How to Survive Thanksgiving with Teenagers

Ah…those endless days at home or at your grandmother’s house, with no one but family in sight. If you’re not out of town, it doesn’t really matter, because everyone else is anyway… None of the family cares about the things you care about, and they all make it very obvious by ignoring you during Thanksgiving dinner. All the worser if you’re a teenager with a significant other significant enough for you to want to spend Thanksgiving Dinner with him or her instead of your family…but apparently not significant enough for your family to allow it. So. Typical.

Of course, if you’re on the other end of that experience, your once lovely and family-devoted child has suddenly decided that any other random family or friend is better than the ones at home who have showered time, attention, and love on him or her. Your child has suddenly developed a major attitude and, indecipherably, become a vegetarian last week and decided to lectured everyone in the family about the poultry industry over the turnkey Thanksgiving dinner… And suddenly you think that foisting the kid off to some other unsuspecting family might not have been such a bad idea after all…

So what to do? Several Holiday with Teenagers Survival Hints:

  1. Remember that teenagers’ connections with their friends and sweethearts is very, very important, even during family holidays. Consider letting them spend time with whoever is around, particularly a boyfriend or girlfriend, so long as they don’t completely neglect their own family. Everyone will be happier.
  2. Also remember that teenager’s convictions are very, very important, especially when they sense that someone is being dismissive of them. So if you think that your teenager has a value that might be challenged by the holidays, talk about it with them before hand. Together, come up with a plan of when and how to talk about it with the rest of the family. Give credence to your kid’s values (even if you think they will be short lived), and then make sure that the rest of the family does as well.
  3. Breathe deeply. These teen years are short and passionate. Enjoy them for what they are. As with the sweetnesses and horrors of toddlerhood, they too will pass.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. Wonderful post! I’ve just moved to Colorado, where all my in-laws live. Our Thanksgiving dinner, hosted by my mother-in-law, will include one pre-teen (my almost-11-yr-old), and 5 teenaged nieces and nephews. I’ve truly enjoyed reading this blog; it has helped me to reach out to these terrific kids since I’ve moved here. I enjoy them all.
    Thanks for your good work, Dr. Rayne.

  2. I love your advice for its respect towards teenagers; their relationships are important and worth consideration by parents, especially during holidays. Bravo!

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