Sue Scheff: Connect with Your Teens

Jennifer Wagner has an exciting and up-to-date/tech Blog that keeps you informed about today's teens and what they are up to. Her interview with Vanessa Van Petten is fantastic! Vanessa is a teen author and has an excellent website called Radical Parenting!

Source: Jennifer Wagner - Connect with Your Teens Through Pop Culture and Technology

Today you are being treated to a guest post by Vanessa Van Petten, the teen author of the parenting book “You’re Grounded!” She writes a parenting blog, Radical Parenting, with 12 other teen writers from the kid's perspective to help parents. Her work as a young family peacemaker have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Teen Vogue, CNN, Fox News, CBS Miami and much more!

6 Ways to Bond With Your Teen or Tween

Even though I am not a parent, I know how hard it can be to get kids—especially angsty teens to connect and open up to parents. Writing a parenting blog from a teen’s perspective has forced me to look back at my own teen years (only 3 years ago) and feel really, really bad for my parents.

My moods, like most teens, ranged from benevolent to furious to exhausted. We can be horrible. Parents today have to be a mix of a hotel concierge, taxi service, maid, technology spy and health food marketer. I wish we were all less hormonal, but that probably will not happen anytime soon so here are a few ideas for bonding with your teen.

1. Always Have Conversation Starters Ready

Instead of asking the standard questions about school and weekend plans in car rides home or at the dinner table always have some thought provoking questions at the ready. These will help you bond and get to know your child, as well as helping them learn to articulate their feelings.


What is your proudest accomplishment?OrWhat is the greatest song ever written?OrThere is a whole list of teen and tween conversation starters here. (

2. Take A Usual Activity and Turn It Upside Down

This works really well with teens or tweens who are really resistant to trying anything new. If they are couch potatoes make a TV scavenger game where in an hour of TV whoever can catch the most cliché phrases, brunettes or “likes” in a Disney Show gets to go to Ice Cream. If they are really into Baseball or Tennis have them put together a free clinic for younger kids on your street. If they love to talk on the phone and gossip with friends about shopping have them start a new fashion podcast with you. This will show them you want to do something they like, but you want them to do something with it and with you!

3. Have them Plan Something

Giving your teens complete control to plan something can actually be a great bonding activity because you are empowering them to make choices for you, which can reverse the roles and have them act more adult. Have them plan a day trip where they can decide where and when you go, where you eat and how to decipher maps. While this is going on they will be in a more take-charge mode and you can make awesome conversation.

4. Do A New Activity

Take a dance/sushi/soccer skills class or workshop together. Anything you can do to get them out of their habit will help open up new conversation for you and them. You can also both learn new skills. Here is another great list of 10 Activity Ideas for your teen

5. Bond With Their Friends

You can learn a lot about your child from their friends and you can earn some serious brownie points from them if you make an effort with them. Host a game night or movie night for their friends with the stipulation that you get to run some of the Ice Breakers that they play with you as the host. You might have a little trouble getting started, but once you start playing some of these games, everyone will get into it—including you! RoseMary Honnold lists some great ones. (

6. Find a Cause

This one is important for their development as well. Appeal to something they are passionate about whether it is the environment, pets, music or reading and decide to make it your cause together. If they like music, there are great programs that bring music into lower income schools or encourage music lessons in violent areas as another release who always need music and instruments. You can your kid can volunteer or start an instrument drive. If they like puppies have them take your dogs to local hospitals or elderly homes. This is good for the community and your relationship. Here is a great article on 20 Volunteer Ideas for Teens (

If you liked this post, please check out the rest of my blog at a parenting blog from the kid’s perspective!

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