Ask an Expert: What can I do about my 13-year-old who doesn’t want to do family things anymore?

Teenager doesn't want to do things with family

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If a 13-year-old decides he/she does no longer want to go out with the rest of the family (to visit uncles or go to church etc) what is the smartest course of action without being a dictator?

Wanting to avoid hanging out with the family is a pretty normal part of adolescence that is often a result of the social. emotional and physical changes that begin to take place as they hit puberty. As children get older they crave that greater independence and see time away from the family as one of the ways to gain that experience.

At 13 however, I think it is still fair for you as parents to expect kids to do things as a family. They still need to respect the family unit and your desire to have them still be present at certain outings. In saying that, perhaps you could come to some compromises with regard to them coming with you. There is no fun going out with a sulky teen that is burying their heads in a device, earphones on and not interacting, so there needs to be a compromise that suggests there are certain things they need to attend in order for them to enjoy the many privileges they have as a result of being part of your family.

Maybe you could suggest that they must go to uncle’s birthday barbecue and then when you get home they could have a friend over or go out somewhere with friends. I would try to communicate it in a way that suggests a need for balance between time with the family and time on their own or with friends.

Martine Oglethorpe, cyber safety consultant, family counsellor, speaker on parenting with technology,


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  1. Good answer Martine, I do think there needs to be a balance. I am very sympathetic to my two teens wanting to do their own thing and to not spend so much time with the rest of the family. It’s a long time since I was a teenager but I do remember well the horror of long family visits. We do bargain with our teenagers and tend not to be too demanding… but when we are firm and insist they come, they do toe the line.

    I find with the teens that if we are reasonable they can be too… not always! We do have consequences … and the treat of them for desperate moments… we pay the electricity bill and we own the modem, great bargaining tools. But I start in a place of knowing they need solitude and independence. Maybe this is easier as we still have the two younger children and so are often relieved not to take all four kids out with us.
    Seana – Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel recently posted..Our Top 21 Things To Do In Jervis Bay With KidsMy Profile



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