Let me paint you a portrait of our evening this past weekend.
- Friday: Jack and Alex both home and without plans.
- Saturday: I went out and met two friends for a drink. Returned at 9 PM. Jack and Alex both home without plans.
They’re both just there. Sitting in our living room. And I find it weird.
They both have good sets of friends, but for some reason that doesn’t turn into weekend plans. They’re too old for sleepovers. They’re not going to parties (I think that may be because they don’t drink, but maybe they’re just not invited to parties).
Jack goes to the basement to play X-box and drop f-bombs. Alex watches Netflix. Or they both just lay there on the couches like seals and scroll scroll scroll through Instagram. It makes me want to smack the crap out them.
So Shani and I go to bed and the boys stay up late doing nothing even remotely worth doing. They usually eat cereal at some point during the night because I find the dishes (and sometimes the milk).
And my question: Is this OK? I guess I should want them around, but shouldn’t they be out doing stuff? I could suggest a movie or a game or bowling — but it’s not my job to entertain them anymore. And honestly, I want to go to bed so I can get up early the next morning and do stuff.
9 thoughts on “The Bizarre Reality of Parenting Teenagers on a Saturday Night”
oh thank god i read this now. same story with my 16 and 14 yo boys. cereal, ramen, nachos, you name it. all week and weekend long. same f bomb dropping at fornite, while the other is watching youtube or trailer park boys. (mine did steal some bottles of my good beer at one point)
Be thankful you and Shani are not pacing the floor at 3 am wondering where they are.
Social media has killed their social lives. It’s a world wide epidemic among tweens and teens. Why leave the comforts of your own home when you can text, snap chat or e-mail all of your friends anytime, all the time? They get to see anything they could ever imagine on the World Wide Web all while eating free food in their pajamas all day. They may be on to something.
Michael dear, I think you worry too much. Your boys are smart, involved in sports and other activities and quite obviously well-adjusted. They have a home and parents they enjoy. You are not worrying about drugs or failing grades. And they are not complaining they have nothing to do. They are enjoying their leisure time the way young people do today. Count your blessings.
P.S. You might consider assigning chores. (Sorry, guys!)
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So I guess we have this to look forward to.
Was thinking of you two nights ago. Channeling my “inner Mike” I roused Eliot at 4am for a sunrise bike ride out to Coney Island. The entire time I was thinking of some story, can’t remember whether you posted it here or Shani told us, of you waking up the entire family shouting, “The Russians are coming! Grab your socks and water bottles!”
When does it stop being your “job to entertain them”? (Not asking critically, asking so I can prepare.)
I feel like we spend a lot of time admonishing them about future pitfalls, then backpedaling furiously when I realize how badly we’ve screwed them up. We put Michael Jackson on the other night, he ran out of the room screaming, “Turn it off! Turn it off!” This isn’t meant to sound cute: he’s going to have a miserable time in high school. How to thread the needle of adolescence?
Response coming soon.
Nick, I don’t have a lot of lessons learned on how to guide them for navigating adolescence. My kids have struggled some, but not as much as a lot of kids – and less than I struggled. They both have really good friends, which I think is critical. I guess we get some credit for that because we have become friends with those parents and have developed a relationship of helping each other out — so they are more likely to stay friends. So I guess I’d encourage you to make sure your kids have friends.
I also feel like our house is a safe place for the boys. They know they’re protected and that we all love each other. That comes from investing in doing fun stuff together – and your bike ride sounds like a great example of doing that.
I would also say that you should ask directly how they’re feeling. I think I do that pretty well. If I’m wondering how they’re feeling about friends or themselves or whatever…there’s no need to wonder. Just ask. “Hey — how are you doing in the friends department? Are you feeling ok or are you lonely?” Sometimes they blow me off, but a lot of times they engage with a level of self-awareness that stuns me.
As for entertaining them, I approach it selfishly. I know the things I love to do (hike, Marvel movies, baseball) — so I “entertain” them by taking them along to do the things I love to do. And I try not to never say “no” when they ask if I want to play or do something (although I break that rule all the time).
And for the record, I think your kids are terrific.
Terrific kids: in case it needs to be said (I hope not!), obviously you guys have two of the most well-adjusted/centered/rounded kids we know.
Your advice sounds excellent, will try to incorporate. (I’m on the fence about taking him for a backpacking trip this summer: he’s expressed enthusiasm in the past, but we haven’t made it happen yet. May hit you up for some practical would-rather-not-die advice on that.)
Like many others, I spend a lot of time concerned about how to orient myself/them toward the new “online environment”. I feel pretty negative these days about the internet/etc. It’s sort of like when we ask ourselves what is responsible for the obesity epidemic, maybe we should look to what has changed in our food supply. In this case, when we wonder what is responsible for the fragmentation of society — or more locally, why our kids spend more time watching basketball on youtube than shooting in the courts — maybe we should look to what the big change over the last 15 years has been (internet, cell phones, social media).
It’s one reason I like your blog. It’s closer to what we dreamed 20 years ago the internet was supposed to evolve into.
Anyway, thanks again. Will do my best to implement.
That’s a hell of a compliment. Thanks.
Happy to advise on backpacking and I have ALL the gear if you need to borrow anything. Harriman PArk isn’t far from you and they have some really cool shelters/camping areas.