How to Keep Your Cool With Your Teen Scrooge

Holidays are often steeped in treasured traditions you and your family have enjoyed for years, so when your teen shows little or no interest in the holidays or special occasions, it hurts! It doesn’t mean that they love you or their siblings any less – it’s just that they would rather spend less time with the family, and more time with their friends. (I know, it’s like they’re pouring acid on your wounds!!!)

It’s all normal really, but keeping your teen involved in some capacity is key to keeping the traditions alive and your relationship with your teen strong.


The holidays often bring our memories of years past front and center. We share photos and talk about our children’s first Easter egg hunt, or the time they screamed when sitting on Santa’s lap. We can fondly look back at how our kids have grown from babies not having much involvement, to them taking part and often leading the familiar family ritual of hanging lights or leading a prayer at Easter dinner.

Unfortunately (well, it’s not a bad thing, but it is bad for you), your teen now has a social life. They may have little interest in singing carols around the piano or spending an afternoon at great Aunt Sarah’s house—especially when they would rather be playing video games with their buddies or snapchatting with their BFF’s. It’s bound to sting, especially when holidays are often stressful with the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves. We think “Why aren’t they interested in family gatherings anymore, and why won’t they help decorate the tree like they used to?”

Don’t Give Up

Just because teens are naturally drawn to their friends and vie for peer acceptance and approval over your family, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about you anymore. You don’t have to play the guilt card to get them involved, but if you gently encourage your teen to be a part of a holiday and its traditions, it will provide a strong foundation that they can always depend on, and remind them that they can always count on family to be there for them. (Like when their friends decide to drop them like a hot potato just when winter formal is around the corner and everyone’s chipping in for the limo… ) One day, they too will pass on these treasured traditions to their own family.

Realistic Expectations…

… as in very low expectations for your teens involvement. If you drag them to family gatherings or events they’re not interested in, it will likely result in behavior that isn’t too festive and a real mood killer for everyone else. It’s still important to set some clear expectations, but pick your battles. You’ll keep your sanity and will be happily surprised if and when they do decide to join the party.

If they show up for the annual holiday family photo wearing a tattered graphic T-shirt and torn jeans, so be it; at least they’re in the photo! They don’t want to spend the afternoon at great Aunt Sarah’s? Let ‘em go to the mall with a friend, but remind them that they’re expected to meet Aunt Sarah later for a family dinner.

Revamping Traditions

If your teen doesn’t want to say the blessing they always have in years past during the lighting of your menorah, keep cool. While the ritual is important, they can still be a silent observer and appreciate it in their own way. Again, if you push your teen too much, it will only end up in an argument and hurt feelings. Better to have them with you and silent, than have a tapestry of angry emotions in the air. They may not be interested at all in the rituals of Hanukkah this year, but maybe you could suggest serving the homeless or visiting members of your synagogue that are in nursing homes. Surprisingly, teens can be self-centered, but have times when they are unselfish. Who knows? You may have another meaningful tradition to carry on.

Let It Go

The holidays can be stressful enough without an emotionally charged teen trying to find their way in the world. Pulling away from family traditions, especially at any holiday, can be a way that teens begin to separate from their parents. They may feel more empowered to speak up about their beliefs, or struggle with how to make them their own. When they choose to assert their individuality during a holiday, step back, take a deep breath, and let it go. Rest assured, your teen won’t be a scrooge forever.

How do you encourage your too-cool-for-school teen to get involved in holiday traditions? 

Tags : celebrations   holidays   christmas   hanukkah   teens   

Lindsey Velasco
I'm very lucky with my teen. Although she enjoys her social life and privacy, she's always been my go-to gal when it comes to the holiday seasons. She loves our traditions!