4 fun ways to bond with your tweens

There are lots of mother-son and father-daughter dances around this time of year, which is a great way for parents to bond with their younger children. But what about quality one-on-one time with their older kids?

Turns out that the Western suburbs of Chicago offer lots of great opportunities for parents to have fun with their tweens and teens. These activities are so awesome, your kids won’t even mind putting their phones away.

If your kid loves games, head to

Main Event

in Warrenville

Spend the day playing laser tag, bowling or pool, or hang out in the gaming gallery featuring more than 100 virtual and interactive games that run the gamut from Star Wars: Battle Pod to Giant Connect Four. If you’re feeling up for adventure and want to impress the kids, try out the Gravity Ropes. You can also grab food here. Discuss your victories and plan your next activities (as well as learn a little bit about their friends and school) over pizza.

If your kid loves music and theater, check out

Hairspray at the Paramount Theater

in Aurora

This production of the charming, high energy musical at the Paramount Theater has earned rave reviews from critics for good reason; it’s a blast! It’s rated PG, so best for older kids, and it raises several important issues, including the importance of individuality, the pressure to conform and equality. Attending this show together is not only a fun experience, it could be the start of several important conversations.

If you have a kid who loves to try new food, dine at

Fogo de Chao

in Naperville

When I asked my eighth grader her favorite places to spend quality time with a parent, she said, “Food is always good.” Tweens and teens can eat. And eat. And eat. They can do exactly that when you visit the new Fogo de Chao in Naperville’s Freedom Commons just off I-88. With six different kinds of beef and three kinds of pork, as well as chicken and lamb, chances are you’ll find something your kid loves if they’re a meat eater. Vegetarians have lots of options at the Market Table and there are gluten-free options. It’s a chance to broaden their palate. Sure, the Brazilian steakhouse is a splurge, but it feels more like a special event than a regular old meal.

If your kid is cold blooded, visit your favorite Froyo or ice cream place

Yes, it’s freezing out, but have you noticed the number of kids wearing shorts? Temperature isn’t as big a deal to older kids. Even those who are sensitive to it are still willing to eat ice cream and frozen yogurt any time of year. It may seem crazy to us adults, but that makes it even more appealing to our kids. Either visit your favorite spot or find somewhere new to visit from this list. Go crazy and let them get all the toppings they want. The longer it takes to eat, the more bonding time you have with them.

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