What are they learning?
For 2014 I'm issuing you a challenge. One that could affect our society for generations. Build one quality project a year, starting this year, with your teen until they leave home. And do the same with your grand kids. This could be a quilt, bike, tree house or something as simple as a box. But make it something that will give them the chance at developing creative genius. Make it something that will show that you value effort and innovation. Take control of one aspect of your teens overall education that can enhance their future no matter what path they choose to venture down.
To round out their academic knowledge you've got them enrolled in music, athletics, and social groups. Things that are enjoyable (play) and also develop their social/communication skills, leadership abilities, team work and confidence. Now is also the time to develop their psyche to think like creators, builders and problem solvers. The people society turns to when times are bad to fix problems.
With the elimination/modification of such subjects as art, home tech, woodshop, auto mechanics, etc... in our education system we've also eliminating the ability to encourage the spark that leads to genius. Architects begin by building birdhouses just as veterinarians by raising hamsters. Industrial designers with erector sets just as fashion designers with paper dolls. Even Wozniak (one of founders of Apple) began by building toys!
We need an outlet in society for coming generations to learn to think as builders and not just consumers because if all they know how to do is buy a solution to need we'll loose our innovative edge as a country in this world.
So this year, and every year hereafter, take the time to build one item in the craft world WITH your teens and be that mechanism that teaches innovation.