Planning a party for teenagers isn’t the easiest thing in the world. They are becoming independent and have their own tastes and interests. They depend more on their peer group than on you. But they still need you, too, even if they don’t like to show it.
When the nice weather rolls around, your teen may want to have a bunch of friends over to hang out in the yard. That’s great because it will let you keep an eye on what’s going on. At the same time, they don’t need or want you hovering over them. So it’s important to strike a careful balance between being helpful and staying out of the way.
What should you do, then? Here are some suggestions for the role you can play in a teen get-together in the backyard.
Help Plan The Menu And Cook
Some teens are organized enough to plan a menu themselves. But most won’t know how to calculate how much food and supplies they’ll need. And they’re probably going to want a ride to the store and bring everything home. (Most likely, they’ll ask for your help paying for it, too).
Ask them to draw up a list of who’s coming. From there, teach them how to plan how much food and drink they should buy. Of course, be sure that the menu (especially the beverages!) are age-appropriate.
Volunteering to handle the grilling is a wonderful way to pitch in while keeping an eye on things without being intrusive. Most teens aren’t going to want to take the time away from their friends for this task. Also, it’s good for safety. Even if your child is an accomplished grillmaster, you have to worry that others might not take safety around a hot grill seriously enough.
Ice cream is another favorite (for any age!). Sure, you can buy it, but an ice cream maker can be a fun investment, too. And it will help teach some basic principles of thermodynamics, while you’re at it!
Not every get-together requires decorations. But if it’s for a special occasion or a theme party, your teen might want to add decorations.
You may have been through this before, so you know how big signs should be, how many balloons to buy, or what fills the space best. This experience can be an invaluable guide.
Of course, someone has to make or buy the materials, too. And parents usually get called on for that. It can be a fantastic bonding moment!
Suggest Activities And Help Set Them Up
With younger children, it was necessary to organize every detail of their activities to keep them engaged. Older kids, though, usually don’t want or need that pressure. However, it’s still important that there be opportunities for them to entertain themselves.
Sometimes, that might mean letting them move to the den to play games or watch a movie. But outdoor activities are great, too. This can keep them from retreating into their cell phones or breaking up into tiny cliques.
Giant Jenga is one fun idea. You can even build your own set without too much trouble. It’s highly interactive
Horseshoes might seem like it’s out of the distant past, but for adolescents, that’s often the coolest thing about it. Be sure to advise them about safety, though.
Lawn Twister is another easy one. You can use the spinner from a regular Twister game and paint the dots right on the grass or use colored chalk to mark the patio with them.
Of course, every teen gathering calls for music. Help set up speakers connected to their phone or computer. Talk about appropriate playlists and volume levels, too, because the sound is bound to carry over to the neighbor’s house. But overall, let them choose the music and enjoy themselves with it.
A pool party is always welcome in the summer months. Be sure that it’s been treated ahead of time. If you do open the pool, an adult should be present at all times. Kids can forget safety rules, especially when in a group. Or they may be distracted and not notice if someone is in distress.
Don’t forget to shock your pool after heavy use, too.
Again, make suggestions but don’t force anything. Give them the freedom to make appropriate decisions and support them as much as you can. Encourage them and give pointers. Put your foot down if necessary – but only if necessary. It’s their party; let them enjoy it.
Many older teens will have drivers’ licenses and even their own cars. Younger ones won’t. Other parents might not be able to get away to drop their kids off or pick them up. If possible, make yourself available to help out. Communicate with them to make sure it’s ok with them, of course.
This may not be possible if you’re the only one home to supervise the party. But if your partner or other responsible adults are chaperoning, being a driver can allow more kids to attend and get there and home safely.
Respect Other Parents’ Rules
Parents need to support one another. Yes, you can have your own rules about behavior in your house. But also respect what others expect of their children. If your teen’s guest has to be home at a certain time, remind them when it’s time to leave. If they’re restricted to a certain diet, gently encourage them to respect it (unless you know they have a food allergy – in that case, you need to be firmer). Don’t suggest they break the rules of their own home.
With teens, it can be next to impossible to get to know everyone’s parents. Adult schedules are busy and so are the kids. But do your best to share your phone number with the parents in case emergencies arise. Also, ask the kids to let them know where they are – including when they arrive and when they leave.
Teens love to get together, and your backyard might be an ideal space for them to gather for a party or just to hang out. As a parent, you have to accept the responsibility for what goes on, but you don’t want to crowd out your teen either. But offering advice and assistance can be an invaluable way to help them enjoy themselves. At the same time, you can be sure they’re acting responsibly.