Teens can be notorious for making holidays challenging – by being silly, or sulky, or just plain antisocial. Here are a few tips to help things run more smoothly:
1. Discuss expectations. Going to a relative’s house? Having the relatives in? Either way, tell your teens beforehand what you want from them, whether it’s helping out with the housecleaning (or cooking or clean-up), or entertaining Grandma or younger children. It’s an awkward stage of life, and teens don’t always know what their roles are.
2. Agree on dress code. If your family dresses up for holidays, talk to your teens about what they should wear, but be prepared to compromise. You could give in on the shorter skirt but insist on a modest top, or allow jeans but with a dress shirt. As long as it’s nicer than everyday wear, teens can pull it off.
3. Talk about table manners. You taught them these when they were younger, but it’s a good idea to review the basics. Knowing which fork to use isn’t as important as trying new foods when you’re a guest, or learning to refuse politely. If elbows off the table and napkins in laps matter to you, then say so.
4. Comment on the positive. Before you go (or guests arrive), take time to thank your teen for being on time or dressing appropriately. After it’s all over, point out one thing that went well, such as chatting with the grown-ups or helping clear the table. Parents are quick to criticize but not as quick to compliment.
When you’re counting your Thanksgiving blessings, remember to count your teens. And don’t forget to let them know!