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.

Healthy Eating Tips for Every Age and Stage of Development

mrdad - good eating habits

mrdad - good eating habits

Dads, listen up: Child obesity is out of control. Don’t let your child fall victim to this epidemic that affects nearly one in three children in America. What your children put in their bodies aids their mental and physical development. Begin feeding your kids nutritious food from day one and adjust to their needs during different life stages. Here are some healthy eating tips to implement in every stage of your child’s life.


Breast milk is the best food for babies. It provides all the beneficial nutrients, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, which recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months and a combination of breast milk and iron-rich complementary foods thereafter.

Not only does breastfeeding promote a deeper connection with between mom and baby, breast milk aids in protection from respiratory illnesses, infections, stomach problems, skin irritations and allergies.

New fathers can build their bond with baby by feeding breast milk from a bottle after mom’s milk supply is established (at about two to four weeks). Here’s the best approach:

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Inside the Teenage Brain

Frances Jensen, author of The Teenage Brain.
A Neuroscientist’s survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults.
Issues: How the teenage brain is under construction; the vulnerabilities and strengths of the teenage brain; the importance of sleep and the circadian rhythms; the damage done to the teen brain by risk taking, smoking, alcohol, and drugs,

Veterans Sexual Health + Providing for Families of Veterans + Surviving Your Teen

devid gremillion Dr. David Gremillion, retired Air Force Colonel, professor at University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and a member of the Board of Directors of Men’s Health Network
Veteran’s sexual health.
Issues: Continuing our discussion about the sexual health of our veterans, the obstacles they face, and how they can get the help they need.

folded flag foundationFred Schremp retired Army veteran and president of the Folded Flag Foundation.
helping the families of servicemembers killed defending our country
Issues:Providing for the college education and other expenses of spouse and children of those who gave their lives.

Frances Jensen, author of The Teenage Brain.
A Neuroscientist’s survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults.
Issues: How the teenage brain is under construction; the vulnerabilities and strengths of the teenage brain; the importance of sleep and the circadian rhythms; the damage done to the teen brain by risk taking, smoking, alcohol, and drugs,

Watching Movies Can Be a Great Way to Bond with Your Teen

The older your children get, the more challenging it becomes to stay connected. As they carve out own self-identity, it seems like they stop liking things they used to like and may not even want to have much to do with you at all. Take it from someone who’s been through this a few times—and who’s about to do go through it again. Remember way back when spending time with the kids was as simple as taking them to the park to play on the swings? Now, spending time together usually means a quick trip to the video game store or the mall. Or just texting each other from opposite ends of the house. We’ve all been there, and we all secretly (or not so secretly) wish we could get a little closer to our teens. We want to know what’s going on with them, what they’re into, what’s on their minds…. But teasing that information out can be a real challenge.

But there is one thing that the kids and I have always had in common—and it’s something you probably have in common with your kids too: watching movies. Wait, so how can staring at a TV screen or sitting in a dark theater going to help you get any closer to your teenagers? Give me a second to make my case.

Movies Are Universal (Which Makes Them a Great Family Pastime)

If you have more than one child, you know that each one has a different personality. Trying to find things they have in common with each other gets harder the older they get. You may have one kid who’s really active and loves the outdoors, and another who’s more introverted and prefers coding or building with LEGO. Still, no matter how old you are, what your favorite activities are, what you love, or what you hate, there’s going to be a movie out there that will suit your interests.

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 3 Bonding Activities for Preteens & Dads

dad-preteen bonding

dad-preteen bondingAs your kids grow closer to their preteen years, it might be difficult to find sustainable ways to connect and bond. Your preteens are asserting their independence and likely vocalizing their opinions on clothing, television choices and the friends that they prefer. Dads might struggle with trying to find a middle ground during this transition, but it is important to stay involved to provide them with the love, guidance and support that they need. Bonding over activities is the best way to create a dialogue with preteens.


Preteens who enjoy adventure will definitely love to go skiing. Skiing is an activity that will offer the opportunity to bond on the slopes as well as provide some downtime when you head back to the lodge. As you and your tween ski together, you can converse about the beauty of the terrain and share a few moments when you are riding the ski lift together.

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