Every group of teenage friends usually has that one house with the “cool parents” where everyone can hang out. It’s usually a place where there isn’t much judgment but plenty of snacks and a teen-friendly place to hang like a garage, living room or basement.
There are two types of parents who don’t mind having teens over all the time. One type allows the kids to drink and party because, “you’re gonna do it anyway, might as well do it here.” The other kind likes having kids around so they can be sure they don’t get into that type of trouble.
Jeremy Serrano, a Lutheran pastor in Northern California who has three children ages 12, 15 and 17, recently went viral on TikTok for explaining why parents should strive to “Be that house!” where kids hang out.
Be that house! #parenting #parentsoftiktok #progressiveclergy
“I was talking to another parent the other day and they asked me, ‘Why do you always have teenagers over at your house?'” Serrano said on TikTok. “One of the things that we’ve worked really hard on is being the house that the teenage friends of my children want to hang out at.”
The Serrano house is a teenagers’ paradise. It’s stocked with snacks and has an ax-throwing target, basketball hoop and trampoline.
“My wife and I, we intentionally ask our children’s friends what kind of food and drinks they like and then we make sure that we have those things on hand for them,” he said in the video.
“It’s just one of the best things that we’ve ever done,” added Serrano. “Because we get to know our kids’ friends and then we know that they’re hanging out here.”
The house may be a place where kids can let loose, but there’s no illicit partying happening. “We have boundaries and don’t allow that here,” he told Today. “In fact, I’d lose credibility with my children by not providing boundaries.”
The TikTok post received a lot of positive comments from people who loved growing up in “that house.”
“My mother law told me once… food, drinks, and activities will always be cheaper than lawyers, legal fees, and therapists,” anmccoy74 wrote. “This was my house growing up and my mom said that when I went away to college she lost not just one son but more like 5 sons,” Gridpod added.
“I’ve always said I want to be the house the kids go hang out at so I can be a trusted place for them but most importantly my kids tell me their lives,” Addie Davis wrote.
Serrano told Today that the teens are comfortable coming to him for advice because of the open environment he’s created. “I was really honored that my children pointed their friends to me—the first time it happened I was like, ‘Whoa that is a big deal,'” he said. “My rule is, they can share our conversations with anyone they want, but I won’t. If their parents ask if we’ve talked, I won’t lie, but I’ll point them back to their children.”
After his post went viral, the pastor posted a subsequent video where he shared some tips on how to create “that house.”
Replying to @moeffinmary tip#1 be a non judgmental presence. #parenting #parentingtips
“I think the number one way to be ‘that house’ is to be parents that provide a non-judgmental presence and non-judgmental listening to your kids’ friends,” Serrano said.
He added that it’s important to “really get to know their sides of things. To really try to understand how they’re feeling in response to situations.” Serrano says parents shouldn’t think of what the teens are saying as “good or bad” but just to “be there and listen to them.”
In the end, having “that house” is all about creating a great environment for the entire family. “We get to be involved in our children’s lives,” he says. “And provide a safe space among chaos in the world.”