Help for Parents Quarantined with Teens

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I was talking with a friend recently who expressed anxiety about the next several weeks, and I immediately empathized expressing my own concern over the pandemic. She interrupted my spewing of random medical statistics and said, “Oh, honey. It’s not the virus that makes me nervous. It’s being stuck in the house with all of my children for an unforeseen amount of time!”  I laughed. Because I empathized.

The coronavirus has likely been the topic of conversation with your teens as it has been with mine. Don’t miss this opportunity to remind them of the truths found in Scripture. The God of the heavens and earth is still in complete control (Colossians 1:16-17). He has not left his throne, and his power does not replace his love and compassion (Psalm 51). We serve a good and gracious God who commands us not to fear, not because He is flippant or uncaring but because He is loving and desires that we trust Him in the midst of uncertainty.

As we seek to trust Him and guide our children to do the same, we are also living in the reality that containment in the same house for a significant amount of time can cause family frustration and tension. The last time my sixteen-year old son expressed boredom, I told him to “be creative.” Shortly after, I found my eleven-year-old daughter bound to the banister while listening to my son’s directions to try and free herself from his knots. It was creative. I’ll give him that.

So, for those who are anxious about being “stuck” at home with teens, here are a few suggestions as to how you can survive a quarantine:

Worship Together

Most churches are providing live-stream services or sermons, and if this is not the case for your home church, there are many Bible believing churches who are streaming services, and most pastors would be delighted to share a few follow-up questions to their text if they aren’t doing that already. Open your Bibles, and don’t miss worshipping together on Sunday morning!

Turn the Music On

This may or may not be a norm in your household, but when the family is sitting around together, consider turning off the TV and turning on the music. I’m well aware that teenagers prefer to put in their air pods and enjoy their own music, so what has worked well with the varying musical tastes represented in our home (the gamut runs from Amy Grant to Post Malone) is to have each person pick a song they want to play over the speakers. We’ve had a lot of fun with this in the past, even amidst the eye-rolling when dad chooses his beloved 80’s music.

As parents, you might also consider playing a few albums that speak truth during these uncertain times. Here are just a few to add to your list:

  1. The Porter’s Gate Neighbor Songs -This is great album; in particular, Audrey Assad’s “Nothing to Fear” is a beautiful and powerful song that speaks into our anxieties.
  2. All That You Can’t Leave Behind –U2’s “Walk On,” “In a Little While,” and “Grace,” all have themes pertinent to our times with some uplifting melodies.
  3. God’s Highway – Sandra McCracken’s soothing album is filled with beautiful words and melodies that are encouraging to the soul.
  4. Only A Holy God – All of the albums from CityAlight are excellent, but we have enjoyed this one in particular. Many of the songs are upbeat and the lyrics are filled with Biblical truths about the God we serve.

Get Out the Games

Kudos to you parents who have successfully gathered your teens and played a family game together. I have always admired your kind. My youngest, who is currently eleven, would play Monopoly with her parents all day if she could, but my seventeen and sixteen-year-old would consider this scenario, “torture.” If your teens are like mine, give a game a try anyway, and consider richening the pot with a chance to pick what’s for dinner. I have never regretted persistence in this whether it’s a quick game of cards or a longer game of Monopoly. We have had the most success with Snake Oil and Hearing Things games. Both are fun, unique, and interactive.

And parents, this may be an opportune time to find out a little bit about the video games your teens enjoy playing. I have no earthly idea how to play them, so while I’m sincerely attempting to figure out how to use the controller on Mario Kart, build a house on Minecraft, or avoid the aliens on the Xbox games, my kids are laughing. And I’m secretly smiling because these moments are sweet and memorable.

Watch A Movie

I don’t think a good movie together is a cop-out for quality family time. We’ve had some interesting and pertinent conversations with our teens related to movies we’ve watched together. Here are a few recent movies that could potentially spark some valuable conversation (Disclaimer: Not all these movies will be age appropriate for all kids):

  • An Inspector Calls – A movie about an upper-class family who are visited by the mysterious Inspector Goole. See if you can figure out some of the underlying lessons in this unique tale.
  • Lion – One of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in a long time. This is based on the true story of a five-year-old named Saroo who gets lost on a train, taking him thousands of miles across India and away from his home and family. Poignant, entertaining, and well-worth watching.
  • A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood – The story of Fred Rogers is one that is sure to spark some good questions as a family. His kindness and empathy are beautifully portrayed in this well-done well-acted movie.
  • A Hidden Life – This is a movie based on the true story of an Austrian farmer who faces the threat of execution for refusing to fight for the Nazis. To quote writer/singer Andrew Peterson: “Please, please go see a Hidden life. I’ve never seen a film that was so spiritually edifying, so full of longing, so convicting, or so beautifully made.”
  • Ford Vs. Ferrari – This is a fun movie to watch with your teens that will bring out the laughter as well as the tears.

Maybe ask your teen about one of their favorite movies and consider giving it a try. There will no doubt be times of tension with the extra time at home during these unique days, but with some intentionality, it can also be viewed as gift from God to deepen relationships and create new memories.

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