Being able to stay connected to teenagers in your extended family can sometimes be a daunting task. Their lives are busy with school, jobs, and after-school activities and often there is just not enough time to be physically together or present in their lives.
But busy schedules and long distance should not be an excuse to be disconnected to the teenagers in our family that we love.
7 Ways to connect with teenage family members
Send a Card:
Sometimes the easiest, most obvious thing to do is the hardest thing in the world. Kids of all ages love to get something in the mail. Recently, I dropped a card in the mail with a $10.00 gift card to a fast food restaurant. My nephew was headed off to boot camp and I wanted to take them out for ice cream. Since I couldn’t personally be there to enjoy the treat with them, I decided to send it in the mail so they could have a little bit of time to go out and share an ice cream or chicken nuggets before he started a new adventure. It didn’t cost me much money but it meant something special to them.
Text a Note:
One afternoon I knew one of my nieces was having a hard day. Instead of calling her or taking the time to send a card, I just sent a quick text.
Ask their Advice:
Teens sometimes struggle to find their identity and occasionally question their self worth and value. But they are amazingly brilliant on things that we adults often don’t understand. When I have a question about social media, pop culture or a tech issue, teens often have the answer. I have occasionally called my high school niece and just asked her how to do something. Not only does she love sharing her knowledge but it also gives a place to connect even though we live far away.
Read their Favorite Book:
What books are the teens in your extended family reading? Stop by your local library and check out their favorite book. This will give you common ground so you will have something to talk about next time you are together.
Send a Frisbee (or BALL):
Want to really do something to stand out above the rest? Why not send them a ball, frisbee or Flying Card or something else completely random? There are various online companies that will send a custom present that is totally out of the ordinary.
I got the chance to use the SendABall Service a few years ago. Our mail carrier loved delivering our mail that day for sure!
Follow them on Social Media:
This one can be kind of tricky. Some teenagers love to have their family members follow them and interact on social media: others, not so much. I love following my nieces and nephews on social media so I can see what is going on in their lives in an unobtrusive way. Occasionally I will like their posts, just so they know that I am following their lives. Not only does this help me stay current with what is happening in their lives, but it also gives me a better look at the young adults they are becoming.
Do you remember when you were a teenager? Sometimes you just wanted to be able to talk and have someone listen without hearing advice or judgment. As adults, we need to take the time to just sit and listen to our teens.
How do you stay connected with the teens you love? Got any tips? I’d love to hear!
Excerpts of this article appeared in the print edition of the Advocate Messenger, Danville, Kentucky.