A typical daily family schedule doesn't always allow for much family time or shared experiences. Parents work, children have after-school activities, and especially on the weekends teens live for their social life. Planning a fun family night is a good way to foster communication and bonding, but it has to be your teen's idea of fun, too.
One thing that families don't usually get to do on a regular basis is eat a meal together. Schedule a family meal (on a day when your teen doesn't have plans, of course) and prepare it together, giving everyone a responsibility. Keeping the computer and cell phones off limits is a good way to open up communication between all the members of the family. This is a good time to catch up on what is going on in everyone's life, parents as well as children. Families that eat together are more connected emotionally. Take the time to relax and laugh together.
A family dinner can be followed by a movie, with your teen involved in choosing the movie. Watching a movie together can help teens open up and share their thoughts. Movie themes and storylines can spark discussions on important life issues that might not be broached otherwise. Another option might be to bring out the board games; choose something the whole family will enjoy playing together. A family night of recalling shared experiences and stories can include looking at family albums together -- at pictures of yourself and your children at different ages and stages.
When family nights become a tradition, they are something that the whole family will look forward to. Take the time to plan a fun and relaxing evening when you can talk and laugh together.