Growing up, we all had that one friend’s house that we’d always go hang out at. Their parents had the best food, drinks, and just a welcoming, comfortable environment that made it the place to hang out as a kid. Now with more and more of us suddenly having teenagers of our own, we have to decide if we want our house to be that house. One dad on TikTok is explaining just how he and his wife make sure that their house is the one that their kids’ friends want to hang out at all the time.
Jeremy Serrano, a Lutheran pastor in Northern California, recently went viral on TikTok for explaining why parents should strive to “Be that house!” where all the kids hang out. Serrano has three children ages 12, 15 and 17.
“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 in the now-viral 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.”
Serrano explained that their house is stocked not just with snacks and drinks, but snacks and drinks that the kids like. Serrano and his wife take note of their friends’ favorite things and make sure to have them in stock when they come over. He also mentions that they have 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.
He said that through making their house a place where their children and their children’s friends want to be, they’ve gotten to know their kids on a deeper level.
“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.”
Serrano spoke with TODAY.com about the idea of making their home “that house” came from his grandmother and his wife’s parents.
“I grew up in a Mexican home and my grandmother always welcomed people in; she never locked her doors,” he says. “Jessica’s parents were the same, so we made a concerted effort to give our children's friends a place to hang out.”
As for those worried that having such an open door policy could lead to trouble, Serrano and his wife are not worried about that. “We have boundaries and don't allow that here,” he explained, referring to drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity. “In fact, I'd lose credibility with my children by not providing boundaries.”
Some of their kids’ friends have even turned to Serrano and his wife for life advice when things were bothering them. “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 says.
As for those teen troubles, Serrano and his wife keep their secrets. “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 follow-up video where he shared some tips on how to create “that house.”
Serrano explained that the #1 tip for being “that house” wasn’t really about the soda, snacks, and activities but more about the presence and vibe that Serrano and his wife give off.
“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,” he said 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” and just “be there and listen to them.”
Serrano concluded that it’s all about creating a welcoming, comfortable 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.”