. Sleeping bags can be expensive, but, if you are summer camping, you don’t need a -40°F bag. A simple 20°F sleeping bag will work perfectly. You may even find yourself not using it at all, depending on the temperature. These summertime sleeping bags can be found for as low as $30. All together, that puts you at $200 for quality reusable gear.

Other gear you will need depends largely on the type of camping you want to do. Coolers for food can be expensive, but many campgrounds have small “general stores” to buy food from. Obviously, one of the most important things to bring is water. There are several options for water supply for a camping trip. You can bring bottled water, but there will be a lot of trash and weight. There are water-purifying bottles, but these can be very pricey. There are survival-style items, such as iodine tabs, that can be used, but most folks aren’t this into camping. There are pros and cons to each of these options. Be sure to choose the one that’s right for you.

Where camping tends to get expensive is in all the outdoors activities there are to do while camping. Typically, the price goes up with the intensity level of the activity. For example, bird-watching is only as expensive as a set of binoculars, but zip lining can be very expensive. It’s not a bad thing to spend money on things that will bring you and your family closer to each other, but you have to ensure that the things you purchase are worth the price.

ATVs, for example, aren’t exactly cheap, but they can supply 10+ years of fun for you and your family. They can bring an experience that not much else will give your family. Plus, there is a cheaper alternative; trail-worthy go karts! While not as inexpensive as a pair of binoculars, go karts will offer so much more, in terms of excitement and thrill. To top it all off, they are probably cheaper than you’d think. A good quality go kart can sell for as low as $564.77 with a company like Killer Motorsports. Just be sure to do your online shopping to find those companies that offer good products at a great price.

Remember, though, that the best part of camping is not what you bring along; it’s how you use the things you bring to create opportunities for family bonding. Kids and parents can come together, around a warm campfire, and truly learn about each other in ways that sitting in separate rooms throughout the house just can’t offer. Camping is a time that the family will cherish and remember for the rest of their lives.

We’re Looking for Great Content for Military Families

Brott, Military FatherAs the military families expert for about.com, I’m always on the lookout for organizations, programs, and practical advice and strategies that can help our military servicemembers, spouses, and kids.

If you have any suggestions, recommendations, and even guest posts, I’d love to share them with our readers. So please email me.

In the meantime, feel free to peruse the site, http://militaryfamily.about.com/