A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Spend More Quality Time with Your Teen with 23 Activities They’ll Actually Love

Updated: Jun. 17, 2022

We asked teens to spill their favorite ways to hang out with Mom and Dad—and you will be seriously surprised at their top picks.


Volunteer at a kid’s charity

“One of my favorite things I do with my mom is to volunteer together. We have packed meals for families, worked on clean-up crews, hosted medical patients who need a place to stay when they’re in town for a procedure, and other cool stuff. My dad and I also collect old bikes and fix them up to give to kids who need a bike. It sounds like work but it’s really fun and gives us time to talk. Plus it helps me see how other kids live and be more happy with my life.” —Abby S., 14, Omaha, Nebraska.


Make a lovebox

“One year for Valentine’s Day my mom gave me a little plastic mailbox with a love note in it. I left it in front of my bedroom door and now we trade notes back and forth in it. Sometimes it’s easier to write her something than it is to tell her, like when I’m really mad. She also leaves me treats in it sometimes.” —Sam A., 14, Denver, Colorado.


Game night

“I love playing board and card games with my parents. It’s something we’ve done together since I was little. We get really competitive, but we always have fun.” —Thomas H., 17, Ridgecrest, California. (Make sure these classic board games on your shelf.)


Have a kids’ day out

“Every once in a while my mom and I will do a girls’ day. We go shopping and out to lunch and then we binge-watch a show together after the little kids—I have three younger brothers!—are all in bed. I love the one-on-one time with her. I feel like I can talk about anything and I don’t have to worry about my brothers listening in.”—Lauren H., 17, Parker, Colorado


Explore the great outdoors

“I love to go camping with my dad. We go hiking and stuff, but the best part is the campfire. He taught me how to light one and make sure it stays burning. He’s great at outdoors stuff so I learn a lot from him!”—Lance P., 12, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Bonus: Test out these 40 favorite camping recipes.)


Learn a new skill together

“Probably my favorite way to hang out with my mom is to go shopping! But recently we learned how to can together,and we made a lot of jam. It ended up being a lot of fun. Honestly, my favorite things to do with her is anything that’s not cleaning! Chores are not good bonding time!”—Katie H., 14, Ridgecrest, California. (Need a primer on canning? Here’s how to preserve fruit.)


Go on a hike

“I like to go hiking with my mom or dad. It’s one of my favorite things to do anyhow and we get to see new stuff. There’s also lots of time to talk if I have something I’ve been thinking about a lot.”—Logan H., 14, Parker, Colorado. (Try out one of these spectacular summer hikes in the months ahead.)


Cook dinner together

“Our lives are so busy it’s hard to find time to be together sometimes. But I’ve learned one of the best times to talk to my mom is when she’s cooking. We make dinner together and chat about our days. Plus now I know how to cook a lot of things, which is a really great skill to have.” —Ethan A., 19, Columbus, Ohio


Hit the gym

“I learned how to lift weights from my mom, and now we’re both competitive powerlifters. We train together and always cheer each other on through the ups and the downs. She knows exactly what I’m going through.”—Holden P., 13, Fellsmere, Florida


Go to a coffee shop

“My mom and I go to Starbucks together. It’s our thing. She lets me get whatever drink I want and we sit and talk.” —Ryleigh G., 13, Warwick, New York. (Just make sure they’re not having too much caffeine.)


Family campouts

“I love camping with my family. It’s time we get to spend together without any distractions just talking and playing and whatever. My favorite memories are of camping trips!”—Cole P., 15, Boston, Massachusetts


Play a video game

“My mom and I are still playing Pokemon Go together. It gets us out and running around. And it’s fun to do something where I get to be the leader and teacher! We don’t even care that the craze is over.” —Adam G., 12, British Columbia


Take an adventure

“I’m an adrenaline junkie and I got that from my dad. We love to go on mini adventures where we try something crazy. So far we’ve done zip lining, dirt bikes, roller coasters, boxing, and kayaking. I want to do skydiving but my mom said no.”—Kenzie W., 14, Denver, Colorado


Walk and talk

“I’m one of six kids and it can be really hard to get my mom’s full attention. So it’s really special when we just go on walks together and she lets me talk about whatever is bothering me. It’s the most fun if it involves shopping! But really anywhere we can just walk around is good.”—Naomi C., 13, Logan, Utah.


Dance party

“My mom and dad and I sometimes have before-school dance parties to cheesy 80s music while getting ready. They are not afraid to let it all out! It makes us all laugh a lot and is a great start to my day.” —Anelise H., 13, Denver, Colorado


Get crafty

“My mom and I do crafts together. Our favorite is to make cards but she’s also teaching me how to sew, which I really like. We talk a lot and we make some really cute stuff.”—Kelsi J., 15, Allen, Texas. (Start with one of these simple, fun craft ideas.)


Play pranks

“My mom lets me plan our ‘date night’ together. Last time I decided we would buy treats, put them on plates, and take them to people. We left the plate on the porch and doorbell-ditched and ran away. It was so fun and it felt good to do something nice for someone out of the blue.” —Maya M., 14, Salt Lake City, Utah

iStock/Kokkai Ng

Share a passion

“My dad got me into the Lord of the Rings books when I was really little. He used to read them to me at bedtime. We’ve seen all the movies together, play the games, collect the toys, and talk about it together. We’re even planning a trip to New Zealand someday to see where it was filmed. Geeky? Yeah. But we love it.” —Justin N., 18, Seattle, Washington


Get cultural

“My mom is Japanese but I was born here so she makes sure I stay in touch with my Japanese roots by taking me to see plays, teaching me words in Japanese, and showing me how to make traditional dishes. I’m really good at making temaki, a type of sushi. It makes me feel connected to her and to my family in Japan.” —Ruby O., 16, Los Angeles, California. (Or talk about these customs that are fine in America but considered rude in other countries.)


Tell family stories

“There’s a big family book that shows all of our ancestors and history going back for generations. I love to sit and look through it with my dad. We read stories about people or he tells me stories that he remembers. I’m going to do that someday with my own kids.”Allie T., 17, Provo, Utah. (Don’t have a book? Go online! Just make sure you know the secrets that ancestry trackers won’t tell you.)


Have a religious ritual

“Every night my mom comes in and says a prayer with me in my room. It helps me fall asleep and it’s a good time to talk. I just like to hear her pray over me; it makes me know she loves me.” —Jesse K., 12, Dallas, Texas


Catch a movie

“My parents and I, our thing is watching movies together. We don’t just watch the blockbusters either—we see art films and foreign films, and old movies too. But my favorite part is when we discuss them after. We love to critique movies. And we are always quoting them to each other.”—Mason L., 17, Grand Rapids, Minnesota. (Here are 16 funny family movies you’ll all enjoy.)


Play a sport

“My dad and I play soccer together every Saturday. We’re not very good but it’s fun to kick the ball around. Then we go get Slurpees.” —Calvin S., 11, Atlanta, Georgia