Teenage Grandchild Wants Shorter Family Dinners

Question:

Once a month, I host a family dinner with my husband, my daughter, her husband, and 3 grandsons. My 15-year-old grandson told me the time spent at our home is “‘too long.” He said he only wants to spend 2 hours at our house instead of 4 (which includes dinner, conversation, dessert, and games together).

What should I do with this information? Should I discontinue dinners, shorten the dinners, talk to my daughter, or do “nothing” and chalk it up to him wanting to go home and play video games on his computer?

Response:

This is a very reasonable request from your grandson. He did not ask you to discontinue the dinners, just shorten them for him. So, apparently, he values the time with you but may just have some other things that he wants to do.

Most kids spend less time with their family members and more time with their peers during their teenage years, and this is important for them as they begin to learn to be more independent.

Time with family members continues to be very important as well, so I encourage you to celebrate the time you have with him and encourage him to use his time with others in healthy ways such as being active.

However, his requests should not override those of his other family members. So, if he wants to engage for just 2 hours but other family members want to stay for 4 hours, he could be encouraged to bring some things with him that he can be done alone for the other 2 hours. Perhaps he could bring his computer, a book to read, or go for a walk.

The time you have invested in hosting family dinners is admirable and I encourage you to continue them. As your grandson gets older and moves through and past the teenage and post high school years, he will likely remember your dinners fondly and want to return to them at a later time. If you give him some space now, he is more likely to come back around.

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