Are You Pushing Your Kids Away?

Written on May 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm , by

There’s one location where the majority of my childhood memories take place. A specific space that encompasses most of the good times, heartfelt laughter, terse political debates and parental scoldings for broken curfews. It’s within the family room of my childhood home.

In that room, worn sofas and overstuffed chairs were shadowed by athletic trophies, posters and crooked school photos in cheap frames. Inside its wood-paneled walls, backpacks and briefcases rested on the floor as we checked in with each other after school, after work and after life-events. Even now when I return there, a step into our family room magically transports me back to my past.

These days fewer kids may be enjoying all the experiences I had. Now, according a recent Wall Street Journal article, parents are hiring architects and spending huge amounts of money to create spaces for their teens to ‘hang-out’ at home. They are building fantasy rooms like teen lounges, offices for homework, sleepover spaces and recording studios.The irony is that although the kids may stay home more, the clear delineation of kid versus adult space can create more separation within the home. Isn’t the point of having your kids around you to create the opportunity to build family communication by sharing and creating memories?

A recent study indicated that parents maybe missing the mark. We assume that kids want their freedom, when in fact most teenagers want to talk to and spend more time with mom and dad. Time spent with parents and in particular fathers has been shown to increase self-esteem and social confidence in teenagers.

Maybe the point is this: Instead of putting up walls, we should tear them down around our tweens and teens. We should focus on communicating, listening and sharing in the same space. And we should put effort into creating long-lasting memories that can’t be designed but only experienced together in one room.

What do you think of creating teen ‘hang-outs’ in your home? Post a comment below and tell me.

Janet Taylor, M.D., M.P.H., is a mother of four, a psychiatrist in New York City and director of guest support for The Jeremy Kyle Show. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet.

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