Staying connected to teens during the school-year can be tough. Throughout the summer months parents often have more of an opportunity to spend quality time with teens by taking trips to the beach, going out for ice cream, or taking day trips to the zoo or Canada’s Wonderland, etc. As the weather cools, and darkness creeps in during the early evening (and late afternoon – ugh), it can become challenging to find fun Fall activities that appeal to adolescents.
In fact, you may start to notice that your son or daughter is staying indoors and glued to their electronics a bit more than usual and feeling even more resistant to spending quality time together as a family.
Finding activities that appeal to your teen that enable the two of you to foster a connection can be challenging to say the least some days. Throughout this stage of development attachment relationships change – primary caregivers (usually mom or dad) tend to take a backseat as the main attachment figure and are replaced by peers.
So, teens are often far more interested in spending time with friends than they are with their families. This does not mean that they do not love or care for their family members, they are simply at a stage of social development that focuses heavily on peer acceptance and belonging.
Where can you go and what can you do to bridge the gap this Fall?
Here are the top places in and around Milton that share with the parents of the teens I support:
- Andrew’s Scenic Acres: This farm hosts an animal corral, wagon rides, apple and pumpkin picking, a large playground, hay mountains, a ‘haunted’ pathway, and a beautiful dahlia field. If you have a teen in your life who is heavily into photography or social media, they may appreciate the opportunity to snap some pictures for their Instagram, and your family will have a place to connect and pick some pumpkins to carve together come late October.
- Springridge Farm: Harvest Festival weekends start on Saturday September 22nd through October 28th. While many of the activities at Springridge Farm are catered towards wee ones (ex. ‘spooky boo barn’, spider web climber, fun farm yard, singing chicken shows), your teen may value the nostalgia that visiting this farm brings (particularly if they have been going there since they were little!). They may also enjoy shopping around the Barn Market for Fall décor, farm fresh baking, or having a one-on-one lunch date with mom or dad featuring some delicious apple cider. Going for a lunch date with mom can feel very grown up and allow teens the freedom to speak what is on their minds without worrying about siblings or at-home distractions getting in the way.
- Canada’s Wonderland’s Halloween Haunt OR Legends of Horror at Casa Loma Toronto: If your teen enjoys horror movies… or just enjoys watching mom squirm, they may appreciate escaping the confines of Milton to do a bit of ‘scream-laughing’ as a family.
- Hiking Trails: Fall is a wonderful time to escape into nature and get some much-needed exercise. We are lucky enough to live in an area surrounded by hiking (and biking!) trails all around the escarpment. Stepping away from your home and out into nature removes you from your daily distractions and can give you an opportunity to speak freely. Here are just a few of the places you can go:
- Rattlesnake Point
- Hilton Falls
- Crawford Lake
- Mount Nemo
- Kelso Conservation Area
Want to stay in? Here are my Fall-Themed tips:
- Carve Pumpkins: Andrew’s Scenic Acres Farm and Winery, Springridge Farm, and Stonehaven Farm Market are just a few of the places you can pop into to purchase pumpkins as a family. Is your son/daughter really into a certain TV show or Netflix series? Perhaps the two of you can look online for a pumpkin stencil to suit something they truly enjoy and share in that experience. Don’t be surprised if you get left to do a majority of the grunt work though!
- Host a scary movie marathon
- Enjoy a bonfire featuring your favourite ghost stories
- Fall baking or cooking can be a yummy way to bring families together. Not only is baking a form of creative expression that has been linked to over-all well-being and stress relief, it’s a life skill that your teen will carry with them forever.
- Roast pumpkin seeds
My Final Thoughts:
It can be tough to connect with your teen once they have outgrown many of the childhood activities your family once enjoyed. This elucidates the importance of meeting your teen where they are at. If they are motivated by getting a drink from Starbucks, or a picture at an apple orchard that they can post on Instagram, those may be your ‘ins’ for connection… as difficult as connecting might feel some days.
Throughout the tween and teen years it can be easy for parents to start to feel ‘redundant’; however, it is important to remember that your big kids still need you.
They just need you in a different way! While they need more independence and responsibility, they still need limits and boundaries and connection. You are their ‘secure base’, their safety net that they can fall into or return to when the world feels like it’s just too big.
By: SHELYNN GERVAIS MACP, YOUTH COUNSELLOR
I have an honours undergraduate degree in English and Family & Child Studies from the University of Guelph, a partially completed Bachelor of Education from Western University in Intermediate and Senior English and Family Studies, and a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology degree from Yorkville University. I have worked with children and young adults as an educator, a coach, a camp counsellor, a distress line operator, and mentor since I was a high school student myself, and I value the honour of sharing in the chaotic and exciting experience that is adolescence with you. Under the supervision of Counting Butterflies’ Clinical Director and Registered Psychotherapist Michelle Brans, I specialize in helping teens and families through: anxiety and depression, social and school challenges, perfectionism and low-self esteem.
Worried that you have completely lost your connection with your teen? Are you feeling your teen’s mood and anger is getting in the way of healthy and strong connection with you?
I would love to offer you a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation to help you figure out how we can work together to support you build a better relationship with your teen.