One of the first signs your child is becoming a teenager is their need to do things with their friends, and without you. Suddenly, hanging out with mom or dad isn’t the cool thing anymore, and you may find yourself struggling to find activities you can do together without your teen rolling their eyes.
But never fear – you do have options. One of the easiest ways to get some hang out time with your son or daughter is going to the movies together. My 16-year-old son and I go to the movies together often and we enjoy every trip. I talked with him about why he doesn’t mind going out with his mom and he gave me some great feedback, and so here are four tips on how to make movie night more fun for you and your teen:
1. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
If you want your teens to willingly hit the theater with you, you’ll have to let them pick the movie. As much as you want to see that new romantic comedy, you need to give them the choice – even if it means peeking through your fingers at the new scary flick they’ve been waiting to see. You have to step out of your comfort zone and experience something they enjoy.
This shows them that you care about their interests and, if you just can’t sit through more than one slapstick comedy, offer a trade. If they pick the first movie, then you get to pick the next one. For example: my son wants to see Man of Steel and, in exchange, we’ll see my pick The Lone Ranger. I’m not big on Superman, and he’s not usually interested in remakes. But this way, we both get to experience something new while also exercising cooperation and communication.
2. Don’t End the Trip After the Movie
Movies are fun, but they don’t allow much conversation. Make the theater your first stop, then go out for a bite to eat afterwards. You’ll be able to talk about the movie and have some actual bonding time that doesn’t feel like a pressured "What’s going on in your life?" talk to your teen. Besides, everyone knows teenagers love to eat. It’s a surefire way to sweeten the deal if your son or daughter is reluctant to hit the movies with mom or dad.
3. Put the Cell Phones Away
One of the biggest problems my son and I had in the beginning was his cell phone. Even though he was enjoying the movie, I felt like his activity on his phone meant that he didn’t want to be there. When I asked him why he did that, he explained that he was having a good time but I checked mine whenever we were out somewhere, so why couldn’t he do the same? Bingo. If your teen isn’t getting your full attention, then they aren’t going to give you theirs.
4. Don’t Try to Act Cool
You may think you are bonding with your teen when you pose next to the cardboard cutout in the theater lobby or start pointing out "cute girls" in the crowd. But, it may just be embarrassing. They don’t want us to act like one of their friends. Why? Because we stink at it. The fastest way to ruin the chances of a second movie night with your teen is by trying to act like a teen. Just relax and be yourself.
While the teenage years might bring new difficulties for parents, having fun together at the movies shouldn’t be one of them. Be yourself, be involved and buy popcorn. Lots of popcorn.
Kenda is the editor-in-chief of Remaking June Cleaver where she blogs about technology, entertainment, healthy living, and more. To read more by Kenda, visit RemakingJuneCleaver.com or follow her on Twitter @RemakingJune.