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We Discovered a Little Trick to Staying Connected With a Teen

Teen girl watching a retro 3D movie and eating popcorn in a theater.
Photograph by Getty Images

The teen years are for learning how to become independent, responsible, able to stand on your own two feet. Learning to separate from Mom and Dad is essential in getting there. But the road to independence can be kind of hard—for everyone. They need you less (they WANT you less!), but you're not out of the picture just yet.

Staying connected is key to getting through these years, but it's tough to compete with school, friends and that extra limb made of glass, microchips and everything on the internet—your teen's phone. Sometimes, just sitting next to each other is all the connection you get.

One of the best ways to make that happen is trading that little screen for a gigantic one—going out and seeing a movie. You've been going to movies together since they were little. And movies are still a favorite pastime for teens.

Why not squeeze back in on the fun?

There's something about the dark space of a movie theater—you're touching elbows, laughing at the same jokes and crying over the same drama—that reminds the both of you (without words, OMG, don't you dare say this in words!) you're still kind of among each other's favorite person. You've happily munched popcorn, sipped Cokes and watched animated princesses and talking Lego minifigs for years. Now you get superheroes, action, love stories and historical dramas. (All those hours and AMC tickets later, you're finally seeing movies on your "to watch" list!)

If you're missing your teen, who sleeps just down the hall, tell them you want to take them to the movies. When they say yes (And they will. #trust), follow these crucial Mom & Teen Movie Night steps:

1. Let them choose the movie (and even if it wasn't on your radar, decide right then and there that you've been wanting to see it,too).

2. Let them choose the time (Saturday night movies with you might feel complicated. Do not argue. Just go with it.)

3. Split a bag of popcorn—like you always do. (Better yet, text them this $10 shareable offer, where you can get 2 cameo Cokes and a popcorn at AMC Theatres. Teens just need to show their student ID to redeem the offer. They can use it when they're at AMC theaters with their friends, too.)

4. No toasts or tears before your first sips of Coke (seriously, get ahold of yourself.)

5. Take no offense if your offer to "talk about how the movie made you feel" gets shut down. (You've been doing that since they were toddlers, they've got this as teens. Just kick back and enjoy your teen screentime.)

6. End with a non-public hug and offer to do this again sometime soon.

7. Then do it again. Sometime soon. (AMC and Coke run promotions frequently, so be sure to check in for updates when you guys are picking a movietime.)

This post was sponsored by AMC Theatres and Coca-Cola. The opinions are completely my own and based on my experiences.

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